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A cactus is a unique plant that is commonly found growing in a
desert habitat. It belongs to the family Cactaceae. Cacti are
equipped with many adaptations that suit them for the desert life.
Instead of leaves, from which water escapes easily, this magnificent
plant has spines, which greatly narrow down water evaporation. The
spines also protect the cactus from hungry predators such as birds.
A cactus has short roots, which also minimize evaporation. A cactus
is a vascular plant, meaning it can support itself while growing to
amazing heights. The saguaro cactus can grow unto an astonishing
45ft. Probably the most amazing fact about this plant is that even
in its harsh climate some cacti can survive over 200 years! These
adaptations allow certain cacti to survive 3 years without water; a
human can barely survive 4 days.
Cacti reproduce using a couple of methods. One way is by
vegetative reproduction: when for any reason a cactus branch falls
off, it will grow into a new cactus. Cacti can also reproduce by
using seeds. They form flowers that are eventually replaced by fruit
(for some species) and seed.
Cacti are used by both man and animal. Animals such as
birds eat cacti and use holes they made as shelter. Burrowing
animals make homes near roots since the soil has more moisture than
common desert sand. People use cactus for water and food, though not
frequent. Most humans such as I use cactus for décor and gardens.
Many cacti such as prickly pear and golden barrel cacti make great
houseplants. Some, like the Easter and Christmas cactus are used as
A cactus is good plant for everyone. It does not require much care.
Some people even say that the less you care for them the better.
This makes sense because in the desert no one helps wild cacti grow
in the harsh conditions. You still must water them and give them sun
and occasional feed.
Where do I start?
Follow these simple steps when
1.The first step in ensuring success in
growing a healthy cactus plant is to purchase one that is already in
good health. Avoid any plant that has damaged spines, obvious signs
of bruising, or that has lopsided or uneven growth. Read a label and
ensure you can create required environment for this specific cactus.
Look around, as different cacti require different environment.
2. Make sure you like the cactus before purchase. Try to learn more
about this specific type - different types require different care.
3. Buy a
larger pot and some cactus soil - you will need to re-pot your
cactus because the original pot is likely too small.
4. In a
couple of days, when the cactus adjusts to the new environment,
re-pot it and water with enough water to keep all soil damp.
What is the best indoor
Depending on the season the best place for your cactus varies:
1. Spring & Summer:
a cactus should be placed in a warm, partly sunny area
2. Fall & Winter:
In order for your cactus to flower, place it in a cool
(45º- 55ºF), shady area with just a bit of sunlight (e.g. a garage).
I know cacti in
a desert get a lot of sun? Do I need to keep my cactus in a most direct
sunlight to keep it healthy? Cacti can get sunburned
just like people can. Do not put cacti in the direct sunlight, both
inside and especially outside.
How do you take care
of outdoor cacti?
1. Be sure the cactus you have chosen can adopt to your area and in
your growing situation.
2. Plant as early in the season as possible to allow the cactus to become
established before the next winter. Don’t let the cactus freeze
hard at night during this time—cover or postpone planting until nights
are slightly above freezing. Light freezes won’t hurt hardy cacti
if they have been acclimated to freezing temperatures and are not
growing. Marginally hardy plants for your area should be covered for the
first few winters until they have adapted to your winters.
3. Plant in well-drained soil. To build up a bed, add a layer of
rocks and cover with rocky, loose grained (mineral) soil. Avoid
organic soil (peat moss, bark, anything organic). Cacti look nice
mixed in among larger rocks.
4. Give cacti some shade until established. Shade cloth works best as
it allows the plant to adjust to the sun. Some varieties do best
under nurse plants (this gives some shade and thermal cover in the
5. During the growing season, (April through August) water your cactus
garden when there is limited natural rainfall (every two weeks or so).
Cacti can do without rainfall for long periods of time but they won’t
do you make a cactus garden?1. To start your garden look for a sunny, well-drained area. Consider building raised beds
if your yard is flat. It can help to ensure the cacti are not over-watered.
2. Draw an outline on the ground of the garden. Remember: you can always expand
3. Take out some of the 6" to 12" of top soil. Put a narrow strip of plastic where the rocks will be, let it
extend into the hole a few inches, this will help control grass from getting in
4. Place the rocks around the hole, you may like a natural look better than round or square
shape. If the garden is to be facing the street you can go two or
three rocks high in the back.
