Cacti have been bred in our country for many decades. But the florist community is constantly being updated. And therefore, information about the species of these plants is very important; especially when you consider that some of them are little known.
What it is?
Prickly pear cactus is a plant originating from South America and Mexico. Often it is called nopal, thereby abbreviating the botanical name Nopalea cochenillifera. This species is popular in traditional medicine of the Latin American peoples. It is used for:
- skin condition improvement;
- normalization of sleep;
- relieving the condition of diabetics;
- increase the strength of dental tissues and other bones;
- cancer prevention;
- building immunity in general.
Opuntia looks quite attractive. At the same time, its color depends not only on the particular variety, but also on the maturity of the plant. The specimens of orange, yellow, light green and red colors are described. The ground part of the plant resembles a pear, stretches about 0.07 m in length.
Prickly pears can be painted in red, white, and green. There are also purple, yellow fruits. It is known that their taste is vaguely reminiscent of ripe raspberries. In addition to the natural habitat, prickly pears are found in African and Mediterranean countries, even in Australia. It is noted that it perfectly adapts to partially arid regions, populates fields and plots composed of sandy soils.
At home, the habitat of such a group of cacti is most often the lower tiers of the mountain slopes. Prickly pears are both shrubs and small trees. Their height can be 2 or 4 m. The preferred climate zone is the desert that is plentifully sun-drenched. In nature, the plant tries to populate dry land with good drainage properties.
Biologists suggest that the species formed in Mexico, and from there it spread throughout Central America. Wild prickly pear prickly pear discovered in Jamaica. They try to grow it in various countries, since the fruits are beautiful, nutritious and healthy. In addition to trace elements, the composition of the fruit also includes vital essential amino acids. Berries can be eaten only after removing extremely sharp (like a well-ground, dangerous razor) spikes.
In Russia, prickly pear is most often used as a decorative look. But if you still decided to use it as a food, you must strictly limit the amount of product. Otherwise, it can be dangerous. Particular care must be taken when:
- lack of blood sugar;
- low blood pressure;
- excess cholesterol;
- disorders in the thyroid gland;
- diabetes of two types;
- runny nose and other respiratory diseases;
- liver problems
- pregnancy and lactation;
- treatment of any kind of disease (without the direct permission of the doctor).
Prickly pear is the common name for a whole group of cacti. Moreover, their most numerous family (which includes, for example, the type of ovate). The white- haired variety is a tree-like plant growing up to 5 m. White hair of great stiffness is fluttering abundantly on the leaf segments - they gave the name. The flowers are quite large (diameter is 0.08 m).
Often you can find prickly pear Berger. It resembles a green bush with angular processes. The length of these processes is up to 0.25 m. The kidneys are covered with yellow spines. This species blooms densely, and grows to more than 1 m.
The small-haired variety deserves attention (it is also a microdasis). It forms branched stems. The height of the plant is relatively small - only 0.5 m. Areoles of white color produce a lot of golden glochidia. In this case, spines do not appear.
Indian prickly pear has gained quite a lot of popularity . Contrary to her name, she came to our country directly from Mexico. An alternative name is fig prickly pear (since the fruits look like figs). Moreover, they are quite edible, and are sometimes used to make jams and sauces. On the flat stems of the Indian species, relatively few thorns.
An ordinary prickly pear in its appearance resembles a tree. It is characterized by a strong stalk of large size. Symmetry between the processes, if broken, is not very much. But it is unlikely that it will be possible to grow this kind of house - its height is up to 6 m. The areoles are slightly downy, some of them are covered with thorns.
The cylindrical variety is named for the special geometry of the stems. They are painted in a dense green color. The bush can grow to a maximum of 1.8 m. Under adverse conditions, its growth will not exceed 1.6 m. An attractive feature of the plant is the formation of pink flowers.
If you need a very fast-growing plant, prickly pear subulata is suitable. Two years is enough for it to rise 2 m in height. The view is distinguished by large, needle-like spines. They are formed on slightly noticeable tubercles covering the processes. The length of the cylindrical leaves can reach 0.1 m; subulata gives red flowers that have a light pinkish tint.
In a Brazilian cactus, the stem has a flat shape. The segments are about the same, only slightly less. Relatively thin leaf-shaped processes before other parts of the plant suffer from poor conditions.
With unprofessional care, they can even fall. Normally yellow oblong flowers are formed.
Monacantha is the name of the prickly pear, which has elongated parts of the shoot. It is painted in light green stripes (clearly visible on a dark background). This type of cactus is characterized by increased fertility. Therefore, the number of processes near the base is much higher than in most other species. There is even such a term - "cactus forest."
The cristate (in other words, “dressed”) variety is exceptionally decorative . Another name for it is cylindrical prickly pear. The general description is given a little higher. It is worth adding that the “fluff” on the plant may resemble mold.
Conditions of detention
Prickly pear, like other cacti, comes from South America. Among the other genera, it is characterized by minimal whimsicality. But still, it is worth taking care of the optimal thermal regime, decent humidity and the systematic application of fertilizers.
