Aztekium, Aztekium hintonii, Aztekium cactus,

How To Care for Aztekium Cactus

Hi Guys 😀 

In this Blog I share my tips and tricks on How to care for the Aztekium Cactus.

Aztekium, Aztekium hintonii, Aztekium cactus,
My 23 year old Aztekium hintonii grown from seed ( not by me ) 

I have made a video on my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants Of Avalon on How To Care for Aztekium, and you can watch this video HERE:

ABOUT AZTEKIUM:

There are just three species of Aztekium, 1, Aztekium ritteri, 2, Aztekium hintonii, and 3, Aztekium valdezii.

Aztekium valdezii has only recently been discovered from 2011.

The Aztekium Cactus grows in its natural habitat in Mexico growing on steep cliff faces that consist of mostly gypsum and some limestone gravel.

Aztekium is extremely slow growing and forms into little clumps over many years, it is one of the slowest growing cacti both in natural habitat and in cultivation. 

I have grown my Aztekium hintonii for over 23 years, I got it as a young seedling that was grown from seed from a Cactus Grower in the U.K called David Quail, it was the just size of my thumbnail and in all of that time it has grown only about 2 inches in height and width.

Because of their extremely slow growth and difficulty to grow when young on their own roots, these cacti are often seen for sale grafted onto other more hardier cactus stock, but once established on their on roots they can survive long term as long as a very careful watering is maintained and a very gritty well draining soil is used.

Aztekium, Aztekium hintonii, Aztekium cactus,
My 23 year old Aztekium hintonii

HOW TO CARE FOR:

LIGHT:

Aztekium like most cacti need bright light with some sunshine to grow healthy, however these cacti prefer to be protected from very strong midday sunshine and prefer more shade than a lot of the other types of Desert Cacti, and Aztekium would be best positioned where they can get either early morning or very late afternoon sunshine.

WATERING:

Aztekium prefer soft water that is not alkaline and clean rainwater is best to water these cacti with. Its best to avoid watering these cacti with water than has a pH higher than PH 7, as hard alkaline water can cause damage to the roots. If you use tap water check that the PH is not higher than PH 7 and allow the water to sit for 24 hours to allow the chlorine and other gases to dissipate.

If you are growing Aztekium that have been grafted, then the pH of the water is not as much a concern as most cactus stock used for grafting Aztekium are mostly Trichocereus or Pereskioposis, and these cacti are not so sensitive to water PH, however careful watering should still be given with all Aztekium cacti.

Water Aztekium from Spring through Summer ALWAYS allowing the soil in their pots to fully dry out before watering again.

Keep Aztekium totally dry throughout the Winter rest period with no water from Fall / Autumn and Winter, introduce water again from Spring when their active growing period returns.

SOIL:

The soil used for Aztekium must be extremely well draining, this is very important especially for Aztekium cacti that are growing on their own roots, especially when they are young as they can be very prone to rot, which is why they are often seen grafted.  If grafted onto hardier root stock such as Pereskioposis and Trichocereus they are far less prone to rot and grow faster, but as with all cacti except the epiphytes, the more well draining the soil the better.

Some growers of Aztekium like to add lie to the soil, but I have had success over 23 years of growing this cactus with my well draining soil mix that I use for most of my arid loving cacti.

Avoid using peat and houseplant soils for these cacti as they need a VERY well draining and gritty soil.

I like to use a soil mix of 3 equal parts of loam, horticultural sand and grit for my Aztekium hintonii, For more information on How I make my own Cactus soil click HERE:

FEEDING:

Feed Aztekium once a month in Spring until mid Summer with a good quality cactus fertiliser. Because these cacti are extremely slow growing its best to use the fertiliser at half the strength they recommend for normal cacti.

FLOWERING:

The flowers on Aztekium are very tiny and white or pink or lilac coloured, they grow from the top of the cactus when the plant is mature often after many years. 

Aztekium forms a woolly tuft and fine spines from the crown of the cactus when the plant is mature enough to flower.

I have not had my Aztekium flower for me in 23 years, but I hope one day to see flowers, patience is definitely the key when growing cacti haha, but I have heard of many growers who have had their Aztekiums flower after 10 years or less.

