Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Here's my thoughts on transitioning away from raising coral in reef tanks to growing succulents in pots. 1. Way cheaper to take care of. No large systems of pumps, lights, sterilizers, or protein skimmers. No electricity or water (expensive commodities here in Hawaii). And no large tank and sump - to own or clean. All you need are some cool succulents (or cacti), some nice pots, well draining soil (I found a recipe to produce a great mix) and full sun. 2. They grow just like coral frags. Arrange them to give them some room to grow, or crowd them for a 'look' - they'll be happy no matter what if you just give them good conditions. Coral are awesome to watch grow - especially when they are happy, but that's the hard part. pH, calcium levels, iodine, salinity, temperature, and a host of other parameters you need to monitor... and if one goes out of whack, they all seem to follow. 3. You can go on vacation. Noe and I water our succulent garden just once a week. I couldn't go a couple of days without my makeup water going dry. And trying to explain the RO filter and how much water to use to a prospective reef tank baby sitter was not an easy thing, and certainly a sure fire way to lose a friend. 4. There are way more places that sell succulents and cacti, than coral frags. In fact, in Hawaii it is against the law to sell coral (to protect the reefs - good move). I have seen some tanks that have coral, but I didn't want to get tempted so I just walked away. 5. Succulents will grow from a dropped leaf. I also have taken a liking to agaves and they do similar - grow from offshoots that you can pluck off the mother plant fairly easily. Marlon has noticed I look in planter boxes almost everywhere we go, and he has caught me taking cuttings almost everywhere a public planter box exists. 6. The quest to find new and unusual specimens is an exciting endeavor. Now that we've hit most of the Waimanalo nurseries, I'm thinking we're going to start visiting the farmers markets and maybe even the big swap meets - maybe (I still don't like crowded venues). So from all this it may seem like I've got a huge collection, but it is quite the opposite. Besides what is shown in the pictures, Noe and I have a few more pots and that's it. Being able to keep these plants in close proximity of each other, their relatively slow growth rate and our objective to pick only the best specimens when we go hunting have kept the numbers 'relatively' low. I'll build an outdoor bench to store these pots on and grow them out. Succulents (and agave and cacti, oh and Noe likes air plants too) are really cool plants!