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Cleistocactus strausii

Common name: Silver Torch, Wooly Torch, Silver Torch Cactus

Family: Cactaceae

Synonymous: Pilocereus straussii (Basyonym)
Borzicactus strausii
Cephalocereus strausii
Cereus strausii
Denmoza strausii

Cleistocactus strausii

Cleistocactus strausii

Distribution and habitat: Cleistocactus strausii is a perennial cactus native to high mountain regions of Bolivia and Argentina, above 3,000 m (9,843 feet). It is a slender, erect, grey-green columns which can reach a height of 3m (10 feet), but are only about 6cm (2.5inch) across. This cactus prefers free draining soils, strong sunlight, but not high temperatures — in fact it can withstand hard frosts down to -10°C. In its natural habitat it receives plenty of water during the summer, but almost none over the winter period.
There are about 28 species of these tall, slender desert cacti, but only Cleistocactus strausii is widely cultivated indoors.

Description: Cleistocactus strausii has a green stem that looks silvery grey because of the short, whitish spines that completely cover it. The columnar stem has about 25 low narrow ribs and each of the small, white areoles spaced at 2cm (0.8 inch) intervals along the ribs carries at least 30 thin, 2cm (0.8 inch) log white spines, together with 4 somewhat stouter, pale yellow ones that are up to 5cm (2 inch) long. The main stem often branches at the base, with upright-growing stems attached to the parent stem just above the surface of the potting mixture.
In a 20cm (8 inch) pot the plant can reach a height of 1.5m (5 feet) and will probably consist of several stems.
Cleistocactus strausii do not flower until they are 10 to 15 years old. When Cleistocactus strausii has become 1m (3 feet) or more tall, it will produce narrow, tubular flowers from areoles at the top of the main stem. The flowers are 8-10cm (3-4 inch) long and carmine-red and they appear in summer. They never fully opened, each last only for four or five days.

Houseplant care:  Cleistocactus strausii is an easy to grow plant if over-watering is avoided.
Cacti grown indoors tend to gather dust. These spiny cacti can be effectively washed down with a soft shaving brush. When cleaning them, it is a good idea to protect the roots by laying a piece of plastic sheeting over the potting mixture to prevent undue wetting at the base of the plant.
Use newspaper as a wrapping to protect the hands from the spines when handling the cactus.

Light: Like all desert cacti, Cleistocactus strausii needs as much full sunlight as it can get. Unless Cleistocactus strausii has full sunlight for several hours a day, it will not bloom. If possible, stand these plants in a sunny position outdoors during the summer months.

Temperature: During the active growth period normal room temperatures are suitable. During the winter provide a rest period at 10-15°C (50-59°F). If the winter temperature is too high, plants will try to grow; and with insufficient light of short winter days, growth is bound to be unnatural thin.

Watering: During the active growth period water moderately, enough to make the potting mixture moist and allow the top centimetre (0.4 inch) or so of the potting mixture to dry out between waterings. In the winter rest period give only enough to keep it from drying out.

Feeding: At the start of the growth period, apply a dressing of long term slow fertiliser and stir it into the surface soil in the pot. As an alternative, fertiliser may be incorporated with the potting mixture when repotting.

Potting and repotting: A porous potting mixture is essential. Add one part coarse sand and to two parts or either soil based or part-based mixture. Cleistocactus strausii grows vigorously when young and needs to be moved into a pot one size larger every spring until a 20cm (8 inch) pot has been reached. Thereafter, top-dress plants with fresh potting mixture each spring.

Gardening: Cleistocactus strausii is a high altitude cactus which can withstand hard frosts down to -10°C (14°F), but does not tolerate well high temperatures.
Cultivated plants often flower freely.

Position: Choose a location where Cleistocactus strausii gets full sun. In hot climates, this plant will benefit from light shade during the afternoon.

Soil: Cleistocactus strausii grows well in the ground where climates are mild and conditions dry during the winter months. It thrives in well-draining soil. Amend the garden soil with at least 50% sand. If the soil is clay-based, add even more sand to improve drainage. Alternatively, use 25% sand, 15% pea gravel and 10% peat moss or compost. Without good drainage, this cactus will rot.
Dig a hole as deep and twice as wide as the roots. Set the cactus in the center of the hole and back fill until the roots are covered. Make sure the crown of the cactus does not sit below the surrounding soil surface.

Irrigation: Water the cactus during the spring and summer when the top 2.5cm (1 inch) of soil dries out. Water the plant deeply to a depth of at least 15cm (6 inch), then let the soil dry before watering again. Never water if the top of the soil feels damp. Waterlogged soil leads to rot fairly quickly.
During the fall, reduce watering to every five weeks if the ground dries out. In winter, keep the cactus dry. The moist ground combined with the cool temperatures and dormancy may cause the roots to rot.
Keep an eye on the cactus and it will indicate when it needs water. A healthy cactus is plump, but a thirsty cactus looks shriveled and wilted.

Fertilising: Fertilise Cleistocactus strausii plant with a low-nitrogen fertilizer during the active growth period. A slow-release fertiliser applied in the spring will be sufficient for the whole year. Follow the manufacturer instructions for rates and application methods.

Propagation: It is possible to propagate by cutting a small branch from a Cleistocactus strausii and rooting it, but this inevitably leaves a disfiguring scar near the base of the main stem. If an offset is removed to be used in propagation, remember to let it dry for a week or so, letting the wound heal (cuttings planted to soon easily rot before they can grow roots). Rooting usually occurs within 3-8 weeks.
It is therefore best to raise these plants from seed. Be sure to get the seeds from a reputable source. Even under good conditions germination of Cleistocactus strausii seeds may be erratic. They can be sown in either pots or seed pans, depending upon the quantity. Use pots at least 5cm (2 inch) in diameter because seeds need moisture and very small pots tend to dry out too quickly.
Put about a centimetre (0.4 inch) or so of some such drainage material as gravel or perlite on the floor of the container. Then fill it to within a centimetre (0.4 inch) or so of the top with standard seed mixture and top up with a layer of fine gritty sand. Next soak the potting mixture in water and let it drain. When the excess water has drained away, scatter the seeds thinly over the surface of the potting mixture; do not bury them. Finally, lay a sheet of glass or plastic over the top of the container to conserve the moisture and place the whole in warm position – 25-26°C (77-79°F) is ideal. Light is not needed until seeds start to germinate. But because they will not all germinate at the same time, it is best to place the container in medium light from the beginning. Never leave seedlings in full light. The seeds will germinate within 5 to 180 days. When the first seedling, which usually look like minute green balls, appear, raise the cover and keep it in slightly raised position to give the seedlings some much-needed air.
These seedlings benefit from being given a full year’s uninterrupted growth before being potted up and treated as mature plants. The best time for sowing the seeds, therefore, is spring. Seedlings will be ready for potting up the following spring, after a year in seed container. During the first year, keep them at normally room temperature and water them often enough to keep the potting mixture slightly moist.
When potting up young cacti plants, take care not to damage the roots, because root damage can kill the young plant. Before trying to move a plant, gently loosen the mixture around its roots. Then lift it gently, if necessary with a pair of blunt tongs. A 5cm (2 inch) pot is big enough for a little cactus. If preferred, put several young plants about 2cm (0.8 inch) apart in a container, where they can remain until they almost, but not quite, touch each other.

Problems:
Watch for infestations mealy bugs and spider mite.
Treatment: Spray the cactus with insecticidal soap spray if the plant is bothered by spider mites or mealy bugs. Reapply every four-to-seven days, as needed.

Cacti are particularly susceptible to rot caused by fungi or bacteria. Watch out for soft brown or blackish marks on the stems, especially in places where there has been some local damages.
Treatment: Cut away such indication of rot as soon as they appear. Otherwise, the rot is bound to spread. Be sure to cut right back to healthy green tissue and dust with sulphur. Rotting at the base of the cactus is usually caused by compacted, over-wet potting mixture. If a sufficiently porous mixture is used, this should not occur. If it does occur, however, remove all infected tissue from roots as well as stems and treat what remains of the plant as a cutting.

Recomended varieties:
Cleistocactus strausii forma cristata is forming large silvery mounds. This form is propagated usually by grafting or sometime by cuttings, but the cuttings will generally not root.

