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Cacti and succulent problems

Okay, we all know that cacti and succulents are tough, but if yours aren’t performing as well as expected, here are some trouble-shooting tips…

It is important to note here that most pests and diseases can be avoided by giving these plants the correct light, watering and feeding conditions. As with other plants, healthy cacti and succulents will be less susceptible to disease.

Cacti and succulents can be affected by mealybug, red spider mite, scale, whitefly, snails and slugs. They can also be attacked by rodents and caterpillars, which nibble on fleshy plants.

Mealybug can affect both the top of the plant and the roots. This insect is usually covered in a powdery white deposit which creates a sticky honeydew. This honeydew attracts ants which can help spread the mealybug from plant to plant. Mealybug can be controlled by using a systemic pesticide such as Searles Conguard.

Brown scars on plants can be a sign of red spider mite, which can be easily treated with Searles Wettable Sulphur. Cacti and succulents can also suffer from fungal diseases. Over watering, poor drainage or damp conditions can cause stem or root rot. Sooty mould can also attack plants damaged or weakened by very wet conditions.

Signs of problems…

A plant grown in too little sun may produce unattractive, distorted leaves or stems. Plants grown for long periods in excessive cold can suffer tip damage and scarring. Strong winds or sudden, bright sunshine on dew-covered plants can cause sunken brown patches, where the plant tissue has been burnt.

The right light for cacti and succulents

Poor light and incorrect feeding can create pale-skinned plants with elongated stems or stunted leaves on spindly stems. Healthy growth usually resumes once the plants are given better light.

Watering cacti and succulent

If starved of water, leafy succulents shed their leaves. If they still don’t receive any water, they will slowly die, starting from leaf tip. Water starved cacti will shrink into dormancy. Both will rejuvenate quickly once watered.

Fertilising cacti and succulent

Fertilising is simple and should not be overdone. Apply Searles Flourish Cacti & Succulent Soluble Plant Food at indoor rate once per month any time of year.

More information on succulent plant care

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