Cactus plant: home care, types, varieties, watering and transplanting


Houseplants

Cactus (Latin Cactaceae) belongs to the Cactus family, represented by perennial flowering plants. The family is divided into four subfamilies. The word "cactus" is of Greek origin. Karl Linnaeus introduced this name in 1737 as an abbreviation for "melocactus" (thistle) because of the thorns that cover the representatives of the Cactus.
It is suggested that cacti evolved evolutionarily about 30-40 million years ago, and, despite the fact that fossil cacti have not yet been found anywhere, it is believed that the homeland of cacti is South America, and they spread to the northern continent not so long ago - no more than 5-10 million years ago. Thus, it can be considered that cacti are plants of the New World.
And today the habitat of the cactus in nature is South and North America and the islands of the West Indies. In addition to the American continent, in natural conditions, the cactus plant can be found in Africa, Madagascar and Sri Lanka - they say that the seeds of cactuses were brought there by birds.

Planting and caring for cacti

  • Bloom: depends on the species.
  • Lighting: bright sunlight (southern windowsills).
  • Temperature: in spring and summer - common for residential premises, in winter cooler conditions are desirable - 6-14 ˚C with regular ventilation and no drafts.
  • Watering: moderate as soon as the substrate is dry. In cold or rainy weather, watering is not carried out even in summer. In winter, many types of cactus are watered once a month or not watered at all. In the spring, at the first signs of the beginning of growth, spray the cacti with water, and when they start to grow, spend 2-3 bottom watering with water at a temperature of 28 C to saturate the substrate with moisture. However, keep in mind: such baths are harmful to pubescent and woolly species.
  • Air humidity: low.
  • Top dressing: once a week during the period of active growth on a pre-moistened soil with a weak solution of a mineral complex for cacti (a mixture of Kadatsky). In winter and with annual transplants into a fresh substrate, cacti do not need additional feeding.
  • Rest period: November to March or after flowering.
  • Transfer: as needed, in the spring, at the beginning of active growth. Young cacti are replanted annually.
  • Reproduction: usually children, but you can also seeds.
  • Pests: mealy root and mealy stem bugs (hairy aphids).
  • Diseases: dry and black rot, late blight, rhizoctonia, helminthiasis, fusarium, spotting and viral diseases.

Read more about growing cacti below.

Botanical description

Many cacti and succulents have taken root in indoor culture and have been growing on our windowsills for more than one hundred years. However, succulents and cacti are not the same thing: if all cacti are succulents, then not all succulents are cacti. We will tell you what is the difference between them, how to plant a cactus, how to grow a cactus, how to properly water a cactus, how to care for a cactus at home and what methods are used to propagate cacti.

The cactus plant differs from succulents in the presence of an areola - a special organ that is a modified axillary bud with scales transformed into spines or hairs, although many varieties have both. Another difference between cacti and succulents is the structure of their flowers and fruits - part of the flower and the fruit of the cactus is at the same time part of its stem. There are still up to a dozen differences that are of interest only to scientists, and we will not write about them.

It is very difficult to give a description common to all cacti, and we will dwell on their varieties in detail in a special section. Let's just say that the cactus houseplant attracts with its exotic appearance and ease of care, which even a beginner can do. The common features of all cactus plants are pronounced periods of growth, flowering and dormancy, and the cactus root is not able to absorb a large amount of nutrients, therefore the annual growth of plants of this family is very modest.

Caring for cacti at home

Growing conditions

Home cactus is unpretentious and hardy, but if you want to see your "thorns" in the best shape, create conditions for caring for cacti close to natural.

Since we are talking about one of the most light-loving plants, you need to know that cacti at home often lack lighting, so the best place for them is the southern windowsill. In summer, they feel good in the fresh air - on a lighted balcony, terrace and just in the garden, in winter they do not need light so much, therefore, cacti that have entered a dormant period can be rearranged into the shade. If they spend the winter in the same room as the summer, provide them with good lighting. Lack of light can lead to the fact that the plants will stretch out painfully, and the top of the cactus will acquire a pale green color.

Since cacti are hardy plants, they practically do not react to sudden changes in temperature and normally tolerate coolness, although they are thermophilic plants. In spring and summer, an indoor cactus feels good in the usual temperature conditions for apartments and gardens, and in winter the optimal temperature for it is from 6 to 14 ºC, provided that there are no drafts and air-drying heating devices in the room with regular ventilation.

Watering

The frequency of watering and the amount of water consumed per plant depends on its species, season, room temperature and light intensity. Water the cactus sparingly, as the soil dries. In cold and rainy weather, it is better not to water cacti, even if it is summer. In winter, the moistening of the soil in pots with cacti is noticeably reduced, and in some cases it is completely stopped.

