A culture that looks exotic, but at the same time fills the house with comfort and beauty – aporocactus. Most flower growers can not resist the temptation, and starting with one specimen, they collect a whole collection of these flowers. Given that the care and cultivation of these epiphytes is not particularly difficult, you can understand why the army of fans of this flower has not decreased for several decades.
The birthplace of aporocactus is Mexico, where it can easily be found in natural conditions. Thickets of the flower capture large areas and grow in a short time. With epiphytes, this cactus is connected by the fact that it can also develop on the branches of trees and large shrubs, but in addition, the cactus grows well in rocky areas where the stones are strongly warmed by the sun’s rays.
A large amount of moisture and nutrients accumulate in the vegetative shoot, which helps the plant survive during periods of adverse weather conditions, so the stem is very fleshy, but with the prolonged drought, it can lose turgor and restore density after the onset of the rainy season. Vegetative shoots can grow up to a meter in height. At first, they have a vertical orientation, but over time they sag under their own weight, and the cactus becomes very branched, creeping or hanging.
The spines are small and not very sharp, their main function is to retain moisture. During flowering, many scarlet, crimson or pink flowers appear on the aporocactus, in place of which, after wilting, red berries form, covered with small bristles.
Species and varieties
There are five species of aporocactus in the wild. Breeders on their basis were able to breed a large number of varieties, but not all of them are equally well suited for home cultivation. Varieties and hybrids differ in appearance, exacting conditions and flowering.
Among them, the most successful for home care are such varieties of aporocactus:
- Wattled. Vegetative shoots are very narrow, a little more than a centimeter thick, but in length they reach 1.2 m, so the species looks spectacular when grown on a flower stand or in a place where the branches can hang freely. Eight ribs with tubercles are visible on the stems, from which bundles of needles grow. The needles do not exceed a centimeter in length and are colored yellow or gray. During flowering, rather large flowers up to 10 cm in diameter of purple or burgundy shade open.
- Konzatti. Bright green shoots are slightly thicker than in the previous species, but also grow up to a meter in length. The tufts of spines have a brownish or yellowish tint, most often the spines are very thin. In bright red inflorescences, the petals have a peculiar shape due to the strongly bent downward ends. On the red fruit can also be located thorns. In the natural environment, it prefers to grow in the coastal zone on the branches of trees, so it is demanding on the humidity of the air.
- Martius. Large inflorescences appear on thin long stems. Due to the large size, their number is not very large. After the wilting of the dark pink petals, a large red berry forms in place of the bud, which looks very decorative for several more months.
- Akkerman. There are jagged edges on the shoots. Along the ribs are visible areolas with spines that can pierce the skin. It blooms often and willingly. On the basis of this species, a large number of new hybrids are bred.
- River Pink. A variety that is characterized by the appearance of a large number of inflorescences that fill the room with a delicate aroma during flowering. Because of the smell, some people may have headaches, so the culture is placed away from the workplace and outside the bedroom.
- Biformis. A very branchy shape that resembles a lush bush. Whips grow only up to 30 cm, so they often remain in an upright position. During flowering, small inflorescences are revealed, covering the vegetative shoots.
After purchasing aporocactus, it is recommended to transplant immediately, since the transport mixture, in which plants are often delivered to flower shops, does not give growth potential, and unsuitable conditions can cause the death of the cactus.
Since the plant belongs to the epiphytes, the root system is very limited in volume and is located superficially. For this reason, you should not choose massive and large pots, since a large area of land will not be covered by roots, which will lead to salting of the soil and inhibition of growth. Since the roots grow mainly in width, the pot should be wide in diameter.
At the bottom, make sufficiently large drainage holes and be sure to lay drainage from claydite, marble chips, broken red bricks, tiles, etc. The drainage layer for normal water drainage should be at least five centimeters. Since the vegetative mass of the aporocactus significantly exceeds its underground part, the pot can be very unstable. To provide greater stability, drainage materials can be heavy enough to avoid turning the plant over.
The main soil requirements for aporocactus are looseness and impeccable permeability. Even a slight stagnation of moisture can lead to a rapid deterioration in the condition of the plant and the development of diseases. Of the purchased soils, it is recommended to use soil for cacti and succulents, a coconut substrate is also suitable. Both of these soils need to be mixed with perlite, which will make the ground even crumblier.
You can prepare the soil yourself. To do this, you need to pay attention to the fact that the mixture has a neutral or acidic reaction, in alkaline soils this cactus will not grow.
To prepare the soil, you need to take the following ingredients:
- 1 part of turf earth (it should first be sifted from large fractions, the ideal will be the earth from excavations near wormholes);
- 1 part of top peat;
- 1 part of coarse-grained river sand;
- 0.5 parts of small brick chips;
- 1 part of fine granite chips.
