Evergreen Needle Tea


Winter still rages

 

As winter dredges on, those of us that haven’t yet been affected by the flu virus may soon find it their turn to be laid up and ill. If you have the chance however, the ill effect a virus has can be shortened and soothed by a few home remedies, namely tea-drinking.

While drinking hot liquids when sick can only do one good, not all teas are equally potent in medicinal value. If you are only looking to relax, most teas including fennel, chamomile and mint will provide a comforting dose of warmth and help induce a nap.

 


Mint tea, nothing like a fresh cup of it

 

When gardens are silenced and put to sleep by snow, it is easy to forget that there are still many ways to heal one’s self with home plant remedies. Do not forget that even in winter, there are still many wild remedies available, particularly in evergreen trees.

 


A typical Berlin park in winter, notice the needle-bearing evergreens to the left behind the bridge ready to be ID’d and made into tea

 

For a winter cold or flu, there are four trees in specific that can not only provide much needed relief for any cold or flu but a whopping dose of wild, fresh and potent vitamin C.These trees are Pine, Fir, Spruce and Cedar. All can be found growing throughout Berlin.

You do not need to trudge to the outskirts of town and into the forest to find the trees mentioned above. They are relatively prolific throughout Berlin and to find them means simply take a walk through Tiergarten, Treptow Park, Volkspark Friedrichshain, Hasenheide, any cemetery near you or even a neighboring hof. The best places to harvest any wild food is in areas with less exposure to pollution and away from roadways.

 

Identification

 

Pine, Fir and Spruce, we know these are needle- and cone-bearing, evergreen trees.

Their main differences are:

Spruce
Needles that are: Short and square shaped.
Spruce needles always grow: individually from the branch.

Pine
Needles that are: Long, glossy and thread-like.
Pine needles always grow: in clusters of at least 2 up to 8.

Fir
Needles that are: Short, flat, with a stipe on the bottom.
Fir needles always grow: individually from the branch, in a spiral from the tip.

 


Spruce, right, Pine, middle, and Fir, Left

 

Cedar (Thuja Plicata) is easy to tell apart from the above trees because its leaves resemble scales rather than needles. Its branches have a very distinct smell and bark should be papery, easy to peel off in long strips and reddish in color. The top of a cedar tree often nods. It’s branches grow slightly upward and may droop at the tips. Usually the branches are quite spread out.

 


Western Red Cedar is very easy to identify

 

The only tree to avoid is Yew (Taxus). It is poisonous but easy to identify through observing its bark, berries and needles. Yew bark is red to purple, flaking and thin. They also have bright red, cup shaped berries that persist through winter.

Yew
Needles that are: Short, flat, and a deep, dark green with a white, ridged underside.
Yew needles always grow: In two rows, parallel to each other and flat.

 


Yew’s bark is flaky and its needles flat, two-ranked and relatively soft

 

If you are worried that you will not able to positively distinguish a yew from other needle bearing trees, stick to looking only for cedar and pine trees as they are the two most distinct evergreen trees and are impossible to confuse with yew.

 

Harvesting

 

If you find one evergreen or the other, you could stop your quest, satisfied, and return home for tea. You could also take a moment to see which is which and even compare tastes as each has a slightly different flavor from the other.

Once you have positively identified your evergreen, you can either pick off clusters of needles or find a relatively small branch, trace it back to its main branch and remove it with clippers. If you decide to prune a branch off, cut it all the way back to the main branch, leaving no stump, so that the main branch can effectively heal.

When you have your small branch or cluster of needles back at home, separate the needles from the branch and each other. Make sure to remove any bark that is attached.

Rinse the needles under cold water and remove the papery sheath that binds them together, if present.

 


Nice fresh cup of Pine needle tea

 

For pine needle tea

Bring a quart of water to a boil. Once the water has been brought to a boil, shut off the burner and place pine needles in the pot to steep for 10 minutes.

For spruce, fir and cedar tea

Let the needles boil in a quart of water for 10 minutes.