As soon as cacti show signs of growth in the spring (the top turns green and young thorns appear), start sprinkling the plants abundantly with settled water at room temperature every day, and when active growth begins, they are moistened 2-3 times with bottom watering, placing the pots with cacti for a quarter of an hour in bowls with water temperature 28 ºC. The exception is woolly or densely pubescent species - such baths are contraindicated for them.

In spring and autumn, watering is carried out in the morning, and in the summer in the evening. Water for irrigation and spraying should be soft - boiled and settled. Once a month, citric or oxalic acid should be added to the water - half a gram or one tenth of a gram per liter of water, respectively. You can infuse water for irrigation on peat for a day - 200 g of peat per three liters of water.

It is good to spray cacti with thick and powerful spines in the morning and evening with hot water from a spray bottle.

Fertilizer

Cacti should be fed with great care, and with annual plant transplants, you can not feed them at all. Fertilizers are applied in the form of solutions no more than once a week during the period of active growth into already moistened soil in order to avoid root burns.

The most common fertilizer for cacti is a mixture of Kadatsky, consisting of potassium nitrate, monobasic potassium phosphate, twenty percent superphosphate, potassium sulfate, magnesium sulfate and potassium chloride. To prepare the nutrient solution, one gram of Kadatsky's mixture is dissolved in one liter of water.

Cactus pots

Cactus pots can be ceramic or plastic. The size of the pot is determined by the dimensions of the plant, and the height of the dishes should exceed the length of the cactus root system by 15-20%, and the width of the pot by one and a half times. In other words, the dishes for the cactus should be narrow and deep enough - in them the cactus will feel more stable, and the plant will have to be watered less often than when grown in a flat pot.

In addition, plastic pots are preferable for medium and small cacti, because porous ceramics contribute to high water evaporation, alkalization and salinity of the substrate.

Soil selection

The substrate for cacti needs a loose, porous, water and air permeable, slightly acidic reaction - pH 6.0. You can buy ready-made soil for cacti at a flower shop, or you can compose it yourself from equal parts of leafy earth, coarse and well-washed river sand and sod land with the addition of a small amount of brick chips or charcoal. For old and columnar cacti, as well as for plants with a turnip root, low-fat clay is added to the soil.

Epiphytic cacti need additions of humus earth or peat - up to 1/3 of the volume. It is advisable to add a little lime in the form of pieces of gypsum or old plaster to the soil for cacti with white thorns. If you form the soil incorrectly, the plant may well experience root rot.

How to transplant

Cactus transplantation is carried out in the spring, at the very beginning of active growth. Lay a drainage layer of fine expanded clay, brick chips, coarse river sand or old shards on the bottom of the pot with holes, fill the pot a third of the height with a sterile substrate, lower the plant roots into the pot and evenly fill the container with moist soil on all sides. It is best to use a teaspoon or small rubber spatula for this.

It is not necessary to compact the substrate too much, and the area with the root collar should be sprinkled with coarse river sand. Do not water the cactus after transplanting for a week until the root injuries have healed.

Blooming cactus

Leaving during flowering

The flowering of a cactus largely depends on how correctly its wintering is organized: in desert, mountain and steppe species, young shoots ripen during this period and flower buds are formed. If a cactus remained on the southern windowsill in winter and its growth did not stop, it is unlikely that it will bloom in the next season. With a properly organized wintering, the plant rests and accumulates strength, and it is likely that next year you will be lucky enough to see a cactus flower.

Although in fairness, it must be said that species such as nonocactus, melocactus, parody, ripsalis, hymnocalycium and aporocactus can bloom even after wintering in a warm room.

If your cactus has bloomed, in no case move or rotate it - the disturbed plant will drop all flowers and buds. Direct sunlight during the flowering period is contraindicated for cacti, and you must protect the plant from them with a translucent cloth or paper.

During the flowering period, it is necessary to ventilate the room daily, but even the slightest drafts should not be allowed. Top dressing at this time is also not applied, otherwise the plant will drop both flowers and buds, or they will transform into cactus babies. In the first flowering, the flowers are usually smaller, but every year they become larger and larger, and their number may increase. The blooming of a cactus is not just a wonderful sight, it helps to establish the belonging of your plant to one or another genus and species, which makes care much easier.

Cacti after flowering, wintering

After your cactus has bloomed, you need to reduce water consumption when watering it to a minimum, and reduce the frequency of substrate moisture to once a month - literally so that cacti do not shrivel from dehydration. Top dressing must be stopped altogether. It is very important that the plant does not get hot air from heating devices, and it is even better to place the cactus on a windowsill, under which there is no radiator, or in an unheated room where the temperature does not rise above 15 ºC and does not drop below 8-6 ºC.

If suddenly you find that the cactus has begun to wrinkle, do not increase the watering, but just lightly spray the plant with warm water - quite a bit, otherwise, at a low temperature, root decay may occur. The dormant period for cacti should last from November to March, which means that you need to reduce watering and stop feeding from October.

An exception to the general rule for all cacti is Schlumberger - it is watered once a week throughout the winter.

