President’s Message: August, 2022

How is everyone holding up in the midst of this summer heat? Not only do we have the heat to deal with but when the humidity goes up, it makes being outdoors that much more sticky and intolerable. Sometimes having a cold drink just isn’t enough to temper the hot air.

Sometimes you just want to do nothing but to sit still and go to sleep. Imagine how our
succulent plants deal with the extreme heat. Some you don’t want to over-water or water at all. Some will want to sleep as well.

One quick answer to how succulents deal with the heat is to go dormant. The word
dormant is derived from the Latin word dormire, meaning “to sleep.” When growing
conditions are not optimal for plants, such as high temperature, their cellular and biological functions will greatly decline. Without going into a detailed chemistry explanation, basically the plant shows slow growth or no growth at all. Many plants go dormant either in the winter or in the summer season. Dormancy allows the plant to protect itself during inclement weather so as to wait for more optimal growing conditions to return.

Deciduous plants and trees in the cold climates exhibit this dormancy very noticeably.
Their leaves lose the chlorophyll function; reduce photosynthesis activity; and therefore, go through a myriad of spectacular color changes. Succulents usually have less remarkable dormancy changes but it is important that you recognize these changes as well. Most noticeably, some succulents will also lose their leaves, like Tylecodon, Cyphostemma, and Pachypodiums. In general, dormant succulents will halt growth, may shrink a little, fade incolor, or look desiccated.

It is important that you do not ignore your succulents during its dormancy state. Some will require drastically less water while still needing adequate sunlight. Remember not to use any fertilizer if you are to water any dormant succulents. Avoid repotting or transplanting! Take care of your dormant plants well and they will grow out of dormancy well.
Here’s a list of some types of succulent plant dormancy:

Winter DormantSummer Dormant

See you at the meeting!

Phuc Huynh
President, Gates Cactus and Succulent Society

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