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Agave Care Guide

Agave montana, Agave parryi var. truncata, Agave parryi 'cream spike'

Agaves are very easy to care for and can be extremely tough plants that require little attention to thrive. A free-draining soil mix is vital….

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Agave montana, Agave parryi var. truncata, Agave parryi 'cream spike'

About Agaves

Agaves are in the Asparagaceae family with over 270 known species native to Mexico and the surrounding region. Agaves are known for their beautiful structural forms and make stunning feature plants in pots, gardens and rockeries. Many species can survive temperatures well below freezing and are incredibly happy growing outside in the U.K, when given the correct amount of drainage. Be careful when handling these stunning plants as they come covered in an armoury of spikes. These are to protect themselves from being eaten in their habitat as they grow in arid locations where water is scarce.

Agave leaves unfold very slowly and incredibly neatly from a central conical shaped crown. Many species leave very pronounced markings and patterns where the previous leaf rested before unravelling. 

Agaves can take many years to flower and are often called century plants because of this, with some varieties taking up to 50 to 60 years before flowering. Some of the larger species of Agave can produce an incredible flowering display of over 12 meters high.

Due to the time they take to flower, it is very rare to find hybrid forms of Agave, but when they do arise, they are often beautiful and highly sought after. Variegated Agaves are visually stunning, with many coming in compact forms, making them the ideal collector’s plant.

Soil Mix and Feeding

Agaves are very easy to care for and can be extremely tough plants that require little attention to thrive. A free-draining soil mix is vital. We use 50 percent soil and 50 percent grit or perlite for drainage, a supplementary feed in the warmer growing season such as a slow-release fertiliser or regular balanced liquid feeds will help these plants grow. 

Agave victoriae-reginae 'white rhino'
Agave victoriae-reginae ‘white rhino’

The ideal time to feed Agaves is during the repotting process. Add a 5 to 6-month slow-release fertiliser during the spring at the recommended amounts or a well-balanced liquid fertiliser every two to three weeks.

Adding these will help to encourage good strong growth throughout the summer.

Planting

Planting your Agave at an angle will keep the plant’s crown from becoming waterlogged and allow the rainwater to drain freely out of the plant. It is especially important when grown outside where you cannot control the watering.

Pot on your Agave when it becomes pot bound, this is an excellent time to remove dead and dying older leaves and roots. It also allows you to pot on any pups that may have appeared. Always wash your hands after handling agaves as the sap can be irritant.

Many Agaves are cold hardy and will happily grow outside year-round given the correct amount of drainage. Choose a spot where they will receive plenty of sunlight. A bright location is essential, especially during cold winter months.

We like to underplant with rocks for two reasons. It will help keep the plant free draining at the base, and it also keeps weeds at bay as Agave can be hard to weed around due to their spines. Its good to use a thick layer of top dress to keep the leaves off the wet soil to avoid rot as the Agave grows.

You can use horticultural fleece to keep the plant dryer if the winters are particularly wet. You could choose to pop a temporary shelter over the Agave for the winter, as this will ensure extra protection against the cold and wet, especially if the Agaves are young and tender.

Positioning 

Positioning Agaves is incredibly important for them to achieve a mature size. Most Agaves prefer full Sun to Part shade. Variegated Agaves prefer part shade as this intensifies the colouring and markings. Position your Agaves where they can’t danger passers-by or pets with their sharp spines.

Watering

Agaves respond well to regular watering once a week during the summer, but if the weather is scorching, sunny and dry, it is always good to water up to 3 times a week. When watering, make sure the free-draining soil mix is thoroughly drenched and well saturated. The best time to water Agaves is early morning when the Sun is less intense. During the winter, Agaves require a lot less water, a slight moistening of the soil is sufficient for the colder months as the plant is dormant. 

Over-wintering Agave

These plants don’t just look tough, they are tough and can deal with all types of extreme weathers, from heatwaves to windstorms and torrential downpours. Some species, such as Agave montana can survive long periods under snow. 

The winters are usually the resting periods for Agave, it is always best to keep the soil on the drier side during these colder months. Sunlight is vital during the winter, as much direct sunlight will ensure a healthy plant come the spring.

You may even choose to snip the spines off the end of the Agave, to make them safer to be around. It also makes it easier to apply the fleece in the winter and prevents puncturing the horticultural fleece. This will not affect the plants in any way but be careful not to cut into the leaf tips.

If Agaves are grown in pots, then they can be moved into a greenhouse, conservatory or indoors on a sunny windowsill for the winter.

Growing tips

  • Use a well-draining soil mix 50% multipurpose compost and 50% grit of perlite.
  • Feed and water regularly during the growing season.
  • Plant at an angle so water can freely run away from the crown.
  • Use a good thick top dress to help the Agave from rotting.
  • Place in a bright sunny location for optimum growth rates.

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Succulent Houseplant Care Guide

Succulents make impressively rewarding houseplants, bringing many benefi...