5. Now fill the hole to the top of the rocks with
your soil mix. A good cactus mix is: one part potting mix, one part washed sand,
and one part large (gravel, pumas, broken clay pots,) most anything that will
help keep the soil loose. If the garden is to be level, mound up the mix to make
it show better and increase drainage.
6. Take all your plants and set them in the cactus garden to give you an idea as
to where to put them. Dig a small hole in the mix just deep enough to cover the
roots, leaving the cactus body on top of the soil. Cactus that are not winter
hardy can be used by leaving them in the pot. Just bury the pot so they can be
removed and taken in for the winter.
6. Give the plants a small amount of water
ever two or three weeks until they root. Then let nature pay the water bill.
Feed once a year with a plant food like 10-10-10 or good house plant food. Never
overfeed, this is where a little does better. A few large well placed rocks will
add protection from the hot sun, and help hold moisture, and it just looks good.
Now go build that garden and save water.
WATERING A CACTUS
Is there a
special way to water a cactus?
Cacti, agaves, aloes, sedums and other succulents have special
abilities when it comes to storing and utilizing water. To one
degree or another, they all have thick, fleshy, water-storing leaves
and, or stems. They also have exceptional methods to limit their
water consumption. Surfaces exposed to the drying effects of sun and
wind are small in proportion to their total mass. This is especially
evident in plants like saguaro and barrel cacti. Thick waxy cuticle
layers on outer surfaces help seal in moisture. And a smaller than
normal number of pore openings in leaves and stems further restrict
IMPORTANT (FOR INDOOR CACTI):
First of all, you need to
make sure the cactus's pot has some holes on the bottom (to prevent
IMPORTANT: DO NOT OVER-WATER.
No matter whether your cactus is inside or outside do not over-water
it! Watch for such signs of over-watering as swelling and cracking
of the outer surface (saguaros), yellowing and rotting (other
cacti). If this occurs, immediately discontinue watering or find the
indirect source of water and eliminate it.
When in doubt about watering, be conservative. More errors are made
on the side of over-watering than under-watering. Remember that
injury from lack of water develops gradually, and is easy to
correct. On the other hand, damage from over watering occurs rapidly
and is usually irreversible.
IMPORTANT: When cactus are not getting enough
water, their outer skin begins to wrinkle. This is caused by the
shrinkage of water-storing tissues in the plant. In the case of
segmented cacti, like prickly pear and cholla, the outer pads or
segments may also begin falling off. Lack of sufficient moisture in
leafy succulents will result in wilting. As water levels in plants
such as agave and aloe drop, so does the internal water pressure
holding the leaves straight. As a result, leaves begin to bend
Cacti and succulents showing signs of moisture
stress can be revived by providing them with a good soaking of
water. Keep in mind that the roots of these plants are shallow and
widespread, extending out a distance several times their height.
Therefore, watering a large area out from the plant, but only a foot
or so deep is best. A soaker hose works well for this purpose.
WATERING FREQUENCY: As a general rule, established native
cacti and other succulents will benefit from twice-monthly waterings
when temperatures are consistently above 90 degrees. May and June are
the months when such waterings are most critical.
Newly planted native species will
establish quicker when watered on a weekly basis during hot weather.
Non-native types of cacti and other succulents, even those well
established, will perform better when provided water on a weekly basis.
Watering is also a way to promote more rapid growth. Keep in mind that
sandy, well-drained soils can tolerate more frequent irrigation than
heavy, poorly drained soils. When monsoon rains arrive in July, reduce
or discontinue irrigation until the end of the monsoon season in
Cacti and other succulents grown in
pots are more likely to need regular irrigation than those planted in
the ground. During hot, dry weather watering will be needed on a weekly
or twice-weekly basis. The soil should be allowed to dry between
waterings, even in well drained soil mixes.
WATERING METHOD: Put the pot in a bucket of water and the cactus will
extract needed amount of water through the holes. This way reduces the
risk of over watering and helps to prevent rotting and soil leaking
out. This also helps if the cactus is infested with bugs. Once in a
while spray the cactus to clean it.
you keep your cactus healthy? You could spray it once in a while to help your cactus to breathe.
