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Save water, grow a cactus.

Countryside: How many of you like cactus and succulent plants? Do you realize that they only use 20 percent of the water compared to regular plants? In the summer most cactus and succulents only need watering weekly, and in winter, once a month. They're the toughest plants around and can tolerate abuse and neglect.

Most people interested in these plants haven't had luck with other types of plants and have done quite well with cacti and succulents. These are mainly from hot, dry, desert areas, such as Africa-South Africa, South-Central America, certain states in North America, Mexico, and some jungle areas. In Southern California they're mainly used for landscaping due to the water shortage, but they grow in the surrounding desert areas.

There are many different types. The most famous is the Saguaro of the Arizona desert areas which live to be 200-300 years old. They grow at the rate of an inch a year. Not all of these plants take so long to grow. Many will reach your greenhouse roof or take over your garden quickly.

One of the most interesting types are sansevierias which mainly come from African countries -- some grow in India and Asia. They're also known as Mother-In-Law, Tongue, and snake plant. They've been around for 200 years. The Victorians used them for interior decorating and they still make fantastic houseplants today.

In the 1950's-60's the USDA in Florida looked into the possibility of using the fiber from these plants. This was before nylon and rayon was discovered. Many of these species are genetically unstable and will turn from one plant to another. Also a certain percentage will variegate and show yellow or white edges or streaks through their leaves. You can find sansevierias and other cactus and succulents at your local market, garden center or nursery. I carry several different types of plants and find that most people love them! -- Phil McAree, 152417th St. #6, Santa Monica CA 90404.
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:McAree, Phil
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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