The plant survives well only where good ventilation and high-quality lighting are provided at the same time. Although the cactus does not suffer from frost, excess moisture is harmful to it.
Experts advise not to transplant the culture unnecessarily. In the summer, it is very important for her to fully absorb moisture from the soil. This is achieved by loosening it or by establishing effective drainage. Adding sand and small pebbles to the earth prevents almost 100% risk of root decay. The level of acidity should be weak; the content of nutrients is not too high.
Opuntia is planted mainly for aesthetic properties. Therefore, it is recommended to devote elevated places for it. It is very good if elegant boulders and various flowers lie around. Despite the winter hardiness of the culture, the preferred areas are those where the summer months are warmest and the weather is very dry. Outdoor wintering of the cactus is possible at –10 degrees; for additional protection use leaves and branches.
At home, a Mexican cactus should be lit as much as possible. But putting the plant immediately in direct sunlight, you can destroy it. It is necessary to accustom the prickly pear to such tests gradually. But in the garden you can safely choose the sunniest areas already when transplanting. However, the landing itself requires knowledge of a number of subtleties.
You can often hear that a cactus must be planted in wide and relatively small containers. But only inexperienced or insufficiently versed in the topic people say so. In fact, a lack of depth will only lead to premature drying of the soil. Although at first it will be possible to plant many plants, pretty soon they will die.
Almost all flower pots are useful for work, if only there was a drainage hole below. Not necessarily one thing - sometimes they make several holes. You can plant prickly pear even in those pots that are placed on furniture or household appliances. Water will not spread if the drainage layer is made of stones. When choosing a pot, immediately take into account whether it is necessary to stimulate the development of roots, or whether it is necessary to restrain it. The substrate is selected depending on whether the seeds or cuttings will be planted.
The cuttings method involves the initial calculation of the drainage mixture, over which a layer of sand and charcoal is poured.
Important: sand should be calcined to prevent infection by pathogenic microorganisms.
If seeds are planted, a mixture is placed on top of the drainage:
- 1 part sanitized sand;
- 1 part of charcoal;
- 1 part of the best compost.
Tree cactus, as already mentioned, can be propagated using seeds or cuttings. Transplanting from a tight pot to a free one can occur at any time. But you have to wait until the earth dries. First, the pots are put in the shade. The first few days to water the soil is strictly prohibited - the plant should take root.
Cuttings are carried out in the spring and until mid-July. Only thoroughly grown shoots are suitable for this procedure. They are carefully separated from the original plant, and then the sections are disinfected with crushed coal. The cuttings are dried for several days until the cut is covered with a strong film. Further, the processes must be immersed in a shallow substrate.
The container used for cutting is covered with a glass lid or plastic wrap on top. Under these materials, a temperature of approximately +10 degrees should be maintained. So that the container does not dry out from the inside, you will have to spray planting material from time to time. It must also be aired. After waiting for the strengthening of the roots, transplanted cuttings into pots.
For information: experienced gardeners can use simple calcined sand for cutting, without making other tricks. However, then you will have to carefully monitor the development of culture.
If the seed technique of sowing is chosen, the planting material must be carefully prepared. Cactus seeds are hard, and if you put them in the ground immediately, germination will be weak. There are 2 ways: soaking for several days or rubbing the shell with sandpaper.
The first method is better, and not only because it is more sparing for seeds. In the last 15-20 minutes before planting, it will be possible to soak planting material in an unsaturated solution of potassium permanganate. Next, the seeds are buried in a substrate and kept there at +20 degrees. As in the case of cuttings, they will have to be ventilated and moistened. Having achieved the appearance of sprouts, transplant prickly pears into pots already for full growth.
How to care?
Although prickly pear is relatively unpretentious, yet it deserves full care. The work, however, is simple. All that is required from gardeners is the maximum provision of light and watering as needed. They apply fertilizing only against the background of flowering.
But we must remember that with all the attractiveness of prickly pears, it does not cease to be a cactus.
The plant is covered with a dense layer of small thorns. It is almost impossible to notice them. And even more difficult to bypass. Hand washing in warm soapy water helps to remove the smallest splashes at home. However, you can completely avoid such troubles, if you work in cloth gloves.
Like other succulents, this crop does not need systematic watering. It is carried out as often as the drying of the earth requires. If in winter the air temperature drops to +6 degrees, watering can be completely stopped. It is not necessary to renew it, even if the plant is slightly drooping. The first spring irrigation will completely fix the matter.
Feeding starts from the first warm days of spring. Then this procedure is continued until the end of summer. The best fertilizers for prickly pears are those that contain a small amount of nitrogen. The intervals between their additives are from 12 to 15 days. Dissolving lemon juice in water helps to increase acidity, if it is small. A lot of it is not required - 2 or 3 drops per liter will completely solve the problem.
Proper feeding allows you to achieve elegant large flowers. But when they appear, you need to immediately stop the fertilizer application. To bring flowering closer, when the frost is weaker in the spring, immediately take out the pots in well-ventilated sunny places. Flowering plants should be left in one place. Otherwise, you can be afraid of dropping the petals.