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Succulents make impressively rewarding houseplants, bringing many benefits to your indoor environment. They bring a sense of wellbeing and are one of the most aesthetically pleasing of all indoor plants. Succulents come in such great sculptural forms with added colour and texture that can brighten up any day.

With the challenges we have all been facing lately, as well as the stresses and strains of life, find your escape by surrounding yourself with amazing succulent plants.

Being surrounded by plants can greatly improve your mental and physical health as well as simply making you happy. What better ways are there to unwind than in your very own planted habitat? Having plants in your home can connect you back to nature, reward you with escapism and giving you a sense of place lowering your stress levels.

There are many reasons why succulents are one of the most popular and rewarding of all houseplants, their aesthetic beauty and low maintenance make them an obvious choice for any keen grower. As indoor plants, succulents are well known for their exceptionally low maintenance, from a succulent terrarium to a potted plant on a windowsill. They require truly little care and attention but reward you with out-of-this-world colour, form and beauty.

Caring for succulents indoors

Soil

Soil mix is very important for succulents, with your plants being indoors you want to grow your plants with a more open mix consisting of 50% peat-free soil and 50% grit or perlite. This nice open mix will allow the root system of the plants to become well oxygenated.

Why is it important to add grit or perlite into an indoor succulent soil mix?

Succulents need a good free draining soil mix to help encourage good strong root growth, adding 50% grit or perlite helps to open the soil and encourage the roots to develop stronger and deeper into the pot. Topdressing the top 2cm of your pots with grit or gravel will help to hold your plants away from the soil and give good aeration to the plant.

Indoor succulents soil mix

50% Peat free compost.

50% Horticultural grit or perlite.

2cm top layer of top-dressing, grit.

Trailing succulent, Othonna capensis

Feeding and watering

You can feed your plants in the growing season or if good light levels and warm temperatures are available then you can feed year-round. A good general feed can be used, or a slow-release fertiliser can be added to your soil mix.

Watering your plants its best to use pots with holes in the bottoms but if your pots do not have this, make sure you do not overwater and flood the plants. Succulents will benefit from a good watering as they are used to torrential downpours in habitat. Drench the soil and let it drain making sure that your plants are not sitting in water. Be sure to let your soil become completely dry before you next water. Overwatering and not allowing the soil to dry out between watering’s can suffocate the root system, so allowing the soil to dry out will oxygenate the roots encouraging strong healthy growth above and below.

A beautiful combination of three indoor succulents, Crassula ‘Buddhas temple’, Crassula ovata minima and Haworthia ‘OB1’

Indoor Light Levels

In general, succulents thrive in high light levels such as a south-facing windowsill or bright room. Some genera of succulents, Haworthia and some varieties of Crassula, can survive in lower light levels but, like all plants, may still need some form of natural light to grow.

There are a few varieties of Echeveria that can become elongated and lose their compact forms as they reach to find more natural light. If you can’t provide enough natural light then you can supplement this with grow lights, this will give you the ability to create a display anywhere in your home.

Succulents come in all shapes and sizes which include trailing house plants, so if you are looking for a small house plant or to create a stunning indoor planted display then succulents are the best house plants by far.

New to succulents? Then why not look at our succulent Gift Page where you can purchase these amazing plants in a kit form.

Want to learn more then check out our succulents care guide.

Succulents featured within the article, Haworthia limifolia ‘Variegata’, x Graptoveria ‘Titubans’ f. variegata, Crassula ‘Lucky Star’, x Graptoveria ‘Milky Way’, Aloe plicatilis, Aloe mitroformis ‘Special Form’.

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Haworthia Care Guide

Haworthia come in a fantastic range of unusual shapes and colours from s...

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Haworthia come in a fantastic range of unusual shapes and colours from spiralling formation to geometric sculptural forms. They are mainly slow-growing plants, most of which enjoy warmer temperatures and don’t require intense light, making them well suited to life indoors. The majority of the Haworthia growing season is in the wintertime. They come in a range of unique colours with many popular hybrids coming out of Asia.

Haworthia are native to South Africa where they can be found growing camouflaged in arid and rocky outcrops, they have adapted to survive in extreme heat with little water required. They are closely related to Gasteria and Aloe and often referred to as rock plant or crystal plants.

They grow in rocky outcrops to disguise themselves from animals, so not to be eaten for their moisture content. Due to this, Haworthia have the most impressively tall flower spikes, this is so they can attract pollinators without exposing their location to thirsty animals. They also have tiny flowers on their very thin flower spikes which are pollinated by flying insects.

Haworthia grow in the sweltering temperatures and will not tolerate frosts or cold weather so are best grown indoors or overwinter in a greenhouse.

Amazing

These plants can be impressive artistically sculptural in growth formation with the most fascinating features, of these being their translucency fleshy parts. Giving these plants the nickname window plants as you can literally look into the centres of the leaves and plants. Haworthia are a talking point in any collection, they are very photogenic for social media platforms with all of their exciting and unusual features.

