Long ago, people would pick flowery plants over spikey ones any day. Roses or Carnations for special occasions, bonsai plant or lucky bamboos for workstations. The times, however, have changed.
Go to flea markets and you’d chance upon people rummaging for cute potted plants. Walk around your office and you’d see at least one or two of your colleagues with a pretty cactus on top of their desks. Gone are the days when a cactus is neglected and often to give way for the “prettier” ones. And not only have people come to appreciate its distinct beauty, it has also been an addictive journey from having their first cactus to the next.
We’ve interviewed cacti and succulents grower and enthusiast Rye Capulong to share more about his knowledge and journey to growing cacti and succulents in the tropics. For Rye who does it for a hobby, his fascination for it started when his mother bought some sanseviera bacullaris a year ago. His collection started this year though with another sanseviera bacullaris, an echeveria black prince, a haworthia attenuate, and an echeveria imbricate—all of which were given to him and from which his addiction for raising cacti and succulent started.
READ: Deciding Which Cacti To Grow?
The plant and where it grows best
Rye: Cacti are definitely not for home. Most if not all cacti requires strong sun to be able to retain their shape and to flower like they used to. Prolonged conditions under the shade would cause cacti to etiolate beyond recognition. Some succulents, however, can be kept as house plants because they don’t require too much sun i.e. Gasterias. They can be kept inside the house with no problem since in the wild they would grow under the bushes or on under the rocks where there is less sun exposure. Another good example are Tylandsias. They require just only bright filtered light so you can hang them near a window and they’ll do just fine.
Rye: Cacti are not ugly plants. They are just unusual looking and quite unappreciated because of some spines. However, when you look at them closely, the details, their growing habits, the flowers, they are beautiful in their own way.
We are led to believe that cacti and succulents are low maintenance plants – that is only half of the truth… Usually, we were told not to water it often and we take it literally. So whenever it rains, we panic and we move the plant inside the house to keep it away from the rain. Then we move it out of the house once the rain has stopped. Then we notice that the plant suddenly changes appearance and we panic again; we tinker with the plant, uproot it, check the roots, check the potting mixture, correct the potting mixture (or so we thought that we corrected it), replant the plant again, don’t water for a few days, etc… until the plant dies on us.
Then we tell ourselves, these are not low maintenance plants after all. Truth be told though, we just forget to observe the plant first when we first got it that’s why we don’t know how to care for them. They are really easy to care for, you just only need to know your plant first. That being said, I would advise everyone considering on growing their own succulents to know the plant first before you purchase one. This would save you a lot of time and effort because you would at least have the time to prepare before the plant is actually in your hands.
Is the plant for you?
Rye: Growing succulents is for all people who likes plants and have the patience to adopt to caring for them like a baby. I was about to say for people who doesn’t have enough time, or doesn’t want to bother on taking care of plants just like others would say about succulents being low maintenance plants. That statement is not true – specially if you are just beginning to take interest in them. The truth is that when I first started to take care of these plants, I tend to worry a lot because they change their appearances drastically specially when they are just establishing themselves in their new environment; which is exactly the opposite experience when I was caring for regular plants.
These plants are definitely not for the faint at heart and definitely not those who are not willing to overcrowd their garden with just a few specimen. They are rather addicting due to their appearances, foliage, and flowers. Once you discover how many species/varieties a succulent family have, I think you’ll crave to have more specimens on your own garden. I started with 4 plants and now my collection has grown to about a 100 or more, give or take.