Selenitereus, or better known as the “Moon Cactus,” has about 20 species. It grows naturally in the tropics and subtropics of America, including the West Indies. Today created by breeders many hybrids that adorn window sills in apartments and houses.
Plants are sometimes confused with cacti from the genus Epiphyllum. The genus is known for its large, fragrant, blooming at night flowers, which are one of the largest.
The stems of the Queen of the Night are curly or spreading, branched , sometimes forming tangles that release aerial roots, stiff, up to 10 m or more. The ribs are separated by wide rounded intervals, can be either slightly wavy or very bumpy.
The areola on the plant is small, there is a pile of white or grayish-white color, internode 12-20 mm, spikes 5-18 mm. Needles elliptical or round in cross section, tan. White or brownish, mature areoles usually do not have hairs; in young plants, spikes are shorter and smaller, the epidermis is bluish-green, often purple, smooth.
The inner tepals are 7.5-10 cm long, shorter than the outer, gradually narrowed. Stamens 38-50 mm long, delicate, white, anthers 1.5 mm long, yellowish.
According to an unofficial name, it is easy to guess that the flower of this plant blooms at night, but pleases with its beauty only once. In diameter, they reach 30 centimeters, the aroma is somewhat reminiscent of vanilla.
They are pollinated by moths and less often by bats, as a result of which large fleshy fruits appear , which are prickly and acquire a red tint when fully ripened. Some species spread along the ground, others cling to the trees with aerial roots. The stems are ribbed, with corners or flat, as a rule, have short spikes.
Many gardeners grow a flower at home, but it is quite difficult to take care of it.
There are several more common species of the plant in question.
It has dense stems with short spikes. Flowers up to 12 cm long, 10-15 cm wide. The outer inner tepals are purple, the inner ones are the color of cream.
The flowers are 12 cm long; there are black hairs inside the vessel.
Stems with a deep tread, about 28 cm wide. Flowers 32-38 cm long, 23-30 cm wide, very prickly at the base of the vessel. It can produce huge, white flowers with long, golden stamens, but this is very rare.
Britton & rose
Stems 1 cm thick, low ribbed, spines short. Flowers are 18 cm long.
Stems have up to five ribs. Flowers 15 cm long, prickly, hairless.
Stem with 6-12 low ribs, prickly and bare. After blooming, the buds reach 15-16 cm.
It has zigzag, flat stems. On the bunches areoles with small spikes are formed. The flowers combine pink, purple and time tones.
This grandiflorus is distinguished by needles in the form of hooks. The flowers are creamy white, more elongated.
Conditions of detention
Large-flowered selenitereus is easily cultivated, grows rapidly. Needs compost containing large amounts of humus and sufficient moisture in the summer. He does not like a drop in temperature, prefers warm conditions. At + 5 C it can simply rot, so do not forget that it is more of a tropical flower. The ideal temperature is + 18 C.
Additional light in the early spring will stimulate the appearance of new flowers, which is important , since it is not so easy to get flowering from it. It blooms in late spring or early summer only one night a year or even several years. The flower fades in just a couple of hours.
Perhaps the most important aspect of selenicereus care is the soil. It would seem that a ready-made cactus would do just fine, but the opinions of experts were sharply divided on the issue of using mixes. They agree that selenicereus needs a well-drained soil with plenty of airspace so that the roots feel the natural circulation of air.
If you want to create your own soil, then it is worth mixing 60% of potted soil and 40% perlite. Other additives often include peat, orchid bark, sand, fine gravel and foliage. In this case, the pH should be at the level of 5.0 - 6.0. The pot and ground change every 2-3 years.
Selenitereus does not like to be in the open sun, but instead prefers to receive bright filtered light.
In extreme cases, you can use artificial lighting. Lamps are placed at a distance of at least 20 centimeters from the flower.
As a houseplant, selenicereus gained demand among plant growers due to its relatively low lighting requirements. It is enough to provide the morning sun, and the rest of the day the flower may be in the shade. A window facing east ideally creates the necessary conditions - it is light that affects the willingness to bloom. Many gardeners provoke the process by placing the plant for several weeks in a dark cabinet, so that in complete darkness the flower is 12 or more hours.
It may be necessary to transplant a flower if it outgrows its pot. As a rule, the procedure is carried out every time until the plant reaches maximum growth.
- Remove the flower from the old pot, wash away the soil from the roots and inspect them for damage. If everything is normal, then it can immediately be placed in new soil. If not, the damaged areas are trimmed, followed by treatment with activated carbon solution.
- The pot must be picked up a couple of centimeters larger in diameter than the previous container. You should not take the pot "for growth" - the more free soil remains, the longer the roots are in waterlogged soil, and accordingly, they begin to receive less oxygen and simply rot.
- It is advisable to disinfect the container before use, a bleach solution is ideal for this.
- Soil is used purchased or a mixture is made independently. In any case, it also needs to be disinfected. The soil is heated to 80 ° C, but no more than that, since a strong exposure to high temperature causes the destruction of nutrients in the soil.
- After transplanting, high-quality watering is performed. Good drainage must be organized in the pot; both sphagnum moss and small stones are suitable for it.
Expanded clay can not be used, since it quickly greases the soil, and the soil becomes unsuitable for the maintenance of the plant.
The unpretentiousness of the plant does not mean that the “Queen of the Night” does not need to be looked after at all. The plant grower is obliged to ensure that the selenicereus receives enough water, the soil is not waterlogged, especially in the summer.
Watering is carried out more often in the summer, preferably several times a week. Before flowering, the volume of moisture is reduced, the plant is watered only once a week, while high demands are placed on the temperature and quality of the liquid used.
Distilled water is ideal; it or any other must be at room temperature. The use of such a liquid allows you to wash out the salt accumulated after fertilizer from the soil. But if it is not possible to purchase distilled water, you can use rain, melt or from a well. From the tap it is also suitable for irrigation, but it needs to be defended during the day.
With the onset of autumn, watering is reduced to once every two weeks, the flower must be prepared for dormancy. In winter, moisten the soil only once a month.
It is worth remembering that the cooler the room, the less moisture should be in the ground, since it does not have time to dry out, which negatively affects the flower.
You will need to regularly fertilize the plant for best results. They do not feed in winter, as well as during the flowering period, since this is a big burden for the flower. During the growing season, liquid and dry balanced mixtures are required. Their number should be 4 times less than indicated on the package, fertilizer is applied every week along with watering. Dry feeding is by no means added to dry soil, the soil must be moist, otherwise you can just burn the horse system.
Diseases and Pests
In the process of caring for the flower, one should not forget about diseases and insect damage. If the roots turn black or too soft, then it's time to study the root system in more detail - perhaps it has begun to rot. In this case, the damaged areas are simply cut off and the selenitereus is transplanted into new soil and capacity.
All fungal diseases, not only root rot, but also powdery mildew, can be treated with fungicides. Insecticides are effective in controlling insects such as aphids, spider mites, nematodes, and thrips. Against pests, it is best to use a shower and subsequent treatment with a soap solution.
As for bacterial infections, there are no effective methods of struggle against them. If you managed to see the disease at an early stage, then you need to immediately remove the shoot and hope that the rest of the plant is not affected. If the bush is completely affected, it must be disposed of until other indoor plants become ill.
See how to grow selenicereus in the next video.