Stain all of the above teas when ready to drink to avoid getting poked in the face.

For those with stuffed noses or bronchial issues when sick, the steam from boiled pine, fir, spruce or cedar can have great effects. Coarsely chop the softer baby branches with needles and toss into a pot. Bring to a rolling boil. After shutting off the heat, cover your head with a towel and place over the cooling water. Inhale the steam vapors.

 


Get up in it

 

The above teas are extremely potent medicines. You probably want to limit yourself to 2 large mugfuls per day, not drinking needle tea for longer than one week straight (you will not die, you just may have a very upset stomach). You will be better by then at any rate!

Sweeten the teas with natural sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, agave syrup or stevia.

Extra special pine needle tea

For a special treat, you can also make the following pine needle tea:

Two handfuls pine needles
Two pieces cinnamon bark
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp orange peel

Bring to a boil in 2 liters of water and let boil for 10 minutes. Sweeten with desired sweetener.

 


Spruce needle tea

 


A Scot’s Pine (Pinus Sylvestrus) is just one of the few pines native to Europe

 


Silver Fir (Abies Alba) is what we know as the traditional christmas tree

 


Norway Spruce (Picea Abies) is so common in Europe is is often just referred to as European Spruce

 


Western Red Cedar (Thuja Plicata) is native to North America but because of modern horticulture can be found spread through out Berlin

 

Get well soon!
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Gardens in Glass: Terrariums

I have to say, writing this post got me a little excited. Terrariums have to be one of the most curious tangents of indoor gardening. There are just so many options, so many ways to be creative when it comes to terrarium gardening, it is impossible not to daydream over a miniature world enclosed in glass.

 


Impossible not to fawn over an amazing bottled garden.

 

Terrariums were invented in the late 19th century when gardening aficionado Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward noticed a fern sprout inside of a corked bottle in which he had placed a hibernating chrysalis. Terrariums, or Wardian cases as they were called, quickly shot to craft of the year in Victorian England but, after time, became a bygone novelty, only to make a massive come back in the 1970s.

 


Terrariums were the project of the decade circa 1970.

 

Besides being absolutely charming, terrariums are self-sustaining, which means little to no maintenance, and can be made in less than an hour. Terrariums require only in-direct light, which is fantastic for homes without much sun exposure.

 


No south facing windows for terrariums, which is great cause most of us don’t have those anyways.

 

The first step to making a terrarium is choosing a container. Let your imagination run wild! A terrarium can be made from literally any clear glass or plastic container regardless of size, shape or dimension. You could even make a terrarium from something as small as a apothecary bottle. A terrarium can thrive in a cookie jar, wine bottle, decanter, canning jar, crystal flask, goldfish bowl, vase, or a lightbulb. Go to a Trödelmarkt near you and begin to visualize that antique crystal home to a tiny lost garden.

 


Once you learn how to do one terrarium, you will soon be a pro.

 

After you have choosen a container, you will need to lay down an ideal ground for your plants to place their roots. The layers that will fill the bottom of your terrarium will be made up of pebbles, moss, activated charcoal and soil. If you decide on a succulent terrarium, make sure to pick up sand as well. All of the components mentioned above can be found at Obi. You can find moss and potting soil in the gardening department and then navigate to the pet/aquarium department for charcoal and a selection of pebbles.

 


Terrariums can be made out of just about anything, even an old coffee pot.

 

If you can’t fit your hand into the container or have decided on a narrow-necked vase or bottle to house your terrarium:

Make sure to pick up a pair of long-nosed tweezers or chopsticks that can reach well into the vase or bottle as you will be using these to guide your plants in.

You will also need a wire coat hanger to use as a tamper.

And something to fold into a funnel to get your soil and pebbles into the container without making a huge mess.

 


A pinecone feature, left. Cacti and succulent terrariums, right.

 

For any terrarium regardless of size or make, create your ground layer with the above components as follows:

Pebble layer
Minimum one pebble thick for the smallest containers. This layer should a minimum of half an inch thick for regular sized containers, although it can be thicker depending on your desired aesthetic.

