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: Types of Cactus

Rainforest cacti

Types of cactus: EpiphyllumHave you ever heard about such cactus types as epiphyllum, rhipsalis or schlumbergera? Certainly, you did. These epiphytic cacti of rainforests grow in moist and sultry woods on forks of branches, in hollows and on stubs. They settle on leaf humus, so their roots are short, but very branchy and clutch at any crack or a ledge on a tree bark. These cactus plants grow all year long, because there are no seasons of droughts and colds in the rainforests.

Thick leaves always cover these types of cactus from the sun, causing shading, that’s why they don’t need to have such means of protection against overheat of the stalk like a thick skin, a wax bloom or fuzz.

Epiphytic cactus types grow in damp atmosphere and they have no need at all to save water. They absorb it from the moist air around thanks to a bulk of stomae on their wide stalks. You can always recognize these cactus types: their stalks consist of many thin sprouts, and they look like dendritic leaf-shaped plates. They are bare and unprotected and need warmth and moisture the whole year round. Following the advice of many cactus specialists I’ve placed my schlumbergera bridgesii (Christmas cactus) in the aquarium covered by glass.

Arranging greenhouse at home: cactuses and succulents

Hanging cactus typesEvery year different types of cactus plants and succulents become more and more popular as house-plants. And it can be easily understood: the variety of extraordinary forms of these plants, their slow growth, their unpretentiousness and relative resistance to insects and disease have contributed to their popularity in flats and houses.

Well, I’ve already pointed it out in What’s Cactus? that all these different cactus types are succulents, but not all succulents are cactuses, and we should keep that in mind. A succulent is any plant that can keep water either in its roots, leaf or stem.

Most types of cactus and succulents can be raised on a window-sill. As a matter of fact, succulent plants need bright light and should be exposed to sun at least 4-5 hours a day. It is advisable to turn the plant and change its place every few days. But remember, the so called tropic cactus types, such as Thanksgiving, Easter, or Christmas cactus, should only be raised in filtered light. For such succulents as Gasterias, Aloes and Haworthias direct sun is also nit recommended.

One more important tip to remember – never let succulents and cactuses stand in water. They should be watered only if soil is dry.  The planting pots should have good drainage with good soil and sand.  Never fertilize soil in winter, when the plant rests.  Soil should be fertilized only in late March to October.  Different types of cactus plants should be repotted once a year.  New post should be clean and contain new potting soil.  Nevertheless, cactus and succulent plants can be planted in the same pot, but be careful to take plants with the same light and water demands. You can look more “fast tips” in ABC of  Cactus Care.

Tropic cactus types as well and many other succulents look marvelous in hanging baskets. These cacti usually flower in the short days of fall and winter. Holiday cacti (Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving cactus) planted that way will be the best decoration of your house especially if there’s not sufficient amount of space. Look around. It often happens that there’s an empty corner or window-sill in your living room, bedroom or sitting room that needs “something.” Cactus and succulent plants are undoubtedly that “something” that you might need!

How to place different types of cactus plants

There’s no other houseplant like cactus that needs such a sharp distinction between winter and summer placing. In summer your cacti have to grow intensively, but in winter it happens quite on the contrary, and you need to stop their growth to avoid deformed winter increase and exhaustion.

In their homeland different types of cactus plants have a natural period of rest during summer draughts and with the first rains they start growing again. But we have to establish simulated conditions of rest in wintertime and in late autumn, when cactus plants are short of light for their normal growth. First of all, it’s necessary to reduce watering gradually, just to prevent drying up and withering of roots. Second of all, you should lower temperature on windowsills to 5-10 °C.The second condition is a must, because if you keep cactus dry by usual room temperature, its stalk will go on evaporating water, the plant will fade without watering and won’t rest. Low temperature slows down its breathing and metabolism process. If you organize wintering for cactus properly, your prickly friend won’t get dry. It will grow stout and ripen.

The easiest way to low down temperature on the windowsill is to set a light glass frame on its edge. It will protect your cactus from the heating battery. Thermometer is essential to control temperature during all winter. If it shows 5 °C, it’s better not to risk and to warm your window-frames with a woolen blanket, but not on any account you should remove the glass frame until central heating is cut off.

The same placing is suitable for spring and autumn, but without a frame. Cacti can hardly stand abrupt changes of watering and placing. That’s why the general rule in cactus care is a graduality in condition changing.

In summer cactuses need maximum of fresh air and sun. Fresh air comes first for a reason: only those collectors achieve proper growth, good fuzzing and flowering of their prickly friends, who keep their cacti in the open air twenty four hours a day during the whole summer. If you have no balcony, you can keep your cactus types on weatherboards of your windows or in boxes strongly fixed on the outer end. But in that case you will have to protect your cactus plants from the rain, dust and wind. I’ve made a polyethylene film cap, letting ultra-violet rays pass through. So now my cacti have beautiful big thorns, which they would have never developed under a glass cover. I also advice you to keep and carry all your cactus pots on a tray. It is safe and convenient.

Did you know these prickly things?

Say hi to your prickly friend!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 windowsills. They please our eyes and bring warmth into our homes. But apart from aesthetic pleasure that our prickly friends give us, they also play a great role in making people’s life easier and more interesting.

Cactuses are widely used in industry of several countries. They serve as the source for getting vitamins and hormones. They are the essential element in production of some deodorants, wines, liqueurs, soap, etc. Their waste products are used to feed cattle and poultry. Certain types of cactus plants bear so big, juicy and fragrant fruits that people eat them raw, jam and stew them, make cactus jelly.  Sometimes they are put in wine for aroma and even added to meat stew.  Cooked or baked Neowerdermannia is considered to be a special dish in Bolivia and Paraguay.

Some types of Melocactus and Echinocactus are eaten candied. Stalks are hulled of thorns and rinded, sliced and cooked in cane-sugar syrup.

Prickly pear cactus is used to breed such aphids as Coccus cacti and Opuntia cochinellifera, dried bodies of which were used to produce cochineal dye. Cochineal was once highly valued, and until chemical dyestuff finally penetrated the market there were a lot of aphid breeding farms.

Mexican Indians use prickly pear cactus as a remedy for certain diseases. They boil the stalk and roots to make poultices, dry and pulverize it for making splints to treat fractures. Roots of prickly pear have diuretic action and its juice are sometimes used to cure hepatitis.

Medical properties of different types of Cereus, Echinocactus and Ariocarpus are well known. For example, juice of Selenicereus grandiflours is used in homoeopathic, as well as in allopathic treatment of cardiovascular diseases.

Certain cactus species have antibacterial action. One of them is Lophophora that is remarkably rich in alkaloids. Indian tribes always knew about its strong and manifold action. Some tribes use it as an antidote for snake and scorpion bites, other – as a treatment for neuralgic pain and spasms. Lophophora also has a stimulating effect, and many tribes take it in before long trips and festivities; Lophophora helps to dance all night long without getting tired. In ancient times Indian warriors drank Lophophora beverage before the battle. Remarkable enough is the fact that it also helps in case of strong crapulence.

At present American Indians use Lophophora mainly as a ritual intoxicant plant. It causes visual and aural hallucinations and sharpens senses. Being under its influence a man feels all-powerful and doesn’t sense any need in food and drink. For some tribes Lophophora is the object of worship. A great many traditions and superstitions center around this cactus plant. For example, it is necessary to greet Lophophora when you come across it, otherwise, it may take offence and avenge somehow. It is also believed that Lophophora won’t let itself to a man with guilty conscience and restless soul.

So now look again at your prickly ones and say hi to them! Learn them, listen to them, love them!

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.