Florists have long been growing cacti, and the most popular among them is echinocactus. The fact is that such a plant is undemanding to growing conditions, has a rather spectacular appearance and has medicinal properties. Caring for echinocactus Gruzoni, grown indoors, is quite simple, but you still need to know some important rules, more about which will be described below.
Features of echinocactus
Echinocactus is part of the Cactus family. Under natural conditions, it can be found in the southwestern United States and in the desert of Mexico. There are many species of this plant, but the most popular among flower growers is Echinocactus Gruzoni, which is also the most common species in nature. This perennial is characterized by slow growth, and the locals call it "hedgehog cactus." The fact is that the needles and the shape of this plant are very similar to this animal. This species of echinocactus was named after the German cactus collector and inventor German Gruzoni.
Under natural conditions, such a cactus can reach very large sizes. Moreover, the echinocactus of Gruzoni in nature can be gigantic: in width it can grow up to about 100 centimeters, and in height - up to 150 centimeters. This is a long-lived plant that can grow on average from 200 to 500 years. While the bush is young, it has a spherical shape, which over the years is replaced by a barrel-shaped. That is why such a plant is also called the "golden barrel". Over the years, the appearance of such a cactus undergoes significant changes. When the bush turns 3 or 4 years old, its small tubercles turn into sharp ribs that cover sharp and strong spines. The upper part of the bush is gradually growing, and at first it is covered with a “fluff”, which is actually not coarse thorns.
The stem of the echinocactus Gruzoni has the shape of a ball, and its surface is covered by vertically located sharp ribs, and there may be 35–45 pieces. The shiny stem is colored green. Needles grow in bundles of areoles, which are located on the edges of the plant. In each of the areoles, 1–4 central spines and about 10 pieces of radial needles grow. Their length can vary from 30 to 50 mm, and the radial needles are shorter than the central ones. The growing upper part is decorated with a spectacular “hat”, consisting of young spines that look like a fluff. Needles can be painted in various shades from pale yellow to white. Please note that Ezinocactus Husoni with green, red or rich yellow needles does not exist. These cacti are grown specifically for sale using dyes. After some time, they acquire their natural color. However, if harmful paints were used to grow such a bush, then it can become sick and die.
Under indoor conditions, such a plant can reach 0.4 m across, and from 0.4 to 0.6 m in height. However, a cactus can only reach this size after several decades. Echinocactus blooms very spectacularly, but the first flowers appear on it only after it turns 20 years old. Flowering is observed in May – June. First, a bud on a long stalk is formed in the upper part of the bush, and a yellow flower is revealed from it. On the outer surface of the funnel tube there is pubescence. Glossy petals are quite thin, closer to the edge of their color becomes darker with a brownish tint. In diameter, the corolla reaches about 50 mm, and its length is up to 70 mm.
Care for echinocactus at home
Below we will talk about how to care for indoor echinocactus Gruzoni. In order for this plant to be as effective as possible, you will need to follow the simplest rules for growing it.
Since the homeland of such a plant is the desert area of Mexico, it is considered photophilous. In indoor conditions, he needs a large amount of bright light. In this regard, for such a cactus it is recommended to choose a window of southern orientation. Even the direct rays of the sun are not afraid of him. In the summer, the bush can be taken out to the garden, to the balcony or under direct sunlight. In order for the stem to not bend, it must be regularly rotated relative to the light source. If the lighting is too scarce, then the needles will begin to crumble, and new ones will grow very thin. In the cold season, such a plant must provide additional artificial lighting. Experts recommend that you use not simple bulbs for this, but phytolamps.
Echinocactus grows best at a temperature of about 25 degrees. If the room is very hot (above 30 degrees), then the growth is stunted near the bush. In winter, this cactus has a dormant period, during which it should be cool about (12 degrees). However, make sure that the room where the plant is located is not colder than 10 degrees. Because of this, the cactus can freeze, as a result of which spots of a brownish color appear on the surface of its stem. This can lead to the death of a cactus.
The frequency and abundance of irrigation is affected by the air temperature in the room and the time of year. In the spring-summer period, the soil mixture in the pot is moistened only after it is completely dry. To do this, use well-settled water, the temperature of which should be close to room temperature. If in the winter the bush is in a cool place, then you do not need to water it at all. However, if he hibernates in heat, then watering is carried out once every 30 days, using warm water for this.
