Top 5 Cactus Plants to Grow for Beginners

Hi Guys 😀 

In this Blog I am going to be talking about the Top 5 Cactus Plants that are great for beginners.

There are many amazing cactus plants that are available to buy and grow but if you are new to the hobby and passion of growing these incredible plants it can be a bit difficult to know what types of Cacti to begin with as some are much easier to grow and get to flower than others.

I have a lot of favourite Cacti that I can recommend that are easy growing for newbies to the hobby, but not all of them are easily available to purchase in the garden shops or online and if I was to pick just 5 of the easiest Cacti to find and to grow these are the Top 5 that I recommend. 

1, REBUTIA

This Cactus Genus is often overlooked and yet it is one of the most beautiful and easy growing of cacti to grow especially for beginners. Rebutia are often nice and compact small clump forming growing plants that are ideal for windowsills and apartments, they are low maintenance and as long as you give them a cool and dry winter rest period they will often flower abundantly from spring and Summer with a multiple of beautiful small blooms. 

Rebutia like a sunny position in Spring and Summer and like to be grown in a well draining Cactus soil with a monthly fertilising once a month from Spring until late Summer.

Here is a video below I have made for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants Of Avalon of my Rebutia albipilosa Cactus with a beautiful abundance of bright orange blooms: 

Here is a video below I have made for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants Of Avalon of my Rebutia Perplexa with a bright pink bouquet of flowers: 

2, MAMMILLARIA

 

Mammillaria Cacti are fantastic plants for beginners and they are very commonly seen for sale in Garden centres and online cactus nurseries.

Mammillaria are very easy flowering as long as you give them plenty of sunshine and they love a cool Winter dry rest period. Some Mammillarias can grow large over time and some can stay small and compact too depending on the variety of Mammillaria.

 Here is a video below I have made for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants Of Avalon of my Mammillaria carmenae Cactus Plant with a Garland of white flowers :

3, ECHINOPSIS

 

Echinopsis Cacti are often known as ‘The Sea Urchin Cacti’ or ‘The Domino Cacti’ due to many of the globular type of Echinopsis resembling a sea urchin in their appearance. Echinopsis cacti are also very readily available for purchase in many Garden centres and online nurseries and can be found in many forms and in a huge variety of differnt flowering colours, they are very highly hybridised and because of this almost any colour of flower can be seen with this Genus from white to yellow to red and pink and orange.

Echinopsis is also an easy one to get to flower and as long as you can give them a cool and dry winter rest they will flower often multiple times from spring and Summer often with highly scented blooms.

Here is a video below I have made for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants Of Avalon of my Echinopsis subdenudata Cactus with a fountain of beautiful blooms:

4, GYMNOCALYCIUM

Gymnocalycium Cacti are wonderful globular Cacti that are also very easy flowering plants. Most Gymnocalyciums prefer a bit more shade than others but they will often let you know if they need less sun by taking on a slight yellow appearance but most commonly available for sale Gymnocalycium can take plenty of sunshine if protected from very intense full sun desert conditions.

Gymnocalyciums like most of the Cacti like a cool and dry winter rest period and can take plenty of after during their active growing and flowering season from spring and summer as long as the soil is a well draining cactus mix and the soil is allowed to dry out in between waterings as these Cacti have a tendency to lose their roots if kept too wet for too long but as long as these conditions are met then they are very easy cacti to grow and flower.

Here is a video below I have made for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants Of Avalon of my Gymnocalycium pflanzii cactus in beautiful bloom. :

5, OPUNTIA

 

Opuntia Cacti commonly known as ‘The Prickly Pear’ are very often seen for sale in Garden Shops and Florist Shops the Opuntia microdasys being the most common one.

Opuntia Cacti are like the ‘Marmite’ of the cactus world haha you either LOVE them or HATE them.

Personally I LOVE them, they have such character and have a wonderful almost comical look about them.

The Opuntia Genus is MASSIVE as there are so many different types of Opuntias some are small and compact and some are HUGE, also the Tephrocactus, Cylindropunta also fit under the whole Opuntia group of Cacti and this Genus is so varied that some Cactus collectors specialise in this whole genus by itself.

Although Opuntias them selves are easy to grow and many can take very low Winter temperatures making them ideal for greenhouses and even outdoor gardens in Summer and can even be grown outdoors in Northern Hemispheres if given a very sheltered position and protected from rain and frost. Many Opuntias can certainly take more humidity than many of the other cacti can too.

Most of the Opuntias are very fast growing and can grow large though so if you are short on space it may be best to concentrate on the many smaller growing Opuntias that are available such as the Opuntia microdasys ‘minima’ or the Tephrocacti. 

If you are into flowers though Opuntia are not the easiest to get to flower in cultivation so bear that in mind if you are more into flowers, but personally I just LOVE the appearance of Opuntia even if they are hard to get to flower in cultivation.

