Echinocactus - Cactaceae - How to care for and grow Echinocactus plants
HOW TO GROW AND CARE FOR OUR PLANTS
L'Echinocactus it is one of the most beautiful cacti known thanks to its long and rigid golden yellow thorns and its rounded shape.
Species: see the paragraph on "Main species"
The genre Echinocactus it includes a few perennial species all native to Central and South America and Mexico.
These are globular cacti with a barrel or columnar shape, with a body rich in ribs along which numerous golden yellow thorns develop and large fluffy areoles from which yellow, pink, red or magenta flowers are born in summer. depending on the species.
Among the few species of the genus Echinocactus the best known are:
The species Echinocactus grusoniialso called "golden sphere" or "mother-in-law's pillow", it has a bright green stem with a globular shape that with age can reach a meter in diameter and develop into a column. It is equipped with numerous ribs rich in robust yellow thorns .
In nature it blooms in spring producing yellow flowers up to 5 cm long while in the apartment it is extremely rare for it to bloom.
There Echinocactus horizonthalonius it is also spherical in shape of a beautiful green color tending to blue with a ribbed body and rich in spines, even 4cm long, of a beautiful yellow-brown color. The flowers are pinkish-red, very showy. It blooms without difficulty even in the apartment.
There Echinocactus ingens it is a plant that reaches large dimensions (ingensderives from Latin and means "gigantic") so much so that it is also called hedgehog giant. It takes the shape of a barrel with a rich body of ribs with gray areoles with yellow-brown thorns and a fluffy apex. The flowers are yellow.
The Echinocactus they are plants that must be grown in full sun.
The plant must be ensured a rigorous rest period throughout the autumn-winter period (October-March) during which they must be kept dry, at a temperature between 5-10 ° C and in good light.
They are plants that love the air therefore it is very important to often ventilate the room where they are located.
They are slow growing plants so that it takes about 5-6 years to reach the size of a tennis ball.
From spring and throughout the summer, water in moderation, waiting for the ground to dry before proceeding with the subsequent watering and never leave water stagnant in the saucer. From mid-August begin to reduce watering to let the plant enter dormancy and then suspend it completely from October until March.
TYPE OF SOIL - REPOT
Repotting is an operation that must be done delicately as they are plants that have a very delicate root system and the roots break easily. You can use a specific soil for cacti, easily available from a good nursery, or peat mixed with sand and a little clay.
In order not to get stung when repotting theEchinocactus it is advisable to wrap the drum with a folded piece of paper.
It is repotted every year in March.
From March to mid-August fertilize once a week with a specific fertilizer for cacti in half the doses. During the other periods it does not fertilize.
It is advisable to use a fertilizer that has both macro elements such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) and micro elements such as iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn ), boron (B), molybdenum (Mo), all important for a correct and balanced growth of the plant.
In culture they rarely flower.
The multiplication ofEchinocactus it can be made by seed.
MULTIPLICATION BY SEEDS
It is sown in April in a mixture of peat and sand in equal parts. Since the seeds are small to bury them, after having placed them on the surface of the soil, pour the new soil on top of it, making it fall with a sieve so that the distribution is uniform.
The tray with the seeds should be placed in the shade, at a temperature of 21 ° C and keeping the soil constantly humid (use a sprayer) until the moment of germination.
The tray must be covered with a transparent plastic sheet (or with a glass plate) which will guarantee a good temperature and avoid too rapid drying of the soil. The plastic sheet must be removed every day to check the level of humidity in the soil and remove the condensation that will surely have formed.
Once the seeds have germinated, remove the plastic sheet and move the tray to a brighter position (not direct sun). Be careful to eliminate the weaker plants in order to guarantee more space for the more robust ones.
Once they are large enough to be handled, they will be transplanted into single pots with the same soil indicated for adult plants and how they will be treated.
PARASITES AND DISEASES
They are not particularly disease-prone plants. However, they can be bothered by aphids and mealy bugs.
Presence of small whitish animals on the plant
If you notice small white-yellowish-greenish mobile insects you are almost certainly in the presence of aphids or as they are commonly called lice "
Look at them with a magnifying glass and compare them with the photo on the side, they are unmistakable, you can't go wrong.
Remedies: treat the plant with specific pesticides readily available from a good nurseryman. These are generally systemic products, that is, they enter the plant's lymphatic circulation and are therefore absorbed by insects during feeding.
Spots on the underside of the leaves
Spots on the plant could mean that you are in the presence of mealy bugs. To be sure, it is advisable to use a magnifying glass and observe. Compare it with the photo on the side. Also if you try to remove them with a fingernail, they come off easily. If they are not eliminated promptly they can cause serious damage to the plant as they feed on its sap.
Remedies: given the thorniness of the plant, specific pesticides are used to fight them, available from a good nurseryman.
Their diameter in nature can reach up to two meters.
Among the cacti it is one of the most sought after plants, so much so that at the beginning of the last century it risked extinction due to indiscriminate harvesting.