Uses and display: Cleistocactus strausii makes an attractive landscape plant and or container patio plant where some height is needed, being an attractive accent plant. This columnar tall cactus is suitable for large landscape. When this multiple columnar cactus reaches 1m (3 feet) tall it will produce many red/burgundy tubular flowers that also attracts humming birds. The silver colored spines offer an interesting color change in the landscape. Being a drought-tolerant plant, it is suitable for xeriscaping such as succulents garden or rock garden.
Its silvery spined stems branch from the base and then grow straight upwards towards the greenhouse roof, making a pleasant backdrop for the more numerous globular cacti.
Indoors make a spectacular ascent plant as mature Cleistocactus strausii and will flower if it is provided with enough light. When young, it fits very well between other low growing cacti.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – upright
Height: 3m (10 feet)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – direct
Temperature in rest period – min 4°C max 10°C (39-50°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – low

Hardiness zone: 9a-11

Cleistocactus strausii Cleistocactus strausii Cleistocactus strausii Cleistocactus strausii cristata Cleistocactus strausii forma cristataCleistocactus strausii Cleistocactus strausii Cleistocactus strausii



Cactus, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants , , , , , , , , , ,

Echinopsis chamaecereus

Common name: Peanut Cactus

Family: Cactaceae

Synonymous: Cereus silvestrii
Chamaecereus silvestrii
Lobivia silvestrii

Echinopsis chamaecereus

Echinopsis chamaecereus

Distribution and habitat: Echinopsis chamaecereus is a species of mat forming  cactus with many crowded finger-like stems from mountains areas in Argentina, occurring at elevations to over 1200m (4000 feet). Established plants can reach a height of 15cm (6 inch) and width of 30cm (12 inch), with stems.
It is one of the most popular ornamental cacti and is grown for its unique finger-like shoots and bright scarlet flowers.
In cultivation Echinopsis chamaecereus plants apparently originated from one self-incompatible clone. With a low genetic diversity these cultivated cacti resist the development of new cultivars by conventional breeding techniques.

Description: Echinopsis chamaecereus young shoots somewhat resemble peanuts. With increasing age, however, the shoots of this cactus lengthen into cylindrical finger-like stems which are pale green, very soft and segmented lengthwise by 8 to 10 narrow, low ribs with broad, shallow indentations in between. The main stems are about 15cm (6 inch) long and 2cm (0.8 inch) in diameter and they tend to lie on the surface of the potting mixture with many much smaller branches distributed among them. This cactus branches and spreads so rapidly that it will cover the surface of a 15cm (6 inch) half-pot in two years. Each of the small areoles that are closely spaced along the ribs carries 10 to 15 short, whitish spines. Deep scarlet, cup-shaped flowers about 2.5cm (1 inch) wide are produced from the areoles in early summer. Individual flowers last about a day, but the flowering period extends for two to three weeks and Echinopsis chamaecereus will produce numerous blooms during early spring to early summer period under favourable conditions.

Houseplant care: Echinopsis chamaecereus is an easy to grow cactus as it requires no special care. It flowers freely indoors if conditions are suitable.

Light: Echinopsis chamaecereus needs direct sunlight; it form thin, over-elongated shoots if grown in poor light. For a neat, attractive specimen that will flower well, keep the plant close to the sunniest window possible.

Temperature: During the active growth period normal room temperatures are suitable. At other times this cactus will withstand temperatures down to freezing (although such an extreme is not advisable); ideally it should be given a winter rest in the coolest available position – no higher that about 7°C (45°F).

Watering: During the active rest period water Echinopsis chamaecereus moderately, enough to make the potting mixture thoroughly moist, but let the top centimetre (0.4 inch) or so of the mixture to dry between waterings. During the rest period give limited amounts of water depending on the temperature. If a Echinopsis chamaecereus is kept very cool – bellow 5°C (41°F), it may be left completely dry for the winter; if kept in warmer room, it will need just enough water to prevent the soil from becoming completely dry. In either case, the aim is to avoid stimulating the the plant into growth during the short day months of insufficient light.

Feeding: At the begining of the growth period apply a dressing of slow release fertiliser and stir into the surface soil of the potting mixture or alternatively, this fertiliser may be incorporated with the fresh potting mixture when the plant is being repotted.

Potting and repotting: Use either soil based or peat based potting mixture with the addition of -third portion of course sand for good drainage. Because this cactus has shallow root system and spreads rapidly, it is best grown in a wider container about 8cm (3 inch) deep; deep seed trays are ideal for large clumps. Move the plants into a container one size larger in the spring whenever the stems become crowded – or, alternatively, break the plant up and re-start the propagation process from cuttings.

Gardening: Echinopsis chamaecereus survives outside without protection in winter and is hardy to temperatures as low as −7°C (19°F) if kept dry. This cactus needs a period of cool rest in winter to produce flowers abundantly.
A rock garden may be the best spot for this small cactus to plant it in the ground. Plant Echinopsis chamaecereus between a cluster of rocks. Though it may remain unseen for many months the bright flowers in the spring will get the attention.

Position: Sun exposure should be gradual so as not to burn the plants. Best placement for Echinopsis chamaecereus is an exposure to full sun  in cool climates or lightly shaded in hot climates; it is important to provide a good brightness which is necessary for the flowering period that runs from early spring to mid summer.

Soil: Echinopsis chamaecereus plants thrive in sandy or gritty very well drained soils with some added compost.

Irrigation: As regards the watering, Echinopsis chamaecereus have to be watered deeply every 15 days in summer and during the spring ; while in winter during the cold period is necessary to force this plant to rest, therefor the plant should not be watered at all. Avoid overwatering these plants, always allowing dry for a few days between waterings. However Echinopsis chamaecereus bears well the long periods of drought.

Fertilising: The fertiliser should be sporadic and based on a fertilizer low in nitrogen and rich in potassium and phosphorus.

Propagation: Echinopsis chamaecereus does not form seed; it is always propagated from cuttings – an extremely simple process. Remove a branch from the main stem – it can be easily detached – and place it in a 5-8cm (2.5-3 inch) pot of the kind of potting mixture in which the parent plant is growing; lay the cutting horizontally on the surface of the potting mixture. Or place several such cuttings in a large seed tray spacing them 8-10cm (3-4 inch) apart. If given the same condition as the parent plant, new growth will soon be produced and the young plants will probably be ready to flower by the following summer.
While the plant is being handled, small branches often break away from the main stem. These need not be wasted for they will root at almost any time. Unlike the cuttings taken from most cacti, these do not need to dry out for a few days before being potted up; the points of attachment of the branches are so narrow that there is little risk of rot at cut surface.

Problems:
Echinopsis chamaecereus is very sensitive to the attack of mealy roots and cochineal insects (also known as mealy bugs).
Treatment: Root Mealy Bug – Remove all soil and destroy it. Wash the roots thoroughly and treat (eventually immerging the whole plant) with adequate insecticide, letting the roots dry after treatment and before replanting in completely fresh, sterilized soil. Always cleanse and sterilize frames and all other items used when replanting. Regular applications (weekly for several weeks) of insecticide watered into the soil are also effective, it is also possible to immerse the plant pot up to the top of the soil in a bucket of insecticide solution.
Cochineal insects eradication can be easily achieved by spraying them with Neem Oil, following the manufacture directions. Eradication is most effective during the winter months. No scrubbing is required in order to kill the cochineal insects.

Watch for infestations scale insects and spider mite.
Treatment: If infestation is localized, remove scale insects by wiping affected areas with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol or dipping the plant in a solution of soapy water and alcohol.
Control spider mites with a suitable acaricide.

Cacti are particularly susceptible to rot caused by fungi or bacteria. Watch out for soft brown or blackish marks on the stems, especially in places where there has been some local damages.
Treatment: Cut away such indication of rot as soon as they appear. Otherwise, the rot is bound to spread. Be sure to cut right back to healthy green tissue and dust with sulphur. Rotting at the base of the cactus is usually caused by compacted, over-wet potting mixture. If a sufficiently porous mixture is used, this should not occur. If it does occur, however, remove all infected tissue from roots as well as stems and treat what remains of the plant as a cutting.

Recommended varieties:
Echinopsis chamaecereus f. lutea (Yellow Peanut) has stems that are pale yellow instead of green. This varieties is abnormal in that it does not possess chlorophyll (the green food producing material characteristic of plant life). Thus it cannot be grown on its roots and must be grafted on another cactus, such as a Cereus species. In all other respects – including the production of scarlet flowers, which look particularly attractive against the yellow stems – the plant is distinguishable from the normal Echinopsis chamaecereus. Though it cannot, obviously, be propagated from cuttings, amateur growers can buy young plants that are already grafted.
The tender body of this abnormal form needs shade from summer sun to prevent scorching. Grafting stock determines minimum temperature plant can stand but average is about 10°C(50°F).

