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: Saguaro Cactus

Top 10 Inhabitants of the Sonoran Desert

The Sonoran Desert is a special place. With the total area of 311,thousand square kilometers it goes over all the southwestern areas of the state of Arizona and southeastern areas of the state of California in north america, as well as the state of Sonora in Mexico. In such a way, the Sonoran Desert goes through 2 states – California plus Arizona – and 2 countries, Usa and Mexico.

Cacti of Sonoran Desert
image: flickr.com/photos/dracobotanicus/3166952062/

This is really a very hot place to stay. The most important point to the weather conditions of the Sonoran Desert is the quantity of rainwater that drops. In fact, there’s much more rainfalls in the Sonoran Desert compared to any other desert. As soon as it does get rainwater, the desert becomes soaked, as well as the air is chilled. Each time there is no rain, the place is absolutely dried out and extremely hot.

Despite the severe conditions, the Sonoran desert hosts all sorts of vegetation and wildlife that enjoy the hot and dry environment and that have adapted over time to reside here. Many of them are unique and rare.

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, oreocereus, rebutia and others. Naked, forbidding rocks rise above stony gorges, and huge woolly blooming cereuses grow on these rocky walls. It seems incredible, as you can never tell what they cling to and how they survive: at a daytime they are scorched by the bright and merciless sun, at night they freeze in the cold mountain air. These types of cactus would die, if they had no means of protection as attire of fuzz, prickles and setae. The dense woolly cover protects the green stalk from sunburns and supercooling.

Types of cactus: Rebutia sp. uebelmannMountain cacti – pillar-shaped oreocereus and spherical lobivia – suffer from the lack of the sunlight even more than desert cacti. They quickly start “to grow bald”, losing dense prickles and fuzz. They can frequently perish from rotting of the stalk. Damp humus soil is especially baneful for these types of cactus. The dwarf rebutia growing on mountain meadows and in intermountain troughs endures it much better. Many of these cactuses are dressed in a proofing of white or golden setae.

If you keep these cactus types dry and cold (3-5 °) in winter and give them enough sunlight in summer, they will excellently grow and blossom already at the age of two years.

Forest Saguaros

There’s such a popular belief that all forest cactus types are bare and defenseless. But it’s far from being true. There is a whole group of cacti named Hylocereinae or forest saguaros, which texture differs under the influence of life conditions. Here belong such cactus types as aporocactus, hylocereus, celenicereus, chamaecereus.

Types of cactus: Chamaecereus silvestriiForest saguaros have thin and flexible creeping stalks and air roots on them, which deliver additional moisture from the air. As a rule, saguaros grow close to the edges of the forest, where there is more light and the air circulates freely between the trees. In case of drought their stalks wrinkle, but with the first rain they become juicy and green again. That’s why these types of cactus belong to another group of cacti – to xerophytes. This group is much bigger than the group of epiphytes, and includes various species from different areas of habitation.

Hylocereinae already have the means of protection from the excessive water evaporation or overheat of the stalk. For example, grey wax bloom and short but strong thorns of celenicereus, a countless number of small setaceous barbs of aporocactus and chamaecereus, etc.

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.

Taking care of saguaro cactus

Saguaro cactusWhen 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 this species are too big and don’t suit to be houseplants. But once I visited a flower-show and was enchanted by a small odd bluish plant with wax film on it. It turned out to be Cereus peruvianus “Monstrosus”, a typical saguaro cactus. Since that saguaros are honorary members of my collection.The genus name means in Latin “wax candle”. Saguarosare called this way not only owing to the columnar stalk, but also because of the wax film covering young bluish sprouts, that stiffen later. Pretty white or pink flowers with puce edges, that blossom out in the night, stand out against the background of this aquamarine ribbed stalk. Edible fruits are juicy and sweet.There are just a few saguaro species widespread as indoor plants and they all are well-liked among collectors for their unusual beauty and simple tastes. These cacti don’t need special care but still you have to observe the rules that are common for all xerophilous to achieve their healthy development and flowering.

Saguaro cactus requires much sun in all seasons. I keep my plant in the strong sun without any harm for them, but it is necessary to take into account that in spring you should accustom your cacti to sun gradually to avoid burns. Young exemplars need shading as well. In summer I expose the pots to the light and sprinkle the stalks in the evening with hot water to wash away dust. But if you have no possibility to give your plant enough light, you shouldn’t be sad because saguaro cactus can grow in the lamplight. Fresh air is also necessary for all the species, so I try to air the room as often as possible.

Usually saguaros don’t give a lot of troubles and grow quickly. Another condition you should consider to keep your cactus plant healthy is the proper amount of water. In spring and summer I water my plants gently – the soil must be sufficiently moist. In autumn watering is to be reduced and in wintertime don’t water it at all, except when the pot stands in a warm place: you can water it a little once a week.

And here comes another question: does saguaro cactus require warmth all year long? If you’ve already looked into the section True and False about Cactus, you should know that like all xerophilous it needs a period of rest. At this time the year growth ripens and a cactus musters its strength to vegetate well in spring. I made sure from my own bitter experience that in winter saguaros must be kept dry and cold – about 10-15C. Earlier my plants stood on the windowpane just above the central heater. The soil became dry fast and I watered them from time to time, fearing that my little friends would perish. It wasn’t very dangerous for cacti but they didn’t grow properly and didn’t bloom at all. When I found out that a period of winter rest is urgent for saguaros, I’ve built special glass shelves to protect my cactus plants from heat emanating from radiator. Now I admire beautiful cream-coloured flowers opening at night every year.

Soil is also of no small importance. Not everyone knows that saguaro cactus can’t bear alkaline soil at all. They prefer acidic soil. My recipe is: turf soil, leaf mold, garden loam, coarse sand (2:2:1:2) mixed with slack lime, broken brick and charcoal. I transplant my young plants every year, grown-up ones – in 2-3 years.

Saguaros grow quickly, that’s why they need not only a rich watering, but also an additional fertilizing in the period of their rapid vegetation (end of spring – middle of summer). I usually buy cactus fertilizers in the shop, there are some good ones on the market.