Moss layer (preferred but can be optional if you cannot find moss)
Add a layer of moss on top of the pebbles to keep the charcoal and soil from mixing into them. It also holds water and helps keep the terrarium moist.

Charcoal layer
A thin layer of charcoal. This keeps the soil fresh and filters the air within the terrarium.

Soil layer – Potting soil
Minimum one centimeter for the smallest containers. This layer should be minimum one inch thick for normal sized containers, although you can have as much soil as you like, again depending on your desired aesthetic. Where you plants will actually be potted into.

Sand layer – 75% sand, 25% potting soil (For succulent terrariums only)
Minimum one centimeter for the smallest containers. This layer should be minimum one inch thick for normal sized containers, although you can have as much soil as you like, again depending on your desired aesthetic. Where you plants will actually be potted into.

 


Let the creativity flow.

 

Pebble, moss, charcoal, soil. That is all you need! Repeat this formula in any glass container, adjusting the amount accordingly to the workable space within the terrarium.

 


Fishbowls are a good place to start since they are so easy to plant.

 

Finally, your plants. I have seen in the gardening department at Obi a section with baby tropicals for 99 cents each. Mix and match these little plants, in groups of 3 and up. Try to envision them all together, with contrasting colors, leaf size and shape. Get creative with your terrarium plants choosing some plants interesting for foliage and others for ground cover. Mix in tropicals with lucky bamboo, ferns, mosses and lichens. If you can’t find what you are looking for, you can always order from internet nurseries.

 

http://terra-jungle.de/futtertierepflanzen-a-co/terrarienpflanzen-terrariumplants

http://bens-jungle.com/Vivarium-plants

 


A ground layer is illustrated clearly in the center jar, although you layers needn’t be that thick.

 

To pot your plants, simply place them in the soil as you would any plant. If you have a narrow-necked bottle or vase, use one end of your coat hanger to make a divot in the soil for your plant to go. Next, guide your plant though the neck of your container with chopsticks or tweezers. Once you have your plant sitting where you like, bend one end of the coat hanger into a small, flat circle that can pass through the vase or bottle neck to push the soil around the plant and tamp it down.

Lastly, water your plants. Only water enough to slightly dampen the soil. Then you can spritz the plants lightly with a spray bottle. Spritz your plants whenever you want but only water when absolutely necessary, most likely once a month.

 


Plants survive well inside a light bulb, transforming it into a quirky miniature garden.

 

If you cork your container, make sure you open it and allow it dry out once a month. This will rid of condensation build-up and prevent bacteria or mold from taking over.

Place your terrarium out of direct sun. Your terrarium still needs light, so households with no windows or light are not suitable. But north facing window sills are perfect for moss, lichen and fern terrariums and a well lit room, away from the window is perfect for any other kind.

As a final touch, and maybe the best part, decorate your terrarium. Use different colored and textured sand on top of the soil for an interesting look, pebbles, stones, marbles, pieces of broken glass, drift wood, shells, figurines, found objects, and knick knacks of unique interest. The sky is the limit, you are creating a weird and wonderful indoor world for plants to live, maybe with a story, theme or design interest in mind.

 


Wear a terrarium around your neck as a living necklace.

 

Closed vs. open terrariums

You can cap your terrarium if you wish, to further reduce its watering needs. Plants can survive like this indefinitely, as long as they are placed in a warm spot, away from direct light and are kept moist but not wet. I have even seen terrariums in a tiny bottle and worn as a necklace! Open terrariums are standard because it is easier to access the plants and condensation does not build up. Succulent terrariums must always be open as they cannot handle too much humidity.

 


Living stones nestled in sand.

 

More terrarium resources:

http://www.terrarientechnik.de/Terrarienpflanzen:::126.html

http://www.fleischfressendepflanzen.eu/terrarium-kultur.html

http://www.ebay.at/sch/Pflanzen-/63497/i.html

How to Remember to Water Your Plants

I am as guilty as anyone with forgetting to water my houseplants. I could be called lazy, forgetful, undisciplined maybe?

