So you've finally jumped from just staring at your colleague's cactus to deciding to grow your own. But where do you start?
To help you decide, cacti and succulents grower and enthusiast Rye Capulong reveals his top picks from his fast-growing collection.
READ: Growing Cacti and Succulents: Beware, It's Highly Addicitve
Haworthias – These beauties are considered the jewels of the succulent world, specially the window type haworthias because of their unique leaf patterns. This species are relatively easy to grow. Most of the species under this genus can tolerate moisture and prefers low light making then ideal house plants specially in the tropics. Haworthias has been cultivated and cross breed into several hybrids which showcase patterns in the leaves that you would think would not possible in nature.
Gasterias – These are closedly related to Aloes and Haworthias. They have very hard leathery leaves that exhibits a lot of pattern and color. I like them because they don’t require too much sun. They can be placed inside the house with no problems and outside where you have a decent amount of shade. They are also hardy succulents and don’t easily rot due to overwatering. I put mine outside the house in the mercy of the elements and they are thriving really well.
Living Rocks (Lithops and Psuedolithos) and Astrophytums – Living Rocks are a group of dwarf succulents (from different genus) which look like stones, pebbles or cut stones. They are quite interesting because in an environment full of rocks, they are virtually invisible. This has been collected for their appearance and due to the fact that no two individual plant will look the same or have the same pattern even if they have the same color. Astrophytums on the other hand are “star plants” because, obviously, they look like stars. Astrophytums have been referred to as living stones in the past but the association with that name has become greatly associated to Lithops because when mixed with other coloured stones, you need to seek for them to see them.
Gymnocalycium – These are tiny cacti about 4 – 15 cm in size bearing brightly colored flowers with no spines or hairs (also termed as ‘naked flowers’). They are collected due to their flowering habits which always guarantees that you’ll always have a flower in your garden. They are also relatively easy to grow. If you have a very well draining soil, you can water this often and will tolerate the moisture provided they are in a location which has a lot of heat so they can flower. Some gymnocalyciums are priced due to their bright colors (usually lacking chlorophyll and thus have no green color at all). These types are grafted unto other columnar cactus because they don’t have the ability to produce the food they need due to the lack of chlorophyll.
Rosette type leafy succulents (Echeverias, Sedums, Graptoveria, Graptopetalum, Aeonium) – I collect them because their leaves looks like flower petals and they exhibit interesting colors specially when placed in a location exposed under the sun. They are also relatively easy to propagate – leaves easily roots and provides a new plant for you to grow.
Rye cautions, however, "You have to know your individual plants. There is no general, catch all, fool proof way to take care of them... I think a starting point to successfully grow these plants is to know each individual plants’ needs and it will take you some time in experimenting with the potting mixture, watering habits, and sun exposure before you get the hang of it. You might kill some plants in the process, but I am sure you will buy another one. And when you do, you already have an idea on what not to do so as not to kill the new plant."