Cultivation of Cacti and Succulents in Israel
Growing cacti in Israel
by Shmuel Matityahu
In several ways growing cacti in Israel is different from growing cacti in Europe. I will relate here to the major aspects of this difference:
Unlike European countries which experience temperatures that drop drastically below 0°C, temperatures in Israel only drop to around 5°C, and therefore the watering regime must differ accordingly.
Plants planted in the ground here should be watered once every week during the summer, and once every 10 days to two weeks during autumn. During the winter, watering should be avoided, and during the spring watering should again be every 10 days to two weeks.
Plants planted in pots should be watered:
Spring - Every 10 days to 2 weeks
Summer - Once or twice a week, depending on the pot size and pot material.
Autum - Every 10 days to 2 weeks
Winter - Watering should be very speringly only to avoid complete dryness of the root system.
Light and Shade
Light and shade are important factors for growing cacti and succulents. Too much light could lead to scorching and stunted growth, too much shade could lead to accelerated and unaesthetic growth, to the extent that the plant may become limp and deformed.
Because solar radiation is so intense in our region - especially during the past few years, due to ecological changes - plants must be shielded from direct sunlight during the summer and autumn months, using mesh that provides 20% - 30% shade. During the winter and spring, however, this mesh should be removed.
Cacti and succulents may be grown in every region of Israel without heating, provided that the watering regime is controlled and that when temperatures dip to 5°C or lower, the plants are kept absolutely dry.
In regions where overnight temperatures drop to 0°C or lower, plants may be protected by setting newspaper over them. The newspaper helps maintain a slightly warmer temperature. During the summer, however, when temperatures may exceed 35°C, the plants become stressed. Enclosed locations must be opened up and ventilated as well as possible, to reduce the temperature.
Fertilizing is effective provided that the plant is actively growing. Therefore, around the middle of autumn, say November, fertilizing should be stopped, and should only be resumed again in April or May.
The soil mixture we use is based on a well drained substrate having the following composition:
10% dune sand
40% coarse quartz sand
30% Dutch potting soil
10% dune sand
To summarize, we find that many aspects of cultivation are identical to those outside of Israel. The major factors that must be accounted for here are solar radiation and temperature
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