Cacti & Succulents

Study cacti and succulents - follow a passion, enhance a career or business.

Course Code: VHT108
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Growing cacti and succulents can be rewarding, but the correct conditions must be created to produce the most satisfying growth. Succulents are frequently easy to grow, but it can be harder to grow superb specimens. The main requirements of cacti and succulents is strong light, adequate drainage, and to be sufficiently dry during any dormant period.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Review of the system of plant identification
    • Physiology
    • Information sources
    • Three Cacti tribes -Perskia, Opuntia, Cerus
    • Main succulent genera
    • Pronouncing Names
  2. Culture A.
    • Planting
    • Staking
    • Mulching
    • Soils
    • Feeding
    • Pruning etc.
  3. Propagation
    • Methods of propagating cacti & succulent plants
    • Propagation of selected varieties
    • Seed, Cuttings, Grafting
  4. Using Cacti & Succulents
    • Edible succulents
    • Garden Design
    • Garden Styles
    • Mexican gardens
    • Using Colour
    • Rock Gardens
    • Growing Cacti or Succulents in containers
  5. Culture B.
    • Pest & Disease
    • Irrigation
    • Greenhouse growing
  6. Cacti developing your plant knowledge.
    • General guidelines for growing cacti
    • Review of Cacti Genera
    • Zygocactus -featured plant
  7. Succulents developing your plant knowledge.
    • Review of Succulent Families
    • Bromeliads -featured plants
    • Kalanchoe
    • Sansavieria
  8. Special Project
    • PBL - Plan the establishment of a collection of different cultivars of either Cacti OR Succulents suited to growing in a specified locality.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Aims

  • Develop knowledge of botanical naming conventions and their application in understanding the horticultural potential of cacti and succulents.
  • Evaluate needs then select or improvie growing media for cacti and succulents
  • Propagate different types of cacti and succulents
  • Explain a range of uses for cacti and succulents
  • Manage growing conditions for cacti and succulents
  • Explain the cultivation of a range of cacti.
  • Explain the cultivation of a range of succulents.

How to Grow Cacti in Pots

Many Cacti and succulents do particularly well in containers, because container growing is able to provide well drained conditions and periods of dryness that they are adapted to in nature.

Cacti and succulents generally contain a lot of fleshy or watery tissue. Such tissues are in fact storing water; and when the soil goes very dry for an extended period, they may be able to draw on the reserves of moisture held in that tissue. This can make many of these plants able to survive if you forget to water them, if grown under a roof or during long dry spells (When many other plants may well dry up and die).

Growing these plants in tubs or other containers has certain advantages and disadvantages.  Above all, plants in tubs are flexible   they make a landscape  (or inside décor) changeable.  Tub plants can be removed out of view when they are sick and returned when they become healthy again. Plants in tubs need more watering and feeding than those in soil.  It is essential that the tub be properly drained.  Sufficient holes in the bottom of the tub, and perhaps some large stones for a layer below the soil are needed.  Non glazed ceramic containers will drain through the water absorbent walls and generally require a soil mix which retains more moisture.  Glazed ceramics and plastics absorb no moisture at all though the sides of the pot, thus need more holes in the bottom.

Cacti and succulents can be provided with excellent drainage if grown in containers.  These plants (as is the case with most plants) do better with water when putting on growth –but when the weather is cold and growth stops, watering can make them more susceptible to root rots. A cacti in a pot can be put in a dry place, and watering stopped over winter; and that can reduce the likelihood of disease attack. When the weather warms, it can be watered again; which helps encourage growth. In this way a containerised plant may be managed more easily than one in the ground.
 

WHERE CAN YOU USE CACTI AND SUCCULENTS?

If you choose an appropriate species, succulents or cacti can be found to use in most garden situations. Though often grown as a “succulent” area in a garden, many can also be mixed in with non-succulent plants e.g. plants such as Sedums work well and are often used with other plants in garden borders

Consider choosing and using cacti or succulents in the following ways:

  • As a ground cover; at the front of a garden bed; as a lawn substitute, in open spaces between taller plants or between pavers in a pathway or patio.
  • As a container plant; singly with one per pot or tub or many plants in a larger container such as a trough or large hanging basket.
  • As a border plant, edging a path or garden bed.
  • As an architectural plant. Taller growing succulents or cacti (e.g. some agaves, yucca), and species with larger strap like leaves are often used by garden designers and landscape architects, to provide interesting or contracting forms in a landscape.
  • For roof gardens or vertical gardens
  • For colour - the diversity of colour in foliage can be used to create dependable, all year colourful affects. Consider: if you plant a mass of azaleas, the mass is only colourful when the plants are in full flower; but if you plant a mass of succulents, you can have a splash of red, blue or gold in part of a garden for 12 months of the year.
  • Most non-succulents burn, but most succulents do not and as such can be considered as fire retardant plants.

 

 

 

Principal of ACS Distance Education, John Mason, is fellow of the CIH.

Member Nursery and Garden Industry Association.

Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.


How can I start this course?

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Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

John Mason (Horticulturist)

Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant.
Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK.
He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world.

Adriana Fraser (Horticulturist)

Over 30 years working in horticulture, as a gardener, propagator, landscape designer
, teacher and consultant. Adriana has spent much of her life living on large properties, developing and maintaining her own gardens, and living a semi self sufficient li

Jacinda Cole (Horticulturist)

B.Sc., Cert.Garden Design. Landscape Designer, Operations Manager, Consultant, Garden Writer.
She was operations manager for a highly reputable British Landscape firm (The Chelsea Gardener) before starting up her own landscaping firm. She spent three ye





Tutors

Meet some of the tutors that guide the students through this course.

Parita Shah

Parita has a Masters Degree in Horticulture specializing in Plantation, Spices, Medicinal and Aromatic crops and Organic farming. She has worked as a freelance consultant, and in an Avocado nursery in NSW as grafting and preparing avocado clones.

Timothy Walker

Timothy is a Botanist, Horticulturist and Gardener. He is an Author, and also a lecturer at Somerville College, Oxford. After training at a number of gardens including Windsor Great Park and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Timothy commenced work at Oxford Botanic Gardens in 1986. Appointed as "Horti Praefectus" (Superintendent/Director) there in 1988, he held that position until 2014. Under Timothy's watch, the garden won four gold medals at the Chelsea Flower Show, and developed 67 acres of MG5 wild flower meadow at the Harcourt Arboretum; a UK threatened habitat. Timothy remains an active practical gardener as well as a highly respected international academic in the fields of horticulture and plant botany.

Jan Kelly

Jan has around 50 years experience in horticulture, including over 20 years as owner/manager of a wholesale / retail nursery. She has worked in both Australia and New Guinea, in many different capacities, including as a horticultural consultant and landscape designer for domestic and development projects, with considerable experience in Conservation & Land Management. Jan has been a trainer of Amenity Horticulture and Landscape Design for 10 years.

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