Humidify echinocactus from a sprayer is not necessary. In order to remove dust from its surface, in the summer he is given a warm shower; for convenience, you can use a clean paint brush. Remember that if a cactus is watered very abundantly or often, then rot may appear on its root system.
This plant, like all other cacti, grows well and develops only in that substrate, which is neutral and passes air well. If desired, ready-made soil mix for cacti can be bought in a specialized store, and it is necessary to pour a small amount of brick chips or fine gravel into it. In order to prevent the appearance of rot on the root system, crushed charcoal is added to the soil mixture. If you have the opportunity, then prepare the earth mixture with your own hands. It is very simple to do this, for this you just need to combine fine gravel (crushed brick), coarse river sand, sheet and turf soil (1: 2: 2: 4). Pour some charcoal into the prepared soil mixture, which is crushed in advance.
In order for the echinocactus Gruzoni to grow normally, he should choose a suitable flower pot. In diameter, the capacity should be slightly larger than the diameter of the stem. Also, it should not be very high and quite stable. The root system of echinocactus is superficial, and it is not very developed. Tanks made of plastic are best suited for this plant; pots made of ceramics can also be used, but their surface must be covered with glaze. If the ceramic pot is unglazed, then moisture will evaporate through the walls, which causes the root system to cool. Remember that echinocactus reacts extremely negatively to hypothermia of the roots.
It is by the size of the root system that the height of the landing capacity is determined. Do not forget to add 20 millimeters to the height of the pot, which will be needed to add the root neck of the plant. It should also be noted that after the bush is placed in the pot, its roots should not bend up.
Landing and transplanting
For seedlings and young bushes before planting, the substrate must be sterilized, for this it is placed in the oven for at least 30 minutes. While the cactus is young, it is transplanted regularly 1 time per year, do it in February before the start of active growth. As a cactus grows older, it is subjected to this procedure less and less.
Before proceeding to transplant the bush, it is necessary to take care of protecting your hands from sharp needles, for this they use a thick towel or wire loops. Grab the stem with them, pull the bush from the old container and transplant it into a new pot. At the bottom of the new tank, make a drainage layer 10–20 mm thick; for this, expanded clay is used. Do not forget to fill it with a thin layer of soil mixture. Place the bush in the container so that its roots reach the bottom, but are not bent up. If you are transplanting an adult cactus, then they always have a lump of land on the roots whole. Carefully fill all the voids in the pot with a fresh substrate, and it needs to be a little tamped. The root neck must be covered with a layer of sand. The transplanted bush is watered with a small amount of water.
For the reproduction of echinocactus Gruzoni most often use the seed method. You can buy seeds in a specialized store. Their germination is quite high, but only if you subject them to seedbed preparation. Place the seed for 2 hours in water, the temperature of which should be equal to 40-50 degrees. The planting pot needs to be filled with river sand, which is pre-disinfected by placing in a heated oven for 30 minutes and cooling. Take a small container and fill its bottom with a thin layer of expanded clay. Then it is filled with sand. Sowing is carried out in the middle of the spring period, and the seeds are distributed on the surface of the sand, without sprinkling on top of the substrate and without deepening. From above, the crops should be covered with glass (film), after which they are cleaned in a well-lit warm place. Do not forget to daily remove the shelter from the tank for a while for ventilation, and you must timely moisten the soil mixture in the tank from the spray gun. The grown seedlings should be peaked in individual cups filled with sand. Shoots will need several transplants: before the first thorns are formed on the bush and after the stem in diameter reaches 50 mm. For the last transplant, use a special soil mixture for cacti (see above).
Sometimes this plant is propagated by children, which can form on the stem of an adult bush. The grown-up baby is carefully separated from the parent plant and planted in the sand for rooting, and from above it is covered with a transparent bag or a glass jar. But before you drop the baby, leave her in the open air for several hours so that the cut-off area can dry out and a thin film appears on it. Also, the place of the cut on the parent bush and on the baby, experts advise, treat with coal powder.
Diseases and Pests
Gruzoni’s echinocactus can become ill only if its root system is too cold or due to excessively heavy watering. Due to root rot, the bush may die. In order to avoid overcooling the root system during a cool wintering, it is recommended to put a flower pot with a cactus on thick cardboard or a folded newspaper.
Most often, such pests as cactus ticks, scale insects and worms settle on echinocactus.