In early March, you need to help the cacti to get out of hibernation. To do this, the plant is transferred to the southern windowsill, they begin to spray, then gradually increase the water consumption, while reducing the intervals between waterings. The feeding of the cactus is also renewed.

Reproduction of cacti

Growing from seeds

Cacti propagate by seed and vegetative means, namely by children or cuttings.

Growing cacti from seeds has its own difficulties: you will need to pre-sterilize the seeds purchased at the store - they are soaked for half an hour in a pale pink solution of potassium permanganate. It is also necessary to sterilize the substrate - steam it or roast it in the oven at a temperature of 110-130 ºC. The wet substrate is poured into the container with a layer of about 1 cm, prepared seeds are laid out on it, after which the crops are covered with film or glass.

The soil is kept in a slightly moist state all the time, the crops are aired twice a day. In order for the seeds of a cactus to germinate, it will take from several days to several months. When the first spines appear at the seedlings, they are transplanted into a more nutritious substrate, and at the age of several months they begin to look after them, as for adult plants, but they are protected from too sharp temperature changes and are watered more often.

It is better to sow seeds so that seedlings appear in early spring.

Reproduction by children

It is easier to propagate cacti vegetatively: on many plants, children are formed with rudiments of roots. The babies are easily separated, after which they are laid on a moist substrate, into which their roots sprout, eventually forming a root system. Choose a larger baby, separate it with a sterile instrument, dry the cut site for 3-4 days and root the cutting in a moist substrate.

Diseases and pests

Why do cacti turn yellow

This is the question most often asked by readers. The reasons for this phenomenon may be a deficiency of nutrients in the substrate, a violation of the irrigation regime or the harmful vital activity of a spider mite. In the first case, you need to add top dressing, in the second, you need to adjust the frequency of watering and the rate of water consumption, and in the third, treat the cactus with some kind of acaricide - Aktellik, for example.

Why rot

Most often, a cactus rots from excess moisture in the soil. Watering it, of course, is necessary, but considering that it is better to forget to water the succulent plant than to water it twice. With chronic waterlogging of the substrate, the cactus begins to rot. To save the plant from death, you need to remove it from the soil, cut off all rotten areas and roots, process the cuts with crushed coal and transplant the cactus into a new sterile substrate. If your plant is not too damaged, it is quite possible that you will be able to reanimate it.

Why does the cactus not grow?

This problem can also have several reasons: improperly composed substrate, cramped pot, disease, sunburn, root rejection or damage by pests.

If you made up the soil from the wrong ingredients or did not keep the correct proportions, the soil may be too acidic or, conversely, too alkaline. The soil also deteriorates from irrigation with unstable and unboiled water with a high lime content. Monitor the quality and temperature of water for irrigation, prepare the soil in accordance with the requirements of the culture, and if you do not know how to do this, use a purchased substrate specially prepared for cacti by specialists.Transplant cacti into a larger pot in time.

To avoid sunburn, try to protect the plant from direct sunlight at midday. And rotate the non-flowering cacti around the axis so that they are illuminated and heated evenly.

From a sharp temperature drop, severe hypothermia or, conversely, overheating, the roots of a cactus can die off, while the plant itself remains healthy and capable of rooting. The danger lies in the fact that you, not suspecting that the cactus has shed its roots, will continue to fully moisturize and feed it, and this can lead to the death of the plant - it will simply rot.

Check the cactus as often as possible, and if you find that it has robbed itself of roots, place it on top of a light but nutritious, almost dry soil, cover it with pebbles for stability, protect from direct sunlight, and spray with water for the first time after three days. Watering a cactus without roots is dangerous, it only needs to be sprayed from time to time until it takes root.

Pests and the fight against them

Of the pests, cacti damage the mealy root and mealy stem bugs.

Root worm dangerous in that it is invisible, but when examining the roots, you can find small insects, leaving behind tiny white "cotton" lumps. More often than other cacti, echinopsis suffer from root worms.

To get rid of pests, the easiest way is to treat the plant by leaves and spill the soil in the pot with a solution of a systemic insecticide - Aktara or Aktellik, and after two weeks, re-treat it. If you do not want to use chemicals, remove the plant from the soil and rinse the entire cactus together with the roots under a strong stream of water, then hold the plant for 10-15 minutes in water at a temperature of 50-60 ºC. Then the cactus is dried for several days and planted in disinfected soil.

Stemworm, or hairy aphid, is a close relative of the root worm. The pest makes punctures in the stems of plants and feeds on their sap. It is also dangerous because fungal infections penetrate through these punctures, causing the cactus to rot. It can be difficult to spot these pests, especially in those species that are covered with felt hairs.

To avoid troubles with the stemworm, and at the same time to protect the cactus from other pests, it is advisable as a preventive measure twice a year to treat the plant and soil in a pot with an insecticide, for example, Aktellik or Aktara.

Red and spider mites can also parasitize on cacti, and you can get rid of them by the same means as for worms.

