UO TRAVEL: CACTUS COUNTYMarch 11, 2016
A sprawling mass of greenhouses and conservatories, Pugh’s Cacti houses over 600 species of succulents. The five conservatories, full to bursting with an endless variety of succulents, are nestled away in the heart of the Worcestershire countryside and pay testament to the owner’s love for plant life. The oxygen high on entering the nursery is dizzying; a jungle of succulents so overhwhelming it’s impossible to know where to look first, there are rows upon rows of baby cacti, trailing plants, potted succulents and fully grown, tree-like cacti that have burst through the overhanging netting on the ceiling. We caught up with Chris Pugh of Pugh’s Cacti to find out more about his nursery and his top tips on how to take care of your green friends at home.
UO: Can you tell us a little about your story so far? How did your farm begin and how did it grow to the size of five conservatories?!
It all began when my cousin bought me a cactus for my birthday when I was only seven years old. It quickly became a compulsive hobby for me and I started building up a collection at home. I then went on to work for a local plant nursery that eventually began to buy my own homegrown plants. After working at the nursery for some years, I became convinced that cacti and succulents could be grown and sold wholesale by themselves, rather than as a small add-on to other houseplants. With this in mind, my wife and I bought our present house and land and erected our first small glass and wood greenhouse. Eventually I had enough plants to branch out on my own, and Pugh’s Cacti began. From that small beginning our business has grown to become one of the few British sellers of purely succulents and cacti.
UO: What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day can start from as early as 5.30am if I am off on deliveries around the country. I can travel as far as Cornwall and Manchester – not usually in one day – though it has been known that Wales and the North can be covered in the same day! If I am at home on the nursery, then my day can include watering, potting, planting seed, taking cuttings and doing the dreaded paperwork. I usually have either one of my cats or my son’s dogs to help.
UO: Do you have a favourite succulent/cactus at the farm?
Matucana which are endemic to Peru, where I have been fortunate enough to visit on several research trips.
UO: How many different species do you currently have housed at the farm?
We currently have around 600 different species.
UO: What is the selection process when sourcing new species for the farm?
We tend to source from people who are specialist seed collectors, and we aim to acquire as many new species as we feel may be of interest to collectors.
UO: How long does it take for a cactus/succulent to grow from seed to its full potential?
Quicker growing species take about 20 months, larger or slower growing species 5-8 years. Generally the seed grown on our nursery takes around two to three years.
UO: What do you love the most about cacti and succulents?
The vast diversity and wonderful architecture of the plants, as well as their ability to survive in extreme environments
UO: What are your top tips for looking after cacti and succulents at home?
Remember they do need water! Keep them in a position that gets as much light as possible and feed occasionally in the summer. When watering, water well and allow to dry out before watering again.
Shop cacti and succulents from Pugh’s Cacti at Oxford St, Kensington, Marble Arch, White City, Spitalfields and Manchester stores