Tips for Growing Cactus
Cactuses – are one of the most popular and favorite window plants. They are unusual and mysterious. Their form and colors are original. They propagate easily and bloom wonderfully if the conditions are suitable. There is enough room in each house for these little living creatures.
How cactuses should be planted. It is not necessary to plant each cactus in its own flowerpot; you may combine several kinds in one wide bowl. But remember that all these kinds should require the same conditions and care.
For example, you cannot plant leaf cactuses like zigocactus together with cactuses originated from the deserts, because they need different amounts of water. Besides, fast growing cactuses like cereus will grow much faster than other kinds planted near by. Compositions of cactuses of different shapes look just great. Spherical are placed in the foreground, column shaped – in the middle. Pebbles and shells will emphasize “desert view.”
Spiny cactuses should be taken by kitchen pincers, or you may wrap them up with the help of a piece of paper or leather. You may also put leather gloves on. To plant cactuses you need ground deficient in nutrients that will let water pass easily; for this purpose, you may add sand or foam plastic crumbs to it. It is better to use ready ground mixture for cactuses.
Cactus grafting. Cactus grafting is artificial adnation of the stem part (grafter) with a deep-rooted part of another plant (stock). Cactuses are grafted if it is necessary to propagate colored or pectinated cactuses that cannot grow on their own roots. Late flowering cactuses also need grafting as it quickens their blooming. Seedlings and young plants are grafted on easily. Mature cactuses can be grafted only in case they have begun to rot. It is better to graft cactuses at the end of May or beginning of June, and in the morning or in the evening when the weather is gloomy.
As a stock, you may take a hylocereus, eriocereus or echinopsys. Cut the stock top horizontally with the help of a blade at the distance of 8-10 cm from the base. Take the grafter (a stem top or a sprout) with a folded piece of paper. Put the grafter on the stock so that their cuts coincide (they should be of the same diameter). Fix the joint with the help of an elastic band. It must connect the flowerpot bottom and the grafter top. Grafter and stock tissues will join in a few weeks.
Cactus blooming. Approximately half of the cactuses begin blooming at the age of three to four years. Then they will be in blossom each year and though the majority of cactuses bloom in spring, it is possible to gather a collection that will give you the pleasure of watching bright colors all the year round. The secret is in flowers appearing on young sprouts only; so you should provide necessary care in summer and certain “neglect” in winter. Planting cactuses in a small flowerpot stimulates blooming.
Desert cactuses care. In winter, the temperature should be +15 to +18 degrees, but it may also be lowered. Cactuses grown on windowsills in cool rooms should be placed in warmer rooms for cold night. Downy cactuses do not stand winter temperature lower than +15 degrees.
Desert cactuses like light and require a lot of it especially in wintertime. Cactuses grown in greenhouses may require shading in hot seasons.
In spring, watering is increased; from late spring until late summer watering becomes less and water should be warm. From the end of summer, watering becomes even less frequent and from the middle of autumn, cactuses are watered rather seldom.
In summer, you need not sparge desert cactuses. They require much fresh air, so open the windows on hot days.
They must be transplanted annually in spring. Each new flowerpot should be just a bit bigger than the previous one.
The majority of desert cactuses have grafts easily implanted in spring or in summer. Before planting, grafts are dried for a few days. Seeds propagation is possible at 17 to 25 degrees.
Forest cactuses. In their natural environment – in tropical forests these cactuses grow on the trees or among the trees, so it is not surprising that their form and care conditions differ so much from thorny desert cactuses.
An exception is Aporocactus flagelliformis, which grows on the trees in its home land – Mexico, but looks like desert cactuses. It is convenient to plant a typical forest cactus in a hanging basket. Some kinds of cactuses, for example, ripsalis, is grown for its stems, though the main forest cactuses advantage – are flowers.
To make cactuses bloom each year you should follow several rules. Provide cool and dry atmospheres in period of rest; do not move the flowerpot after buds appear; and let your cactuses be in the open air in summer
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