Given plenty of sunshine and a cool and dry winter rest period they can still flower in cultivation and here is a video below that I have made for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants Of Avalon of my Opuntia Stricta Cactus with a beautiful bright yellow bloom. :

I hope that you found this Blog on The Top 5 Cactus Plants To Grow For Beginners useful and if you want to watch a video I have made for my You Tube Channel Called Desert Plants Of Avalon on The Top 5 Cactus Plants To Grow For Beginners Here is the Video : 

Thank you all for reading and lets all have a fantastic time growing these AMAZING plants.

 

Gasteria, Gasteria variegated, Gasteria pups, Gasteria offsets, Gasteria babies,

How to Care for and Grow Gasteria Succulent Plants

What are Gasteria Plants ? 

Gasteria is a genus of succulent plants that is native to South Africa and are related to the Aloe, Haworthia and Sansevieria family of plants.

Gasteria includes around 80 different species and they are known for their beautiful very striking tongue like leaves that can vary in size from small and compact leaves to long and and tongue like.

I have made a detailed How To care for Gasteria video for my cacti and succulent You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon and also a video on repotting Gasteria and I have shared the links to these videos at the bottom of this Blog.

Gasteria, Gasteria variegated, Gasteria pups, Gasteria offsets, Gasteria babies,
My Variegated Gasteria with offsets ‘babies’ forming all around the base, these can be detached with a sharp clean knife and potted up as little individual plants.

HOW TO CARE FOR GASTERIA

Light Levels

Gasteria like to be grown in a position that receives plenty of bright natural light but these plants prefer to be away from strong direct sunshine and a position that receives part sun or indirect sunshine is best for growing these plants. Too much sunshine can make the leaves on these plants turn yellow or red.

If you are growing Gasteria as a houseplant its advisable they are placed in a bright position away from strong sunshine, and a window that receives some part sun for example morning sun that is not too strong is best, avoid afternoon sun in a south facing position in a window or if only a south facing position is available then you can cover the window with a shade cloth or net so the plant receives dappled sunshine.

Watering

Gasteria can take plenty of water during the warm Summer months but its very important to always allow the soil to totally dry before watering again. Like most Succulents these plants like to have a winter rest period where watering should be reduced to a bare minimum. I stop watering my Gasterias almost completely from October until mid March but I do still give a small amount of water to them once every 6 weeks but I grow mine outside in a heated polytunnel that is kept cool at around 7 Celsius / 45 Fahrenheit, but if you grow yours inside a house that is kept at a normal room temperature its best to give a small amount of water once a month to prevent the plants shrivelling, however its best to only water very lightly as watering these plants during Winter can encourage them to grow lanky and stretched out and at the worst case rot at the roots.

Clean Rainwater is always preferable to tap water if possible, but these plants are pretty hardy to tap water.

Temperature

Gasteria like most succulents can take high Summer temperatures but if you are growing these plants indoors or in a greenhouse or polytunnel its important that plenty of ventilation can be given otherwise these plants can ‘cook’ in temperatures above 100F without fresh air.

In Winter its best to keep these plants at a minimum Winter Temperature of 7 Celsius / 45 Fahrenheit but they can take slightly lower than this for brief periods but never any lower than 5 Celsius / 41 Fahrenheit as these plants can not take any frost at all, but ideally these plants are happier kept above 7 C / 41 F in Winter. Ideally 10 C / 50 F is a safer temperature in Winter if it can be provided and a cool unheated but bright room to overwinter them without heating would be best as keeping these plants on the cool side in Winter encourages blooming in the Spring and Summer. 

Re potting & Soil media

Gasteria like to be planted in a well drained soil mix and a cacti and succulent soil is ideal for these plants.

I usually make my own soil mix up of 1 part loam and 1 part grit and 1 part horticultural sand but any good quality well draining cactus and succulent mix will work well for these plants.

Gasteria have thick and very fleshy white roots that often die back every few years and new ones form, because of this its important that all the dead dried roots are removed every time you repot them. When I re pot my Gasteria’s I will cut off the dried dead roots and leave the plants out of their pots overnight before I pot them into their new pot and soil media, I do this to allow any roots that may have got damaged from trimming the dead ones to callus over, this prevents the slight possibility of root rot, this is not a necessity but its something I prefer to do and would personally recommend.

Here is  a video below I have made for my cactus and succulent You Tube channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on How I repot my Gasteria and Haworthia and Aloe plants with their fleshy big white roots, and in the video I show my Haworthia as an example but this also applies to Gasteria.

Here is a video below I have made for my Cacti and Succulent You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on How to make your own cactus and Succulent Soil in 3 easy steps:

Fertilising 

Gasteria can be fertilised with any good quality cacti and Succulent fertiliser from spring until late Summer, and I usually fertilise my Gasteria with every 3rd watering that I give them from April until early September.