What do you need to do to
get cacti to flower?
In the winter time you need to water cacti twice a month only and keep
the cactus in a cool shady place (45º-55ºF) - low sunlight please! Still it
is hard to make a cactus flower. Most cacti bloom in the spring for a very short period, sometimes for
only a few hours. The blossoms are noticeably sensitive to light, and
often different species blossom only at specific times of the day. One
of the most famous of the cacti is the night-blooming cereus usually
classified as Selenicereus or C. grandiflora (several other
night-blooming cactus species bear the same common name). Its fragrant
blossoms unfold at a visible rate after sunset and last only a single
If a cactus is flowering see the
already flowering guide on page 2
How do you germinate cactus seeds?
The good news is that cacti can easily be grown from seeds - you can create your cacti collection easily and without spending much money
(if the cacti are grown properly).
At the same time you need to realize that to grow a mature, flowering plant can take many years from seed.
The season for planting seeds is from
early spring to early summer, but
they will grow after that except for winter. The easiest plants to
propagate from seed are Frailea, particularly Frailea itaberenis, and
Mammillaria, particularly M. prolifera. Their seeds germinate from 7 to
21 days after sowing, grow very fast, and can even flower in their
second year or 3rd year.
Before you get started sowing your seeds, you should acquire the
1. a very shallow pot or a tray;
2. river sand (washed and preferably boiled);
3. leaf mould or garden topsoil;
4. a sheet of glass to
cover your pot (a plastic shopping bag will do).
Make a soil mixture of
6 parts sand to 4 parts leaf mould and place this in the pot. Make sure
the soil is well mixed and no lumps remain. It would do a lot of good if
you sterilize the mixture as in the first week of their lives, up to 50%
of the seedlings can die of fungus if sterilization is not carried out.
To do that, place the soil in some cloth and cook it in a pressure
cooker for 20 minutes. An alternative is to put the soil in cloth and
hang it from the sides of a cooking pot with some water in the bottom.
Cover the pot and let the water boil for 20 minutes. Then let it cool
and, as fast as possible, transfer it to the pot, covering the pot wit
glass when the soil is not in use.
Now let us get to the cactus seeds. Before carrying out the following
procedures, put the cactus seeds in a jar and shake it hard for 5 minutes. This
will significantly speed up germination. Prepare a jar of water with
some permanganate or copper sulfate in it. Now get the seeds that were
shaken up and put them in the jar. Healthy seeds will sink to the
bottom, all the ones that are floating after 10 minutes in the jar will
not germinate. The permanganate is added to disinfect the seeds.
After you have done that, wet your soil and loosen it up with a stick.
Then spread the seeds evenly on the surface and rake the soil with the
same stick, burying the seeds. Cover the pot with glass (or plastic bag)
and stand in a warm place out of direct sunlight. The temperature should
be between 20°C and 30°C.
After a week you may see tiny pale shoots showing up through the soil.
These are spineless and very fragile. Their root systems consist of tiny
root hairs, so it is advisable that you do not touch them for the first
few weeks. Even watering can cause them
damage, so only water using a
sprayer and do it very carefully. If your seeds are not germinating,
wait more. Some cactus seeds can take 2 or 3 months to germinate.
After your seeds have germinated, they will need great attention.
Under no circumstances put them in sun, they will die in an
hour or so. Instead, you can shield them from direct rays by using
tissue paper or milky white plastic bag material. The glass can be
taken off the tray in a week after germination. At night, up to
about 10:00PM, additional light can be given to them by means of a
40 - 50 Watt light globe suspended over the trays (using no
shielding). This will speed up the cactus seeds
In the first few months, the seedlings can get attacked by fungi and
other diseases. Keep a close eye on the pots, if you see any mildew,
spray the cacti pots with a weak copper sulfate solution or any other
fungicide. If a seedling rots and dies, it should be removed immediately
and a fungicidal treatment carried out as the dead plant can infect all
the others. If algae appears (which looks like green or brownish slime),
spray the pots with sulfuric acid of 1 drop to 1L of water. This should
deter it for some time.