If scaleflies settled on the plant, then it will be possible to understand this by plaques of brown color on the surface of the stem. To make sure that the appearance of these plaques is connected precisely with the occupation of the cactus by the pest, you need to pick it up with a sharp object. If under the plaque you see a whole, not decayed tissue, then this is a scab. If there are a lot of pests, then they will cover the surface of the plant with sticky secretions. Without pesticides, you can only cope if there are few shields on the bush. Take a cotton swab, moisten it with alcohol and wipe it with those places where there are pests. If it is impossible to carry out such processing because of thorns or pests, there are a lot of pests, then the cactus is sprayed with a solution of Confidor or Actara.
The body of a cactus tick is colored brownish red, and it does not produce cobwebs, which distinguishes it from a spider mite. If this pest settles on the plant, then on its stem you can see spots of pale brown color. It is impossible to see the pest with the naked eye, since it is very small (from 0.1 to 0.3 millimeters). To get rid of the tick, spill the root zone and substrate, and also spray the bush itself with a solution of an acaricidal preparation, for example: Oberon, Actellika, etc. It will take 2 treatments that are carried out with an interval of 7 days.
At first, worms settle on the root system and in the root zone of the plant. Over time, their distribution along the surface of the stem is observed. You can see them in the areoles and between the ribs. Outwardly, such pests are similar to a whitish coating, which looks like fine salt or flour. To save the cactus, carry out the treatment with a solution of Confidor or Actara, and they spill the soil mixture. The toxic chemical absorbed by the root system will make the whole bush inedible for this pest. In the event that you found the worms on the root system or the root neck, a bush transplant will be required in a fresh substrate. Pull the affected bush from the old pot, remove all the soil mixture from its roots and lower them together with the root neck in hot water (about 50 degrees) for a quarter of an hour. Instead, the root system can be immersed in Actellik's solution, but they are not kept there for long. Plant the bush in a new pot or in a sterilized old one. Pour a couple packs of crushed activated carbon, which is necessary for disinfection, into fresh soil.
If you have several cacti, then after detecting pests on one of them, all specimens are processed.
Types of echinocactus with photos and names
The most popular in indoor floriculture is Echinocactus Gruzoni. The remaining species, which are not so many, differ from Gruzoni in the color of flowers and needles, as well as in the number of ribs.
Its spherical stem is decorated with pale yellow spines. The stem becomes more elongated over time and resembles a barrel in shape. This type differs from the others in the number of ribs - there are at least 35 of them.
This species comes from Mexico, and in nature it can reach a height of about 200 cm and a width of about 150 cm. There are no more than 25 ribs on the stem. Gray spines with transversely arranged shades of a dark shade grow from areoles in beams, their length can vary from 35 to 45 mm. During flowering, tubular yellow flowers adorn the bush. Compared with echinocactus Gruzoni, this species blooms somewhat more often under indoor conditions.
This cactus is small in size. In nature, the bush can reach a height of about 0.3 m. The number of ribs varies from 13 to 15 pieces. Over time, the shape of the stem changes from spherical to cylindrical. The plant is painted in a bluish-gray color. The needles of this species are very long and can reach a length of about 100 mm. As they age, the color of the spines changes from brownish pink to white. Parry indoor echinocactus reacts extremely negatively to excess moisture, as it can cause rot to appear on the root system.
This species was called horizontal due to the shape of its stem. As it grows, it does not stretch upwards, as in other species, but becomes flattened. He has 10–13 ribs, and they are twisted in a spiral. In each areola, 5 or 6 curved spines grow. The needles are colored red, which changes over time and becomes amber. The color of the flowers is mauve. This species is sometimes referred to as "echinocactus red."
The bush is decorated with numerous gray wide needles. In nature, the height of the bush can reach 150-200 cm. If you take care of the plant correctly, it will delight you with funnel-shaped yellow flowers.
In indoor conditions, such a cactus can reach a height of about 0.7 m. His needles are colored, and they can be colored in brownish-red, yellow or pink. On the stem there are from 15 to 20 ribs.
When purchasing such a plant, remember that there are species of echinocactus with colored needles, but this does not apply to the echinocactus of Gruzoni. In order not to buy a cactus with spikes painted with paint, it is necessary to check the number of ribs and needles in the areoles. By these signs, you can determine the type of such a plant.