An ornamental plant Rhipsalidopsis from the cactus family grows in the hot tropical forests of South America, Ecuador and Brazil. It is an evergreen epiphytic shrub with dangling leaf-like stems and gorgeous flowering. It is unpretentious in care, does not have thorns, so it is popular among amateur flower growers.
Description of the plant
The forest cactus rhipsalidopsis or Hatiora has upwardly grown abundantly branching segmented shoots of the herbaceous type. The old stems are darker, have barely noticeable tufts of thin bristles at the edges, and the young growth is lighter and almost flat, sometimes reaching a length of up to 2 meters. At the ends of the branches in the spring, small buds appear that bloom in the daytime.
White, scarlet, lilac, crimson, orange, pink flowers have yellow stamens and pointed long petals. In diameter, they can reach 7-8 cm In the evening, they again close into buds, and after 5-7 days of flowering, round red fruits of small size with black seeds inside are tied in their place. If the rhipsalidopsis flower stands in the open sun for a long time, its branches turn a little red.
Varieties of rhipsalidopsis
The tropical epiphyte has 2 main species – Rhipsalidopsis Rosea and Gartnera. The last shrub has a dense crown. It reaches a height of up to 30 cm and blooms with bright scarlet inflorescences. Pink is widespread in home floriculture, namely its ornamental varieties:
In appearance, inexperienced flower growers often confuse this cactus with Zygocactus or Schlumbergera truncata (“Decembrist”), but these cultures have fundamental differences. Schlumberger flowers do not smell and have beveled edges, and in rhipsalidopsis they exude a pleasant aroma and have a symmetrical arrangement. Pleasing to the eye throughout the spring and summer, for which the flower in the people received the second name – “Easter cactus”, and a similar plant “Decembrist” begins flowering only in winter.
Hybrid varieties of the rhipsalidopsis flower feel comfortable at an air temperature of +18-23 degrees. In the spring, to stimulate flowering, the temperature in the room is slightly lowered in February-March to +12-15 degrees. In the heating season, they make sure that the air is not too dry.
The tropical shrub loves humidity and is artificially maintained with a humidifier and spraying plain water on the foliage from a spray gun. Also, for additional moisture, the flowerpot is installed on a pallet with wet moss or river sand, but the water there should not stagnate. At low air temperatures in winter, spraying is stopped.
In extreme heat, the pot is set aside in the shade and protected from bright direct sunlight, exposed to the western or eastern windowsill, where penumbra reigns most of the day. In the warmer months, you can take the pot to the garden or to an open balcony, as well as evenly rotate relative to the light source.
During active flowering, it is better not to rearrange all varieties of rhipsalidopsis at all, so that they do not drop buds. Experienced lovers of floriculture even make special notes on the windowsill or flowerpot, helping to monitor the position of the flower.
Soil and watering
To provide high-quality care for rhipsalidopsis at home, you need to prepare a spacious pot and fertile well-drained soil for it. It is bought in the store or prepared independently from perlite, river sand, pine bark, humus, manure and peat. The pH level of such a mixture should not be higher or lower than 5-6. In a breathable, nutritious, light substrate, young decorative sapophytes actively grow and develop, get sick less and give young processes for reproduction. They also like additional additives in the form of peat moss, the bark of coniferous or deciduous trees.
As for watering, flower growers know that all types of rhipsalidopsis love moisture, but severe overwatering or overdrying is equally dangerous for them. The top layer of soil in the pot is always moistened as it dries, but not more than 1 time in 2-3 days. In autumn, the number of waterings is gradually reduced so that the root system does not rot during the rest period. In January-February, at the stage of laying buds, they again begin to actively moisten the soil. To do this, use rainwater bottled or passed through a carbon filter. If there is only tap water, it is cleaned of excess calcium, fluoride and chlorine by adding a small amount of citric acid or apple cider vinegar. After watering, the remnants of water are drained from the pallet.
Every year, hatiora is transplanted into a new deeper and wider pot, waiting for the end of active flowering, which takes almost all the strength from the plant. Transplantation of such a shrub is also an additional prevention of fungal and bacterial diseases, which often develop in a long time of waterlogged soil. During transplanting, some flower growers carry out additional treatment of the roots from rot and pests, and also disinfect the soil mixture prepared in advance in the oven or freezer. These can be the following combinations:
- Vermiculite or perlite, peat crumbs, biohumus, leafy earth.
- Fine claydite, charcoal, light loam plus slightly crushed bark of coniferous trees.
- Crushed ceramic shards, peat, leafy earth, turf, a universal substrate for growing succulents or cacti.
- Coarse river sand, turf, leafy earth, peat crumbs.
Before planting the plant in a new container, inspect the roots. Areas affected by rot are cut off with a disinfected knife. The transplanted cactus is sent to a darkened place for a week, not fed or watered. Then exposed to a permanent place with diffused light.
Transplanting a tropical cactus for the spring-summer season in the open ground is not desirable. In natural conditions, it feeds on the droppings of birds, rotten fallen leaves. In winter, it is in cool and dry conditions, so in an open flower bed, the culture usually stops blooming and eventually dies quickly. It is flooded with rains or dried by the bright sun.