Grafted Aztekiums will flower much sooner than if grown on their own roots.

TEMPERATURE:

In Spring and Summer Aztekium can take high temperatures but they must be protected from extreme heat and strong midday sunshine, especially if they are grown behind glass in glasshouses or windowsills, and they like to have plenty of ventilation.

In Winter its best to overwinter Aztekium cool and dry above 5 Celsius / 41 Fahrenheit

PROPAGATION:

Propagation of Aztekium is done by seed that are very dust like, but it is extremely difficult and slow to grow from seeds, although germination rate can be high at first lots of seedlings will often die within the first few months of germination. 

I have never tried to grow these from seed myself but when my Aztekium flowers for e in the future and I get seed I will definitely have a go at trying to grow this amazing and unique little cactus from seed.

If you want to grow Aztkium from seed or any other type of cactus from seed read my page on this website Growing Cactus from seed  by clicking HERE

Here is a video I have made for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants Of Avalon on How To Care For Aztekium Cacti and you can watch this video below:

 

Thanks so much for reading Guys and Happy Growing to you all <3 

 

 

How to Grow Cacti & Succulents from Seed

In this Blog I will be talking about how you can grow cacti and Succulent plants from Seed and talking about the method I like to use to grow my cacti and succulent plants from seed and I have had great success throughout the years using this method.

how to grow cacti from seed
Photo: My Homalocephala texensis ‘Horse crippler cactus’ cactus seedlings just over a year old

Although there are many different ways to grow cacti and succulents from seed and there is no right or wrong way, In this Blog I will be showing you how to grow cacti and succulents from seed using the bag method.

I have included videos I have made for my Cacti & Succulent Plant You Tube channel called Desert Plants of Avalon that include step by step instructions on growing Cacti and Succulents from seed as well as a video on how to care for seedlings during their first Winter.

Why grow from Seed ? 

Growing from seed can be very rewarding as you get to see your plants grow from seedlings to mature plants over the years and although it can be very time consuming, knowing that you have grown your cacti and succulents from seed is a real buzz.

When is the best time to grow from seeds ? 

Cacti and Succulent seeds are best sown in late Winter, Spring or early Summer, this is because the days are longer and the temperatures are warmer, but if you have grow lights and additional heating then you can still sow seeds in Autumn and Winter too, the most important thing is that the seeds /seedlings are kept at a minimum temperature of 70 Fahrenheit  /21 Celsius.

cactus seedlings, how to grow cactus from seed
                                                        Photo:  My Rebutia muscala cactus seedlings at 8 months old.

What do I need to grow from Seed ? 

You will need :

Seeds, plant pots, transparent zip lock bags, a pen, plant labels or white sticky labels, 2 parts loam based seed sowing soil ( or any well draining soil ) 1 part grit or perlite and 1 part horticultural sand.

I have found that the clear fruit pots that you commonly see cherry tomatoes or strawberries sold in are perfect sizes to use as small seed pots and they fit perfect in the bags too as well being a great way to us as recycling,  just make sure that you thoroughly clean them first before using them for seed sowing.

How do I grow Cacti and Succulents from Seed ? 

If you want to watch a step by step video on How to Grow cacti and Succulents from seed then check out my video I have made for my You Tube channel called Desert Plants of Avalon below: 

Thoroughly mix up the 2 parts seed sowing soil with the 1 part perlite OR grit with the 1 part Horticultural sand. You can use the amount of soil mix to the amount you need depending on the size of your seed pots.

If the soil you are using has stones or lumps of bark chippings in it etc its best to remove these by running the soil through a gardening sieve first.

thoroughly mix up the seed sowing soil with the perlite or grit and the horticultural sand, you can remove any hard stones or bark chippings etc by running the soil through a gardening sieve first before mixing.

Once you have thoroughly mixed up all the soil with the perlite or grit and sand then its best to sterilise the soil by either microwaving it or heating it in the oven, this is optional but its something I like to do as it helps to reduce fungus and bacterial attacks on the young seedlings after they have germinated.

If you are sterilising the soil in the microwave then put all of the soil mix into the microwave on high setting for 3 minutes stopping half way through to thoroughly sir the soil mix with a clean spoon, its important that the soil mix is extremely hot as this is what will kill any pathogens and to sterilise your soil.