When your seeds become green and get their first spines, a weak
application of mineral fertilizer can given. It can be repeated in a
month's time. Wood ash can be added, 1 teaspoon per pot, and thoroughly
watered in using a sprayer. This will also speed up the growth of the
When your plants are about 1 year old, they can be pricked out and
planted in separate pots. Exceptions include Astrophytums and other
cacti whose seedlings are fragile at 1 year of age. Good luck!!!
How do you
plant a cactus?
The care guidelines vary greatly upon the specific conditions
in your garden. The instructions for care in a hot, dry environment
like Phoenix is much different than the care instructions for cool,
damp locations. Generally, cacti and succulents like to be kept warm
and bright and the soil dry. Cacti are very tolerant of less than ideal
circumstances, but better conditions derive better results.
Planting Bare Root
Upon receiving your plants, open boxes as soon as possible. If any damaged
roots are observed, trim with clean scissors before planting. Keep the
new plants somewhat dry until new roots start forming. This can take
a few days if hot or weeks or longer if dormant. During the shipping
process, some plants may become de-acclimated from their normal full
sun environment, and could burn if they are exposed too soon to extremely
Planting (un-rooted) Cuttings:
When you receive your cutting, allow it to dry 10 to 45 days before
planting. (Thick cuts and cool weather require a longer drying period).
To dry the wounds, leave the cutting in a shady, warm exposure, not
direct sun. Then plant it in DRY cactus potting soil and do not water
for another 10 - 45 days. After the cutting develops a root system it is
safe to start a light regular watering cycle. Always let the soil dry
out completely between applications of water. It is MUCH
more likely that a cutting will be
killed by over watering than under watering.
Golden Ball Cactus
The golden ball cactus is a plump,
easy to grow, common cactus.
Personally I have one of these
magnificent cacti. You can check out my golden ball cactus at
my cacti as
Pinny 2. The golden ball cactus can withstand frost lower than 25F
(about 4C). They can grow up to be 2ft. (.66 Meters). It grows best
in light shade fertilize every 2-3 months during growing season.
Water this cactus Once a month in very hot weather, twice a month in
hot weather, once a month if mild and water rarely if very cold.
Golden ball cacti are different then the golden barrel cactus.
The prickly pear cactus mostly grows in the
Desert. It can be up to 3 feet tall. The genus Opuntia includes
the prickly pear, bunny ears, and beaver tail cacti. Over a period of
several weeks in late spring and early summer, each pad produces several
three- to- four- inch wide flowers that bloom in an array of colors,
depending on the variety, from subtle to brilliant tones of yellows and
oranges, pinks and reds. When the blooms fade, the edible fruits form.
The pads are actually rapidly-growing flattened stems. Depending on
the variety, the pads will grow from four to 16 inches long, nine inches
wide, and three-quarters of an inch thick. They may be elliptical to
oblong in shape, bright green to blue-gray in color, and have a smooth
skin. Most of the cultivated ones are spineless, but some have single
inch-long white spines. Smaller stickers (glochids), cloaked in
deceptively soft-looking fuzzy patches, will penetrate the skin at the
Current production and yield. While the prickly pear cactus is
native to the United States, Mexico, and South America, it grows
well in many areas of the world, including Africa, Australia, and
the Mediterranean. In some areas of South Africa and Australia,
prickly pear cacti has become a notorious
weed. It will grow at elevations ranging from sea level to 15,000 feet.
Large commercial plantations thrive in Mediterranean areas, and the
fruit is an important agricultural crop of Sicily.
In warm climates, well-tended plants may be harvested of pads up to
six times a year, and established plants may yield 20 to 40 one-half
pound pads at each harvest.
The flavor of ripe prickly pear cacti fruit depends on the variety
but include strawberries, watermelons, honeydew melons, figs,
bananas, and citrus. You can eat them raw, at room temperature or
chilled, and alone or with lemon juice. They can be cooked into jams
and preserves or cooked down into a syrup as a base for jelly and
candy — the “cactus candy” in some Mexican food stores. This syrup
can be reduced even further into a dark red or black paste that is
fermented into a potent alcoholic drink called “coloncha.” The fruit
pulp can be dried and ground into flour for baking into small sweet
cakes, or stored for future use.