If desired, birch charcoal powder is added to the mixture, which has excellent fungicidal properties. The substrate is well mixed and calcined in the oven at maximum temperature for an hour and a half.
A layer of soil is poured on the drainage so that about half of the pot is occupied. After that, the roots of aporocactus are straightened along the entire perimeter, and on top of them, they are covered with the remaining soil, and then slightly ram the earth with their hand. This should be done carefully so as not to damage the roots.
After that, the substrate is well watered, holding the plant so that it does not fall out. When the water drains, the soil level will settle, so it is again poured to the desired level.
Cultivation and care
Aporocactus belongs to unpretentious crops, so it is not difficult to provide it with normal conditions for cultivation.
The choice of place for varieties with long shoots should be deliberate. If the pot is on the window, then the whips will lie on the entire windowsill, intertwining with each other. This will not only complicate the care of the plant but also deprive it of decorativeness, for which this type of cactus is appreciated.
The best option would be a place where the sagging of the shoots will not interfere with anything. Often, hanging pots or flower stands are used for this.
Under natural conditions, the plant grows on the branches of trees, so it receives a sufficient amount of light, but at the same time it is in partial shade. Direct sunlight for home cultivation is not the best option, as this will cause a faded stem, and in extreme heat conditions, it will lead to burns.
Ideally, it is possible to place this flower at the western or eastern window, but the southern side may require shading from direct sunlight in the afternoon hours.
An important nuance is that in winter, this culture needs a sufficient amount of sun, despite the fact that the flower is in a period of rest. It is in winter that the rudiments of future buds are laid in it, so the lack of lighting can lead to a lack of flowering in summer. In this case, moving to the south window will be appropriate.
During active growth and development, the epiphyte needs a temperature regime within 20-25 ° C. The period of activity in it lasts from April to October. During this period, it will be good if the pot can be transferred to the air: in the garden, in the yard or on the balcony. The only condition that should be observed is not to expose the plant to the open sun.
With the onset of autumn, the aporocactus smoothly passes to a period of rest. Normal temperature indicators for this are 7-10 ° C. Content in a cool room affects the watering regime, increasing the intervals between waterings.
If the ability to keep the epiphyte in a cool and bright room in winter is absent, and it continues to be in a warm room, the watering regime practically does not change.
Origin from tropical countries could make the culture capricious in terms of humidity, but it is undemanding in this regard. Some flower growers do not regulate the level of humidity, but if you try to bring it to natural conditions, this will immediately affect the appearance of the plant.
Moisturizing is necessary only in the warm season. To do this, spraying from a spray gun is carried out. It is necessary to choose a finely dispersed sprayer so that drops do not form on the surface of the stems. When buds and flowers appear, it is better to change this method to installing a pot in a pallet with wet stones or moss. But it is important to monitor that water does not fall into the drainage holes.
During a cold winter, the need for moisture disappears, since in natural conditions the period of rest coincides with cooling and lack of precipitation.
Despite the increased need for watering, it is very important to monitor that stagnation of water does not occur. The soil should not dry out, this will cause illness and death of the flower. If there are buds or flowers on the plant during drying, they will fall off.
For irrigation, use warm settled water, preferably softened. The drained liquid from the pallet should be poured out no later than half an hour after watering. In winter, when the temperature drops, you should not water the cactus so often.
For abundant bud formation and prolonged flowering, the cactus needs periodic fertilization. To do this, apply fertilizer for cacti and succulents, the solution of which is applied once a month. After the end of flowering, fertilizing is not carried out until the beginning of the next period of activity.
Aporocactus is difficult to tolerate transplants, so it is preferable to carry out transshipment, while maintaining an earthen lump and preventing damage to the roots. It’s easy to understand that it’s time to transplant: the roots fill the entire soil in the pot. Perform a move to a new container, which is a few centimeters larger in diameter, in the spring, at the first sign of the beginning of the period of activity.
For young specimens, such a procedure may be necessary annually, but starting from the third year, the transplant is carried out every 2-3 years.
The culture is propagated by the vegetative method – cuttings. To do this, take a healthy shoot without signs of diseases and divide it into parts of 8 cm. A week, such divisions are dried in a dry place, not in the sun.
Then the dried cuttings are planted in a mixture of coarse sand and top peat. For rooting, the container together with the cuttings is placed in a bag and placed in a place with a moderate temperature. After a couple of weeks, young roots should appear on the new specimen.
Diseases and pests
Of the parasites of aporocactus, spider mites, nematodes and shields are affected. To combat them, insecticidal drugs of systemic action are used. Treatment should be carried out at least three times with an interval of one week.
When kept in conditions of excessive dampness or with too abundant watering on the plant, foci of fungal lesions can develop, which quickly turn into rot. All affected parts are cut off with a sterile knife or blade and treated with fungicide or charcoal powders.