Each plant standing in the room should decorate it. Cactus is no exception here. Growing cacti at home is not an easy task, but it can be done. However, it should be remembered that only full-fledged, healthy plants can decorate housing. Our task is to create conditions for cacti in which they can grow, blossom and bear fruit, as well as provide competent care for cacti. How to achieve this? After all, they are as different as we managed make suregrow in deserts, and in tropical rainforests, and in mountainous regions, which means that they will have different requirements for sunlight, water, air and soil regimes. Let's talk about the most important factors for caring for cacti.
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The site also has material on how to ensure optimal feeding for a cactus.
Where to place the cactus?
Growing cacti always starts with one question: on which window should the cactus be placed? Full cactus care will not bear fruit if the plant is in adverse conditions. The cactus will respond to any deviation from the norm by distorting its appearance, stopping flowering, and even death. Knowing about cacti and observing the basic conditions for their breeding and maintenance will allow you to avoid possible mistakes and extremes.
WHICH WINDOW? The first thing to worry about is choosing a place for the cactus. Cactus grows better on southern windows, in extreme cases, in the southeast or southwest. This is due to its high need for sunlight. Light for cacti is a major growth factor. All pubescent, highly prickly cacti, as well as all species with a developed wax layer on the surface, need high illumination.
However, it must be remembered that cacti in moist tropical forests grow worse in bright light and need shading. Such species can be placed on east window. Epiphytic cacti will feel at ease there. A window facing north for growing cacti is not suitable. The only case of placing a cactus on the northern window is when wintering unpretentious street species of cacti that are in the garden or on the balcony in summer. In this case, the main thing is to ensure the cold content of plants. North and west windows can be suitable for permanent placement of cacti only if special lighting equipment is available.
ONE OR IN A GROUP? It is better to place cacti not one by one, but in a team. immersing them all in a water-absorbing substrate (for example, in moistened peat) in a plastic or wooden box. In such a cactus colony, more uniform and friendly growth is observed. And to care for cacti in this case is much easier.
Colony of cacti and succulents
ACCOMMODATION IN WINTER AND SUMMER. The winter arrangement of cacti should be different from the summer. In the summer, we must ensure maximum growth and development of cacti (light and plentiful watering). A cool and almost dry wintering should immerse the plant in a state of rest, "winter sleep". To this end, watering in winter is minimized. A dry winter regime of plant maintenance is necessary, since under low light factors that can cause unwanted growth should be avoided (this usually spoils the shape of the plant, which makes it less decorative). Reducing watering, they also achieve lowering the temperature on the windowsill to 5-10 degrees with the help of simple devices: you can fence the windowsill from the room with a half-meter plexiglass frame, and raise the cactus box above the windowsill with rails, creating an air gap so that the box does not heated by a central heating battery.
POT POSITION: Strictly ensure that the cacti are always in the same position in relation to the light, you can not rotate the plants. This will adversely affect their ability to bloom.
Optimum humidity and air temperature for cacti.
AIR HUMIDITY. In the room where the cacti are located, it is advisable to maintain moderate air humidity. Warm stale air is unsuitable for long-term maintenance of these plants. Such conditions can be specially created in the spring to resume growth, but after giving a boost in a few weeks, you will need to think about air circulation. To do this, we need airingbut without drafts, and spraying plant, especially in the early morning and evening hours of hot summer days. To do this, it is better to use a sprayer with a very small spray, which will allow you to create almost fog over the cacti, which will remotely remind them of the living conditions at home, where they receive moisture in the form of night dew.
From spring to autumn, it is possible to place your collection in portable and stationary greenhouses and greenhouses, which can be equipped on the balcony and in the country. Here, a very important point is the problem of soil temperature and the regular ventilation and shading of greenhouses. It is especially important to shade plants in the spring, as they are weaned over the winter from the bright sun, they are very often sensitive to its rays, which can lead to burns of the epidermis. The first removal of cacti should be postponed on a cloudy day and a week or two it is necessary to protect them from direct sunlight, especially in the afternoon hours.
In the northern regions, lower heating is done for greenhouses. The easiest way is with a conventional light bulb that is mounted in a tray with plants. As cacti get used to direct sunlight, the greenhouse needs to be ventilated more and more often, and finally, its lid can be completely removed.