Diseases and their treatment

Cacti and diseases are affected - dry and black rot, late blight, rhizoctonia, helminthosporosis, fusarium, spot and viral diseases.

Late blight, or black (red) root leg, causes rotting of the base of the stem and roots of cacti. In the fight against the disease, seedlings at an early stage of the disease are treated with Benlat several times at intervals of 3-4 hours. In adult specimens, damaged parts are removed, and the sections are sprayed with a fungicide solution.

Fusarium, or fusarium rot, affects cacti in conditions of high soil moisture and indoor air. As a result of the development of the disease, the root collar and roots rot, the cactus stem turns yellow, wrinkles and falls. It is necessary to remove all damaged parts of the stem and roots, treat the wounds with crushed coal, gray or brilliant green. To avoid damage to the cactus by fusarium, do not allow mechanical damage to the plant and from time to time water the cactus with Fundazole solution.

Helminthosporosis, or wet rot looks like watery dark spots covered with mycelium filaments. The causative agents of the disease get into the ground together with the seeds.

Rhizoctonia - also wet rot, from which the stems of cacti darken, and blackness rises upward through the vessels. Rhizoctonia develops in conditions of high humidity. You can avoid the disease by disinfecting the soil mixture for cacti and dressing the seeds before sowing.

Dry rot, or phomosis, incurable: the cactus just dries up from the inside, and nothing can be done. As a preventive measure, plants are sometimes sprayed with a fungicide solution.

Gray soft rot affects the grafting sites or the lateral parts of the stem. The tissues of the plant liquefy and turn into a mushy mass, covered with a bloom of mycelium of a dark gray color. Infection is activated with chronic waterlogging of the substrate. At an early stage of the development of the disease, a cactus can be saved by cutting out the affected areas on it and treating the wounds with sulfur, crushed coal or Nystatin.

Black rot or alternaria, outwardly manifests itself as shiny dark brown or black spots in the form of streaks. It is necessary to cut out all these spots to healthy tissue and treat the cactus with a fungicide solution.

Spots (anthracnose, or brown spot and rust) are fungal in nature, therefore, treatment is carried out with solutions of fungicides, however, before spraying, the affected areas should be removed on cacti.

A symptom of viral diseases is light spots on the trunk of a plant. To treat cacti from viral infections, dissolve one tablet of Remantadine in a liter of water, however, do not pin special hopes on treatment, since it is very difficult to defeat the virus.

Types and varieties

The Cactus family includes four subfamilies, each of which has fundamental differences in physiology and structure - the subfamilies of the Pereskievs, Opuntia, Mauhienia and Cactus, which include 80% of all cacti.

The subfamily of Cactus is represented by plants that lack leaves and glochidia. Among them there are both epiphytes and xerophytes of various forms - columnar, spherical, creeping or forming sods. There are many plants with edible fruits - ferocactus, echinocereus, mammillaria, myrtillocactus, peniocereus and others. We offer you a brief description of the genera, species and varieties, as well as the names of cacti, which are most often grown in room culture.

Astrophytum (Astrophytum)

A plant with a powerful spherical stem, on which ribs are pronounced. Over time, cacti of this genus acquire a columnar shape. A feature of astrophytum are bundles of light hairs on the surface of the stem, which collect moisture. At the age of 8-10 years, astrophytums begin to bloom with large funnel-shaped flowers of light shades of yellow, opening at the top of the stem.

The name of the plant consists of two parts: "astro" - a star (when viewed from above, the cactus has the shape of a regular star) and "fitum", which means "plant". In domestic culture, goat-horned astrophytums, speckled, four-ribbed, star-like and others are grown.

Aporocactus whip-shaped (Aporocactus flagelliformis)

Or "Rat tail" - Mexican epiphyte with long, up to one meter, and thin (only about 2 cm in diameter) shoots of light green color with indistinct ribbing. At first, the shoots grow vertically, but then they droop and hang from the pot. Grow aporocactus lash-like as an ampelous plant. This species blooms in late April with large tubular crimson flowers up to 7 cm long, which look very impressive against the backdrop of greenery.

Mammillaria

One of the most numerous genera of the subfamily, including, according to various sources, from 150 to 500 species, sometimes completely different from each other. Common to all mammillaria are such qualities as small size and unpretentiousness. In addition, they are easy to propagate and flower quickly. Indoor mammillaria are small cylindrical or spherical plants that lack ribs. Cacti are covered with conical papillae, their spines are usually light, similar to hairs and bristles, and some species are covered with dense hairy pubescence - white or yellowish.

Mammillaria flowers are funnel-shaped, small, yellow, white, pink, red or greenish, often with a dark center.