Uses and display: Echinopsis chamaecereus is an easily grown cactus, suited to hanging baskets as well as pots. Because of its small size it is also good for succulent dish gardens. Also can be used for rock gardens. This cacti are drought-tolerant being suitable for xeriscaping.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – clustering
Height: 1m (3 feet)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – direct
Temperature in rest period – min 2°C max 7°C (36-45°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – low

Hardiness zone: 10a-11

Echinopsis chamaecereusEchinopsis chamaecereusEchinopsis chamaecereusEchinopsis chamaecereus luteaEchinopsis chamaecereus Echinopsis chamaecereus



Cactus, Flowering Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants , , , , , ,

Astrophytum capricorne

Common name: Goat’s Horn Cactus

Family: Cactaceae

Synonymous: Astrophytum senile
Astrophytum capricorne var. senilis
Echinocatus capricornis

 

Astrophytum capricorne

Astrophytum capricorne

Distribution and habitat: Astrophytum capricorne is a cactus widespread in the Chihuahuan Desert in Northern Mexico, in desert areas where rainfall is much lower – rainfall below 200mm/year (8 inch/year) – than in the habitat of other Astrophytum species. It grows mainly on limestone situations, among rocks and thorny bushes. He appreciates during its first years the protection of Agaves lechuguilla.
This cactus gets its common name, the Goat’s Horn Cactus, from the characteristic shape of its long, curled and spines – a grass-mimicry to camouflage the cactus among its surroundings.

Description: Astrophytum capricorne is a solitary globose or columnar cactus with variable shapes ( spines , flakes , growth) developed in order to perfect its mimicry in various habitats. Although young plants are globular, they soon become egg-shaped with age and eventually columnar up to 1.2m (4 feet) tall and 10 to 15cm (4-6 inch) in diameter. It is a strange looking species because of its display of curved spines on the stem which usually has eight prominent ribs that form around the edge from the top of the cactus to the bottom. The spines are 5 to 10 up to 7cm (3 inch) long, grey to brown wired, twisted, curved and flattened. They are rising from areoles arranged in vertical rows along each rib. As plant ages spines get a bit more intense and messier, but relatively sparse, they are stiff, but pliable and fragile. Young specimens will not have the characteristic spines as adult cacti. The epidermis of this cactus is dark green and more or less covered with the typical white woolly flecks characteristic of the genus. New flakes that appear on the apex tend to be brown before taking white colour.
The flower is yellow with a rather beautiful dark red throat. Blooming season is summer, but only mature Astrophytum capricorne – 3 to 4 years old cactus if growing conditions are favorable – will produce flowers. The flowers appear at the apex of the plant, at the base of each new areola. In warm weather, they last only one day or, in best circumstances, they will open again the next day. The flowers of Astrophytum capricorne open during the hot afternoon with a sweet fragrance.
The fruit covered with flattened spines, is 2.5cm (1 inch)in diametre, will turn red when ripe and open at the bottom. The seeds are large enough coloured bumpy red to brown.

Proper care: Because Astrophytum capricorne has fairly sharp prickly spines, use extreme caution when handling and wear gloves.
Overall this cactus is an easy grower and even the worst neglect cactus should be able to manage. It will grow to a slow rate.

Light: Astrophytum capricorne are desert cacti, therefore they loves sun and will grow well if provided with plenty of direct sunshine. To young specimens should be provided with indirect sunlight.
With inadequate light which could result in poor growth and unnatural shape.

Temperature: Astrophytum capricorne thrive in average room temperatures between 16-24°C (61-75°F) from spring until fall. From late autumn to late winter give them a rest winter at temperatures between 7-10°C (45-50°F ).
Normal indoor humidity is fine for Astrophytum capricorne cactus. Provide good air ventilation for healthy growth.

Watering: During the active growth period water these plants moderately, but allow the top three-quarters of the mixture to dry out thoroughly between waterings. During the rest period give only enough water to prevent the mixture from drying out.

Feeding: Give to Astrophytum capricorne a diluted cactus fertiliser during spring and until the end of summer, once very four weeks. They thrive in poor soils and need a limited supplies of fertiliser. Do not over use fertiliser as this can affect and damage the roots.

Potting and repotting: Astrophytum capricorne do best in a mixture which is composed of one part coarse sand to two parts of either soil-based mixture.
Repot annually young cacti up to 3 or 4 years old, after that repot them only if necessary. Any cactus up to 5 cm (2 inch) in diameter may be kept in an 8cm (3 inch) pot. It is advisable, however, to remove plants from their pots in early spring.  If the roots are tightly packed in the present pot, the plant should be repotted in a larger one. Otherwise, replace the plant in its original pot with fresh potting mixture.
A layer of gravel mix or small pebbles can be laid at the top ( maybe an inch deep) to give them desert look.

Gardening: In general, Astrophytum capricorne should never left outdoors unless it is being kept in a climate very similar to its natural habitat.

Position: Astrophytum capricorne is suited for sunny-brightly exposure, but can tolerate light shade.  It has a good heat tolerance and requires good ventilation.
This cactus likes warmth – recommended minimum winter temperature is around 5°C (41°F) – but cacti kept perfectly dry can easily survive to light frost – it is reported hardy to -7°C (19°F) for brief periods. Protect it from snow.

Soil: Use alkaline lime based soil with good drainage as this species is rot prone.

Irrigation: Water sparingly from spring to autumn and keep perfectly dry in winter or when night temperatures remain below 10°C (50°F).  In climates that are typically wet in winter, it may be necessary to keep this cactus in a cold frame or an unheated greenhouse. Larger plants are able to adapt to life in the garden with more ease than small seedlings.
These cacti are drought-tolerant.

Fertilization: Feed Astrophytum capricorne once during the growing season with a fertiliser specifically formulated for cactus and succulents (high potash fertilizer with a dilute low nitrogen), including all micro nutrients and trace elements diluted to half the strength recommended on the label. They thrive in poor soils and need a limited supplies of fertiliser to avoid the plants developing excess vegetation, which is easily attacked by fungal diseases.

Propagation: Astrophytum capricorne can be propagated easily from seed as it seldom produces offsets. The seeds can be sown in pots of fine, well-drained sandy soil, any time during the spring when temperatures are warm at about 21-27°C (70-81°F). Cover the seeds with a fine layer of grit and water from below with a fungicide to prevent damping off. For the 1-2 weeks cover the pots with a sheet of glass/clear perspex to keep the humidity levels high. Remove the glass and replace it with light shade-cloth and mist once or twice a day for the next two weeks after which most seeds should have germinated. At this point, mistings can be reduced to every second and then every third day as the little plants grow. The seedlings should not be disturbed until they are well rooted after which they can be planted separately in small pots.
Sometimes it is grafted to avoid root rot problems as plants grafted on an hardy stock are easy to grow and no special skill is required.

Problems: Nearly all cultivation problems with Astrophytum capricorne occur as a result of overwatering and poor ventilation, especially when weather conditions are dull and cool or very humid.

Red spiders may be effectively rubbed up by misting the plants from above.
Treatment: Use a suitable pesticide to combat these pests.

Mealy bugs occasionally develop aerial into the new leaves and flowers with disfiguring results, but the worst types develop underground on the roots and are invisible except by their effects.
Treatment: A regular, careful inspection is needed. Occasional watering with systemic insecticides based on Imidacloprid will keep the plants free of mealy bugs.

Scales, thrips and aphids are rarely a problem.
Treatment: Use a suitable pesticide to combat these pests.

Rot is only a minor problem if the plants are watered and aired correctly. If they are not, fungicides wold not help all that much.
Treatment: Discard badly affected plants. Prevent rotting by keeping cacti in well ventilated places, using well drained potting mixture and proper pot size and watering correctly.

Note: Astrophytum capricorne  has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling. This cactus could be  a hazard for children.

Uses and display: Astrophytum capricorne are grown for their display of curved, long, grass-mimicry spines, making it a strange specimen between cacti collections  and a stunning feature as an old giant cactus in xeriscaping or rock gardens.
Young, small specimens of Astrophytum capricorne are ideally suited to window-sill conditions or balconies or patios.

