Cacti are one of the most beloved houseplants because they are easy to care for. Echinocactus Gruzon is found in different versions, however, the requirements for its cultivation are always the same.
Echinocactus Gruzon - it is a spherical succulent from the cactus family Cactaceae . Succulents are plants that have special tissues that allow them to retain moisture in an arid climate. Succulents can store fluid in leaves or shoots .
Most of the species that currently belong to the family of these plants are stem succulents. According to the encyclopedia of Brockhaus and Efron, there are about 200 species of them . All of them grow in the territory from the southwestern part of the USA to Brazil. The Great Soviet Encyclopedia is limited to describing only ten varieties.
The birthplace of cactus is Central Mexico. In common people, this plant is also called a hedgehog, since there are needles in the form of bristles on its surface. The plant is especially popular among lovers of exotic. The German scientist, inventor and industrialist German Gruzon, who lived in the 19th century, had the largest collection in Europe, which he later transferred to the city of Magdeburg.
Echinocactus grows up to 80 centimeters wide and 130 centimeters high. On it there are up to three dozen ribs, there are stiff amber-colored thorns up to 5 centimeters long, as well as yellow or pink flowers up to 6 centimeters long. A mature plant blooms infrequently (in summer) and “wears” a crown of golden pile at the top all year round. On each flower stalk, a fruit develops with a scaly surface and black seeds.
Bright yellow cup-shaped wide flowers emerge from halos on the crown of mature plants, but since echinocactus does not bloom until fully ripe, flowers of this size have never been seen in indoor samples. In areas with moderate winter temperatures, this species can be successfully grown outdoors and, under good conditions, can become old enough to bloom. The life span of the plant is estimated at 30 years.
Often when buying a store plant, you can find many additives to the name, for example, Rainbow or Red. In fact, this is all just a ploy. Beginning flower growers are deceived by an attractive name, but in reality this is the same cactus that they simply painted. In the best case - food coloring (red, purple, yellow, pink), and in the worst - used dyes from the printer.
Do not be fooled, in fact, the Gruzon cactus has thorns of very light yellow or even white color. Over time, this shade will return.
If we talk about species, the following stand out among them.
It can reach two meters in length and one and a half meters in width. Of the distinguishing features, a small number of edges are distinguished. The spines in the described form are gray, not bent. In Mexico, cactus is actively used in the preparation of sweets , so at one time it was even on the verge of extinction.
At first it looks like a ball, then it changes its shape to a cylindrical one. It is only 35 centimeters in height, the spikes not only bend, but also have an attractive pink color. It is not easy to grow at home, the variety has many requirements for care. Seeds germinate poorly, the plant itself has a weak immunity to diseases.
It is difficult to confuse it with brothers, because it is very different from them in shape. The shape resembles a ball, while the ribs are twisted in a spiral. Even in adulthood, such a cactus has a diameter of not more than 30 centimeters. The thorns are quite thick, bright red. If compared with other Gruson echinocactuses, then this makes it easier to achieve flowering at home.
After blooming, the flower becomes lilac-pink, reaching a diameter of 3 centimeters.
It is difficult not to pay attention to this species, since a huge number of spikes are formed on its surface, the length of which can be up to three centimeters. When the plant blooms, yellow flowers appear on its surface , resembling a funnel.
This is the only variety that can please gardeners with needles of different colors. They can be pink, red, purple and other shades. In indoor conditions, the height of the cactus can be 70 cm, there are few thorns on the ribs.
Very similar to a real hedgehog due to the numerous spines. Usually grows in groups, sometimes the number of such cacti reaches one hundred copies. The characteristics are similar to the previous view.
Conditions of detention
The best conditions for the described cactus are heat, sun, good ventilation, relatively small temperature differences. A plant can equally well grow both indoors and outdoors.
From late spring to mid-summer, fertilizers are regularly applied. Beginning in August, top dressing is done less often to prepare the plant for a period of complete rest. Since March, feeding is gradually resumed, a weak solution of the complex mixture can be introduced.
The plant feels great in bright light. There is no need to protect it from direct sunlight, unlike most indoor flowers. It is best to place a cactus on a south or west window. However, it is not necessary to expose the plant to a large amount of sun immediately after the mandatory rest period from October to April.
This period should be cool for him.
By the quality and health of the thorns, it immediately becomes apparent whether the plant has enough light or is deficient in it.
Temperature and humidity
During the period of active growth, a warm room temperature is usually suitable for a cactus. In winter, it should be kept at a temperature of about 10 ° C. The minimum allowable temperature is about 5 ° C. At a lower surface, the plant may discolor, brown spots appear.
On the other hand, if the air temperature in the room is much higher than 12 ° C, the plant will tend to continue growing, and often with insufficient lighting it takes a spherical shape, sometimes lengthens unevenly, and therefore looks ugly.
To avoid this, you need to give it artificial light, fluorescent or fluorescent lamps are ideal for this.