Most often they are grown at home:

  • elongated mammillaria - a plant with a thin long stem, low papillae and golden spines, collected in a neat rosette. This species blooms with small white flowers;
  • prickly mammillaria - a species with a spherical stem and white or brown thin and sharp spines. The flowers are bright pink;
  • Mammillaria Bokasskaya - a cactus with a thick elongated stem up to 4-5 cm in girth, with long thin papillae. The central spine is hooked, brown in color, around it there are several needle-shaped and several long, white hair-like spines. This species develops easily and blooms at home with medium-sized white flowers.

Gymnocalycium

The genus of spherical cacti, which appeared in indoor floriculture among the first. Representatives of this genus vary in color and size, they have strong curved spines and large white, light yellow or pink flowers with characteristic tubes. There are many species in the genus, and they all grow in South America. In room culture, both large species of the genus and miniature ones are grown. Chlorophyll-free forms with yellow, pink, purple or red stems are in great demand - they are grafted onto green cuttings.

Most often cultivated at home:

  • humpback hymnocalycium (Gymnocalycium gibbosum) - a large plant with a greenish-blue stem in the shape of a ball, which eventually takes on a cylindrical shape, and cream flowers. In height, a cactus can reach 50, and in diameter - 20 cm. The areola consists of a central spine and a dozen not so long radial thorns. The humpback hymnocalycium has a species with an almost black stem and spines;
  • small-flowered hymnocalycium (Gymnocalycium leptanthum) - ribbed cactus up to 7 cm in diameter with radial spines pressed to the stem and white flowers with a reddish base of the petals;
  • tiny hymnocalycium (Gymnocalycium parvulum) - the smallest of the species, only up to 3 cm in diameter. The stem of this cactus is spherical, with low ribs, a dusty brown-green hue. Areoles are large, without central spines, and the radial ones are curved and pressed to the stem. Flowers are white, apical, up to 6 cm long;
  • Mikhanovich's hymnocalycium (Gymnocalycium mihanovichii) - a cactus with a flattened grayish-green stem and wavy, unevenly convex ribs, which makes it seem that they are located both vertically and horizontally. Light spines are only radial. The flowers are greenish pink, although there are varieties with pink, white and yellow flowers.

Cereus (Cereus)

A genus of tree cacti, numbering 46 species and many varieties. These are succulent trees and shrubs, which are divided into two groups: forest tropical cacti and cereus.

Forest cacti, in turn, are divided into three subgroups:

  • ripsalis - epiphytes with a variety of stems (ribbed, cylindrical or flat) and small flowers or fruits. There are 12 species in this genus;
  • phyllocactus - 10 epiphytic species with flat stems devoid of thorns and large flowers and fruits;
  • hylocereus - 9 epiphytic species of climbing and climbing plants with ribbed, thorny stems and large flowers and fruits.

Cereus, or candle cacti, are divided into two subgroups:

  • northern cereus, growing in North America in Canada and Mexico, as well as in South America - Colombia, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador. These spherical plants lack spines and bristles on fruits and flowers;
  • southern cereus growing in South America - Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Uruguay, the Galapagos Islands. Flowers and fruits of the cactus of this subgroup have spines and bristles.

Most often grown in room conditions:

  • Cereus Peruvian - a plant that in nature reaches 12 m in height, forming shoots up to 10-12 cm in diameter with 6-8 roughly dissected flat ribs. At home, the cactus grows only up to 4 m. Young plants are light green, adults are gray-green. Areoles are provided with a central spine up to 2 cm long and 4-6 radial spines up to 1.5 cm long. The spines are needle-like, red-brown in color;
  • monstrous form of Peruvian cereus, or rocky cereus - an anomalous species widespread in culture, formed as a result of growth disturbance and deformation. This is an unpretentious, fast-growing cactus, reaching only 1.5 m at home, although in nature it can grow up to 5-6 m in height and up to 5 m in diameter. Light green stems with a bluish tinge, fancifully growing, form unique forms in the form of tubercles, fragments of ribs and other outgrowths, on which areoles with brown acicular and thorny spines are located. This cereus is often used as a rootstock.

Echinopsis

More often than other cacti it is used for breeding hybrids. In nature, Echinopsis grow in Peru - it is cool there, it often rains, but there is almost no frost. That is why Echinopsis adapts perfectly to home conditions.

In room culture, the following types of echinopsis are grown:

  • echinopsis hook-nosed - green spherical, slightly flattened cactus up to 8 cm in diameter with tubercles on the ribs. In light areoles there are from three to ten flexible and spreading, bent back radial spines up to 1.5 cm long. The central hooked spine, up to 2 cm long, is usually one. White, red or pink flowers up to 15 cm long open on the sides of the stem;
  • echinopsis golden - dark green, spherical at a young age, and in a mature cylindrical cactus up to 10 cm high and 4-6 cm in diameter, gives a lot of basal processes. The ribbed stem is covered with areoles with brown pubescence, central spines up to 3 cm long, surrounded by 10 radial spines up to 1 cm long. Numerous yellow-orange flowers with a diameter of about 8 cm are bell-shaped.

