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 plant

How to Take Care of Your First Cactus

First cactus careI suppose, nearly every person at least once in his or her life tried to grow a cactus at home. It is even possible that this attempt was successful, and the unusual plant still pleases an eye while standing on the windowsill. But more often the first experience is a complete failure, especially if you the plant was give to you as a present and you were completely unprepared for that. I would like to give some practical advice to those who wants to keep his “firstborn”.

To begin with, your cactus baby might be of Dutch, Chinese, or Iranian descent. Or it might simply come to you from your grandmother, what is, oddly enough, much more preferred in this situation – just because it grew up under our sun, in our soil and sucked in our water. But, wherever it comes from, it must be first properly transplanted. Chinese cactuses are often sold bare-root, what is not bad at all – you are not buying a pig in a poke, but have a good opportunity to pick up a healthy plant with strong roots.

A cactus plant from Holland will quickly poke out of the pot with a lump of peat. After that it must be carefully cleaned starting from from the roots. The same thing must be done with a plant from Iran. But in case of “grandma’s cactus” you will probably have to work hard while trying to pick it out of a tin.

A healthy cactus plant usually has a plenty of roots. But if you see short and weak and pity rootlets or fail to find them at all while removing the plant from the pot, don’t be too much upset – this is not the end. Put the plant upright in a bright but not sunny place for 3-5 days. Don’t worry, it will do it only good.

But if the roots are all right, you can safely proceed to transplanting. In order not to overload you with all sorts of professional details about the proper soil for cacti, I will put it short – the substrate should be composed half of washed river sand and half of mountain foliated soil. Both components can be easily found in the mountain area. It is best to avoid clay pots – plastic ones are more suitable in our climate.

Don’t forget about the drainage. It could be a few potsherds, fragments of bricks, stones, or pieces of foam. When planting make sure that the roots of a cactus are not bend upwards. It’s better to cut them out, if they are already very high. Another important point: the substrate must not be above the root collar, a place where the roots actually begin. If the root collar looks ugly, or the cactus is unstable, you can put some stones around it. They will not only serve as decoration, but also won’t let water wash away the particles of soil and significantly reduce evaporation.

Well, we finally came to the stage, when the biggest mistake is often made. DON’T water the cactus right after you finished transplanting! Make a pause of 3 and more days in case of tiny seedlings and up to several months for large plants. 7-10 days will be perfect for a cactus with the size of a small apple. To make it easier for the plant in these waterless days, put it in a bright but not sunny place and slightly spray it with warm water from time to time. When the waterless period is over, start watering with a small amount of water gradually increasing the portion. Also make your prickly friend accustomed to the sun gradually preventing it from getting sun-burnt, otherwise the scars will stay forever.

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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.