 


I’ll just set this one to fry

 

The two things absolutely crucial to keep tropicals alive, healthy, and beautiful are LIGHT and WATER.

If you place your plant in a location that provides it with its ideal amount of light and pair this with an understanding of its water necessities, you will have long-lasting, non-crispy and rot-free plants that thrive in your indoor environment.

The best thing to do after buying a houseplant is to take a moment to look online and see how much water your plant needs. If there are no care instructions on the label, you might be surprised after researching to find your plant prefers wet soil all the time or to dry out between waterings, maybe it needs no water at all.

 


The saddest cactus in the world. A Spider Plant trying after too much water and not enough light.

 

Knowing this information and remembering to water is a golden ticket to a home made beautiful with houseplants.

 

Put a tray or reservoir under you plants.

 

If you keep a plant tray under a pot, any water that passes through the soil can be absorbed later. If the plant is very water demanding, you can let the reservoir become full. However, if the tray has water left in it after two days, dump it out to prevent any chance of root rot. For a pebble tray, get a large tray and fill it with halfway with pebbles. Place the plant pot on the pebbles and continue to fill. This can act as a reservoir of water in times of need, ensuring the plant isn’t sitting in stagnant water and also providing much needed humidity.

 


Pebble trays look great and serve a purpose, left. Orchids on a slated tray for humidity, right.

 

Keep a water reservoir in your living area.

 

Wherever you keep plants, keep a container that you can get water from in a corner or protected area. This could take the form of a filled watering can set beside a plant to be used when needed or a spray bottle. If your house is large enough and your plants numerous, you could have a bucket with a cup or watering can hid behind a gathering of plants or a floor plant pot where it won’t be disturbed.

 


It can’t hurt to keep a loaded watering can. Owl figurines to put into pots and fill with water, right.

 

Keep your plants in the kitchen or bathroom.

 

Light permitting, keep your plants in the kitchen or bathroom. If plants are near a water source, you will find it incredibly easy to water. Keep a cup beside the plants so that you can simply put it under a faucet and water.

 


If you have your plants by a window and a faucet, its not too far from the tap.

 

Use upside down wine or beer bottles and cut plastic bottles.

 

If you fill a wine or beer bottle with water and place it in the soil surrounding your plant, the water will leak out on its own when the plant needs it. Make sure you don’t place it into the root ball or you may harm your plants roots. A plastic bottle cut in half and filled with water can fulfill the same purpose (albeit with less class).

 


A wine or beer bottle making a fine self-irrigation system.

 

Use technology.

 

Koubachi is a free iTunes App that you can download to your phone to remind you when to water. After you pick your plants from a database, you will be notified to water according to a schedule individual to each plant.

 

Put your plants in the shower.

 

If you have time, you can place all of your houseplants that like a thorough watering together in the shower, turn the water to just below room temperature and leave them for 5 minutes. If you have a shower head with a hose, you can water them individually and even dust the leaves.

 


Plants taking a bath and a shower.

 

Water your plants on the same day of every week, at the same time.

 

Make a space in your life to water your plants. Water them on a certain day, at a time you know you will always have free, every week. Set an alarm on your phone or computer to remind you.

 


Setting aside time for your plants is essential.

 

Enjoy watering your houseplants.

 

The number one way to remember to water your houseplants is to enjoy doing it. Do it while you are tidying your house, drinking a cup of tea or after breakfast. Maybe you do it to have a few moments per day of solitude. It can be a time of reflection, happiness through relaxation, and peace.

 


Enjoy watering your plants with a cup of tea

 

Indoor ferns and palms need the most water. They need to have their soil moist at all of the time and/or to be sprayed with a misting spray bottle. Orchids like to sit in a wet cup with soil, which is how you will find them potted from the garden center. Monstera and Philodendron like lots of water and it is the key to growing them quickly and very large. Cacti and succulents are very well known for their low water requirements but also ZZ plant and Sanseveria need only a small cup of water once a month. A Yucca’s leaves will yellow in response to being overly watered and prefers to be dry as well. You can spritz these plants whenever you want however to clean their leaves.