Opuntia cactus

One of the largest genera of cacti, numbering about 190 species. You can learn more about these plants from the article, which has already been posted on our website.

In room culture, the following are most often grown:

  • prickly pear - a plant up to 30 cm high with small hooked spines, which, depending on the variety, can be white or red.

In addition to the described genera, species and varieties, such cacti as Chamecereus Silvestri, Cleistocactus Strauss, Echinocereus comb, Nonocactus Otto, Rebutia tiny, Trichocereus whitening, Schlumberger, Echinocactus rainbow and many, many others are grown in culture.

Literature

  1. Read the topic on Wikipedia
  2. List of all species on The Plant List
  3. More information on World Flora Online
  4. Indoor Plants Information

Sections: Houseplants Beautiful flowering Cacti Ornamental deciduous Succulents Cactus Plants on K


Echinocactus

The Echinocactus plant is one of the most popular representatives of the Cactus family. Unpretentious and pleasant-looking echinocactus do not need complicated care and even have medicinal properties. In nature, such plants are found in the southwest of America, as well as in the Mexican deserts. The name of the genus can be translated as "hedgehog cactus" - it is the curled hedgehog that resembles the rounded thorny stems of its representatives. The genus includes only 6 species.

In the homeland of such cacti, in Mexico, the pulp of some species is used to prepare desserts and various dishes. Due to a decrease in the population of such plants, their natural specimens are under state protection. For other needs, echinocactus are grown in specially designated places.


The cactus "Cereus" stands out among other cacti for its size - the height in natural conditions can vary from 10 to 20 meters. In addition, the plant is also a long-liver, because some representatives of the species have successfully existed for several hundred years. Since the cactus is able to accumulate moisture inside the stem, it can survive even in very difficult conditions, for example, when watering is temporarily impossible. The tetrahedral shoot is colored in shades of green, but the needles most often have a dark brown color, almost black.

Flowering "Cereus" usually lasts from May to June and occurs only at night. The cactus flower is located on the side of the stem and has an unusual color, having a white or pink color with a golden core. The opened buds smell very nice, usually vanilla. At home, the flowering of a cactus rarely occurs, since it is possible only under special conditions that are difficult to achieve on their own.

"Cereus Peruvian" is also called "Rocky Cereus"... The unusual name was derived from the shape of the plant, which resembles a rock. The stem of this variety resembles a cylinder, and it is painted in a green-gray hue. Ribs are located on the surface of the stem. The height of the Peruvian cereus growing at home ranges from 50 to 100 centimeters.

The cactus usually blooms at night, releasing large snow-white flowers with a pleasant smell.

This variety is also capable of fruiting, during which red or orange berries appear, even those allowed to be eaten. The Rocky Cereus requires quality lighting. During the warm season, it should be grown on a balcony or windowsill of a window facing south, and in winter, additional lighting should be installed. Special phytolamps will help to solve this problem.

Since "Cereus" is able to accumulate moisture, it should be watered regularly, but in moderation. In summer, it would be good to replace irrigation with spraying.

"Cereus azure" in the wild it reaches a height of 3 meters. The plant differs from other cacti by the presence of silvery-bluish shoots growing on the sides. On "Cereus" 6 or 7 ribs appear with light brown felt areoles and a wavy border. The spines reach one centimeter in length. They are located on the edges of the cactus, following radially. During flowering, large flowers appear, painted in a snow-white color. The length of the formation ranges from 20 to 25 centimeters, and the diameter ranges from 8 to 10 centimeters.

"Cereus validus", whose second name sounds like "Strong Cereus" has a height in the wild of about 2 meters. The bush usually has 5 to 8 shoots placed on the sides. The shoots are colored either light green or aquamarine. The number of ribs ranges from 4 to 8 pieces. Spines in the amount of 4 to 6 pieces grow on each rib. Their length reaches a couple of centimeters, and the color can be called a mixture of yellow and gray. During flowering, snow-white or even scarlet buds are formed on the cactus. Fruiting is realized in the form of reddish berries with white pulp.

"Cereus spiral" is a perennial cactus, the thick stems of which are ball-shaped, flat or embossed. The spines range in length from 2 to 3 centimeters, and the color is a mixture of brown and green. Flowering is carried out by the emergence of large buds, painted in pink-white color. "Cereus steel" has bluish shoots, placed on the sides of the plant and reaching 10 to 20 centimeters in diameter. Over time, the dimensions of these processes even increase.

The number of ribs ranges from 6 to 8 specimens. They are fairly straight with gray halos. The length of the spines ranges from 2 to 3 centimeters, and they are painted in a brown-gray shade. There are 20 of them. During the flowering period, one or a pair of huge buds appear, up to 30 centimeters. Flowers are painted in a mixture of white and green colors. The ten-centimeter berries, which are the result of fruiting, are colored in a coral shade.