 

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – globular
Height: 45cm (18 inch)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – direct
Temperature in rest period – min 7°C max 10°C (45-50°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – low

Hardiness zone: 9b-11

Astrophytum capricorneAstrophytum capricorneAstrophytum capricorneAstrophytum capricorneAstrophytum capricorne fruit & seedAstrophytum capricorneAstrophytum capricorneAstrophytum capricorne fruit

 

 

 

 

Astrophytum capricorneAstrophytum capricorneAstrophytum capricorne flowerAstrophytum capricorne



Cactus, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants , , , ,

Epiphyllum anguliger

Common name: Fishbone Cactus, Moon Cactus, Queen of the Night, Rickrack Cactus, Rick-Rack Orchid Cactus

Family: Cactaceae

Synonymous: Phyllocactus anguliger
Phyllocactus serratus
Phyllocactus angularis
Phyllocactus darrahii
Epiphyllum darrahii
Epiphyllum beahmii
Epiphyllum gertrudianum
Epiphyllum anguliger var. darrahii
Epiphyllum anguliger var. pillocarpa
Epiphyllum anguliger var. pulocarpa

Epiphyllum anguliger

Epiphyllum anguliger

Distribution and habitat: Epiphyllum anguliger is an epiphytic cactus species in evergreen oak forests. It is endemic to Mexico, where it is distributed in the States of Guerrero, Jalisco, Nayarit and Oaxaca at elevations of 1100 to 1800m (3600-5900 feet). Most grow in trees where they tuck their roots into pockets of decaying vegetable matter which settle into nooks and crannies of tree branches. They share their habitat with orchids, bromeliads, ferns and mosses. Their tropical environment provides them with lots of warmth and high humidity and most important… shading from full sun.

Description: Stems profusely branched, primary stems terete at base, often woody, apical part and secondary stems flat and rather succulent, 20–30cm (8-12 inch) long, 3–5cm (1-2 inch) wide, deeply lobed, often to near midrib, the lobes rectangular to obtuse or rounded; areoles small nude or with 1-2 white bristles; epidermis green, smooth. Flowers 6–20cm (2-8 inch) long, 6–7cm (2-3 inch) wide, nocturnal, strongly sweet-scented; pericarpel with podarium; receptacle 8–16cm (3-6 inch) long, 4mm thick, pale yellow, greenish or pinkish, bracteoles few, minute, linear and green, adpressed; outer tepals 10, linear to linear-lanceolate, acute, spreading or reflexed, 4–5cm (2 inch) long, lemon yellow to brownish yellow; inner tepals lanceolate to ovate, acute or acuminate, white, sometimes toothed, as long as outer tepals; stamens in two rows, white, erect to subdeclinate, nearly as long as tepals; style longer than inner tepals, white; stigma lobes 8-11, linear. Fruit ovoid, brownish, greenish or yellowish, 3–4cm (1.5 inch) thick.
Epiphyllum anguliger is a true species and the leaf-like stems are shorter than most, with deep broad notches, giving the plant a very fishbone-like appearance. Flowering generally occur in late summer or fall. Up to six flowers may open at once and each last about a day.

Epiphyllum anguliger is a very variable species but rather distinct and recognition of sub-specific taxa seems unnecessary.

Houseplant care: The species is commonly grown as an ornamental for its beautiful, fragrant flowers in the fall. Epiphyllum anguliger is an easily cultivated, fast growing epiphyte.

Light: Give Epiphyllum anguliger medium light. If possible, keep them in a shady spot outdoors in summer.

Temperatures: These plants require warmth with high humidity. They should be kept at 16–25°C (61–77°F), it may drop to 10–15°C (50–59°F) for shorter periods. Mist spray them daily and stand the pots on trays or saucers of moist pebbles.

Watering: During spring and summer water plentifully, keeping the potting mixture thoroughly moist . Give plants a brief rest at the end of each flowering period by watering only enough during the next two or three weeks to prevent the potting mixture from drying out. At all other times water moderately, allowing the top centimetre (0.4 inch) or so of the potting mixture dry out completely between waterings.
Epiphyllum anguliger stems do not signal a lack of water by shrivelling as some cacti do. Cuttings of stems left in a dry place have been known to root perfectly well after as long as a year without being potted up.

Feeding: After flower buds start to form, apply a tomato-type fertiliser every two weeks. Stop feeding when most buds are open.

Potting and repotting: Use a potting mixture composed of one part of coarse sand and perlite to three of peat-based mixture. Move the plants into slightly larger pots every spring until they reach the 13 or 15cm (5-6 inch) pot size. Thereafter, simply shake off the old potting mixture from the roots and replace plants in their pots, which have been cleaned. Add fresh potting mixture as necessary. Epiphyllum anguliger which grow taller than 20cm (8 inch) will usually need to be staked unless they are permitted to trail for decorative effect in hanging baskets.

Propagation: Propagate from cuttings taken in spring or summer. Remove a 13 or 15cm (5-6 inch) long branch and allow it to dry for a day before inserting it about 2cm (0.8 inch) deep in a 10cm (4 inch) pot of the potting mixture recommended for mature plants. Several such cuttings are usually planted around the rim of a single pot.
Keep the potting mixture slightly moist until the cuttings root in two to three weeks. After rooting they may be treated as mature plants. They should flower within two years.
Propagation from seed is only really useful when starting to build up a collection of Epiphyllum. When young, Epiphyllum anguliger seedlings are cylindrical and covered with whitish spines. They will not flower until this stage has been passed and the mature flattened stems are produced. When the flattened stems appear, it is thought to be a good idea to take them as cuttings because it is said they will flower earlier than if left on the seedling roots.

Problems:
Epiphyllums are susceptible to various bacterial and fungal pathogens that cause black rot diseases. The bacterium Erwinia cacticida can take advantage of the excessively moist soil and delicate root system of the Epiphyllum to create what is known as black rot disease. It acts in much the same way as any pathogen, infecting the cells of the cactus’s roots to procreate, using it as food and spreading until nothing remains of the root structure but a wet, black mushy mass. Symptoms above ground include a yellowing of the upper stems and lateral brown striations rising from the trunk, as the fungi sends tendrils up the Epiphyllum’s vascular system.
Treatment: If caught early enough, affected portions of the root system can be cut away. Otherwise, there is no treatment. These plants should be watered only when the soil is dry to the touch. Drafts and chills should be avoided.

These plants are also vulnerable to fungal leaf spot. Fungi of the Phyllosticta genus have been known to infect the stems of Epiphyllums. They occur during spring rains and attack the stems. The first symptom is the appearance of one or more brown spots or lesions with raised centres on the Epiphyllum’s stems. These lesions can bore all the way through to the opposite side of the stem in the worst cases, but are not fatal. They create scar patterns and raised ridges which will never heal.
Treatment: Infected plant tissue should be removed and destroyed before the disease spreads to the other plants. Fungicides are ineffective against this kind of fungi. Adequate ventilation reduces the risk the pathogens spreading.

Corky scab is also known as edema and, while a disease, it is not infectious. Symptoms are limited to the appearance of bumps, blisters, warts or scabs with a distinct cork-like, woody texture. They can occur on any part of the epiphyllum. Possible causes include reaction to biting insects, injury from sand or dirt particles carried by the wind and the accumulation of water outside the cactus’ vascular system.
Treatment: Moderate watering schedule should help in treating corky scabs.

Potential pest problems include mealy bugs, slugs, aphids, mites andscale.
Treatment: Use an adequate insecticides to combat the pests.

Epiphyllum plants frequently turn a yellowish colour when they receive too much sunlight.
Treatment: If moved to a shadier place they should regain their green colour in time. A bad sunburn may not kill the plant but will scar the stems permanently.

A stem will wither when it has literally almost flowered itself to death.
Treatment: After a rest period and attention to watering, the stem may return to normal. If it does not, remove it.

If stems die back it is a sign that either the root system is damaged or the plant is not getting enough food either from spent soil or from lack of proper fertilizing.

Availability: Epiphyllum anguliger cacti will live for many years and grow fairly large.

Uses and display: Grow Epiphyllum anguliger cacti in heavy pots to prevent them from overbalance or plant them in hanging baskets. They are ideally suited to window-sill conditions or shaded balconies or patios. Their blossoms are unbelievably beautiful and perfumed. The giant flower unfurl at night time, spreading their fragrance around as they glow in the moonlight like some strange sea-creatures. A short life but a joyful one – for they are dead by down.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – weeping plant
Height: 90-120cm (36-48 inch)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – moderately
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – medium
Temperature in rest period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 18°C max 27°C (64-81°F)
Humidity – high

Hardiness zone: 10b-11

Epiphyllum anguliger Epiphyllum anguligerEpiphyllum anguliger flower Epiphyllum anguliger fruit Epiphyllum anguliger stems Epiphyllum anguliger



Cactus, Flowering Plants, Indoor Plants , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cephalocereus senilis

Common name: Old Man Cactus, Bunny Cactus, Old Man of Mexico, White Persian Cat Cactus

Family: Cactaceae

Synonymous: Cactus bradypus
Cactus senilis
Cephalophorus senilis
Cereus senilis
Echinocactus staplesiae
Pilocereus senilis

Cephalocereus senilis

Cephalocereus senilis

Distribution and habitat: Cephalocereus senilis is a species of cactus native to Guanajuato and Hidalgo in eastern Mexico. It is threatened in the wild, but widespread propagation and popularity in cultivation have reduced the demand on wild populations. The species is one of the dominant elements of the xerophile scrub where it grows and it is restricted to calcareous canyons within xerophile vegetation.