 


Hang out with your houseplants. Don’t be afraid to poke the soil to see if it needs water

 

The majority of houseplants, those that need frequent watering but also to dry out a little between, just need to have their soil touched to determine moisture level and if watering is necessary.

When a plant is pulling away from the sides of the pot, it is due for a watering. Letting a plant dry out and then subsequently over-watering it can be detrimental. If at all possible it is best to water your plant at regular intervals, making sure the soil is always just slightly spongy to the touch.

 

 

Happy watering!

What is Permaculture?

Ever heard the word “permaculture”, had an inkling as to what it meant but never quite knew the details? This week, Daisy Dukes is here to give you the lowdown on one of sustainable gardening’s most important movements.

 


Companion planting

 

Simply put, permaculture is about design.

 

Permaculturalists model gardens based on processes found in nature. In essence, they are agriculturalists, farmers and gardeners that farm and garden in a way that best harnesses, utilizes and disposes of natural resources, just as nature does itself.

 

Permaculture takes into account the natural resources we have at hand – water, earth, air, the sun, and geothermal energy – and determines how one can design their landscape to use these elements as productively and harmoniously as possible. Through good design you can reduce waste, limit energy consumption and maximize sustainability.

 

Look at the size of that motherfucking cabbage (note mulch to right.)

 

There are a few words essential to this philosophy…

 

Waste and Productivity

 

The principal tenant of permaculture is to reduce waste. Nature is seen as non-waste producing since everything produced by it is eventually used and done so over and over again. The most basic example of this would be the leaves of a tree. A tree produces leaves in spring, sheds them in autumn where they then decompose and are used to nourish saplings in spring. These saplings grow into summer, produce leaves of their own and shed leaves in fall to nourish themselves and new saplings the following year.

 

In this way, a permaculturalist can say that nature is the most productive element on earth. It wastes nothing and uses its own forces to replenish itself and feed and nourish all living creatures on earth.

 

Reducing waste in permaculture can be seen in composting and rainwater barrels. Composting utilizes what would otherwise be considered a waste product as a fertilizer and nutrient giver to next years gardens. Instead of pumping water through pipes from afar and needlessly draining watersheds, the natural system of rainfall is harnessed to collect and store water to sustainably irrigate crops and gardens.

 

By observing nature and mimicking the way it manages itself, we can reduce waste and know efficient productivity.

 


An attractive rain barrel for collecting rain water

 

Energy and Sustainability

 

Limiting energy consumption not only has to do with your heating bill or electricity usage. It also has to do with a person’s own energy and physical labor. Permaculturalists find ways to reduce a person’s load of labor through sustainable practices that in the end may end up being more productive.

 

If you find yourself in the garden toiling tirelessly against weeds and pests, you may be doing something wrong. A permaculturalist would quickly assert that we can look to nature for a better way. In this instance, the easiest solution would to be place a layer of mulch on your garden. This can drown out weeds and also protect the soil from nutrient depletion through sun and rain.

 

You could also plant companion plants that do not compete with crops but fix nitrogen into the soil, shade the soil so that weedier plants cannot grow beneath them, repel pests and help with pollination. Nasturtiums deter pests from lettuce plants, horseradish keeps potato pests away, onions repel carrot flies and peppermint deters aphids. These are just a few examples.

 


Marigolds planted among swiss chard to ward off pests

 

Because all these methods are completely natural, they are also infinitely sustainable.
These gardens consume less in order to grow. Water consumption is lowered by using rainwater, the dependency on fertilizers and pesticides is reduced through on-site composts and mulch from vegetable or farm animal waste, less energy is then spent revitalizing soils.

 

Homes are made energy-efficient through conscious design. This could include the height of your ceilings, which was your home is facing and where your windows are placed. This affects solar harvesting, minimizing the reliance on artificial heating and promoting natural cooling by understanding airflow through your house. If interested, a person could also find natural sources of power such as a local waterway or though home wind turbines and solar panels.