To cultivate epiphyte at home, you will need a ceramic or plastic pot with wide drainage holes. On the bottom before transplanting, a layer of drainage consisting of crushed stone or claydite is laid. Lush green bushes are best grown in deep pots, hanging pots, and large specimens feel good in ceramic containers with a high pallet.
Fertilizing and fertilizing
In winter, during the period of rest, the hatiora is not fertilized. This is done every 2-3 weeks, starting in March, that is, during the period of active growth and flowering. Most of all, the plant needs nitrogenous mineral fertilizers. Such drugs are widely available in flower shops, but it is important to ensure that the drugs are not oversaturated with calcium, because of which the root rods begin to rot.
During transplantation of rhipsalidopsis, pruning of old branches is carried out. It is important to do this precisely during the period of rest, until the young kidneys have begun to be laid. Flowering will not begin if the shrub is pruned in early spring. Such a procedure is necessary only in winter. It stimulates the growth of new branches. Usually, in place of 1 cut stem, 3-4 new ones appear, which in a year will tie large buds. Pruning helps to form the correct crown of the flower, it rejuvenates and heals it. Woody processes are cut off with a secateurs or scissors, and young damaged segments are easily broken off by hands. They can be used for reproduction.
After artificial pollination of the culture, small fruits necessarily appear on the site of the wilted buds. They are not disrupted for 6-7 months. By the end of this period, seeds begin to peck inside the fruit. They are pulled out and without prior soaking are planted in moist soil (a mixture of peat, leafy earth, perlite or sand), burying 0.5 cm. It does not lose its germination.
After planting, the container with seeds is covered with polyethylene or glass. Provide daily ventilation, diffused light and air temperature not lower than +25 degrees. Regularly spray the soil with a spray gun with plain water with a stimulator of root formation. The first shoots usually appear after 2-3 months. Slightly grown growth is planted in separate pots with a similar soil mixture. A year later, transplantation and change of substrate are carried out again.
Rooting of cuttings
A faster and easier way in comparison with germination of seeds. The material for germination is taken during transplantation, which is carried out after flowering. Choose longer shoots and tear off the tops of them 5-6 cm long. For several days, the cuttings are dried on an open balcony. The place of separation on the mother flower is treated with crushed chalk or ash.
Planting processes are sprinkled with a powder-stimulator of root formation, then rooted in small containers with a mixture of humus, river sand and peat. It is pre-moistened with a spray gun. Pure sphagnum moss will also do. Cuttings are buried so that they grow vertically. Sometimes thin wooden supports are used.
For normal rooting, bright diffused light is needed, as well as an air temperature of +22 degrees. It is not necessary to cover the pots with seedlings with polyethylene. It is enough just to moisten the ground as it dries. Rooting usually occurs throughout the week. Then the healthy sprouts that have taken root are transplanted into separate pots and provided with partial shade for 5 days.
Diseases and pests
Weakened ripsalidopssis most often suffer from diseases and invasions of insect pests, such as Easter cacti require additional care and attention. Rounded beige or brown-gray spots on the leaf blades occur if the plant is damaged by the shield. In such a situation, a sick plant is set aside from healthy ones, sprayed with an infusion of garlic, onions, needles. Preparations with neem tree oil, as well as turpentine, kerosene or alcohol are applied to the affected areas. No less effective is the treatment of foliage with tobacco crumbs, hot pepper, a decoction of celandine, a thick soapy foam. If there is no time to prepare such funds, you can use Pyrmethrin, Fosbecid, Phytoveram.
When a tropical bush is affected by a mealybug, its branches are covered with a white coating, similar to fine dirty cotton wool. It is gently washed with a soft toothbrush with a thick soapy foam. Spray with a decoction of garlic or onions, wipe the leaves with pharmacy alcohol. Once a week, the flower of Calypso, Tanreka, Aktar is treated. To prevent re-infection, the stems are regularly wiped with a damp sponge, sprayed with pepper or tobacco tincture, and also maintain a sufficient level of humidity of -50-60%. The top layer of the earth with the surviving larvae and pest eggs is removed and replaced with a clean nutrient substrate.
As for diseases, many varieties of rhipsalidopsis suffer from a fungal infection – late blight, which causes tarnishing and rot of the entire bush. In this case, it is isolated, treated with Quadris, Oxich, Ridomil, Phytoveram.
Watering with cold water and constant waterlogging of the earth provoke the next no less dangerous disease – root rot. It causes browning and softening of the trunk. With this disease, the plant usually dies. Healthy shoots can still be saved if they are separated, treated with Trichodermin, Gamair and transplanted into a separate container. ith Zygocactus or Schlumbergera truncata (“Decembrist”), but these cultures have fundamental differences. Schlumberger flowers do not smell and have beveled edges, and in rhipsalidopsis they exude a pleasant aroma and have a symmetrical arrangement. Pleasing to the eye throughout the spring and summer, for which the flower in the people received the second name – “Easter cactus”, and a similar plant “Decembrist” begins flowering only in winter.