"Giant Cereus" often referred to as the desert giant. It is even included in the Guinness Book of Records, as it has the highest height in the world, which is 25 meters. Over time, lateral processes are formed on the cactus, and the shape of the trunk changes. The plant bears fruit with bright red berries that can be eaten.

"Monstrous Cereus" possesses lateral processes capable of growing together, as a result of which the shape of the plant changes. The fruits that "Monstroza" produces are edible, and the tall shrubs themselves are often used to create hedges.

"Cereus Yamakaru" possesses a traditional cylindrical stem, covered with a large number of light spines. The buds open at night, reaching a diameter of 20 cm. The Uruguayan cereus is covered with sharp needles up to 2 centimeters long. The stem is aquamarine and covered with 5-8 ribs.

The names of other varieties of "Cereus" imply Cereus Peruvian Florida and Cereus Peruvian Paolina... Cereus also include varieties such as Trichocereus, Chamecereus, Cephalocereus, Echinocereus and Pilosocereus. By the way, the care for all cacti of this variety is approximately the same.


Home care

In its natural environment, Dieffenbachia grows in paths, which means it loves warmth and moisture. To make her comfortable in the room, the culture needs to create conditions close to natural ones.

Location and illumination

East and west windows are suitable for culture. The light should be bright but diffused. In order to avoid leaf burns, it must be shaded from the direct sun. You can put a flowerpot 1-2 m deep into the room. But dieffenbachia shouldn't be dark. Otherwise, the leaves will become smaller, lose their variegated color.

When placed in the shade, the leaves will reach towards the light source and the plant may grow lopsided with a curved trunk. If there is such a tendency, it is recommended to turn the pot 45 degrees clockwise or counterclockwise once a week. So the crown will grow evenly.

In summer, the flower can be taken out to the balcony or terrace, shading from the direct sun. The main condition is the absence of drafts. In winter, you need to turn on additional lighting to extend the daylight hours.

Choosing a flowerpot

The dieffenbachia container must match the size of the root system. To slow down the rapid growth of the stems a little, do not take a pot that is too large. With each transplant of young plants, it should be 1-2 cm larger than the previous one.

It is preferable to choose a flowerpot made of natural materials (clay, ceramics). The bottom should be with a through hole.

Soil and drainage

The roots of the plant must breathe. Therefore, the soil for planting is taken loose. This will allow her not to retain water and dry out between waterings. You can take a universal peat-based soil (2/3), add baking powder (1/3) to it. The baking powder can be sand, vermiculite, perlite.

Planting and transplanting

It is recommended to replant young plants once a year in a container 1-2 cm larger than the previous one. Adult specimens need a transplant every 3-4 years. It is advisable not to let very massive plants grow too much. It is recommended to leave them in old flowerpots. In addition, the large size makes it difficult to transplant. When dieffenbachia is not transplanted, it just needs to renew the topsoil.

Transplant procedure:

  • Pour a layer of drainage into the pot, put a little fresh substrate on top of it.
  • Carefully remove the bush from the old pot. Examine the roots for damage and disease. Carefully remove the damaged parts, treat the cut sites with activated carbon.
  • Transfer dieffenbachia into a new container together with the earthen lump.
  • Top up the soil on the sides, compacting it.
  • Water the plant, adding a little root former (Heteroauxin, Kornevin).

Step-by-step video - instructions for transplanting dieffenbachia at home:

Content temperature

Dieffenbachia needs to provide warmth. Drafts, temperature changes, cold are destructive for her. In the spring-summer period, it is better to keep it at + 20-26 ° C. In winter, the air should not be cooled below + 16-18 ° C. At +10 degrees, the culture will begin to rot and die. The flower feels good in winter with the centralized heating turned on.

Air humidity

As in the tropics, room conditions of dieffenbachia require high humidity (at least 65%). To increase it, it is recommended to spray the leaves daily with warm, well-settled water or wipe with a damp sponge. But if the room is cool, then it is better to refuse the procedure. You can put a jar of water next to the flowerpot or use a humidifier.

Watering

The plant is watered abundantly from spring to autumn. In this case, moisture stagnation must be avoided. Between waterings, the soil should dry out by 1/3. The root system must be allowed to dry out. In winter, watering should be moderate. If the soil is constantly waterlogged, the roots of Dieffenbachia will begin to rot. In addition, the roots must be kept warm at all times. If you pour cold water on them or put the flowerpot on a cold stand, they will certainly start to deteriorate.

Top dressing and fertilizers

When the plant is actively growing (April-August), it needs to be additionally fed. If dieffenbachia is deficient in nutrients, the leaves begin to turn yellow, the trunk is exposed at the bottom. Mineral and organic fertilizers are suitable for the culture, which are preferably applied at the root 2 times a month. Spraying is less commonly used.

In winter, plant growth slows down, but there is no complete rest. Therefore, fertilizing can be continued, but only once a month.