 

Zones and Layers

 

Zones are an intelligent way to design a permaculture area. The zones run 0 though 5 and exist in a permaculture design to better a person’s understanding of their relationship to the natural places they interact with.

 


Permaculture garden with rain barrel in center, definitely a zone 2.

 

Zone 0 is your home. Here you can harvest sunlight. This can be for yourself and your personal happiness or maybe for your houseplants. As an idea, you could have solar panels to harvest energy for home appliances, heating and so on in this zone.

 

Zone 1 is the zone closest to the home zone and where you should plant things that require daily attention and watering. This reduces the energy that you spend trekking yourself and resources to and fro, for example carrying water or compost across a yard to an area you put them daily . You wouldn’t want to have to go far do these things, especially since you might lose interest and discontinue to do so.

 

Zone 2 is for perennials, larger garden areas and compost bins, zone 3 main crop areas, zone 4 semi-wild areas and zone 5 completely wild areas. The zones are organized according to the frequency of maintenance required and level of cultivation.

 

Permaculture also analyzes the layers of how humans, nature and animals connect and interact in order to better efficiency, productivity and harmony. Nature is layered with canopies, lower tree layers, shrubs, herbaceous plants, rhizospheres, vertical growing plants and the soil’s surface. One can observe how these various layers interact with one another to subsist, grow and perpetuate indefinitely.

 

Animals in permaculture are an interesting layer. Chickens for example are not just an egg producer limited to a coop. In permaculture, what energy a chicken consumes, what productivity it will then yield, and how to best structure its life to exercise its assets while allowing it live naturally are all assessed.

 


Bet you never knew a chicken was so layered.

 

An interesting example of this are mobile chicken coops. When I was farming in the Queen Charlotte Islands in British Columbia, Canada, the couple who owned the land where I stayed built a strange chicken cage with this very purpose. It was made of wire, arched, with a roof for shade and no floor. When they were in the field they would put chickens into it and place it in between the rows of vegetables, advancing it every so often. The chickens would pick at the ground, eating pests and insects and till the top soil with their constant scratching and pecking. What they ate came out as fresh manure. They were also quite happy to be outside of course. It was a win-win situation for all, as innovative and strange as it was!

 

The relevance this has to all of us and especially food production is that it is all possible. Permaculture in its essence strives to be simple. It may not be feasible to convert all of your energy to solar or have chickens run through your rooftop garden but a lot can be achieved in little ways. This could include collecting a little rainwater to use for gardens in addition to city water supplies or simply using a Bio bin. For industry especially, waste reduction is not only in their best interest in terms of efficiency but reusing resources could potentially maximize profitability.

 

If you are interested in finding out ways to integrate permaculture into your life, Berlin has a very active permaculture community which can be accessed through the links below.

 

Permakultur Akadamie
Kreuzigerstr. 19
10247

Website:
http://www.permakultur-akademie.net/front_content.php?idcat=1

Calendar of events:
http://permakultur-akademie.net/front_content.php?idcat=59&lang=1

 

Permakultur Zentrum Berlin
Kiehnwerderallee 1-3
12437

Website:
http://permakultur-zentrum-berlin.de/geschichte/

 

Permakultur Projekte (seminars and outdoor training from Nino Permakultur)
Schierker Straße 9 a
12051 Berlin

Website:
http://www.permakultur-projekte.de/

Price list:
http://permakulturprojekte.de/index.php?id=preise

Caring for Cacti

Beginning of a Cactus garden on my windowsill (not much but more to come!)

 

Cacti are universally regarded as the simplest indoor plant to care for. But don’t be fooled, even though these beautiful desert plants promise very little in the way of maintenance and require virtually no water, they still need just a few moments of your time in order to be loved and flourish.

Cacti are often called succulents, the same types of plants as Jade and Aloe Vera. “Cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are Cacti” (not meant to be a riddle!). These plants are woody shrubs with thick fleshy bodies and/or leaves that hold large amounts of water.

