cactus-food

Cactus Food on Your Breakfast Table

Everybody knows that cactuses are prickly. However, the fact that they are also an important source of food is far less popular. Stems, fruits and seeds of cactus have been have been More »

fear-and-loathing-cactus

Psychedelic Cactus Adventure

We are human beings and, as the Eden’s incident proves it, it’s typical for all of us to cherish a desire for something forbidden and adventurous within. How about growing a plant More »

mountain-cacti-big

Mountain cacti

Have you ever been to or have you ever seen the pictures of the Andes or the Cordilleras? These are the places of such cactus types as astrophytum, cleistocactus, echinopsis, lobivia, notocactus, More »

Prickly-pear-cactus

Did you know these prickly things?

We all got used to cactuses as original and beautiful houseplants. So when we hear the word “cactus” we usually think of those natty prickly green things in small pots on our More »

saguaro-cactus

Taking care of saguaro cactus

When you hear the word “saguaro” you probably imagine a large, tree-sized cactus with a mighty ribbed stalk that grows in the Caribbee coastwise. I also once thought that all representatives of More »

Tag Archives: collecting cacti

Watering different types of cactus plants

It goes without saying that every type of cactus needs an individual approach. So in order to water your cactuses properly, you should take into account a number of factors. But all in all, the following cactuses require more watering:

1. Hygrophilous cactuses
2. Growing cactuses
3. Cactuses with big roots
4. Cactuses in earthenware pots
5. Cactuses in sandy soil
6. Cactuses kept in high temperature and dry air

And, on the contrary, you should be careful with watering of these cactuses:

1. Xerophilous cactuses
2. Cactuses that are at rest
3. Cactuses with small roots
4. Cactuses that are grown in plastic pots
5. Cactuses clay soil
6. Cactuses kept in low temperature and humid air

In summer I water my cacti just like the other houseplants – just when the soil gets dry, except cool rainy days. In autumn watering should be reduced gradually, and in winter it should be stopped at all – to make dry and cold wintering for your prickly friends.

It’s better to use rainwater, but you can use tap water settled for a day or two. It must be warm – about 30-40 C°. If you put a hand in water with such temperature, you will feel neither warmth nor cold. I seldom use water of room temperature, especially when it’s cool outside. The fact is that cactus roots can’t absorb water, which temperature is lower than 10-12 C°. If it’s about 20 C° in the room, the soil in the pot is colder. The temperature of the water you poured out on this soil slumps. And a cold, moist soil is extremely dangerous for cactus roots.

The best time for watering is in the evening in summer and in the morning in winter. The water should not get on the stalk of the cactus plant, watch it carefully. And remember that every cactus can bear lack of water, but its excess could be baneful.

On the other hand, a lot of cacti suffer just from water shortage in hot summer days: many collectors don’t know that cactus absorbs only a few percents of water together with nutrients dissolved in it. The rest of water is used for the cooling of the stalk through evaporation to protect it from overheating. Water shortage in hot summer period is very harmful.

Hot days and cool dewy nights are typical for the most regions of America where cacti grow. Dew and fog can be replaced by spraying, that has an excellent effect, if you meet some simple conditions. For my collection I stick to these rules:

1. Never spray cactus, if the weather is cool and damp – the stalk may begin to rot.
2. Use a small sprayer that pulverizes water to fog, but not to big drops.
3. Use only boiled and hot water, because its temperature stumps during spraying.
4. Hygrophilous cacti that have leaves, for example Christmas cactus, like not only sprinkling, but also warm shower. It’s undesirable to spray your cactus late at night because of a quick temperature drop.

What’s the use of cactus?

I hear this question pretty often and each time I wonder why people are so concerned with the use of cactus plants. Nobody’s interested in the use of aquarium with tropical fishes or a matchbox collection. Why? Isn’t it the same with collecting cacti? I believe in case of cactus plants it’s not the matter of use but for the most part of aesthetic beauty and true admiration of one’s hobby. As for me, there’s nothing more beautiful than a collection of variegated cacti even if they don’t bloom. And in my opinion a flowering cactus will surely gain the first prize in the flower competition.

Like breeding fishes or collecting stamps, growing cacti first of all satisfies your aesthetic needs. Moreover, you get closer to nature, broaden your horizons, liberalize and increase the number of friends, as no collecting is interesting if you don’t share your joy with other collectors. Some people even assume that interest in cacti brought them to life during a serious illness or depression.

From the historical and cultural point of view the question about the use of cactus plants has a different answer. As a matter of fact, various types of cactus were adopted in this or that way for people’s life in those cultures and countries where they distributed. For ages cacti have been used as building material, food, medicine, ritual objects among native Americans, Mexicans, Colombians and others.

Saguaro cactus served as a building material at all times. Fences and hedges of growing saguaros with big thorns are prevalent in many countries of Central and Southern America. It’s typical not only for villages and pauper houses but also for posh modern villas. The stalks of old large saguaros, or rather their dried up wood, is a light and firm material to make poles, beams and frames of buildings. The smaller cacti are used by local handicraftsmen as stuff for souvenirs that tourists buy up.

There are much more other ways of how different types of cactus plants can be useful for the civilized man. I will talk about them next time.

Why collecting cacti is so amazing

Why is collecting cacti so popular? I think that the answer to this question lies in versatility of cactus collecting.

Echinocereus reichenbachiiI believe that almost every man has something of a collector inside. It is always interesting to collect things. If it is not done mechanically it can be very useful: how many new things people collecting stamps or coins can learn out of their hobby!

Each collector has a goal – to find this or that item that is missing in his collection. And at the same time when this goal is achieved, the collector starts looking for another item that can be even more difficult to get. Ad infinitum.

From the point of view of the collector, cacti represent the greatest interest: in fact there are more than three thousand cactus species, so there’s always something to look for. By the way, still nobody has a complete cactus collection at present.

If we take cognitive value of cactus collecting , perhaps, cacti have no contenders in this respect. In contrast to coins or stamps they are alive, they require a closer and more careful approach. It is necessary to understand their needs, “tastes”, even “whims”, and for this purpose you will need a great experience and knowledge.

That fact that a cactus lover deals with alive plants seems to me very important also because everyday care for cactuses, observation of different phases of their development, germination of seeds or unwrapping petals help the person to get closer to nature, to get to know pleasure of a gardener, and this pleasure can be yours everyday throughout the whole year. Cactuses don’t require much space and can grow in room conditions. A large collection of cacti can be easily placed on a window-sill.

It is impossible to ignore the aesthetic side of collecting cacti. I don’t know why cactuses are sometimes called “green freaks”, but I know for sure that those who call them so never saw cactuses as they really are: all what they saw is just emaciated echinopsises and clumsy prickly pears. I’m delighted with cactus plants – they have sculptural cleanliness of the form, generous richness of colours and filigree and lacy patterns of fuzzes and thorns! To say nothing of flowering: cactus flowers are the finest in the world: they have characteristic metal shine and a nacreous transparency of edges.

The most interesting thing is that the beauty of cactuses is not seasonal, as it is in case of deciduous plants. Cactuses are equally beautiful throughout the whole year, if kept and cared properly.

And last but not least, there’s one thing that makes collecting cacti pretty much different from, say, collecting postcards, ancient porcelain or Chinese masks. You can look for, buy, exchange, classify and describe all these items, you can become a real expert in the given area, but you will never feel happiness of creation that every cactus collector can feel. And it’s a real happiness when you have the opportunity to create a beautiful plant from a tiny seed or a cutting, and the entire process of such creation is in your hands.