Flowering

Gasteria’s are called Gasteria because of the shape of their flowers resembling the shape of a Stomach as ‘Gaster’ means Stomach.

The flowers usually form in Spring and Summer but I have also had my Gasteria’s flower in Winter and Fall /Autumn but then again I do have odd plants that often like to do their own thing haha 😀 

Here is a video below I have made for my Cactus and Succulent You tube channel called Desert Plants of Avalon when my Gasteria’s were flowering at the right time of year 😀 

Propagation

Gasteria propagate by sending out little offsets or ‘babies’ that form in little clusters around the Mother plant. These offsets can be left to cluster all around the Mother plant or they can be detached by using a sharp and clean knife and potted up into their own individual pots.

Occasionally a little offset will form along a flower stem where a previous flower has been although this is not common and much more rarer, but I did have it happen to one of mine a few years ago and I had this happen also with a Haworthia.

Gasteria can also been grown from seed although this is a lot more time consuming but definitely very rewarding and fun to do especially if its from seeds from your own plants.

Here is a video I have made for my Cactus and Succulent You Tube channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on How to Harvest Seeds from Gasteria and you can watch this video below.

Here is  a detailed video I have made for my cactus and Succulent You tube channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on How to Care for Gasteria and you can watch this video below: 

Wishing you all lots of happy growing and PLANT POWER from across the Emerald Isle

Lyn XXXXX <3 

Welcome to my first Blog and lets talk about overwintering your plants

Hi Guys 😀 

Welcome to my first Blog on this website 😀 

Winter is very nearly upon us and we have already had a few chilly nights here in Belfast in N.Ireland, Luckily I have just finished bringing in the last of the Cacti and Succulents that are not cold hardy from the Polytunnel into the house to overwinter them.

If you are like me and live in the Northern hemisphere and you grow cacti and succulents either outdoors or in a  greenhouse or polytunnel then you will need to protect any of your plants that can not tolerate the cold temperatures we get here on this side of the planet.

During the Autumn and Winter months I heat my polytunnel at a minimum Winter temperature of 5 Celsius / 31 Fahrenheit and I have a thermostat control that switches on if the temperature drops below 5 c / 41f inside the polytunnel, this allows us to keep a large proportion of our cacti and succulents safe over the Winter to overwinter them during their Winter rest period, but also still warm enough for the Winter growing Cacti and Succulents such as the South African Succulents and the Schlumbergera cacti commonly known as the Thanksgiving and Christmas Cacti that still continue to grow and flower during the Winter.

cacti, cactus plants, desert plants of avalon, Succulents, succulent plants,
The Cacti and Succulent Plants that are all going to be left overwintering in the Polytunnel, these plants will be kept at a minimum temperature of 5 Celsius / 41 Fahrenheit, I have a thermostatic heater that switches on if the temperature in the polytunnel drops below that.
Christmas cactus, thanksgiving cactus, schlumbergera truncata, pink flowering schlumbergera,
Some Cacti still continue to grow and flower during the Winter for example Schlumbergera commonly known as ‘The Christmas Cactus’ and the Thanksgiving cactus’

 

There are so many different cacti and succulents and they all vary so much in their minimum Winter temperatures and also the minimum temperatures vary so much depending on where they are growing, for example cacti that are being overwintered cool and dry in a dry arid climate with low humidity can survive much lower temperatures, and some of the desert cacti like Opuntia and Rebutia can even survive temperatures that are below freezing compared to the same types of cacti that are being overwintered cool and dry but are in a humidity high country such as where I live here in Ireland and UK.

 

Most of the Cacti and Succulents like to be overwintered cool and dry and bright ideally at a temperature between 5 – 10 Celsius /  41 -50 Fahrenheit, this encourages them to stop growing and they get to rest over the winter and also encourages blooming in the Spring and Summer of the following year.

If you want to learn more about Overwintering Cacti and Succulents then you can read the Article I have wrote for the growing tips on this website HERE

I have made a couple of videos on my You Tube Channel Desert Plants of Avalon on How to Overwinter your cacti and Succulents and also How to Overwinter your Cacti and Succulent seedlings during their first year and both of these videos are below : 

 

I filmed a series of fun video vlogs for my You Tube channel Desert Plants of Avalon when I was bringing in the Cacti and Succulents to overwinter from the polytunnel into the house, and in these video vlogs I share lots of information about each cactus and succulent and about their individual minimum winter temperatures, check the video below if you want to see the first part of my Overwintering video Vlog

I hope you enjoyed my first Blog on this website and stay tuned for many more to come 😀

Sending you all lots of LOVE and PLANT POWER from across the Emerald Isle 😀