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8. When should I water Adromischus plants?

Since Adromischus are succulents, do not water much compared to ordinary pot plants! From UK experience, only the tiniest of pots would need watering more often than once every two weeks in a growing period, and about once ever four weeks when resting. Pots over 4" (10 cm.) would require less than this general guidance. Basically, let the potting mix dry out between watering. Use rainwater if your drinking water is hard (alkaline).

In general, give modest watering all year around. Adro's span both the Eastern summer and Western winter rainfall regions of Southern Africa. However, this does not seem to make much difference to their growing times! They initiate new growth at the start of winter, when the poor UK weather means I can only provide the minimum of water to prevent excessive shrivelling. With warmer days in early spring, I water and fertilise as soon as a possible, to pump the new leaves up to adult size.

Terminal inflorescences rather than leaves are initiated as the days lengthen into summer. I thin out the inflorescences, since they can drop excessive amounts of nectar. Wasps and ants are welcome visitors into the greenhouse to clear up this 'feast'. Otherwise, the nectar turns into spots of mould in the following winter and can permanently scar leaf surfaces.

This is hardly new advice! The above is my attempt to explain how to grow these South African succulents. Below, is advice from 200 years ago, fortunately not too dissimilar, but rather more elegantly worded. A hero of mine, Adrian Hardy Haworth wrote in 1819 in Supplementum Plantarum Succulentarum, page 27, at the end of his Cotyledon section:

OBS. 2. In closing the account of this genus, so enriched from the gardens of Kew, I cannot refrain from transcribing the following passage from Miller, at the end of the same genus, as far as it relates to the culture of succulent plants, because it is worthy of being recorded in letters of gold ; and more especially as the truth it inculcates, or rather complains of, still continues to exist, to the great injury of our succulent collections, almost universally.

Speaking of succulent plants in October, he says,

"at which time you should remove them into the conservatory: placing them as near the windows as possible at first, letting them have as much free open air as the season will permit, by keeping the windows open whenever the weather is good. And now you must begin to abate your waterings, giving it to them sparingly; but you should not suffer their leaves to shrink for want of moisture, which is another extreme some people run into for want of a little observation ; for when they are suffered to shrink [ not die gradually away ] for want of sufficient moisture to keep their vessels distended, they are rendered incapable of discharging this moisture whenever they receive it again."

Miller's Dictionary, ed. 8.

I humbly hope this golden passage from our great horticulturist, will have more effect over those who read it, than all my own more feeble pen has heretofore stated to the same effect.

For, at this enlightened period, it requires but a moderate share of philosophy to allow that air and exercise, and a due supply of warmth and food, are all essential requisites towards the healthful support of every organized being, whether of the animal or vegetable kingdom. And air and the rustling winds are the exercises of plants ; and humidity and water are at least the vehicles which convey their food ; and warmth the medium which adapts them to receive it in a salutary way. Although the degree of warmth actually requisite, is as different for the different species as the differing climates over which the Creator has been pleased to distribute them, by no means at random, but all in harmoniously beneficial order. And those which it has pleased their great Architect to place in equinoxial latitudes appear to be more adapted to the reception of nutriment above ground by absorption from the air, in the dewy places of their nativity, than those whose absorbing orifices are less capaciously expanded in more temperate countries ; or in those still more chilly regions which approach the confines of continual snow. There, the great business of nutrition appears to be from the root almost alone. And hence, perhaps, the impatience which Alpine plants evince to heat, which actually exhausts and overpowers them.

O Jehovah ! in sapientis, ea fecisti. - DAVID.

Last Updated: Dec 2002
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2002 Derek Tribble, London, UK