Cactus fruit size, shape,
and color vary from small and round like a walnut to three inches
long and two inches wide like a rounded cylinder. Skin and flesh
come in a rainbow of colors — white, green, yellow, orange, red,
purple, and brown. White-skinned varieties are the most popular in
Mexico, says Cantwell-de-Trejo, while the sweetest varieties
generally available in this country have dark reddish-orange or
purple skins and deep red-purple flesh. The fruit contains
significant amounts of vitamin C, one fruit containing about
one-half the amount of an orange. According to Cantwell-de-Trejo,
this is its most important use in the diet of rural Mexicans.
Other Uses. Around the turn of the century, the plant scientist
Luther Burbank researched many uses of the prickly pear cactus. Bob
Hornback of Santa Rosa, California, has worked with the Luther
Burbank collection for many years and done much to relocate and save
specimens of these varieties. He has compiled a list of prickly pear
uses from Burbank’s research notes, circa 1914. Prickly pear
cacti can be grown into hedges and fences by planting them a foot or
so apart. Within several years, the plants will grow together to
form a wall of the spiny pads protruding at all angles — a barrier
that will repel any intruder larger than a rabbit. Plantings can
also be made for erosion control in deforested areas. In time,
cactus plants such as Opuntia ficus-indica may grow into
freely-branching trees from 10 to 20 feet tall.
The sap from the pads from this cactus can be used in
first aid similar to the aloe vera plant. Simply cut off a portion of a
pad, crush it, and squeeze the juice onto a cut, burn, or bruise. The
sap will soothe the wound. Ground or pureed young cactus pads are used
as a laxative and also as a remedy for diabetes. According to Marita
Cantwell-de-Trejo, Extension Vegetable Post harvest Specialist at the
University of California, Davis, the Mexican Institute of Nutrition in
Mexico City is researching the hypoglycemic effect of cactus consumed by
In Central Africa, the sap from the pads served as a mosquito
repellant. In 1911, Burbank noted in Scientific American, that when
spread on water, it smothers mosquito larvae, and the effect lasts up to
The stickiness of the cactus sap makes it useful in formulating various
products. It can be extracted to make chewing gum and candles, and is
used as a stiffening agent for cotton cloth. A common use in rural areas
of Mexico is to boil it down into a concentrate and mix it with
whitewash and mortar to increase the durability of buildings.
Golden Barrel Cactus
The golden barrel cactus is different from the
golden ball cactus (above). It blooms in pale yellow and blooms in the
summer. It grows to be about 2-3 feet. Like all cacti the golden barrel
cactus is drought tolerant. They are very prickly. Water every 2 weeks
in the summer. Water once a month in the winter. Echinocactus grusonii ,
the Golden Barrel Cactus, is one of the most popular of all cacti in
cultivation. It is much admired for its large rotund form, dramatically
adorned with neat rows of clustered golden spines. The flowers are also
golden yellow in color, emerging from the large patch of wool at the
center of the plant. They are produced a few at a time over a long
period during the growing season in the warm months of the year. Large
plants attain a size of over 2 feet across, and may remain single or
produce plantlets at the side to form a clump. They come from Queretaro
State in Mexico, but have become very scarce in the wild due to
inundation of much of their natural habitat from construction of a dam.
Christmas cacti grow in the tropical forests of South America, where
it is very humid and warm all year round. They also receive very
little light, which is why you should never put them in the sun and
the best place for them is in a room. Their soil should never be
left dry, even in winter. Water them daily in summer and weekly in
winter. This way some of them will flower in the winter time.
Others, like the Epiphyllous and Nopalxochia-+ will flower in summer
with the most magnificent flowers. The Christmas cactus is not the
same as the Easter cactus.
Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii) is a popular,
winter-flowering houseplant native to Brazil, available in a wide
variety of colors including red, purple, oranges, pinks and creams.
pendulous stems make it a great choice for hanging baskets.
Christmas cactus is a member of a group sold as holiday cacti that
includes the Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) and
the Easter cactus (Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri). When grown
under normal night length conditions, Thanksgiving cacti normally
flower near Thanksgiving approximately a month before Christmas
cacti. The Easter cactus flowers primarily in the spring and
sporadically throughout the year. All of the holiday cacti have
similar cultural requirements.