Pruning

Rapid plant growth is not always desirable. Sometimes it is dulled by cutting off the tops. It should be borne in mind that Dieffenbachia juice is poisonous, work is recommended to be carried out in rubber gloves. Blot the cut sites with a napkin to remove the juice, treat with chopped charcoal. Perform pruning with a sharp, disinfected tool. If the juice gets on the skin, quickly rinse it off with water, apply a fat cream or oil.

Flowering period

Dieffenbachia grown "in captivity" rarely blooms. Its inflorescence is a white ear that wraps around a greenish petal-bedspread. Many recommend immediately removing the peduncle. The plant has to spend a lot of energy on its nutrition, which is why the decorative effect of the leaves suffers.


Strauss' Cleistocactus (Cleistocactus straussii)

Strictly horizontal columnar plant, covered with a large number of thorns and white hairs. Its height can reach one meter. An important feature of this cactus is the profuse flowering of tubular non-expanding flowers.

In the house for this plant, it is better to select the sunniest room located on the south side. But in the midday hours, when the sun beats down mercilessly, cleistocactus needs a little shading. Fertilizers containing phosphorus are applied to the soil in a dry form.


Mammillaria species

Mammillaria elongated (Mammillaria elongata) - with a thin elongated stem, papillae are not high, golden spines are collected in a neat rosette. It blooms with small white flowers, but only in favorable conditions, although, in general, grows well in indoor culture. Berries are formed after pollination.

Mammillaria prickly (Mammillaria spinosissima) - with a spherical stem and thin, sharp spines of white and brown. Pubescence between papillae, as if white cotton balls. It blooms with bright pink flowers.

Mammillaria spiny (Mammillaria spinosissima). © Jose Luis

Mammillaria Wilda (Mammillaria wildii) - with an elongated thick stem, up to 5 cm in diameter. The papillae are thin, elongated with golden spines; the central spine is crocheted. Easily forms babies, which themselves do not fall away, but continue to grow, as a result, the cactus branches strongly. It blooms easily with white, small flowers. Berries are formed after pollination.

Mammillaria wildii. © Maxy_Mercado

Mammillaria Zeilman (Mammillaria zeilmanniana) - with a short cylindrical stem and dense curved spines. The flowers are bright pink, sometimes white in spring.

Mammillaria zeilmanniana (Mammillaria zeilmanniana). © David Traish

Mammillaria is excellent (Mammillaria perbella) - with a spherical stem, up to 6-7 cm in diameter with small white spines. Easily forms many babies. It blooms with pink or red flowers.

Mammillaria excellent (Mammillaria perbella). © Jaime Campos Palacios

Mammillaria Ghana (Mammillaria hahniana) - with a spherical or cylindrical stem (up to 10 cm in diameter) and long white hairs, this fluffy mammillaria blooms with pink flowers. Easily forms many babies.

Mammillaria Ghana (Mammillaria hahniana). © Lotus-Salvinia

Mammillaria bokasan (Mammillaria bocasana) - with an elongated thick stem (4-5 cm in diameter), with thin long papillae, forms many babies. The peculiarity in the spines is that the central brown spine is long and crooked, several spines are thin needle-shaped, as well as longer white, hair-like spines. This mammillaria also grows easily and blooms in indoor conditions with small white flowers. Which, when there are many of them, greatly adorn the plant. Berries are formed after pollination.

Mammillaria bocasana (Mammillaria bocasana). © Jeff Wright

Escaping Mammillaria (Mammillaria prolifera) with a low, thin stem, easily forming many children. Spines are hair-like and acicular, extreme white, golden in the center, they densely cover the stem so that sometimes it is not even visible. It blooms easily with white, small flowers. Berries are formed without cross-pollination.


Diseases and pests

The flat red mite is dangerous for hymnocalycium, as it sometimes eats cacti when there is no more suitable food. The ticks are so small that they can only be seen with a powerful magnifying glass. But traces of their activity are clearly visible - long rusty stains remain. Gymnocalycium can only get sick at a young age, when the resistant qualities have not fully manifested themselves. The stems are washed with warm water, then treated with alcohol.

For domestic plants, chemical compositions should be used if absolutely necessary.

Sometimes a mealybug annoys cacti - this is a microscopic worm. It mainly affects the stems, in a short period of time it can suck out all the juices, and the cactus can die. You can see these creatures at the edges of the leaves, they are pinkish in color, and around them there is a white layer of cobweb. When a mealybug appears, the growth of the plant stops, flowering also disappears. The mealybug "loves" all types of cacti indiscriminately, the roots and stems are affected. To disinfect the plant, you should rinse it, then spray it, wipe it with insecticidal compounds.

The most common ailment is root rot. The disease is dangerous because it spreads quickly in soil with a high moisture content. The processing of the plant is as follows: the affected areas of the root system are cut off, washed with warm water, and dried. Disinfection is done using crushed activated carbon. Then the cactus should be transplanted into another container.


Watch the video: Succulent Tips for Beginners. Garden Answer


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