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We have seen that one cannot imitate nature in a garden or glasshouse, even if this were desirable. The English sun is never that of the desert; theseasonsareat variance; and the best ventilation system never allows the constant caress of the wind in the great open spaces. Above all. succulents inhabit so wide a range of contrasted habitats that the most a grower can aspire to do is to create a general environment for the majority, and either forgo nonconformist plants or segregate them for special treatment. He is helped by the fact that, far from being uniform, the conditions within a small glasshouse vary between wide limits. Apart from such obvious differences as the amount of shading at glass and floor level, there are daily and seasonal cycles, as well as fluctuations in humidity and temperature. This is easily demonstrated by watering a batch of identical pots of soil spaced out over a level staging. You will find that they dry out at different rates—those at the margins (and especially those near ventilators) first, and those near the centre, where air circulation is less, taking longer. Thus the experienced amateur is forever shifting his plants around, learning what not to put on a top shelf because of the danger of scorching, and what must go on a top shelf if he is ever to see it flower. Because light is usually a limiting factor, there is stiff competition for the brightest spots, and under the staging go the few kinds (some Aloineae, and epi phytic cacti) that tolerate—but do not relish —partial shade. Propagating trays can also go on the floor, although it is more difficult to keep an eye on them.

Tropical forest epiphytes need their own special treatment: a richer soil mix, partial shade from full sun, and more water and warmth.

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