Light and Temperature: The
Christmas cactus grows best in light shade. Full sunlight is
beneficial in midwinter, but bright sun during the summer months can
make plants look pale and yellow. Ideal growth occurs at
temperatures between 70 to 80 °F during its growing season from
April to September. Do not let temperatures rise above 90 °F once
the flower buds are set in the fall. Continuous warm temperatures
can cause flower buds to drop.
The secret of good flower bud
production involves temperature and dark (photoperiod) control. To
flower plants need: They need a lot of bright sunlight. Keep Night temperatures between 55 and
65°F. Long nights - Thirteen hours or more
of continuous darkness each day is required before flowering will occur.
Long nights should be started about the middle of September and
continued for eight weeks.
Watering and Fertilizer:
Water the growing medium when it is dry to the touch. The Christmas
cactus is tolerant of dry, slightly under-watered conditions. Do not let
the soil become waterlogged, especially during the dark days of winter.
Do not let the soil dry out either. Reduce watering from fall through
spring. Fertilize plants monthly from the time new growth starts in late
winter or early spring, and throughout the summer using a one-quarter
strength soluble fertilizer. Reduce fertilizer during the fall and early
The Christmas cactus flowers best when kept somewhat pot bound.
Repotting is necessary only about once in every three years. The potting
media must be well-drained with good aeration, because the Christmas
cactus does not grow well in heavy, wet mixes. A good mix may contain
one part potting soil, two parts peat moss or compost, and one part
sharp sand or perlite.
The Christmas cacti commonly drops
unopened flower buds, which may be induced by an excessive number of
buds or a sudden change in temperature, light or other environmental
factors, such as drying out of the growing medium. Lack of flowering is
often due to light interrupting the long night period (13 hours) that is
required for flowering initiation to occur. Street lights, car lights or
indoor lighting can disrupt the required dark period. The major disease
is root rot, which can be prevented by avoiding excessive watering.
More info on:
We have a
separate page on holiday cacti, please visit it.
Do you have any cacti? Can
I see them?Yes I have a lot of cacti and I am a big
fan of them. You can see my favorite cactus Pinny and some of my other favorite
cacti on the my cacti page.
MISCELLANEOUS INFO (UNFILTERED)
Watering cacti:A typical watering schedule (if the plants are sheltered
from rain) might be: once in Jan, once in Feb, twice in March and 2
to 4 times monthly during the growing season, depending on the conditions.
It is difficult to provide precise rules pertaining to the watering
of cacti and succulents. Cacti should not be watered during their period
of dormancy, which occurs during the winter months. During winter, keep
cacti dry, especially if kept in an environment with a fairly low temperature.
Cacti must be watered during their active periods.
Enough water should be given to soak all the soil in the
pot. Excess water should drain freely. During summer, occasional rain
showers will do no harm. Plants prefer rain to tap water. During a protracted
period of rain, however, cacti should be placed in a sheltered area.
should be free of chlorine and alkaline salts, but ordinary tap water
will suffice. Chlorinated water and hard water will leave white stains
on the cacti, which is unsightly and does block the stomata. (Pores).
Cacti and Succulents need regular feeding during their growing season
(Spring-Summer). They need a balanced range of minerals. Potassium (K)
to encourage flowers and fruit, Phosphorus (P) for good root growth, and
Nitrogen (N) for vigorous top-growth. Cacti also need other trace
elements. Any commercial houseplant fertilizer will do, but an ideal
ratio of nutrients is: 20% nitrogen, 20% potassium, 20% phosphorus, and
all of the other trace elements.All mature actively growing cacti need to be fed occasionally. It is
best to use a formula specifically designed for cactus like 7-40-6.
(Nitrogen, phosphorus, potash) Use a mixture with a low ratio of
nitrogen, as cacti can be burned by it. A commercial formula such as
miracle grow or rapid grow can be used, but should be diluted to half
strength. I have heard that "cactus juice" brand by Sudbury (1-7-6), is
highly recommended. Regular Bone Meal, available at most Garden Centers,
makes an excellent organic fertilizer. Don't forget the macro-nutrients
like Iron (Fe), Calcium (Ca), Sulfur (S), and Magnesium (Mg). Also
important are the micro-nutrients Copper (Cu), Zinc (Zn), and Manganese
(Mn). San Pedro especially, does very well indoors behind glass. A
location where the plant gets at least 4 hours a day of bright, direct
sunlight is ideal. The best possible situation would be a South facing
sliding glass door, and a reflective screen placed behind the Cactus to
redirect and concentrate the light.
