By: Ellaine Kryss Hubilla
Cacti and succulents are very popular with plant enthusiasts and collectors, but growing them can be a challenge. Sometimes, even professionals have a hard time assessing what their ornamental plant needs—what more for beginners?
For newbies, it is important to remember the three basic things when it comes to taking care of plants: sunlight, water, and air. There is no universal way to care for plants except for monitoring what they need and when they need it. Good judgment is also a great help for a plant to thrive.
Taking care of plants on a more complex note is usually done by professionals and experts. They include a lot of necessary elements when it comes to cultivating their plants such as the involvement of inputs like fertilizers and pesticides. Even the kind of pot to put their plants in plays a vital role in the cultivation process.
An intro to NPK
For advance cactus and succulent care—where inputs are already involved to supply other necessary nutrients that the plant needs to meet the goal of the cultivator, NPK fertilizer is one of the paramount considerations; the Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K).
Nitrogen is responsible for the faster growth of the leaves. It is an important component of chlorophyll—the green pigment in plants responsible for the process of photosynthesis. Nitrogen is also an important component of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein.
Phosphorus stimulates root growth, seed, and flower formation. It also helps in the structural strength of the plant, such as improving the strength of its stems so it can carry fruit. Phosphorus is also responsible for developing the quality of the crop and an increase in seed production.
Potassium promotes all-around well-being of the plant. Cactus and succulents that are deprived of potassium may appear stunted in growth. Potassium is required for all kinds of plants to thrive, especially in changing weather.
These necessary nutrients are what collectors usually feed their plants with. Professionals and experts often take care of their plants with fertilizers that are made of NPK, not just to make their plants look good for ornamental reasons, but also to make them grow with good quality for business purposes.
From a talk by Ron Apostol in a pre-valentine ornamental plant show titled Stuck on You.