Episode eighteen: preparing succulents and cacti for winter

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Well, autumn is here (visit this website for a scientific explanation of the autumn equinox...) which means it's time to start getting your succulents and cacti winter-ready. I take a trip all the way to my front room to check on my fleshy charges and consider what you need to do as you wind down your plants towards dormancy. For more information on this topic, the British Cactus & Succulent Society has produced a wonderful set of leaflets on looking after these plants - you get a pack of them when you join, which is something I did recently and I'd say it's well worth the annual £15 fee for adult UK members - it's £20 for those outside the UK. If you don't want to join you can buy the leaflets separately for a small fee.  

The Christmas cactus makes a wonderfully gaudy festive display. Photograph:  Corn Farmer  on  Flickr .

The Christmas cactus makes a wonderfully gaudy festive display. Photograph: Corn Farmer on Flickr.

It's also time to start preparing the Christmas cactus for flowering, so I'll explain how it's done. You can find out more how this plant ended up with the unwieldy Latin name Sclumbergera here. There'sa good guide to taking cuttings of forest cacti like Schlumbergera and Rhipsalis here.

Question of the week

This week's query is, appropriately enough, all about a cactus... Dani Turner from Montana sent me a message at the On The Ledge podcast Facebook page about her thimble cactus - Mammillaria gracilis. She wrote:

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"I heard your request to send in problems and I'll admit I've had a few. This is my last surviving thimble cactus that has struggled ever since the cats tipped its container over. It looks like it's succumbing to the same yellowing/mushing of the base the other two did. Is there anything to save it at this point?

I bought it when I lived in Southern California, and moved back home to Montana as far as location. It's lived outside this summer in the hope it would revive, but we've had nasty wildfire smoke that hasn't done plants a lot of favors here."


Want to ask me a question? Tweet @janeperrone, leave a message on my Facebook page or email ontheledgepodcast@gmail.com.

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This week's show included Hot Lips by Bill Brown and His Brownies and Government Funded Weed by Black Ant, licensed under Creative Commons. Thanks to talented voice artist Mark Hamilton for providing the extra voices you hear in this show.