The 2,500 species of cacti are divided into more than 200 genera, regardless of their shape and size. They are among the most interesting plant species. Unlike other plants, they do not have leaves (although there are exceptions), but they do have thorns. Photosynthesis is carried out by the stem, which contains water. Some species are multi-stemmed. In the assortment of cacti you can find different, often even bizarre forms of growth. Some can exceed 20 meters in height, others are dwarf in size, less than 5 cm.
Additional Information! Cacti can withstand long periods of drought, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need to be watered. Even those growing in the driest climates get a regular supply of water thanks to fog.
They grow slowly and are usually long-lived. At home, a cactus can live from 10 to 50 years.
The cactus does not bloom for the first 5-7 years. The duration of flowering and the size of the flowers depend on the type of plant. However, keep in mind that the flowers usually stay fresh on the plant for only one day.
Existing types of cacti
How many types of cactus are there? There are many varieties and their characteristics can vary greatly. Cacti and their classification is determined primarily by the shape that the stem takes. They have one or more stems that grow more or less straight.
Popular spherical ones are round or barrel-shaped, there is a wide variety of them. Cacti with flattened stems are called cladodia. Another classification: the presence or absence of spikes.
Some classifications of common types of cacti:
- prickly cacti;
- thorny types of cacti;
- home cacti;
- types of hanging cacti;
- blooming cacti.
There are many beautiful ornamental plants among cacti. The most common types of indoor cacti are combined into different genera or groups that have similar species characteristics, which makes them easier to grow.
How to care for a cactus at home
It is difficult to keep them healthy and beautiful if you do not give them minimal care. Since cacti are very diverse and come from different regions of origin, there are some general guidelines for basic cacti care:
- fertilizer and substrate.
What do cacti need? Their home is the desert. They do not interfere with prolonged drought, heat, sandy and rocky soil, temperature changes. They don’t need much water, and small and large cacti need a lot of light.
All year round, cacti need as much light as possible. Place them in front of windows. A suitable place is a south, bright east or west window. Pots with cacti should not be placed more than 1 m from the window.
Cacti need light
It is also important to avoid exposure to sunlight, as they can burn. From May to October, you can move the cactus pots to the garden, to the balcony or terrace, but not in direct sun, but in partial shade. It should be a place protected from wind and rain.
Additional Information! If there is enough light from all sides, they do not deform, do not get sick and are not attacked by pests. With a lack of light, they stretch out and lose their aesthetic value. In addition, the deformed plant will not return to its original state.
Avoid over watering. The accumulation of moisture in the substrate is detrimental to cacti. Do not water too much every time, otherwise the cacti will rot. During the growing season, it is enough to water them once every 3 weeks. The soil should have time to dry out between two waterings. Small cacti need to be watered more often than large ones – less often.
Plant in light sandy soil that does not hold water. It is strictly forbidden to use nutrient soil. The plant in it can rot or become moldy. In winter, the plants go dormant, they are not watered. They grow well at the temperature of our houses, but prefer to spend the winter in a cool room.
- lack of light;
- lack of fresh air;
- a sharp drop in temperature;
- lack of nutrients;
- high humidity;
- no drainage layer in the pot.
In addition to good substrate and water, they also need food. They must have a regular supply of fertilizer in spring and summer in order to grow. During the growing season (from March to September), it is advisable to fertilize cacti every 2-3 weeks.
How to transplant a cactus?
Cacti need to be repotted every 4 years, smaller plants more often. We transplant only from April to July. Use a substrate designed only for growing cacti.
Ideally, when growing, the substrate should be with drainage material (perlite, clay granules), and with a very small content of peat. Drainage is essential to prevent root rot due to accumulation of soil moisture.
It is very important to choose the right pot. The size of the container depends on the cactus itself. Under no circumstances should a mini cactus be planted in a huge pot, because the risk of rotting is very high.
Cactus thorns can cause a lot of damage to the skin, so gloves are recommended. If the plant is large, then it will have to be wrapped in cardboard, put on the ground and removed from the pot.
Pests and diseases of cacti
The resistance of cacti does not mean that they are completely protected from infections and various pests. To avoid the attack of pests and diseases, improve the fertility and activity of the soil, not forgetting to regularly disinfect the equipment.
The enemy of cacti is rot. When infected, they are treated with a fungicide, watering is suspended, and, if necessary, the substrate is replaced with another one that better drains water. The fungus-carriers of this disease develop due to too high humidity. Cut off diseased parts of the plant to prevent the spread of the disease.
Spots can be the result of a microbial or viral infection. To prevent the spread of spots, healthy specimens should be sprayed with fungicides to eliminate the causes of the disease.
Mealybugs and mites are especially fond of succulents. Sweeping with a brush dipped in soapy water will get rid of most of them.
Do they need frost protection?
The frost resistance of cacti varies depending on the species, but in general, plants can withstand light short-term frosts down to -2 ° C. Cacti must be prepared for winter. Wintering conditions may vary for each species. If they do not bloom, the cause may be improper maintenance in winter.
Note! They should winter in a light, dry and cool (unheated) room with a temperature of about 10 ° C. We do not place them in heated rooms, on window sills near heat sources.
In winter, their watering is limited (they start already in October), the drought will only benefit them. During January and the first half of February, they should remain completely without water. Cacti should not be fertilized or transplanted in winter.
Reproduction of cacti
Cacti are easy to propagate – cuttings are best suited. Carefully cut off the stalk, let it dry for several weeks before planting it in the ground. Children are easy to separate from the mother plant.
Many different varieties can be obtained by sowing, but this method is more difficult because it is only suitable if there is a small greenhouse and requires precise temperatures. After grafting, the resulting plants often have a longer flowering period.
How to make cacti bloom?
Unlike other plants, flowering for a cactus is a more complex process. To bloom, cacti need to spend the summer in the garden, outdoors. A change in microclimate speeds up the process of flower formation.
Flowering indoor cacti are gradually accustomed to outdoor conditions: on the windowsill in the shade, then in partial shade and, finally, in the sun. As soon as the first cold weather comes, the cacti are returned to a cool room – this is a condition for good flowering next year.