How to grow Aizoaceae
Aizoaceae (Aizoaceae Martinov, 1820) are a family of succulent plants belonging to the order of Caryophyllales.
They are plants originating from South Africa but are also found in Madagascar, Corno d’Africa, Arabia, Elba Island, Australia and New Zealand.
About 130 genera belong to this family, a few thousand species and it is divided into five subfamilies: Ruschioideae (with a hundred genera, most of them ex Mesembriantemaceae), Mesembryanthemoideae (eleven genera), Aizooideae (six genera), Sesuvioideae ( four genera), Tetragonioideae (two genera).
In this card we will see how to cultivate Aizoaceae following the most suitable agronomic tricks for this type of succulent plants.
The Aizoaceae are ornamental plants with growth during the flowering period, widespread both at sea level and at 3000 meters.
They have succulent leaves of various shapes, with showy and long-lasting flowers, actinomorphic, hermaphrodite, of tetramer or pentamer type, with a 5-set calyx and corolla with many petals. The androceo presents itself with many stamens, the gynoecium for the most part exceeding 3-4 carpels. The fruit is a dehiscent capsule, subdivided into loggias, which opens when it is wet (igrocastica).
For the cultivation of Aizoaceae it is necessary to start well first of all from the choice of the substrate. This must be porous and permeable to non-acidic pH.
If you cultivate them in pots, the substrate should be made with 60% sand, including limestone, with 30% medium-textured soil and 10% leaf soil. if they are grown in the open ground it is better to choose the area pedologically closer to these characteristics and add the missing parts.
For the choice of the exposition it is taken into account that these plants need as much light as possible throughout the year, even in direct sunlight; in any case, the plants must be used gradually, especially after a new plant, otherwise they risk burns that literally destroy them.
Regarding the temperature this must be characterized by a non-humid climate, with the minimum of 5-6 ° C for plants with summer growth and 10 ° C for those with winter growth (for example: Conophytum, Dactilopsis, Frithia and some Gibbaeum). They are all plants that grow at high summer temperatures.
The water supply must be operated with great caution; first you need to know the growth period, in fact if we supply water during the rest we bring the plant to rot while if we leave it dry in vegetation and during flowering it means to shrivel them. Irrigations should be suspended when the leaves begin to shrink and resume when the first leaves are visible.
However, water should be given in moderation and bush species can winter in the open air. Plants are prone to rotting, especially at collar level, due to excess water.
For cultivation, remember that since they are plants that come largely from the southern hemisphere, they often have very different rates of growth compared to our hemisphere and consequently should not be treated as cacti.
For this reason it is necessary to observe the moment in which the plants enter the vegetation and regulate themselves accordingly. These, in fact, take indications from the day and the temperatures of the hemisphere in which they grow and elaborate their programs accordingly. Furthermore it is good to ensure, even during the winter, a good air circulation; a cold and damp soil causes the vegetative apex to rot, without the possibility of obtaining a cutting from it.
For fertilization it is regulated by supplying organic substance (but without exceeding) before the vegetative restart. After flowering, plants must be allowed a rest period.
For propagation, remember to start from the cuttings that are taken at a very low point so as not to lose the vegetative apex, which, detached from the mother plant, is left to dry for a few days and then planted on dry sand until it is rooted.
Sowing is also possible, practicing this technique in the autumn or spring; the seeds retain their germinative capacity up to 8 years.
Among the adversities, in addition to the problem of rottenness that does not occur in well-drained, non-acid and sparingly irrigated soils, Aizoaceae can undergo infestations of cochineals that can be controlled through a natural insecticide, also prepared by you, to Marseille soap base.