 

 

 

The cactus first made its appearance nearly 30 to 35 million years ago after global cooling created the arid conditions necessary for members of the Cactoideae family to thrive. Since then, botanists have identified nearly 2000 species of cacti.

They are a very diverse plant, inhabiting sandy deserts, grasslands and mountains, even shady tropical forests. The role they have played in human evolution and development is unmistakable: they have been a food source, a living canteen, a medicine, a strong hallucinogen and a religious object.

If there is one thing they are known for, it is their barbed exterior. The spines of a cactus are essentially dead woody fiber.

Although it may seem that their only function is to prick you unforgivingly when you’ve mishandled them, these spines are essential to cacti survival. Protection from predators is but one purpose along with protection from the sun, a place for dew to collect (which will then be used as a water source) or a way to self-seed when latched onto those who come too close.

 

 

 

Cactus Wisdom

 

The most important rule when caring for a cactus is providing it with light.

This is why most cacti find themselves on windowsills although a sunny shelf or countertop will do the trick. But you must give your cactus sufficient LIGHT.

I have found cacti under blankets, tucked in corners, left in closets. They wither, brown and shrivel. All they need is light. Put your cactus into the LIGHT.

 

Do not over water.

This is what makes cacti great. You hardly need to water them.

Okay, I will admit it. I have killed many, many a cactus in my time. Those defenseless little cacti…I overwatered them. Yep. I became so frustrated, it seemed there was nothing I could do to stop them from shriveling and looking like little exhausted cactus bags.

I dropped water on the soil with an eyedropper. Dead. Filled a saucer and let them soak up water from the bottom? Dead. Transplanted them and watered only once every 2 months….jeez! These things won’t stop dying! So what is the trick? The secret was given to me by a friend. He told me…”just mist the top of the soil with a spray bottle”.

And there it is, the golden number one rule to watering cacti…when you see soil is too dry, that is, pulling away from the sides of the pot, that your cacti are looking a little worse for wear, gently mist the top of the soil once every 3 weeks to a month.

 

Cacti do not like to have their roots messed with.

If you can avoid it, do not transplant your cactus. If you can’t resist a little cactus dish garden or just found some incredible pot you think is going to make your cactus look sauve, try to disturb the roots as little as possible.

When transplanting a cactus, move them to the smallest container possible that they will fit in. Cacti do not need expansive pots to fill as their roots grow very, very slowly. At best you may need to repot your cactus once every 1 to 2 years.

When you decide to do so, move them up to a pot just one size bigger. Make sure the bottom has holes in it and is filled with some good drainage material such as stones, broken glass pieces, beads, marbles, anything that will get water flowing out of there. Then mix some organic material (i.e.. compost) with sand (or vermiculite) for good drainage and fill the bottom of the pot 1/3 full. Place your cactus on top and continue to nudge the rest around the root ball until the container is filled with your soil mix.

 

 

Do not fertilize.

Cacti do not need to be fertilized. Unless you are growing them in a greenhouse for propagation.

 

Put your Cacti outside in the summer months.

They will love you for it. You want to bask under the sun too right? When temperatures begin to drop below 13 celcius at night, you can bring them back inside. And damn, they will look good.

 

Cactus keep pricking you?

Wrap a large cactus in a towel or newspaper in order to move it. Make sure you keep one hand under the pot so they don’t slip out!

 

 

You can divide your cacti.

Sometimes your cactus is having such a good time where you put it, it decides its time for some little ones. You can keep these new little cacti where they are or you can transplant them to another pot.

Again, try to disturb the roots of the mother plant as little as possible while gently separating the smaller cactus from the root ball. Plant in a small pot appropriate to its size with the soil mix mentioned above and you have a new addition to your cactus garden.

 

Don’t give up.

Sometimes people think that once their cactus is shriveled, browned or dead looking, they are gone forever. Cacti can be revived. Just put them into the light, mist their soil and do not disturb. Follow this for 6 months and if you have the patience and put in the time, they just might surprise you.

 

Love them. Cacti are neat. All they need is love!