Description: Cephalocereus senilis is a tall, columnar species with clusters of stem. The individual stems are usually unbranched, being unable to withstand the weight of a side branches adequately. The stem is divided lengthwise into 20 to 30 shallow ribs, along the edges of which run rows of closely set areoles. Arising from the areoles are not only the hairs (which can grow up to 12cm (5 inch) long) but from one to five yellow spines per areole. The most striking feature is the shaggy coat of long, white hairs suggestive of unkempt hair on an old man. The coat is a particularly striking silvery white on the young cactus; as the plant ages the stem begins to lose its covering. The hairs are modified spines and they make many a plant appear almost snow-white; they serve to protect the plant from frost and sun.
In the wild Cephalocereus senilis can grow up to 12m tall (when 200 years old), but as a slow growing indoor plant it is unlikely to grow taller than 30cm (12 inch) or to require a pot larger than 15cm (6 inch). Since the plant cannot reach maturity indoors, it will not flower.

Cephalocereus senilis is not expected to flower until 10-20 years old. The flowers are produced from the cephalium, along one side of the stem near the apex. The lateral cephalium does not form until the plant is 6m (20 feet) tall as this cacti reaches its maturity. The flowers are nocturnal, trumpet-shaped, about 8cm (3 inch) long and 7cm (2.75 inch) in diameter and whitish-yellow coloured. Cephalocereus senilis will flower in summer season and flowers are followed by pinkish-red fruit, 2-3cm (0.8-1 inch) long covered with yellowish hair.

Houseplant care: Cephalocereus senilis is commonly used as a potted plant grown indoors. Avoid stroking the plant, since the hair conceals 2cm (0.8 inch) long spines.

In time the white hairs of Cephalocereus senilis tend to turn brownish. Some of this discoloration is due to dirt and can be removed by shampooing with a warm detergent solution and rising in clean water. To avoid soaking the potting mixture with detergent, cover it up while washing the plant.
Much of darkening the hair, however, is due to age and must be accepted.

Light: In the wild these cacti are protected from intense sunlight by their hair, thus, the greater the intensity of the light the longer and thicker are the hairs. If possible place these plants at a window where they are likely to be exposed to constant sunlight.

Temperature: In spring and summer normal room temperatures are suitable for an actively growing Cephalocereus senilis, between 18-29°C (65-85°F). In winter the plant should be encouraged to rest at a temperature below 16°C (61°F), though always above 5°C(41°F). High winter temperatures coupled with the insufficient light of short winter days will cause the plant to grow unnaturally elongated stems.

Watering: During the active growth period water these cacti moderately, enough to make the potting mixture moist throughout, but allowing the top centimetre (0.4 inch) or so to dry out before watering again.
During the rest period water only enough to keep the mixture from drying out completely. Too much water during the short day months encourages unnatural growth and can cause rotting of the base of the stem.

Feeding: At the start of the growth period apply a dressing of slow-release fertiliser and stir it into the surface soil in the pot. Avoid splashing the hairs with fertiliser.

Potting and repotting: Either soil based or peat based mixture can be used with addition of one-third portion of coarse sand. These plants can usually be grown in 8cm (3 inch) pots until they are 7-10cm (2.75-4 inch) tall. Examine them each spring, however, to see if the roots fill the pots.
When necessary, move the plants into pots one size larger. If there is still room for roots to grow, replace plants in their original pots, which have been cleaned. Add some fresh potting mixture to the pot if necessary.

Gardening: Cephalocereus senilis is a very popular cactus in warm climate desert gardening, grown for its woolly appearance. It is great for inexperienced gardeners and those that like low maintenance gardens, but this cacti is a frost tender. In colder climates, it is recommended to be keep in a container that can be taken outside for the summer and easily moved indoors for the winter.
It is a very drought and heat tolerant. These facts are making it a stunning xeric landscape plant where it can reach its largest, most impressive size.

This cacti has sharp thorns. Plant them away from play areas and pathways. Wear gloves and protective eyewear when handling cactus plants.

Location: Cephalocereus senilis needs lots of bright sunlight to encourages growth of the hair. Place it in full sun in areas with minimum temperature of 13°C (55°F). It prefers some afternoon shade in the low deserts.

Soil: Cephalocereus senilis grows in rocky or loose soil which is a fast-draining soil. When planting this cacti amend this soil with some limestone chips for best results.

Irrigation: Cephalocereus senilis requires little to moderate water in summer, almost none in winter. It will grow without any watering other than natural rainfall. It is very rot prone particularly when young, reason why this cacti needs good drainage.

Fertilising: Supplemental fertiliser will speed growth of garden cacti. Fertilise Cephalocereus senilis once in spring using slow-release fertiliser. Incorporate the fertiliser in soil. Water the cactus when fertilise if the soil is dry.

Propagation: Cephalocereus senilis can be propagated only from seed.

Problems: Cephalocereus Senilis is highly-prone to rot from over-watering.

The shaggy hair provide a hiding place for such pest as mealy bugs and spider mites.
Treatment:  Insecticides work fine to control these insects.

Sudden wilting and pale green discolouration indicate a fungal infection (phytophthora).
Treatment: Remove infected plants. Prevent this fungal infection by improving drainage and avoid over-fertilisation.

Recommended varieties:
Cephalocereus senilis f. cristata is a mutated form of Cephalocereus senilis where the growing point (apical meristem) of the plant has forms along a line rather than a single point resulting in a fan shape.

Facts: The most common use for Cephalocereus senilis hair is in the making of wool-like sweaters in southern Mexico, and the hair is generally a cheap alternative to cotton in commercial sweater production due to its natural coloring and fluffiness.

Uses and display: Cephalocereus senilis are grown for their hairy appearance making it a strange appearance in cacti collections as a potted specimen and a stunning feature as an old giant cacti in xeric gardens.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Shape – columnar
Flowering time – nocturnal
Flowering period – summer

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period -sparingly
Watering in active growth period -moderately
Light indoors – direct
Light outdoors – direct sunlight
Compost -standard cactus compost
Temperature in rest period – min 7°C max 18°C (45-64°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)

Outdoors size: 15m (50 feet) tall, 40cm (16 inch) in diameter
Indoors: 30cm (12 inch) tall

Hardiness zone: 9b-11

Cephalocereus senilis forma cristataCephalocereus senilisCephalocereus senilisCephalocereus senilis Cephalocereus senilis Cephalocereus senilis



Cactus, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants , , , , , , , , , ,

Astrophytum myriostigma

Common name: Bishop’s Cap Cactus, Bishop’s Hat

Family: Cactaceae

Synonymous: Astrophytum coahuilense
Astrophytum columnare
Astrophytum nuda
Astrophytum prismaticum
Echinocactus myriostigma

Astrophytum myriostigma

Astrophytum myriostigma

Distribution and habitat: Astrophytum myriostigma is a species of cactus native to the highlands of northeastern and central Mexico. They inhabit preferentially sunny south and east slopes on lime formations, rarely grow in north or west position between white grey rock in a loose to thick vegetation, which mainly consists of a dry bush community.

Description: Astrophytum myriostigma are desert cacti, each with an unbranched stem that is roughly globular – ofter becoming elongate as the plant age (after several years becoming cilindrical) – and that is divided into wide three to eight segments,  sharped-edges ribs. The basically green stem has no spine but is covered with tiny tufts of silvery hair (appearing like scales or spots). These give the plant a greyish cast. In mature cacti the bottom of the stem trends to become woody. It grows up to about 70-100cm tall and 10-2 cm in diameter.
After a plant is mature, funnel-shaped flowers grow from areoles near the top of the stem; each flower lasts only a few days, but the plant continues to flower throughout the spring and summer. The flowers of all forms are bright yellow and grow about 5cm (2 inch) wide. These cacti may take up to six years to flower.

Houseplant care:
Light: Astrophytum myriostigma need plenty of direct sunlight.

Temperature: Normal room temperatures are suitable during the active growth period. From late autumn to late winter give Astrophytum myriostigma a rest period at 7-10°C (45-50°F).

Water: During the active growth period water these plants moderately, but allow the top three-quarters of the mixture to dry out thoroughly between waterings. During the rest period give only enough water to prevent the mixture from drying out.

Feeding: A long-term, slow-release fertiliser should be added to the potting mixture for Astrophytum myriostigma. When they are being repotted there is no need to add any extra fertiliser if this procedure is followed.