Watering a cactus.
WATERING FREQUENCY. The most important element in the life of any plant is water. That is why it is important to know how to water cacti. We know that these plants belong to succulents and tolerate dry periods quite painlessly, while losing up to 60% of the norm in their volume. But in favorable periods, they actively use moisture, filling it with their water storage organs. There is no universal water regime for all cacti, too many factors will depend on the frequency of irrigation, the quantity and quality of water.
But some general principles of watering can be formulated.
- A complete cessation of watering is permissible only if the cacti is provided with hibernation.
- If cacti are located above the central heating battery, they should be watered 2-3 times a month to avoid drying of the roots.
- In spring, watering should begin with moderate doses, increasing them gradually.
How often and how much to water cacti? Answers to these questions can be obtained only from their practical experience and observations. If the cactus is in a period of active growth, then it should be watered constantly and thoroughly, following the principle: better rarely but plentiful. You can’t water it a little, since only the topsoil will get wet, and the roots will be left without water and withered. The whole earthen lump must be saturated with water during irrigation.
Do not go to extremes by immoderately flooding plants with water. Another important principle is worth remembering: better not to top up than to pour. Excess water must be drained from the pallet, otherwise stagnation of water will inevitably lead to rotting of the roots.
WATER QUALITY: It is recommended to use rainwater heated in the sun for watering cacti. In urban conditions, this is difficult, so you can use tap water to irrigate cacti, following the tips:
- If the water is hard, then it is better to boil it in advance.
- You can not water cacti with cold water. Its temperature should always be 5-8 degrees higher than the air temperature at the time of irrigation. Practitioners believe that the best temperature for watering is 30-40 degrees, this is well determined by hand, without a thermometer. At the same time, the hand does not feel either cold or heat.
- When spraying cacti, the water should be only boiled and only hot, since with this type of moistening the water cools quickly.
When to water cacti? This is also a question that does not have a clear answer. In living rooms and premises you can water at any time. In the open ground and in greenhouses should not be watered during the hot midday hours. Specialized literature recommends watering cacti in the evening in the summer and around noon in the winter. In the middle lane and in the northern regions, evening watering is not always recommended, since the temperature difference can be large and spending the night in cacti with unpowered roots in cooler weather is more harmful than useful.
In addition to watering, periodic warm baths will be useful for adult cacti. Of course, this advice is only good for the warm season. For this, the pot with the plant is immersed in water heated to 40 degrees and, letting the soil soak in water, the plant is kept in this state for about half an hour.
Type of watering (top or bottom), each cactus player also chooses for himself. During overhead irrigation, water does not always penetrate to the desired depth, especially if the earth is very dry. When watering from below, water enters directly into the region of root hairs, which suck it in. Some types of cacti (very pubescent) simply can not be watered from above. Your choice will depend on the soil and utensils used, on the indoor microclimate and much more. And one more tip: refrain from watering and spraying the cactus on cold and cloudy days. Do it in sunny weather.
Now that you know everything about how to water cacti, let's move on to another of the important points - to the soil.
An important soil requirement for a cactus is an indicator of its acidity. In gardening, they deal with pH values from 3.5 to 8.5. To maintain the slightly acidic soil necessary for cacti, they need to be watered with water with a pH of 4.5-6 or at least with a neutral reaction of pH 6.4-7.3. The optimal soil acidity for cacti is in the range of pH 5.5-6.9. The pH of tap water is much higher, therefore, using such water, especially in summer at a high frequency of irrigation, we ourselves degrade the nutrition of our plants.
It is well known that damage to cacti more often occurs at too high than at too low a pH. For epiphytes, the upper limit of pH lies around 7.2. Such cacti at high pH die from chlorosis, which is expressed in yellowing of plants. The roots of cacti, especially young ones, especially in the upper part die off. The point here is that the alkalization of the earth goes in layers, starting from the upper layers, gradually capturing the deeper ones. In Cereus, drying from the top of the plant progresses. On the surface of the earth, escaping salts become noticeable, sometimes even a bloom of algae of a gray-green color appears, the smell of musty comes from the earth.
