Among flower growers, there are a large number of people who are not indifferent to cactus. Collections of cactus on the windowsills are considered one of the most common, as a reminder of hot countries and bright sun. A solo specimen among the most unusual succulents can be cleistocactus, which stands out for its unusual appearance, but is able to grow throughout the box or pot, forming a lot of greenery, unlike most cacti. Caring at home for this plant is not particularly difficult, so trying, you can achieve not only its active growth but also abundant flowering.
The genus cleistocactus includes about 50 species. Its homeland is South America and Uruguay, so the flower is considered an exceptional exotic for the middle latitudes.
Representatives of the genus are easy to identify by a special type of shoots: they are always quite thin and elastic. There are forms with erect stems, but there are also those that lie down and spread on the ground. In the wild, the height of the stems reaches 4-5 m, but with home cultivation, they most often grow no more than 40 cm. Only in the conditions of greenhouses and winter gardens, with good care, specimens 4 m high can grow.
On the stems on the surface linearly or alternately areolae, from which thorns grow. They can be quite sharp, with hooks at the ends, and sometimes resemble a fluff of white or yellow-green, red or gray.
cleistocactus has a very powerful and branched root system, thanks to which the succulent can consume moisture stored in the deeper layers of the soil, which allows the plant to survive periods of prolonged drought in natural conditions.
The genus has another distinctive feature: buds with a large number of scales are formed on the flower, but only some of them are revealed. Externally, unopened buds resemble elongated bright cones, inside which the process of self-pollination occurs. After pollination, round or oblong fruits appear, remaining on the plant for a long time, giving it an unusual appearance.
Species and varieties
For home care, you can choose a variety that will grow well in room conditions. In addition, there are species that differ in appearance. Some gardeners start several varieties at the same time, creating a whole cactusarium.
The most famous species of cleistocactus are:
- Strauss. Succulent shoots grow long, they branch densely at the base. The stem is completely covered with needles of grayish-silver color. This species is most often grown in winter gardens because it can grow up to four meters or more.
- Winter. In this species, shoots spread on the ground. They are very narrow – about 0.25 cm, but in length they can grow by 1 m. There are many bristly spines on the stems, and during flowering a large number of pinkish buds with an orange-colored middle are formed.
- Tupisian. It differs from other forms by a weakly pronounced spiral curl, which can be traced on the ribs of the stem and on the peduncles. Light green stems grow up to 3 m in length, they are densely covered with pink, red or burgundy spines.
- Bauman. Dwarf form, not growing more than 30 cm, with a shoot diameter of 2 cm. Highly decorative variety, since it forms very large red flowers on a flower tube of 6 cm.
- Boliviacereus samaipatanus. It forms branched bushes with branching from the base. Thin branches grow up to 1.5 m, at the initial stage of growth they grow vertically, and reaching a height of more than 60 cm, they descend and turn into creeping ones. With home care, it blooms perfectly if you provide bright lighting.
- Ritter. It is considered one of the most highly decorative varieties. The shoots are covered with a large number of white thorns, soft to the touch, which makes the plant look pubescent. During the formation of buds, it is covered with flowers along the entire length and blooms bright yellow.
Rules of care
Caring for cleistocactus is simple, it is important to remember that these plants belong to succulents, so all the basic principles are common to them.
Culture doesn’t just love light, it needs it at home for normal growth and development. Direct sunlight is necessary for the plant all year round, so the ideal place will be a window on the south side.
The flower will react to the lack of light by pulling out the shoots, slowing down growth and a complete lack of flowering.
The orientation in relation to the light source is periodically changed by turning the pot, otherwise a “bald spot” may appear from the side turned away from the window and the bush will not be uniform.
cleistocactus refers to crops that require different temperature indicators in the warm and cold seasons. Summer maintenance is recommended at 22-26 ° C, but if the plant moves to open ground conditions, then it will feel good at higher values. Street wind or minor drafts that may appear on the balcony, loggia or terrace, they will not be harmed. Well affect the growth and daily temperature fluctuations with night cold snaps.
In winter, two care options are possible:
- With an artificial period of rest. Such maintenance requires placing a cactus in a room with a temperature of 10-13 ° C, but a fairly low humidity. Short-term cooling up to 4 ° C is possible, but a greater decrease in temperature will be disastrous for flowers. In a cool room, the cactus is kept from November to March, after which it is returned to its usual content.
- Without a period of rest. In this case, the cactus remains for the winter in the same room where it is kept in the summer at room temperature. In order not to disturb the seasonality, you should slightly reduce watering, but do not dry the earthen ball completely. Return to activity is indicated by an increase in the abundance of watering.