Potting and repotting: Astrophytum myriostigma do best in a mixture which is composed of one part coarse sand to two parts of either soil-based mixture.
Any plant up to 5 cm (2 inch) in diameter may be kept in an 8cm (3 inch) pot. It is advisable, however, to remove plants from their pots in early spring. If the roots are tightly packed in the present pot, the plant should be repotted in a larger one. Otherwise, replace the plant in its original pot with fresh potting mixture.

Propagation: New Astrophytum myriostigma plants can be propagated only from seed which is sown during the spring. Plants are sometimes grafted onto column-shaped cacti. Cutting scions from a flourishing plant is almost a crime because the scions do not root easily.

Problems:
These cacti can be attacked by mealy bugs. They have a cotton appearance. Males have wings and can fly, females are without wings. These are sucking bugs, meaning they suck juices from plants, they also spread plant disease by sucking a diseased plant then sucking a new plant, thus infecting it.
Treatment: If bugs are detected on the cactus, apply an insecticidal soap to the plant according to the directions on the label.

Over watered cacti also tend to be prone to stem rot fungi because they are so filled with water and bloated, so it is easier for the spores to germinate and spread.
Treatment: If the rotting spot is small, often just allowing it dry out is enough.
The problem with this kind of rot is that usually is bigger and badder than it looks on the outside, often spreading throughout the cortex quite fast because it is so succulent and has little barrier against such pathogens. The usually method for rot is surgery: cut out all the infected area and even more to make sure that the cacti is cleaned from these fungi.

Root rot can be very hard to tell until its too late. Aside from the roots often appearing dead (hard to tell when a plant is planted), the stem of the cactus will also start turning a yellow colour and may become softer (the hard cactus is now more succulent feeling). The bad part with root rot is it works up the core of the cactus following the cambium. Usually root rot is caused by too much water.
Treatment: If caught very early, which it rarely ever is, stop watering and let stay dry for a good period. Consider repotting into a new clean mix that allows more water drainage.
If it is more advanced, than surgery is all that is left. If the cactus is 6cm (2.5 inch) tall and it is rotting 2cm (0.8 inch) up, cut away 4cm (1.5 inch) of cactus.

Recommended varieties:
Astrophytum myriostigma quadricostatum (Bishop’s Mitre) has four ribs.

Astrophytum myriostigma nudum has five ribs, completely lacks the tufts of hair.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – globular
Height: 70-100cm (27-39 inch)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – direct
Temperature in rest period – min 7°C max 10°C (45-50°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – low

Hardiness zone: 9b-10

Astrophytum myriostigma Astrophytum myriostigma - flower Astrophytum myriostigma Astrophytum myriostigma

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Cactus, Flowering Plants, Indoor Plants , , , , , , , , , ,

Aporocactus flagelliformis

Common name: Rattail Cactus

Family: Cactaceae

Synonymous: Aporocactus flagelliformis
Aporocactus flagriformis
Aporocactus leptophis
Cereus flegelliformis
Cereus flagriformis
Disocactus flagelliformis

Aporocactus flagelliformis

Aporocactus flagelliformis

Distribution and habitat: Aporocactus flagelliformis is lithophytic or epiphytic cactus native to southern Mexico and Central American deserts. In its natural habitat is found trailing or pendent, often epiphytic over rocks or up in trees.

Description: Aporocactus flagelliformis is an epifhitic cacti which has pendant stems that can grow up to 1.5m (5 feet) long and 2cm (0.8 inch) thick in course of only five years. Each of these bright green stems has 8 to 12 narrow, low ribs separated by broad, slightly raised areoles carry clusters of brownish spines, each about 3mm (0.1 inch) long. Tubular, crimson-pink flowers about 5cm (2 inch) long and 2.5cm (1 inch) wide appears on mature growth.
Flowers are produced profusely in spring. The flowering season lasts for about two months and individual blooms can last for several says.

Houseplant care: Their trailing stems make these cacti ideal plants for a hanging basket. Line the basket with sphagnum moss before filling it with potting mixture and make sure it is hung where the prickly stems will not pose a treat to the unwary. If Aporocactus flagelliformis is grown in a pot, hang the pot up or attache it to a high shelf. If it is left free-standing, it can soon be overbalanced by the lengthening stems.

This cactus has spines; use extreme caution when handling.

Light: Aporocactus flagelliformis requires full sunlight. Hang the pot or basket in the sunniest window available. If possible, hang the plant outdoors in summer to give it fresh air and extra light.

Temperature: During the active growth period normal room temperatures are suitable. In winter these plants should be rested at 7-10°C (45-50°F), if possible, but they tolerate temperatures up to 15-16°C (59-61°F).

Water: During the active growth period water plentifully, keeping the potting mixture thoroughly moist, but do not let plants stand in water. During the winter rest period just keep the mixture from drying out.

Feeding: Use half-strength liquid fertiliser sprayed on to the stems of the plant once every two weeks during the active growth period only.

Potting and repotting: Aporocactus flagelliformis likes a fairly rich potting mixture – ideally a combination of two-thirds soil-based mixture and one-third leaf mould. If leaf mould is not available, use old milled cow manure or commercial orchid compost. Since the plant is fast-growing, it should be repotted annually – preferably when it has finished flowering, but not necessarily in a larger container. The main reason for repotting is to provide the plant with fresh potting mixture; for Aporocactus flagelliformis use up nutrients swiftly. Use a container one size larger only when the current container is full of roots. Maximum convenient size is likely to be a 23cm (9 inch) baskets or 15cm (6 inch) pot. If a plant has outgrown such a container, it should be discarded and restarted from a cutting.

Propagation: To propagate, use either 15cm (6 inch) tip or 15cm (6 inch) segment of any part of the stem. Allow each cutting or segment to dry for three days; then insert it about 2cm (0.8 inch) deep in a small pan or pot of the recommended potting mixture for mature plants; be sure that any stem segment is planted with the bottom end down. If this shallowly inserted cutting tends to fall over, it can be supported by being gently tied to a small wooden stick. Cultivation needs of cuttings are the same as those for mature Aporocactus flagelliformis and rooting will occur within a few weeks.

These plant can also be grown from seed.

Uses: Aporocactus flagelliformis is suitable for growing indoors, in containers. It is drought-tolerant make it suitable for xeriscaping.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – climbing and trailing
Length: 1.5m (5 feet)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – direct
Temperature in rest period – min 7°C max 10°C (45-50°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – Low

Hardiness zone: 10a-11



Cactus, Climber, Flowering Plants, Indoor Plants , , , , , ,

Mammillaria zeilmanniana

Common name: Rose Pincushion Cactus, Rose Pincushion, Pink Crown, Nipple Cactus, Fishhook Cactus

Family: Cactaceae

Synonymous: Mammillaria crinita
Neomammillaria zeilmanniana
Chilita zeilmanniana
Ebnerella zeilmanniana

Mammillaria zeilmanniana

Mammillaria zeilmanniana

Distribution and habitat: Mammillaria zeilmanniana is a cactus endemic to Mexico. Its natural habitat the daytime temperatures are quite high and the nights are cool. It grows on steep of volcanic rock (igneous) face in canyon walls in semi-desert and deciduous forests.

Description: Mammillaria zeilmanniana is one of the most beautiful Mammillaria. It is an exception from the general rule that red-flowered cactus of this genus do not bloom until they are several years old. It produces a profusion of deep carmine-red flowers while still quite young  and small.

The young cactus is solitary but slowly forms a cluster of individual nearly globular stems, which are glossy green and usually  about 6cm (2.3 inch) high and 5cm (2 inch) across. A four-year-old specimen is likely to fill a 10cm (4 inch) container. The tubercles are 6mm (2.3 inch) high and each areole has 15 to 18 radial white and 2 to 4 central brown spines, all about 1-2cm (0.4-0.8 inch) long. One of the centrals is hooked.

Mammillaria zeilmanniana flowers during the summer sometimes followed by brightly coloured fruits. The flowers, placed in circle close to the apex, originate from the aureola at the base of the tubercles, bell-shaped, with a diameter of 1.8-2 cm (0.7-0.8 inch) and keep open for almost one week; the blossoming lasts the whole summer.

Houseplant care: Mammillaria zeilmanniana is a small growing, but easily flowering species. When grown outside it likes full sun or afternoon shade, when grown inside it needs bright light and some direct sun.

Plant has spines; use extreme caution when handling.

Light: For attractive coloured spines and good flowering, give Mammillaria zeilmanniana direct sunlight all year long.

Turn regularly the Mammillaria zeilmanniana to ensure that growth is even.

Temperature: During the spring and summer active growth period, normal room temperatures are satisfactory for these cacti, but they do best if kept in a sunny position outdoors during these months. Good ventilation is essential for their health.