Many Cacti have
beautiful and fragrant flowers, but they can be quite hard to get to
bloom. The optimal conditions to induce flowering are, a cooler
temperature (especially at night), reduced day length (12 hours or
less), and variations in nutrients (lower nitrogen levels). Try putting
your Cactus in a dark, unheated garage (not below freezing) for a few
weeks. Forcing can also be done inside, but you need a place next to
lots of glass that stays cooler than the rest of the house.
Mature cacti and succulents grow well in a warm climate at a minimum
temperature of 61F (16C). Cacti usually need direct or filtered sunlight
to perform photosynthesis. Natural light can be supplemented by an
artificial light source such as fluorescent lighting.
Cacti have adapted to survive in rocky,
sandy, or clay based soils, with limited nutrients. However, the ideal
soil or potting mixture will draining rapidly and yet retain some
moisture. Always use a gritty mixture, pumice is great, to ensure
correct drainage. Most cacti prefer a slightly acidic soil.
Equal parts commercial potting
soil and builders sand. Also add one Tablespoon each of ground bone meal
and ground limestone per gallon of mix. Three parts course sand, one
part loam (good rich soil), one part leaf mold. Two parts soil mix, one
part fine to small size pumice, one part leaf mold. If you are making
your own soil it would be a good idea to sterilize the mixture by baking
in an oven at 400 degrees F for 60 minutes. This kills most bacteria,
larvae, weed seeds and insect eggs.
Fortunately desert plants are very tolerant to imperfect conditions. Provide the
range of correct conditions and the cactus will do the rest. Happy gardening!
Pots and Containers
Succulents and cacti do not require a great depth of soil. Make sure
that all containers have drainage holes. Line the bottoms with material
such as pottery shards or gravel before adding soil. When growing plants
together in one container, select plants with similar cultural needs
and growing seasons.
Pest and Diseases
Cacti do resist pests and diseases, but can fall victim to mealy bug
and scale as well as numerous fungal and viral attacks. The remedy for
scale and mealy bugs are varied, but I find Malathion and Orthene with
a wetting agent to be very effective. Regards to fungal and viral attacks,
prevention is the best remedy. That is provide good growing conditions
and be on guard for excess moisture.
Glossary of Terms: Bare Root:
An established plant with roots; soil removed before shipping. Cutting: A cutting from a parent plant. The cutting will
establish roots after it has been correctly planted.
A good soil mixture
can make a big difference for the health of your cactus. However the
right soil mixture still needs to be found. And as you know it is hard
to find a good formula .If you ask 10 cactus growers
about the perfect mix, you will probably get 10 different answers.
Normal pot soil is generally not suitable for most cacti. This soil has
the capacity of keeping water for a long time. This is something that
horrifies cacti. In gardening centers you can therefore find special
cacti soil. This special soil is just fine for many cacti. However, most
hobby growers prefer to use mixtures that they have prepared themselves
after many years of experience. Ingredients which are often used in
cacti soil mixtures:
- coconut fiber
- pot soil
- small gravel
- pumice stone
- lime stone
Most mixtures are made of 25-25% organic material and the rest is
inorganic material. It's very important that the mix is loose and light.
If that's not the case, it will keep too much water, and this can cause
the roots to rotten. Cacti also need enough feeding elements and
therefore they use the elements available in the soil mixture.
Eventually these elements will exhaust. Therefore it's good to add a
little manure to the mixture once a year to fill up the elements again.
CACTUS RESOURCESSome of the sites are listed below:
1.http://www.answers.com/topic/cactus-got some info
to start on cactus
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cactus-site of the people
Care Directory-some cactus and cacti info
from this great site!!!
Help For Common Houseplants
cacti-info on Christmas cacti, most Christmas cacti info is from
www.cacti.com-by succulents and
on the all popular Christmas cactus
http://www.cactus-mall.com/- the cactus mall
cactus care-holiday cactus care
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