If you are sterilising your soil mix in the oven bake the soil mix at 180-200 F. /82-93 C for at least 30 minutes, or when the temperature of the soil mix reaches 180 F. (82 C. you can test the temperature of the soil by using a cake thermometer. 

Allow the soil mix to cool down before putting into the seed pot/s.

Once the soil mix has cooled down put the soil mix into the seed pots and place the seed pots in a tray or trays filled with 2-3 inches of clean water, if using rainwater it may be best to boil the water first and allow to cool down so any pathogens that could be in the water are reduced.

Leave the pots in the water until the soil mix in the pots is completely soaked with the water, this can take up to an hour or more but its important to be patient so the soil mix is thoroughly moist all the way through the soil.

Write the name /s of the seeds you will be sowing on the Plant labels / white sticky labels that you will be putting on the bags, and also the date you are sowing the seeds.

Make sure your hands are thoroughly clean then sow the seeds evenly across the surface of the plant pot/s. If the seeds are very small its best to sprinkle them on like pepper as evenly apart as possible but with larger seeds such as Opuntia or Aloe seeds you can place them onto the surface individually and gently press them down. 

Once you have sown the seeds you can very lightly sprinkle some horticultural sand on the top of the soil but make sure the sand is moist. By using sand this can help to minimise moss that often likes to grow on the soil that the young seedlings are growing in due to the soil always needing to be kept moist.

Place the seed pots into the clear plastic bags and make sure to release all the air inside the bags first before sealing the bags. 

Place the bags in a bright well lit location that receives some sun but not intense sun or intense heat.

Keep the seedlings inside their clear bag/s for a minimum of 3 months but you can keep them in the bags for longer than this if the seedlings are still small, I have kept seedlings in the bags for up to 10 months if they are still small and the soil inside the bags is still moist.

echinopsis subdenudata seedlings, cactus seedlings, domino cactus seedlings, sea urchin cactus seedlings,
My Echinopsis subdenudata cactus seedlings commonly known as The Sea Urchin Cactus or Domino Cactus. These seedlings are one year old.

After Care: 

NEVER open the bag/s until after a minimum of 3 months this is to continue to keep the seedlings and soil sterile, however if you notice your seedlings have fungus or any other problems sometimes opening the bag/s may be inevitable.

The young seedlings should not dry out in the bags for up to 3 months, this is because the clear bags act like a mini greenhouse and there is no room for the excess water inside to evaporate, and young seedlings do not take up large amounts of water, however if you notice the soil inside of the bag/s looks like it i drying out then you will have to open the bag/s to water before the 3 months.

After 3 months you can gradually unzip the clear bags over a few days to allow the seedlings inside the bag to acclimatise to the drier air outside of their bag/s in their new environment after a few days you can then take them out of their bag/s completely.

If after the 3 months your seedlings are still small then they can still stay in the bag/s for many more weeks or months if the soil inside the bag/s is still moist, sometimes I will leave my seedlings up to 9 months in the bag/s if there is no need for them to come out of them.

cactus seedlings
A selection of my cacti and succulent seedlings all grown by using the bag method.

How do I care for young cacti and succulent seedlings during their first Winter ? 

This can be confusing to many people because we are told as cacti and succulent growers to keep our plants cool and dry over Winter, but what do we do with young seedlings especially during their first winter ? because a cold and especially dry period could kill them off as the are still so young and their roots will still be fine and developing.

I strongly recommend that you overwinter your young cacti and succulent seedlings indoors at a minimum temperature of around 15 C/ 60 F for their first Winter. I would also still continue to water them lightly just enough to stop the delicate root hairs from drying out.

In their natural habitats in Winter young cacti and succulents would be growing under the shade of larger plants and vegetation where they would naturally be receiving more humidity and warmth than their mature parents that are  more exposed to the elements, therefore in nature in their natural habitats in dry arid deserts even in the Winter young seedlings would still be receiving moisture from the humidity on the lower grounds of the vegetation for their young developing root systems. 

After their first year you can continue to treat them as you would more mature cacti and succulents depending on their size and what type of cactus or succulent they are.

