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Cacti And Succulent Culture

Course CodeVHT108
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Become a Succulent and Cacti Expert -

  • Learn to identify and grow many different succulents and cacti
  • For the enthusiast or commercial grower.
  • Start a business or further your career prospects
  • Study anytime, from anywhere and at your own pace

Lesson Structure

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Review of the system of plant identification
    • Physiology
    • Information sources
  2. Culture A.
    • Planting
    • Staking
    • Mulching
    • Soils
    • Feeding
    • Pruning etc.
  3. Propagation
    • Methods of propagating cacti & succulent plants
    • Propagation of selected varieties
  4. Using Cacti & Succulents
  5. Culture B.
    • Pest & Disease
    • Irrigation
    • Greenhouse growing
  6. Cacti developing your plant knowledge.
  7. Succulents developing your plant knowledge.
  8. Special Project

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Develop knowledge of botanical naming conventions and their application in understanding the horticultural potential of cacti and succulents.
  • Evaluate needs then select or improvie growing media for cacti and succulents
  • Propagate different types of cacti and succulents
  • Explain a range of uses for cacti and succulents
  • Manage growing conditions for cacti and succulents
  • Explain the cultivation of a range of cacti.
  • Explain the cultivation of a range of succulents.

What is a Succulent?

The Oxford Dictionary defines a succulent as “having thick, fleshy leaves or stems, adapted to storing water”. Other definitions also include roots. Some definitions on the other hand only include leaves, which excludes many plants that botanists generally considered as succulents, such as cacti and other stem succulents.

Defining succulents is further complicated as the degree of succulence varies. The thicker the plant's structure is and the more water it contains, the more succulent it is. Some plants are very succulent while others are barely succulent.

Cacti are succulents who are members of just one particular botanical family. Other succulents belong to a wide range of other families. They all share succulent characteristics; but cacti have other characteristics that set them apart.

How then Do Succulents Conserve Water?

Different succulents have different mechanisms. The root hairs on most flowering plants, including succulents, will die off during times of drought, and regrow when the soil becomes moist again. The thing that is different about most succulents, is that their root hairs can regrow much faster than other plants. After rain, succulent root hairs may grow back and begin absorbing water and nutrients within 24 hours.

Plants have stomata on the surface of their leaves and stems. The stomata can open to allow carbon dioxide to enter the plant. Carbon dioxide is needed for photosynthesis. The stomata are also involved in transpiration. When they are open, the stomata allow water vapour to escape. In most plants the stomata are open during the day. In many succulent plants, on the other hand, the stomata are closed during the day and open at night, reducing the loss of water. In these plants the uptake and fixation of carbon dioxide occurs at night. Carbon dioxide is stored in form of malic acid until it is released during the day for photosynthesis. Plants with this carbon fixation pathway are known as CAM plants. CAM stands for crassulacean acid metabolism.

Meet some of our academics

John Mason John Mason is one of Australia's most prolific writers. He saw his first work published when at secondary school, where he worked on the school magazine. In 1973 he was writing a weekly column for his local newspaper and by 1975 he was a regular contributor to Australia's national magazine "Your Garden". John was engaged by Victoria's Dept of Youth, Sport and Recreation to write a book on Fun and Fitness Trails in 1978. In 1981 he saw two more books published (one in America, another in Australia), and commenced writing regularly for the Self Sufficiency Magazine, Grass Roots. John is a long term member of the Australian Society of Authors, the Garden Media Guild (UK) and the Horticultural Media Association (Australia). He has written or contributed to over 100 books, many published by international publishers and published more than 2,000 articles across a range of genres (Gardening, Education, Business, Farming, Fitness). In addition, John has contributed to and overseen the development of more than 600 distance education courses which encompass around 20 million words. He has been an avid photographer for 40 years, building a collection of over 100,000 images, which are used to illustrate his work. His marine animal photos are even used by Legoland in England, on their Atlantis ride! Writer, Manager, Teacher and Businessman with over 40 years interenational experience covering Education, Publishing, Leisure Management, Education, and Horticulture. He has extensive experience both as a public servant, and as a small business owner. John is a well respected member of many professional associations, and author of over seventy books and of over two thousand magazine articles.
Diana Cole B.A. (Hons), Dip. Horticulture, BTEC Dip. Garden Design, Diploma Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Life Long Learning Sector), P.D.C. In addition to the qualifications listed above, Diana holds City & Guild construction qualifications and an NPTC pesticide spraying licence (PA1/PA6). Diana runs her own landscape gardening business (Arbella Gardens). Active in many organisations including the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers.
Yvonne SharpeRHS Cert.Hort, Dip.Hort, M.Hort, Cert.Ed., Dip.Mgt. Over 30 years experience in business, education, management and horticulture. Former department head at a UK government vocational college. Yvonne has traveled widely within and beyond Europe, and has worked in many areas of horticulture from garden centres to horticultural therapy. She has served on industry committees and been actively involved with amateur garden clubs for decades.

Check out our eBooks

Growing and Using Perennial PlantsWhen designed and grown well, a perennial garden produces a blaze of colour for many months – starting in spring, flourishing through summer, and beyond into autumn.
Tropical PlantsA comprehensive ebook that covers hundreds of plant genera, species and cultivars suited to the tropics and subtropics such as indoor plants and those grown in protected areas in milder climates. Chapters include: How to Grow Tropicals, Bulbs and Perennials, Low Growing Plants, Climbers, Trees and Shrubs, Creepers, Conifers, Bamboos and Grasses, and Palms. Previously published in print form by Kangaroo Press (Simon and Schuster). 120 pages, 137 photos
OrchidsA colourful guide for students, home gardeners and orchid enthusiasts. The first part deals with growing orchids, and the second covers dozens of orchid genera, and hundreds of cultivars. Explore orchids as cut flowers, container plants, indoor plants and outdoor garden plants, in both tropical and temperate climates, across the world.
Plant Pests & DiseasesThis is a great guide to understanding, identifying and treating problems in your garden. Discover how to systematically examine and determine what is wrong with plants. Read about all of the main types of pests, diseases, and other problems that can occur, from frost damage to viruses. 197 pages