The intensity of watering depends on the season. In the summer months, you need to moisten the ground once a week, in spring and autumn it is done once or twice a month. During the dormant period, watering can either be stopped altogether or carried out once in the event that the stem becomes a little sluggish.
You can not water cleistocactus if the soil in the pot between waterings remains moist and does not have time to dry. With a cold content, excessive moisture quickly leads to the appearance of root rot.
It is strictly forbidden to use cold water for irrigation, it should be either at room temperature or a couple of degrees higher. It is best to take rainwater or settled water. Filtered water without hardness ions will also do. Watering is best carried out in the lower way – pouring water into the pallet and leaving the pot there for half an hour. The earth will nourish the amount of moisture it needs, after which the excess is poured out.
The cactus reacts poorly to dry air in hot weather. For good care, it is recommended to spray the plant from a spray gun when placed in the room. If cleistocactus is taken outside, then natural moisture will be enough for it.
Annual transplantation is necessary for young specimens with a high growth rate. This is done in the spring before the beginning of the activity period, in March-April. For adult cacti, the need for such frequent transplantation disappears, they should be transplanted when the roots begin to appear from the drainage holes.
The main requirement that is important to observe in home care is a soil with high permeability. This is necessary in order to quickly remove excess moisture and ensure good air exchange of the root system.
These requirements are met by the soil for growing cacti, which can be purchased at the flower shop. An even better option would be the self-preparation of the soil. To do this, you will need the following components:
- 2 parts turf earth;
- 2 pieces of leafy earth;
- 1 part peat;
- 4 parts of river sand of coarse fraction.
It is important not to forget that the adhesive ductus needs a sufficient layer of drainage at the bottom of the pot. For drainage, the ideal option would be large claydite. When planting, you need to pay attention so that the drainage holes before filling the soil into the container do not remain hermetically sealed with claydite.
In the spring, fertilizing begins in April. To do this, use a half dosage of fertilizers for cacti. Throughout the spring, fertilizing is made every two weeks.
In summer, the plant must be fertilized more often, so fertilizing is made once a week with a full mineral complex. Since August, the cactus does not need a large amount of nutrients, and the dose is reduced each time, and from October, fertilizing is stopped completely.
Pruning may be needed when caring for cleistocactus in two cases:
- The appearance of rot or other fungal diseases on the trunk. It will not be possible to get rid of the affected areas even after the plant is cured, so the branches on which painful foci are visible are simply removed.
- Removal of old shoots. With active branching, young shoots can dry out old trunks, which completely dry out and spoil the decorativeness of the flower. Such shrunken branches need to be cut.
For cutting, a sharp knife or blade pre-disinfected with alcohol is used. After removal, the cut site should be sprinkled with crushed coal or ash to prevent pathogens from entering the wound.
Reproduction of cleistocactus at home is possible by two methods: seminal and vegetative.
For this purpose, seeds bought in a flower shop or ripened in the fruits of an adult house plant can be used.
Sowing seeds is carried out at any time of the year. At home, the germination rate is 50% percent. To do this, you will need a sandy-peat mixture with high permeability, into which seeds are sown to a shallow depth. After that, the pot is covered with a film or transparent glass and exposed to the bright sun in a warm place.
Care for seedlings consists in daily ventilation and removal of condensate from the film or glass since dripping drops can provoke the appearance of rot on young sprouts.
After the seedlings reach a size of 1.5-2 cm, they can be planted in individual containers. At first, they grow very quickly, so in a few months, they will form a branched plant.
For vegetative reproduction at home, it is necessary to break off or cut off branches that have grown to 10-20 cm from cleistocactus. It is impossible to plant them immediately, you need to pre-dry the cuttings in a dry warm place, sprinkling the breaking place with crushed charcoal.
After a week, the cuttings are planted in a suitable container, but in order for it not to fall, it will need support from a stick, to which it will be attached for the first time. For 2-3 weeks after planting, it is impossible to water the cuttings, it only needs to be sprayed. When it becomes noticeable that it is rooted, you can start watering.
Problems and difficulties of care
With proper home care for cleistocactus, problems are rare. Diseases that a florist may encounter:
- The formation is rotting. The cause of this phenomenon can be injuries to the shoots or excessive watering, as well as spraying with cold water. At the first signs of the disease, the affected areas are cut off, and the plant is treated with fungicides. In most cases, the cactus cannot be saved, so healthy shoots are cut from it, rooted and a new flower is grown.
- Parasitic insects. Often, in conditions of low humidity in the thickness of the needle layer, you can find a mealybug or spider mite. To get rid of them, treatment with systemic and contact insecticides should be carried out at intervals of one week. To prevent parasitic infections, the cactus is recommended to be washed periodically under a warm shower.