Here is a video I have made for my You Tube channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on How to care for Cacti and Succulent plant seedlings during their first Winter and you can watch this video below : 

If you have watched my video on How to Grow Cacti from Seed that I have made for my You Tube channel called Desert Plants of Avalon then check out the video below I have made on the update : 

Good luck with growing from seed Guys and more importantly HAVE FUN 😀 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Care for and Grow Aloe Succulent Plants

In this Blog I will be writing about how you can care for and grow Aloe plants.

What are Aloe Plants ? 

Aloe plants are Succulent plants that belong to the plant Family Asphodelaceae, Liliaceae and Xanthorrhoeaceae .

Aloe’s come from Africa, India and the Indian Ocean Islands and there are Over 500 species of aloes plants, with the most common Aloe plant that is readily available being the much loved Aloe Vera plant that is a very popular houseplant and has been used medicinally for many years. Aloes form thick fleshy succulent leaves in a rosette shape and each succulent leaf is are filled with a sticky gel.

In this Blog I will also be sharing videos on Aloe plants that I have made for my Cactus and Succulent You Tube channel called Desert Plants of Avalon including a special video on How to Care for Aloe Plants.

HOW TO CARE FOR ALOE PLANTS

Light:

Aloe plants are often grouped alongside their related genera cousins Gasteria and Haworthia and Sanseveria, but Aloes do like more sunshine than their cousins and although they can be grown in shade they do prefer more bright strong light such as a South or west facing window that receives some sunshine or a sunny position outside that is protected from very strong sunshine and winds. Some of the tougher varieties can tolerate full all day sun.

In Winter its important that Aloe plants are placed in a very bright position and if growing indoors its important these plants can receive some sunshine for at least part of the day as Aloe plant leaves can grow lanky and floppy if not enough light can be given especially in the Winter months when Aloe plants will often still continue to grow. 

Temperature:

 Aloe plants can take very high temperatures in Summer as long as plenty of ventilation can be given. If you are growing these plants behind glass such as a window or greenhouse its important that plenty of fresh air can be provided on very warm days as these plants can cook at temperatures 100 F or more on a hot sunny day.

In Winter its very important that the temperature never drops below 5 Celsius / 41 Fahrenheit and although these plants can survive a bit lower than this if they are kept totally dry, they can not take any frost at all and its much safer to keep these plants above the temperature of 5c / 41F especially in damper climates where humidity in Winter is a problem. Here in UK and Ireland where I live as the damp and cold can cause fungus and rots to appear on these plants.

personally I would recommend keeping these plants at a minimum temperature of 7-10 C / 45-50 F if possible and I keep all my Aloe plants at around the 7 Celcius / 45 Fahrenheit in my Polytunnel over the Winter months. 

Water: 

In Spring and Summer Aloe plants like to be given a good water preferably with clean rainwater if it is available and the soil must be allowed to fully dry out before watering again.

In Winter its best to keep Aloe plants on the dry side and I only water mine lightly about once a month because I overwinter mine in a cool Polytunnel where the average Winter temperature is around 7-12 C / 45 – 55F, but if you are growing your Aloe plants indoors in a centrally heated home or outdoors in a tropical climate that has warmer temperatures you may need to water your Aloe plants more often, but its better to under rather than over water in the Winter.

unlike some of the Desert Cacti and some of the other Desert Succulents that have a complete winter dormancy, Aloe plants will often still continue to grow slowly in Winter and although Aloe plants will slow down their foliage growth in Winter, this is the time they will often send out their very beautiful colourful flowers in late Winter to early Spring. 

My Aloe variegata in beautiful bloom in my polytunnel January 2019

Soil: 

Its important to use a well draining soil mix when potting up Aloe plants and I like to make my own of 1 part loam based soil and 1 part horticultural sharp sand and 1 part grit or perlite. 

I have made a video for my You Tube channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on How to make your own Cactus and Succulent Cactus soil and you can watch this video below:

The most important thing is that you use a well draining soil so the soil in the pot dries out easily in between waterings. You can use any good quality commercial cactus and Succulent plant soil with Aloe plants.

