Nov Dec Jan
Feb Mar
Apr May Jun
Jul Aug

Many cacti and other succulents have lost their feeder roots to the long days of heat and some have become semi-dormant and dull-looking. Some continue to flower. No problem. The 'snooze' in the heat is natural, but a little shade will prevent sunburn on young and on sparsely spined cacti and all but the hairy, downy, waxy or powdery other succulents - and some of even these would appreciate a little shade. Hold off a little longer between waterings, and NEVER fertilize after the end of July.

The earlier season's new growth is hardening off, now, and some of next year's bloom is being initiated. Meanwhile, a good many are still in flower.

Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and Orchid Cacti. These jungle cacti are growing well, and appreciate a feed of low nitrogen, high potash fertilizer, like 9-9-26 at half standard strength, twice or three times in this period up to late August. The high potash deepens and brightens flower colours. DO NOT allow the soil to dry out, beyond just the surface 1 or 2 cm. It does no great harm, but reduces markedly the number of terminal segments that will bloom, and it precludes those magnificent twin and triplet blooms on some segments.

In late August, start watching the weather, and start getting fussy about keeping the plants clean and free of debris and bugs. Use natural or insecticidal soaps (not detergents) to dissolve sticky sap stains on the plants and to destroy fly maggots etc. in the soil. If you use stronger insecticides, do it in August before the plants go inside. Avoid Diazinon on epiphytes; it may cause dwarfing and/or distortion.

If you have not conditioned your plants outside for the summer, start to shorten their days in this period. They need 25 to 29 short days, so put a box over them at about 7 p.m. and remove it at 8 a.m. or so. If you can keep them at below 15oC(59oF) steadily for a month or so, you might achieve the same effect.

Paul J. Brunelle
Oct. 5, 2001