It is important to give Mammillaria zeilmanniana a winter rest at about 10°C (50°F) if possible. If necessary they can survive a minimum temperature of 5°C (41°F).

Watering: In spring and summer water moderately, just enough to make the potting mixture moist at each watering, but allowing the top centimetre (0.4 inch) or so of the mixture to dry out before watering again. As cactus begin to form  clusters, care should be taken to not allow the excess of water to remain on the surface of the mixture between the stems. Puddles of this sort can easily cause rotting. For this reason, it is a good alternative to water  Mammillaria zeilmanniana from below. To do this, stand each pot in a pan containing 5cm (2 inch) of water and leave the pot there until the surface of the potting mixture has become moist to the touch. Leave the pot in water for two or three minutes once a week.

During the winter rest period give only enough water to prevent the mixture from drying out.

Fertilising: A long-term slow-release fertiliser should be incorporated into the potting mixture. If this procedure is carried out, no other feeding should be necessary.

Otherwise, give fortnightly liquid feed with high-potassium fertiliser in the growing season only. Alternatively, use fertiliser specially formulated for cacti.

Potting and repoting: Use a potting mixture consisting of one part of coarse sand to three parts of either soil or peat based mixture. Cactus that form large clusters do better in a broad pan than in a pot. A cluster of 8cm (3 inch) across needs a 10cm (4 inch) pan. Mammillaria zeilmanniana are best grown in a terracotta type pot which should have at least one drainage hole in the base and it should be unglazed. This type of pot allows good drainage and allows the compost (therefor roots) to breath.

Solitary specimens or those with only a few branches or offsets may be grown in an ordinary pot; an 8cm (3 inch) pot will suit a cactus 5cm (2 inch) across.

Repot Mammillaria zeilmanniana in early spring. Carefully remove each cactus (or cactus cluster) from its container, lifting the cactus by holding it near the base with tongs or forceps. Gasp these cacti with special caution, because the hook can be difficult to remove, if it catches in anything (such as clothing) without tearing away the areole.

If roots have filled the present container, move the cactus into a slightly larger one. Otherwise, gently shake away as much as possible of the old potting mixture and replace the Mammillaria zeilmanniana in original container, after it has been thoroughly cleaned. Add fresh mixture as necessary.

Propagation: Mammillaria zeilmanniana are raised from seed. Remove the berries produced after the flowering season in autumn. Squeeze the pulp containing the seeds onto a piece of blotting paper and put the paper in a dry, sheltered place for several days to dry off and preserve them safely for sowing season. Then pick off the seeds and store them in labelled envelopes until sowing time during the following spring.

Clustering cactus can also be propagated from branches or offsets during the spring and summer months. This is the quickest way to produce a flowering-size cactus. Carefully cut away a branch and allow it to dry for several days. Then gently push the cut end into the surface of a 5 or 8cm (2-3 inch) pot of standard potting mixture.

The easily detached offsets of some species do not even need to be dried, but can be potted up without delay. Treat newly potted branches or offsets in the same way as recommended for mature Mammillaria zeilmanniana; they will root within a few weeks.

Problems:
Discoloration of the top of the cactus or collapse of the stem may occur if the cactus is incorrectly watered.

Mealy bugs and mites can be a problem.
Treatment: Mealy bugs are also quite difficult to get rid of and is nearly impossible to do so without the use of a systemic pesticide. Since mealybugs affect different areas of the plant, it is always wise to check the entire plant when mealybugs are detected (check down in the joints of the plant and take the cactus out from its pot to inspect the roots). For best results, after physically removing the mealybugs with a toothbrush or high pressure water spray, it is best to treat the plant with a systemic insecticide. This should be applied only when the plant is growing or it will not be taken into the plant tissues. It is also a good idea to treat you cactus at the onset of the growing season to prevent mealybugs from getting a start.
If you even suspect spider mite damage on your cacti, quarantine all infested plants immediately. Treatment with some form of pesticide is the only cure. It is best to look for a pesticide that specifically states control of spider mites on the label. Multiple treatments will be required as the eggs will not be killed by the pesticide. Since most pesticides will create a phototoxic reaction on the cactus epidermis, it is best to keep your plants out of direct sunlight after treatment for several weeks. Finally, it is also a good idea to spray the areas surrounding the infected plant and to pay close attention to uninfected plants. The chances are good that the spider mites have been on the move before you noticed them.

Uses: Mammillaria zeilmanniana is an excellent cactus for container growing. It remain small enough all its life to be grown on a sunny window-sill. It is an easy to grow plant and flower reliably year after year.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Features – flowers and fruits
Shape – globular
Height: 6cm (2.3 inch)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – direct
Temperature in rest period – min 4°C max 13°C (39-55°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – low

Hardiness zone: 9a-11



Cactus, Flowering Plants, Indoor Plants , , , , , , , , ,

Schlumbergera truncata

Common name: Christmas Cactus, Thanksgiving Cactus, Claw Cactus, Holiday Cactus, Crab Cactus, Zygocactus

Family: Cactaceae

Synonyms: Cactus truncatus
Cereus truncatus
Epiphyllum truncatum
Zygocactus truncatus
Epiphyllum altensteinii
Zygocactus altensteinii
Epiphyllum bridgesii
Epiphyllum delicatum
Zygocactus delicatum
Epiphyllum ruckeri
Epiphyllum ruckerianum

Schlumbergera truncata

Schlumbergera truncata

Distribution and habitat: Schlumbergera truncata is endemic to a small area of the coastal mountains of south-eastern Brazil where its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist forests. In its native environment it is an epiphyte (occasionally lithophytic). In other words, these are cacti that grow in trees! They grow their roots into the bark of their host tree. Their only access to moisture and nutrients is from rain and droppings that fall from above. They also always grow under a canopy of trees and are never exposed to the full sun of the desert. The environment that these cacti have adapted to is that of the warm, humid jungle with sunlight filtered through the canopy of the forest. The shape of the flowers suggests humming bird pollination and red is attractive to birds. The berry is mostly red attracting other birds to spread the seed to other areas.

Description: Schlumbergera truncata have flattened, spineless, pendulous branches with prominent notches at the margins. The flat stem segments are long and narrow and connected by a mid-rib. The flowers are asymmetrical in shape and appear at the stem tips. Flower colours range from pink, lavenders and reds through to oranges, yellows and whites. Schlumbergera truncata blooms through autumn and winter.

Some plants  have rounded stem segments, other have more pointed type. The flowers also differ considerably in shape and colour.

Houseplant care: To obtain a fuller plant, prune the Schlumbergera truncata cactus. Cutting it back in spring will encourage the plant to branch out where the stem was cut. Flowers emerge from the ends of the stems so the plant will promote more blooms. Spring is the best time to prune it back, when it begins actively growing again. Cut the stem off between segments (the place where they’re joined together by midrib). Use sharp, clean pruning shears to prevent tearing the stems.

Give it a rest period after its winter flowering.

Flower buds are likely to drop off if the plant is moved or suddenly exposed to temperature changes.

Light: Schlumbergera truncata (as a jungle cactus) should never be exposed to full summer sunlight. Medium light at a partly shaded window is the best  throughout spring summer and autumn. The less powerful winter sun is not likely to harm these plants. Flower buds normally start to form in early autumn and full flowering is initiated by the restricted light of shortening days. Once these cacti have begun to bud, it is important do not keep them in a living room where artificial lights may be burning virtually all evening every day.

Position to an east- or west-facing window suits this plant well. Avoid placing it in direct sun. It can be put out in the garden or patio during the summer in a shaded place.

Temperature: Room temperature is suitable for Schlumbergera truncata all year round. Schlumbergera truncata needs to set flower buds cool temperature of 16-18°C (60-65°F) during the day and 7-13°C (45-55°F) during the night. Once buds set, 21-24°C (70-75°F) on day time and 16-21°C (60-70°F) on night time.

Schlumbergera truncata will benefit from being placed in a shady place outdoor during late spring and summer, but move them back indoors before the start of cold weather.

Water: Schlumbergera truncata are generally winter-flowering plants, their stem grow most actively during the months from spring to early autumn. During the entire year except for a brief period following the end of the flowering period, water plentifully as often as necessary to keep the poting mixture throughly moist, but do not allow pots to stand in water.

When flowering ceases (problably in late winter), reduce amounts and water only moderately – enough to moisten the mixture at each watering, but allowing the top centimeter (0.4 inch) or so of the mixture to dry out before watering again. Resume plentiful waterings as soon as new stem growth starts to appear in spring.

For increased humidity mist spray the plants, especially in spring and summer. Because Schlumbergera truncata dislike the hard water (water with high calcium content), use rainwater if at all possible for watering proposes. Remember never to permit the potting mixture to dry completely.