As for the humidity level, the cactus withstands drought . An indicator of 50-60% is enough in the room to make the flower feel comfortable, with too much humidity, the cactus begins to rot. It is impossible to have a draft nearby, it also negatively affects the health of the plant.
The potted mix used for cactus plants must be well-drained and light. Echinocactus does not like dense soil, in which there is little oxygen and from where moisture slowly evaporates. Helps to improve the quality of the earth by adding gravel or small pebbles to the bottom. Perlite and vermiculite will also help remove excess water from the ground. As a basis, a slightly acidic soil with a pH of 5.0-6.0 is prepared.
It should be well-drained, consisting of loam, leaves, peat and coarse sand in the following proportion: 2: 1: 1: 1. It is allowed to add a small amount of humus and brick chips.
All components, despite the fact that they are purchased in a specialized store, need to be disinfected, this also applies to the soil. To do this, it is placed in the oven for an hour and heated to a temperature of 80 ° C, but no more. If it is overheated, then not only the bacteria will die, but beneficial substances will also be destroyed.
As for expanded clay, some plant breeders add it as a material for creating drainage. Recent research by scientists has proven that it is often the reason that the soil in the pot is so quickly salted. Harmful to use in large quantities and polystyrene crumb. It helps protect the roots from lowering the temperature, but does not allow moisture to pass if you use it in a thick layer.
How to care?
Remember and follow the general rule for growing cacti: it is better not to top up than to spill. Very often one can observe how black rot develops in a water-filled echinocactus. The same will happen if the grower uses a pot with poor drainage.
Experts advise to wear thick gloves when working with cacti, because an injection can be not only painful, but also carry the risk of infection. It is very important to know that these flowers do not tolerate proximity to violets, as their pollen is harmful to them.
It cannot be said that echinocactus is very demanding on top dressing, but it still needs it from the beginning of the vegetative period, because over time, all mineral substances and vitamins are simply washed out of the soil, where high-quality drainage is organized. Instead of regularly applying liquid fertilizers, the best idea would be to incorporate long-term organics with slow decay. They bring food in the spring, however, do not use it before transplantation and immediately after it.
Mixtures with a high phosphorus content are best suited; the second most important trace elements are potassium and calcium.
During the period of active growth (until about mid-August), water should flow in sufficient quantity, but not excessively, so as not to flood the soil. In other words, the soil should not be allowed to dry out and water out. A clearly arranged schedule will help to organize high-quality and timely watering. Gradually reduce the amount of water and completely stop watering the plant by October.
In winter, the soil should be completely dry, otherwise rotting at the base of the plant is inevitable. The lower the ambient temperature, the less water a flower needs and the longer the soil remains wet, which should not be. Water is introduced with caution no more than once every 7-10 days only if the room temperature exceeds 15 ° C.
Avoid wetting the body of the plant, since the liquid can penetrate through microcracks and cause rotting.
It is not worth transplanting a cactus immediately after purchase, any houseplant must first acclimatize to new conditions before undergoing such stress. Some experts say that you can safely carry out the procedure in a year, while others advise you not to linger and change the pot in a month. In any case, it is worth taking into account the time of year, the state of the cactus and other risk factors.
Some experts recommend avoiding cactus transplants altogether because of the fragility of its roots. But be that as it may, over time, the roots will begin to extend beyond the pot, not only from above, but also penetrate the drainage holes, and still have to change the capacity. Ideally, a plant transplant should be done in early spring. Young plants are transferred to a new container annually or once every 2 years, more adults - as needed, or once every 4-5 years.
Use a wide pot, in which special attention is paid to good drainage. To help the plant develop stronger spikes, use an old lime peel or egg shell as a source of calcium. Finally, sprinkle sand on the root neck. It is important to ensure that air can easily penetrate to the roots.
Cactus propagates exclusively by seed. The difficulty lies in the fact that they germinate very poorly, so it is not always or not the first time that they achieve the desired result. The step-by-step process looks like this.
- When the seeds ripen, they are harvested and allowed to dry slightly. You should always use fresh planting material to increase your chances.
- Seeds can be soaked for several hours in warm water or a growth activator.
- Then they are placed in nutrient soil from sphagnum moss and covered with a film, creating greenhouse conditions.
- From time to time you will have to ventilate the landing, otherwise mold may form.
- Individual pots are transplanted into the soil when the first few leaves appear.
Diseases and Pests
Among the most common diseases, root rot and rust can be distinguished. Both diseases are fungal, so they respond well to fungicide treatment. In the case of root rot, you will additionally need to change the capacity, soil, cut the root system. You cannot use the old pot unless you treat it in a weak bleach solution.
Of the insects that like to eat cacti, the nematode, the spider mite, and less often the aphids , are dangerous. They can be dealt with with the help of neem oil, insecticidal soap, or simply pour warm water on the flower from the shower.
For how to properly care for Gruson's echinocactus, see the next video.