The created soil situation (alkalization) must be eliminated. To do this, it is better to use acidified water (with a pH of 4-5) until the soil reaches a pH normal for cacti. For professional gardeners and for lovers, there are and are sold instruments for determining the pH in the soil. But, if there is no device, and the alkalization of the earth has become a fait accompli, do not despair. Start watering with acidified water.
- In the summer, in the country, it is rainwater with peat bred in it (a mug of peat in a bucket of water) - in a day this infusion is ready for irrigation.
- There is no peat, add 4 percent g (teaspoon) of 9 percent acetic acid to the bucket, check the acidity with indicator paper and save your pets.
In addition, you should pay attention to undesirable impurities of boron, sodium salts and chlorides in the soil for growing cacti. Even their minimal content in the soil leads to a depressed state of plants, development and growth cease.
Already damaged copies of cacti are best transplanted immediately. A nutrient-poor substrate would be suitable for them in this situation. This is necessary in order to activate their root formation.
Cactus Care Calendar
Autumn is the time when most cacti prepare for winter dormancy. Caring for a cactus in the fall is greatly simplified. The number of irrigations is gradually decreasing, but hardening with good ventilation and contrasting temperatures of day and night continues. The exception is many epiphytic cacti and some "South Americans" who continue to water in their usual mode. Diving and transplanting at this time is still possible. Until mid-October, the final processing of cacti by contact pesticides is recommended.
When the air temperature drops sharply, night frosts begin, it is recommended that the cacti move to winter apartments, where they need to be cleaned and a place prepared for their cool wintering.
At the same time, soil and sand can be prepared for winter-spring work.
There is very little watered in the cactus collections and on our windowsills - Schlumberger (“Decembrist”) from the middle of September until the buds appear.
This month, most cacti stop growing, so their transfer to the prepared dry and cold room is already necessary. Watering cacti is reduced to one to two times a month, and if cacti winter on a windowsill above a battery with central heating, then to two to three times a month. If weather conditions permit, continue to air the room.
Cacti should be placed for wintering on the grounds of childbirth, species and varieties, so that it is easier to care for them. So, epiphytic cacti, many columnar, grafted specimens and some of the South American species still require good watering.
"Decembrist" with the advent of buds should receive a good regular watering.
DECEMBER - JANUARY
Most of the cacti in the collection are in a state of winter dormancy. Their care is the same as in November. A regular inspection of the collection is necessary, since even at this time on juicy young shoots in warm places you can find all the main pests: the insect shield. and mealybug and others. The foci must be treated in a timely manner with a brush moistened with diluted alcohol or an insecticide, otherwise the pests quickly spread to neighboring plants. Watering is practically not performed (the exception is epiphytes).
This is a fertile time for compiling file cabinets and studying literature on cacti. You can prepare new and update old labels, make the necessary changes to the journal, and clarify the correctness of plant names.
Watering and spraying cacti continue in the same mode as in December and January. For the transition to more frequent and intensive watering, the time has not yet come, since rare, sunny days are replaced by cold, cloudy weather. This winter month is especially difficult for cacti: the strength of plants is already running out, they have weakened, yearning for light and heat. At this time, they are most vulnerable to all kinds of diseases, so be especially careful about cacti at this time.
In February, zigocactus and ripsalis can still bloom. Provide special care and watering for them.
You can already start active steps in preparing dishes for sowing and transplanting. Perhaps the beginning of the transplant with a careful examination of the root system. Do not forget that after transplanting cacti do not water.
This is a time of intense attention and work with cacti. Long and bright days finally arrived, as well. then the cacti have grown.
Clean the cacti from the accumulated tili and damaged parts, spray the plants with warm water (on a warm day). This will immediately improve their well-being. Cheer up yourself by cleaning on racks and window sills, clean flower pots, and clean up. Remember that to increase the soil moisture and the intensity of illumination of plants in the sun, it is necessary gradually, as necessary and the gradual adaptation of cacti to spring-summer conditions. In the afternoon hours on sunny days, do not forget about shading.
Echinolysis and lobivia at this time are still kept in dry mode. They will receive their first watering only when buds appear.