Returning to watering, we must indicate that only soft water should be used for it. Increased rigidity (lime content) can inhibit growth. It is recommended to defend water. It is poured only in the pan. Excessive moisture threatens the appearance of root rot.
Instead of lemon juice, you can acidify irrigation water with citric acid. It is not necessary to spray this cactus. If there is intense heat, you should take care of ventilating the room. Ideally, pots should be taken outside. It is recommended to avoid temperatures above +40 degrees. Autumn preparation involves a gradual decrease in temperature.
Diseases and Pests
Although prickly pear and prickly, it protects it only from humans and animals. Microscopic organisms and a number of pests may well harm such a cactus. The main danger to him is viruses. A typical manifestation is mottled spots with a yellow-green tint. The main cause of viral aggression is pest damage or mechanical damage to cuttings.
Alas, it is impossible to save the prickly pear prickly virus. It remains only to get rid of it and carefully think about what mistakes were made. Many violations of the rules of care lead to falling buds. And also because of them, the roots can rot or burns appear. It remains to be expected that plants will be able to survive such problems, and adjust their approach.
The appearance of an excessive cork layer will not interfere with the cactus. But it is one of the first manifestations of irregular agricultural technology.
Important: in old cacti, a cork layer is inevitably formed. It's all about the inevitable aging of the epidermis. Nothing to do with this, you just need to prepare to plant a new plant.
The sampling caused by gardener's mistakes is treated by placing the pot in a well-lit place. It is useful to recall whether the plant was fertilizing beyond measure. For its rejuvenation, sometimes cut off the upper part and root it. Chlorosis, or loss of chlorophyll, is externally manifested by yellowing of the shoots. Sometimes, instead of pure yellow, they acquire a yellow-green color.
It is necessary to combat this disorder with the addition of trace elements. Timely dressing with appropriate fertilizers helps to avoid problems in the bud. Fungal infection, however, is much worse than chlorosis, and is second only to a viral infection in danger. Fortunately, the fight against him is quite possible. The main condition for success is the immediate separation of diseased specimens.
Gray mold infects seeds, but appears only on mature seedlings and adult plants. They are covered with brown spots. If you start the process, prickly pear will die. The only possible control method is pretreatment with special fungicides. Another fungus causes the so-called gangrene of seedlings.
Infection is possible both from seeds and through the ground. In both cases, the base of the stem and roots turn black at first, and then die completely. Disinfection of the soil and seeds helps.
Of pests of cacti for prickly pears, mealybugs are very dangerous. Absorbing juice, they interfere with the normal development of the plant. As a result, it turns yellow. More often than others, young specimens suffer from worms. You can fight them by moving the pot to a colder place and increasing the humidity.
A spider mite is a small (approximately 0.001 m) parasitic organism. He eats the tops of the shoots. It is possible to drive out a spider mite due to air freshening. But it is also useful to use soapy water for spraying.
Scaffolds got their name by characteristic protective devices. Fighting them is very difficult. But you can try a comprehensive method: removing pests mechanically and treating with chemicals.
Root felt is a great danger. They can infect a plant wintering in dry soil. At the beginning of the growing season, prickly pears are pulled out and the roots are carefully examined. The web that remains after the felt is different from the roots in a paler color. The diseased root system is washed with dishwashing detergent; to consolidate success, completely change the substrate.
It is important when using any factory compounds:
- comply with all rules of use;
- monitor temperature and humidity;
- do not use too large quantities of drugs;
- do not exceed concentration;
- Follow the instructions on the processing time.
Possible growing problems
It happens that a houseplant in the middle of a turbulent period of growth becomes sluggish and faded, the green parts cringe. The main “culprit” is dry soil. For a long time, the plant can survive due to accumulated water supplies, however, they are not endless. If increased irrigation does not help, you need to check whether the plant has become crowded .
Inhibition or complete cessation of growth during the growing season may be due to improper selection of land. Sometimes its excessive density is to blame. Air does not pass, and the roots are deprived of enough oxygen. The output is transplantation into less dense substrates.
Important: if you have already made a mistake when compiling them, it is better to buy the finished mixture.
Light spots covering the stem can become a serious problem. If the plant is exposed to the open sun for a long time, they will arise almost inevitably. But there is another possible reason - a sharp change in illumination. This happens when the pots after a long stay in the room immediately taken out. The length of time a flower stays on it should be increased gradually.
Often flower growers complain of a darkening of the prickly pear near the root. In this case, spots appear brown or black. The stalk may wilt or even lie completely on the ground. In such a situation, it is very important to save the diseased plant from decay. For this purpose:
- reduce the frequency of watering;
- check the condition of the drainage;
- if necessary, establish it from scratch;
- if the plant is in open land, take care of the removal of rainfall.
It is necessary to reduce the intensity of irrigation in the case when the segments of the trunk break, crack. Thus prickly pear is trying to get rid of excessive moisture.
Important: not only the volume of water poured out, but also the frequency of irrigation is subject to adjustment. A stalk that shrinks and shrinks in winter indicates overheating of the air. In this case, the upper layer of earth is sprayed with water, and then the pot is rearranged in a cooler place.
You will learn more about prickly pear cactus from the video below.