Re Potting:

Its best to re pot Aloe plants in the spring and Summer when these plants are actively growing. Aloe plants have fleshy water storing root systems and because of their fleshy root systems its best to cut away any dead and decaying roots when you repot your Aloe plants.

Here is a video below that I have made for my You Tube channel called Desert plants of Avalon On How to repot Aloe plants and also including the Aloe cousins  Haworthia  plants and Gasteria plants where I show you the best way to cut away the dead fleshy roots and you can watch this video below :  

Fertilizing: 

I fertilise my Aloe plants once a month from Spring until late late /Autumn using a tomato based fertiliser by Maxicrop, ( see photo below ) The reason why I like to use a Tomato fertiliser with my Succulents and cacti is that I truly believe it helps them to flower because of the high potassium in the tomato feed and I have never had tomatoes on my succulents yet haha 😀 but any good quality houseplant fertiliser or a good quality fertiliser especially for Cacti and Succulents should work well. I stop fertilising all of my Aloe plants and all my Succulents and Cacti from late fall / Autumn until Spring when the cooler temperatures and short days come and their growth slows down.

Pruning: 

Aloe’s can be fast growing plants and need to be given plenty of space to grow and thrive. Aloe plants do not need be pruned if the growth is healthy and green but its normal for the lower bottom leaves of these plants to go brown and dry up as the new growth emerges from the rosette, and these dead brown leaves can easily be removed and pruned back to make the plants look healthier and tidier. 

If you want to know How to prune back the dead brown leaves from your Aloe Plants then Here is a video below that I have made for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on How to Prune dead leaves from Aloe Plants:

Flowering : 

Aloe plants will usually flower late Winter to early Spring but I have had my Aloe plants in my Polytunnel flower in Spring and Summer and Winter haha 😀 but I do have crazy Cacti and Succulent plants that have a mind of their own haha but because Aloe plants are from South Africa in the Northern Hemisphere where I live in in N. Ireland they will normally flower in late Winter ( Jan /Feb ) to early Spring ( Feb -March ) the flowers are gorgeous and are usually red, orange, yellow bell shaped flowers 😀 

Here is a couple of videos that I have made for my Cactus and Succulent You Tube channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on Aloe plants in flower both my own and also Aloe’s here in the Botanical garden of Ireland and you can watch these videos below: 

Propagation: 

From Plantlets :

The wonderful thing about Aloe plants is that they produce lots of plantlets from around their base. The best time to divide these aloe plantlet pups from the parent plant is when you are re potting in the Spring and Summer months.

You can then pot up the individual plantlets from the base of the Mother plant into individual pots to give away to friends and family.

From Seed:

These plants will occasionally produce seed pods too if the flowers have been pollinated by other Aloe Plants also in flower 😀  and if your Aloe plants have been pollinated then once the seed pods have ripen and the pods have turned brown then you can harvest the seeds to sow them and get more Aloe babies haha. Most Aloe Plants are not self pollinating though and you would need more than one Aloe plant in flower to get seeds.

If you are lucky enough to find seed pods on your Aloe plants and you want to know How you can harvest the seeds from the pods and also when the seed pods are ready to be harvested, then watch this video below that I have made for my Cactus & Succulent You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon.

If you want to know How to Grow Aloe plants from seed then you can watch the video below I have made for my cacti and succulent You Tube channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on How to grow Aloe plants from Seed : 

Pests & Problems:

The Biggest problem with Cacti and Succulents including Aloe is Mealy bug they are the pain of any succulent plant lovers life haha and the best way to treat them is with using a solution of Isopropyl alcohol /rubbing alcohol and also Horticultural neem oil for treatment of prevention long term. The Isopropyl alcohol is best to treat the bugs that you can visually see and the Neem oil helps to keep the bugs away long term. 

Here is a video below that I have made for my You Tube channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on How to remove Mealy bug from Succulent Plants including Aloe’s using Rubbing alcohol / isopropyl alcohol:

Here is a video below I have made for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on How to use Horticultural Neem oil to prevent and treat insect pests on Houseplants including Aloe’s:

 Here is a video below that I have made for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on How to Care and Grow Aloe Plants.

Thanks so much for reading guys and wishing you all lots of Happy Growing and Plant Power from across the Emerald Isle 

Lyn XXXXXX