March and April are months of active cactus transplants. First transplant those plants that have bloomed in the winter. Those cacti that have filled buds, do not touch until the end of flowering. Usually, many species bloom at this time, primarily from the genera Mammillaria and Rebucia. When transplanting prickly pear, cereus and eliphyllum, cut off winter shoots. At this time, it is good to sow, cuttings. Those plants that you did not have time or do not plan to transplant, you need to feed.
Cacti have grown. You provide them with adequate watering, nutrient intake, ventilation and good lighting. Plants accustomed to the sun can not even shade (except for epiphytes). Continue sowing, transplanting, grafting and grafting. If necessary, control pests with targeted drugs. In the second half of May, when the danger of night frosts passes, you can transfer cacti to the balcony, and even plant hardy species in the ground. The transfer of plants to a summer residence is best done in a warm, but cloudy laziness. The rate of watering and spraying can be slightly increased. Палив и опрыскивание проводите в утренние и вечерние часы.
Лето — самое благодатное время для владельца коллекции кактусов, так как в это время цветут самые разнообразные виды кактусовых. Надо позаботиться о создании всех необходимых условий для цветущих растений. Protect all plants from the scorching rays of the sun and daily water with heated air. Time, favorable for vaccinations and cuttings, crops are still possible. To obtain seed material, pollinate flowering cacti. Pay attention to the seedlings: create normal conditions for moistening the soil and air. Dive them if necessary. For strongly growing cacti, form plants, cut dry branches, and establish supports for thin and long shoots.
Watering cacti as the land dries up, take into account weather conditions and the individual needs of each species. Do not forget that August is the last summer month and you should gradually prepare for the end of the growing season. The hardening of plants must continue. If cacti spend the summer at room conditions, then provide them with at least plentiful ventilation, including night.
Work on feeding cacti with phosphorus and potash fertilizers. In late August, many South American species will enter the second growing season.
Now you know all or almost everything about caring for cacti at home, as well as how to water cacti.
How to choose the right cactus
There are some of the most adapted and beloved by flower growers plant species for indoor conditions.
Echinopsis - spherical cactus, well propagated by children produced by the mother plant. It is a flowering species.
Cereus - a tall cactus with multi-colored spines; several lateral ones grow on the main trunk. The plant practically does not bloom, propagated by seeds or cuttings.
Opuntia robusta - a flat cactus with an elongated bristle, grows quickly and reaches large sizes. Propagated by cuttings.
Mammillaria - the cactus tolerates well the lack of moisture, spherical, not ribbed. Blooms with pretty bells.
Phyllocactus - this is a leafy plant, however, without leaf blades; the leaf resembles a cactus trunk. Cactus blooms in large flowers with proper care at home.
Choosing a place for a cactus
It is important to understand how to grow a cactus at home, which place is most suitable for the plant. Plant growers divide cacti into two large groups: desert and forest.
- Desert plants are more suitable for the southern window sills, they love the sunny color.
- Forest cacti are more comfortable on the eastern and northern windows, direct sunlight can burn the plant.
Choosing a Cactus Pot
Before you plant a cactus in a pot, you need to determine the capacity for it. The choice of pot should be taken seriously, given the features of the species.
The capacity should not be much larger than the expanded root system of the plant. The ariocarpus cactus needs a deeper pot, and the mammillaria species needs a larger volume, since it has many children. The size and volume of the pot depend on the size and shape of the root system of the plant. For roots that are short but branched, you need a wide and short pot; long roots need a narrow and deep pot.
The shape of the pot does not matter for the plant. But for your own convenience, it is better to purchase a container of square or rectangular shape - this will significantly save space with a large number of plants.
At the bottom of the tank you need to lay quality drainage - this is important in caring for cacti at home. Coarse sand or small river pebbles can be used. Divide the drainage material into two parts: one is put to the bottom, the second - after a layer of soil on the surface.
The optimal soil composition is selected individually for each species. At a young age, cacti are suitable for the soil with lime admixture, for adult plants - peat. In the composition of the soil for prickly plants, it is desirable to use sheet, sod soil and sand. The health of the root system of the plant depends on the quality of the soil; in dense and heavy mixtures, the moisture will stagnate, which will lead to rotting of the roots.