Fertiliser: Feed every two weeks with liquid fertilizer diluted by half. After blooms have dropped, stop fertilizing until new growth begins in spring.

Potting and repotting: To prevent waterlogging use a free-draining peat-based potting mixture which has been made more porous by the addition of one part of coarse sand to every three parts of the standard mixture. Grow the Schlumbergera truncata in ordinary pots or hanging basket. Repot every year after flowering and move into a larger container  only when roots have filled the current pot. Otherwise, shake off the spent potting mixture, replace the plant in its container which has been cleaned and add fresh mixture as necessary. Schlumbergera truncata do not have large root system and a specimen 30cm (12 inch) accross can be grown in a 10-13cm (4-5 inch) pot or basket.

Propagation: Most popular way of propagation of the Schlumbergera truncata is through cuttings. Just twists off part of the plant: they naturally come apart at the joints between stem segments. Segments that have fallen off on their own can sometimes also be propagated. Let the cuttings dry out for 2-7 days, then plant in or lay them on top of the potting mixture. For best results, take multiple cuttings from the same plant and plant them together (this will give a fuller-looking plant sooner). Rooting has started to happen when new growth appear at the tips of the old stems.

Uses: Schlumbergera truncata can be used as indoor plants, patio or conservatory plants in hanging baskets or tall pots flowers.
In its native area, Schlumbergera truncata is grown outdoors as an epiphyte or in rock gardens. In cooler climates, this plant can be grown in baskets or pots for brightly-lit window sills. It is sold primarily around the holiday season as a gift or decorative item.

Schlumbergera truncata can be used in a hanging basket or stand several in groups on an east- or west-facing windowsill. A wicker basket makes an attractive container. Do not move the plant or even turn it around once the flower buds appear. Moving it will inhibit flower production.

Problems:
Stem may shrivel during rest period if the plant gets too little water.
Treatment: Give the plant a little water and it will recover quickly.

Root rot will set in if plant is left standing in water.
Prevention: Drain off excess water and provide a free-draining compost to prevent waterlogging.

Leaf fall is probably caused because the plant has been subjected to a sudden change —either in light quality or direction, or because the plant is in a draught.
Prevention: Leave the plant alone and do not move it from once buds have formed until the end of its flowering season.

Availability: Schlumbergera truncata is available from fall to winter, period when the plant is blooming. These plants will live for many years and grow fairly large.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Features – flowers
Shape – weeping plant
Height: 30-60 cm (12-24 inch)

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – moderately
Watering in active growth period – plentifully
Light – medium
Temperature in rest period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – low

Hardiness zone: 10b-12



Cactus, Flowering Plants, Indoor Plants, Top Anti-Pollutant Houseplants , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cereus peruvianus

Common Names: Peruvian Apple, Peruvian Torch, Apple Cactus, Column Cactus, Hedge Cactus, Queen of the Night

Family: Cactaceae

Synonymous: Piptanthocereus jamacaru
Piptanthocereus cabralensis
Cereus calcirupicola
Piptanthocereus calcirupicola
Cereus calcirupicola
Piptanthocereus cipoensis
Cereus calcirupicola
Piptanthocereus goiasensis
Cereus goiasensis

Cereus peruvianus

Cereus peruvianus

Distribution and habitat: Cereus peruvianus is a large, erect, thorny columnar cactus up to 9m (30 feet) tall when growing in the wild. Though less gigantic in pots, they are much admired for their sculptural, columnar shape, which contrasts impressively with that of most other plants in any collection of cacti. Cereus peruvianus is native from rocky outcrops and the savanna in South America.

Description: Cereus peruvianus is a bluish green single column that branches out toward the top in the wild, but is unlikely to do o as a potted plant. I has five to eight broad, prominent notched ribs separated by deep, narrow indentations. Areoles in the notches are filled with white hairs and each areole bears a cluster of about seven brown spines, which are unlikely to grow more than 1-2cm (0.4-0.8 inch) long indoors.

Flowers which are generally produced on large specimens only, are about 15cm (6 inch) long and have white petals tinged with brownish green. Cereus peruvianus flowers in summer and opens at night time. Each flower blooms only one night and then dies.

The flowers are followed by red fruits 2.5-5cm (1-2 inch) in diameter.

Houseplant care: Cereus peruvianus is a very fast grower. This plant is a perfect candidate indoor plant for a sunny south, east or west window.

Light: Grow Cereus peruvianus cacti in the fullest possible sunlight. Since the light coming from a window is one-sided, a columnar plant will tend to lean in that direction and so it is most important to turn such plant frequently. If possible, get the Cereus peruvianus outdoors during the summer months for fresh air and extra light to improve their colour and to help lengthen their spines.

Temperatures: Normally warm temperatures are usually suitable in spring, summer and autumn. For the winter these plants should be moved into a cool position – around 10°C (10°F), if possible – where they can rest. A Cereus peruvianus that tries to continue growing in poor light of the short-day months will develop an abnormally thin, frail stem.

Watering: During the active growth period water moderately, but allow the top centimetre (0.4 inch) or so of the mixture to dry out before watering again. During the winter rest period give Cereus peruvianus just enough water to prevent the mixture from drying out.

Fertilising: At the beginning of the growth period apply a dressing of slow release fertiliser and stir it into the surface of the soil in the pot. Alternativelly , this fertiliser may be incorporated in potting mixture when repotting.

Potting and repotting: Either a peat based or soil based mixture will do well. For better drainage add one part coarse sand to two parts of the basic mixture. Plants up to 5cm (2 inch) wide may be kept in 8cm (3 inch) pots, but these cacti are fast growing and may need to be moved into a larger pots at least once a year. Remove every plant from its pot in early spring to see whether the roots are tightly packed. If they are, move the plant into a pot one size larger; otherwise, return it to its current pot, but top-dress it with fresh potting mixture.

Gardening: When grown outdoors, in the right conditions Cereus peruvianus will grow 0.6-1.2m (2-4 feet) a year. Often grow over 6m (20 feet) high with many branching arms. Full sun is best for fruiting, but it will also grow in the shade or even as a houseplant. Plant it in well draining soil that retains moisture. It needs more water than the other cacti and it will need regular watering during the heat of summer. Top dress with rich mulch in spring  and use a slow release fertiliser to feed the plant. Cereus peruvianus is hardy down to -6°C (20°F) when planted in soil.

Propagation: New plants are normally raised from seeds. But, although these seeds germinate and grow up more quickly than those of most cacti, seed propagation is still a slow process. A Cereus peruvianus can also be propagated by means of sections of stem rooted in the standard potting mixture, but this process is often impractical since it involves the virtual destruction of the original plant.

Problems:
In poorly drained potting mixture or soil or when this cactus is subjected to excessive watering it is prone to root rot.

Keep an eye out for scale or mealybugs infesting Cereus peruvianus.
Treatment: If bugs are detected on the cactus, apply an insecticidal soap to the plant according to the directions on the label.

Notes: Plant has spines or sharp edges; use caution when handling.

Recommended varieties:
In any batch of Cereus peruvianus seedlings there may be at least one specimen of a naturally occurring form known as Cereus peruvianus monstrosus – a disordered form often sought after by collectors. Instead of having one centre of growth at the top of the stem, this plant has numerous growing points and becomes covered with irregular, knob-like structures. It grows much more slowly than the usual species and is harder to maintain in cultivation, for it apparently lacks the tolerance of adverse growing condition characteristic of most types of Cereus peruvianus. If it is grown in badly drained soil, for example, Cereus peruvianus monstrosus is very likely to gradually lose its roots and rot away.

Uses: Cereus peruvianus can be used as a windowsill plant, but mainly as a floor plant as it grows tall. As houseplants Cereus peruvianus will bring an exotic air to interiors where they are.

Being drought-tolerant Cereus peruvianus is suitable for xeriscaping.

Observations and statistics of scientists have shown that Cereus peruvianus neutralizes harmful electromagnetic waves emitted by the television, telephone, computer, thus placing the plant in those areas of the house where the electronics are placed is beneficial.

SUMMARY:

CHARACTERISTICS:
Foliage – green
Features – flowers, fragrance
Shape – upright

PROPER CARE:
Watering in rest period – sparingly
Watering in active growth period – moderately
Light – direct
Temperature in rest period – min 10°C max 13°C (50-55°F)
Temperature in active growth period – min 16°C max 24°C (61-75°F)
Humidity – low

Hardiness zone: 9a-11

Cereus peruvianus

 

 

 

 

 

 



Cactus, Flowering Plants, Garden Plants, Indoor Plants, Top Anti-Pollutant Houseplants , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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