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 »

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

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 »

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 »

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: cactus collection

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 are the types of cactus?

I began to search for the answer to this question in the books by well-known and experienced cactus specialists. But very soon I realized that I didn’t have even basic knowledge that could help me understand and follow valuable pieces of advice and instructions of venerable authors. And it is evident that knowing so little about the subject matter it is extremely difficult to write a good guide for cactus beginners.

Lobivia Hamatacanta For example, one book said that epiphytic cacti (growing on trees) couldn’t bear lower temperature and overdry conditions. But I had several Selenicereus cactuses, that were typical epiphytes, which could stand cold and dry wintering without much trouble. Why? I did not understand.

Another book advised not to subject cacti “originating from tropical forests of Brazil” to difficulties of severe wintering. I had some cactuses which native land was Brazil, but I did not know whether they were tropical or not.

The third author warned against overdrying of “tillered wood cactuses”, but some pages on he advised to keep Chamaecereus “as chilly as possible” during wintering. But as far as I know this type of cactus is both wood and tillered! Where should I search for the keys to all these riddles?

The first gleams of understanding came unexpectedly. Some friends of mine gave me several photos of cactuses that they had by chance and didn’t need anymore. Somebody of them advised me for fun to arrange a photo album of “thorny friends”, and this idea turned to be very fruitful. I picked more and more photos, but I pasted them not in the album, but on separate sheets of dense paper where I could also write down everything, that I learned about this or that cactus: the name, the description, data on culture and, of course, the native land.

And when I collected several hundreds of these cards, I often went through them and it served me right: soon I could those cacti? which suffered from dry cold. Some names were similar, some were different, but the outward similarity of certain cactus species was evident. Yes, they all were epiphytes and they all tillered. The majority of them really originated from Brazil, though for the some of them the native land was Jamaica, West Indies and even Mexico.

But the most surprising fact was that despite different names and places of origin all these tillered epiphytes had one common feature – they all had bare stalks. Their bright green thin skin was not protected by neither hairs, nor thorns, nor grey wax film. Only several tiny and thin seti. They all looked rather defenseless in comparison with other cactus species.

And this very defenselessness turned out to be the key to the riddle that I could not solve. I understood why this feature was developed – because of tropical forest conditions.

How I began to collect cacti

Pediocactus simpsonii (a difficult North-American echinocactus)As it always happens in life, just when you cease to believe in luck it comes to you out of the blue. It came to me from my best friend, a charming and incredibly fussy woman, always having something new and interesting in reserve. During one of our meetings she spoke about the guitar she bought and her first attemts to play it. Naturally my first question was about her progress as a guitar player. But she only waved away and said that there are much more interesting things, for example, cactuses. “I collect cacti. Do you know what a cactus is?” she asked.I was sure I knew and I told her confidently everything I heard about the subject matter: “Well, it is something… prickly… and round?” And then she told me that cacti are not necessarily round, they also can be long and flat and even like a “cat’s tail”. I listened to her with bated breath. Eventually I went to look at her cactus collection the same evening.

Coming back home and looking at the streets in twilight I tried to contemplate my impressions. Certainly, I saw different cacti before. But it was for the first time that I could see such a great variety of them so near and in the same place. I liked them very much as they reminded me of something dear and lovely that I could not remember.

At that moment I caught the contour of the trees standing on the twilight streets and understood everything. They reminded me of children’s drawings, so simple, laconic and expressive at the same time.

A week later I called my friend and told her that I also wanted to collect cacti and asked her what my first steps should be.

“First of all buy tweezers to pull thorns out and then come to me with a big basket – I will give you my collection.” she said.  “They have bothered me. I’m pricked like a pillow for pins, and they die for some reason. And besides, I have a crab that I’m much more fond of now. Her name is Lisa and she is horribly angry! I keep her in the jar with sea-water. So funny to look how she swallows up worms!”

Thus I became the owner of a pretty large cactus collection. I washed and cleaned my cactuses, rearranged and replaced them. I asked all my acquaintances and friends whether they know people who have cactuses, and whether it is impossible to get a cutting or a shoot for me.

So I became a recruit in the numerous army of cactus collectors.