Planting and transplanting a cactus
Consider how to transplant a cactus after purchase. It is better to buy a plant in the spring, as the best time for planting and transplanting is April-May. Carefully remove the seedling of the purchased plant from the pot, clean from soil. The roots of the plant must be held for twenty minutes in a weak solution of potassium permanganate. Then dry well. It is better to get rid of the old soil. Lay a layer of soil on the drainage layer, straighten the roots, sprinkle with soil and lightly compact. Water the plant and wait until the soil settles a little, add more earth and the upper layer of drainage. Beginning gardeners are wondering if it is necessary to transplant a cactus after purchase? In stores, cacti are most often found in peat. Without the addition of turfy land, peat will retain moisture too much, which is detrimental to the root system of the plant. Large species of cacti are transplanted once every two years, the remaining plants undergo a procedure every three years. Cactuses in venerable age are transplanted with a complete replacement of the soil. When transplanting, the pot is changed to a larger or wider one.
Watering a cactus
We will figure out how to water a cactus at home. Frequent watering requires plants contained in a hot and dry place. In summer, cacti need to be watered once a day in the morning. Plants in small pots need to be sprayed; do not water on cloudy days. For watering cacti, use boiled water, preferably at room temperature.
Fertilizer and fertilizing
For fertilizing cacti, it is better to use humic liquid preparations. These top dressings contain all the useful elements necessary for the plant, providing both growth and development. Fertilize the cactus twice: before the formation of buds and during flowering.
Forest cacti fertilize from March to October once a week (10 ml of the drug per liter of water). For desert cacti, a lower concentration of the drug is made (5 ml per two liters of water). In winter, feeding is not done.
Light and temperature
Lighting in the growth and development of cacti plays a big role. These are sun-loving plants, the place of their maintenance should be well lit most of the day. A plant growing on the northern windowsills should be illuminated with artificial light. LIn summer, when there is a lot of dust, especially in urban conditions, cacti need to be protected with a film dome. Do not place young plants under direct sunlight: delicate thorns and a shell will burn.
- Shine: Echinocereus needs a bright light to work best. If you can provide almost full sun, as in the western window, they will appreciate it. Plants grown in dark conditions are unlikely to bloom well and will not thrive. Although they are cold resistant, most popular species require relatively warm temperatures to grow better.
- Water: Good drainage is essential for good health. In the summer, water the cactus every two weeks, or slightly less, depending on how moist the soil remains. During the winter holidays, reduce watering to once a month or in humid places, not at all.
- Fertilizer: During the summer, regular doses of cactus fertilizer will help him grow best. Use diluted fertilizer for best results.
- The soil: A typical cactus mix is perfect. Some sources say that these plants can cultivate a slightly richer soil than other types of cacti, but you should never be mistaken with caution.
Echinocereus can breed either through bias or by seed. To take the bias, remove the small seedling, then let it dry until corpus callosum forms on the cut. Carefully plant the cuttings in the cactus soil and keep warm and barely wet when new growth appears. These plants can also be reproduced from seeds. Plant the seeds in a shallow mixture and keep them warm and slightly moist. Germination occurs after about two weeks.
Echinocereus is a slowly growing cactus that needs to be replanted only once every two years. You can extend the transplant time by removing seedlings and placing them in pots. When planting a cactus, carefully remove it from the pot and remove the lump of soil. These plants tend to be rooted with weak root systems, so be careful not to damage their roots.
Among collectors there are some types of Echinocereus that are grown because of their interesting shapes and colors:
- E. acifer. Spherical appearance with dark red flowers.
- E. brandegeei. Cluster view with pink flowers and long spines.
- E. stramineus. With big pink flowers.
You can see Echinocereus in the garden center with the words "Burgundy Cup", "Strawberry Cactus", "Hedgehog Cactus" or "Calico Cactus". Unfortunately, however, one of these names does not guarantee that the plant in question is Echinocereus.
If you can successfully grow other globular cacti, you are likely to be able to grow Echinocereus well. One of the key success factors with them is avoiding any hint of moist soil. Because their root systems are weak, they are especially prone to root rot, which will eventually kill your plant. Otherwise, they succeed in a program of strong, bright light, weak water, and a sustainable diet of light fertilizers. Echinocereus is vulnerable to mealy bugs and aphids.