Colour

One of the most enjoyable parts in growing Haworthia is the impressive range of colours you can achieve in your plants from different heat and light conditions. In low light, they can have a very lush appearance, whereas when grown in hot and intense light levels, they can take on a different array of colouration. There are even hybrids with golden metallic lines in the leaves that look electric.

There are many colourful variegated forms of these unusual plants, but due to the slow growth rates, they can command extremely high prices. The variegation can come in several colours from yellow to the highly collectable and rare pink and orange forms of many of these species.

Some Haworthia have a vast root system in comparison to the plant above. The roots can almost look like a hand made out of parsnips. With these large root systems, Haworthia are typically planted in ceramic pots as the root system can grow and reshape the pot when they run out of growing space.

In habitat, these plants grow very low in the ground with only the tips of the leaves visible, this isn’t necessary when potted as you can admire more of the plant when planted up higher.  

Growing tips

We use a grittier soil mix for all of our Haworthia, of 50 percent soil and 50 percent perlite and grit.

They will benefit from an extra thick layer of top-dress starting at the base of the plant.

You can feed them for faster growth rates, but it will have an influence on the colour with a lusher appearance.

Haworthia require very little water but make sure the soil is dry before its next watering, but water as you would with most succulents, drench the plant but avoid getting the crown of the plant wet.

If your plants look dehydrated, you can water more often or plant your Haworthia deeper into fresh substrate.

Happy plants will look full and plump with a shiny appearance.

Haworthia will enjoy feeding during their growing season.

Haworthia growers often trim the root system to encourage the plant to sprout more roots but be sure to let them heal before watering them. 

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Caring for succulents over winter

There are many reasons succulents may suffer during the winter months but following these key points can help with the survival of your succulent plants in these challenging times.

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Winter succulent care

There are many reasons succulents may suffer during the winter months but following these key points can help with the survival of your succulent plants in these challenging times.

Temperature

When the air temperature is set to drop below 5 °C, and a ground frost is likely, it’s essential to prepare your plants for winter conditions.

At this temperature, a light frost may damage the more tender succulents, and anything below freezing can potentially kill them, this is due to the amount of water stored in their leaves and stems. As water freezes it expands, this can burst the cell structure in the plant causing damage or even killing your plants.

Cold and wet succulents can be very unhappy whereas cold and dry plants can have better chances of survival, as this is more like the conditions of their natural dry habitat. 

Fleece

Wrapping your plants in horticultural fleece is vital for their survival, especially when temperatures drop below freezing. There are many different grades of horticultural fleece ranging from light frost to Heavy frost. We use and sell a specially created heavy horticultural fleece that is designed to protect down to -10. Wrapping your plants in horticultural fleece will help to trap in the warmth radiating from the ground giving your plant a protective environment a bit like wrapping yourself in a blanket. Another significant advantage of using the fleece is that it will help to keep the excessive rain off your plants preventing rotting during this cold, wet time of year.

This horticultural fleece is designed to still allow light and air movement to the plants by having an open weave.

Some essential jobs can be done to help prepare your plants for winter. Succulents can be affected by a multitude of things during the winter time. 

However, good housekeeping will give them the best chance of survival. Remove dead and dying leaves as these can potentially rot causing diseases and fungus to spread.

Moving your plants

You can also move your plants indoors to a greenhouse, porch or conservatory. If this isn’t possible, then there might be dry spots closer to your homes such as carports and lean to’s, roof overhangs or even microclimates in front of glass doors and windows. Here will not only be a warmer spot but will also help to keep the rain off your plants during this wetter part of the year.

Raising your succulents off the ground on to shelves and ledges will help to keep them away from ground frost, this is particularly crucial for unheated greenhouses. Elevating and wrapping your plants in fleece on benches is an excellent way of wintering your plants without having greenhouse heating.

You can also protect your outdoor succulents by covering them with some horticultural fleece, especially if you can’t move your plants when planted in the garden.

Top dressing

Adding a top dress layer to your pots or garden is an excellent way of stopping leaves and stems from rotting. A good thick layer 20 to 30mm of Cornish grit, gravel or stones will be plenty. Helping to hold your plants off and above the wet soil during the winter and help to keep them dryer as more air movement can get around the plant. Top dressing can also reflect light on to your plants.

It’s essential to ensure your succulents get as much light as possible during the winter if you choose to move them still try to give them plenty of sunlight.

Feeding

It’s not recommended to feed your plants over the winter as you want your plants to stop growing and run out of food by autumn. With less food available the plants stop growing, becoming more robust and hardier plants for wintering.

To recap

Protect your plants when night temperatures fall to 5°C and below.

Move your plants to a warmer or dryer location if possible.

Remove dead or dying leaves.

Use a good thick horticultural fleece and wrap your plants.

Use a good thick layer of top dress gravel to hold your plants off the wet soil.

Try to keep your plants in drier locations.

Do not feed your plants between autumn and spring.

Try to give your plants as much light as possible.

Ensure your plants get good air circulation.