In recent years, among our compatriots there has been a sharp surge in love for cacti. It is believed that they absorb harmful radiation from computers, disinfect the air, normalize the microclimate - this is a big mistake, in fact, near your computer, your green pet will simply fade slowly, as it will begin to experience an acute shortage of light, water and useful substances.
Scientists believe that the first cacti appeared on the American continents, where for millennia they adapted to the existing climatic conditions, adapting to them both their appearance and features of metabolic processes. There are no more plants in the world that, like cacti, could store water and use their reserves for many years.
The cactus adapts especially hard in conditions of arid desert - in order to minimize the moisture consumption in their tissues, the cacti have adapted to build up a fairly dense skin, and the cellular juice secreted during photosynthesis has a viscous structure, which allows the plant to maintain an optimal water-salt balance. Scientists still do not have a consensus on the origin of cacti, but this did not stop the breeders from developing many new varieties that are quite easy to grow and breed at home.
So, when we talk about cacti, we immediately imagine a spherical plant with thorns, which is able to enter into a state of anxiety most mothers of mischievous babies and pet owners. However, in practice, the plant literally strikes with a wide variety of its sizes and shapes. And by the way, thorns are not an obligatory attribute of cacti at all. In nature, there are specimens, for example Rebucius, the green part of which is completely smooth.
The shape of the stem is most often spherical, as well as cylindrical, disc-shaped or candle-shaped. Less commonly, atypical varieties can be found - crested, which appears as a result of the growth of the apical growth point, as well as monstrous, in which case the plant has a rather abundant amount of lateral shoots. The causes of such forms have not yet been established. Some species may even have a wooden trunk and foliage of the most ordinary kind.
Cacti are characterized by a slow growth rate, but their lifespan is extremely high - in nature there are plants that live even several hundred years, the minimum life span of 10 years is typical for cacti of the Freyla genus.
There are 2 main varieties of cacti.
In the vast majority of such plants, the stem acts as a reservoir of water, photosynthesis is also performed here, however, according to a rather unusual mechanism: carbonylate binds in the leaves before the very first rays of the sun, and during the day it takes an active part in the production of necessary nutrients.
Usually the stems of desert varieties are ribbed , due to this structure the plant can change its size depending on the amount of water, and also create a slight shadow that protects them from overheating.
The root system of the surface type, which allows you to absorb water from the upper layer of the earth, which is wetted by dew, fog and rare rains.
These plants come from South America, where they live in evergreen hot forests. That is why they are much more warm and water-loving. In most cases, such cacti become epiphytes, that is, they grow on some other types of plants. As a rule, they have long hanging stems and thin, soft and sometimes completely invisible to the eye needles.
A distinctive feature of such plants is the ability to form aerial roots, which are used to trap water from the air and attach to the tree bark.
At home, mostly desert varieties are grown that do not require special care. Most often in apartments and offices you can find Gimenokallis cacti, as well as Akantokalitsium and Ekhinofossulokaktus.
What is the difference from succulent?
Many believe that cacti and succulents are identical concepts. This is not entirely true. The fact is that the term "succulent" refers to any plant that has adapted to living conditions in an arid habitat. At the same time, the method of water accumulation in them can be very different - some almost have no leaves and accumulate moisture in the stems, while others, on the contrary, are literally strewn with fleshy, rather large sheets.
The second feature of succulents is a thick cover of a layer of tangled hairs, thorns or bristles, which effectively protect the plant from direct sunlight and dry wind. In accordance with these signs, absolutely all cacti can be attributed to succulents. The difference between the categories is that in addition to cacti, succulents also include other categories of plants - aloe, Kalanchoe, Crassula, Haworthia and the like.
In other words, every cactus is a succulent, but not every succulent is a cactus.
Spread in nature
As already mentioned, the birthplace of cacti is considered to be North and South America, but in nature they can be found in some other corners of the globe. For example, certain varieties of these plants grow in European countries, as well as in the Mediterranean. In the African tropics and forests of Madagascar, you can often find cacti of a wide variety of species and forms. Recently, these exotic plants have been cultivated in the southern regions of our country, and in the North as greenhouse crops.
Often these unusual representatives of the flora become a typical feature of the terrain and difficult to eradicate. For example, prickly pears are inhabited by the Australian mainland, and in America cacti are found everywhere in the vast territory from 56th parallel of the north latitude to 54th parallel of the south. In Mexico alone, you can find about 1,000 of the world's 2,000 varieties of cactus. In addition, you can meet such succulents in the vicinity of Yalta and in the Crimea.
Some varieties grow in regions with a much harsher climate - for example, dark-thorned prickly pear prickly pear grows even in the Astrakhan region, where it easily tolerates temperatures of minus 19 degrees.
There are quite a few myths associated with cacti. We will try to figure out together where the truth is and where is the general delusion.
- Cacti - the inhabitants of the arid desert, they are afraid of excess moisture. Firstly, absolutely any plant, especially at the stage of growth, requires water, and cacti are no exception. They need it for nutrition, as well as for cooling the green parts, which is carried out thanks to evaporation. And secondly, not all varieties are dry-loving. There are varieties that need moisture no less than all other indoor flowers.
- Cacti bloom only once in a lifetime, and then die. This statement is completely inconsistent with the true state of things, a cactus can bloom at least every year without the slightest damage to itself. Depletion occurs only when too many fruits are formed on it.
If this happened, a small part of the berries should be picked immediately after the ovary.
- Cacti can grow and develop only in direct sunlight. It really is. Thanks to the long work of scientists, it was possible to develop varieties that can be cultivated in room conditions, but, nevertheless, full development is possible only with a large amount of sun and an optimal level of illumination. Only a small number of varieties require slight dimming, but even they need light.
That is why all the owners who place their prickly pets in the depths of living rooms, on shelves and in the dark northern offices, simply slowly kill them.
- Cacti require heat all year round. No, it is not. Any cactus needs a period of rest and absolute rest in order to gain strength for new growth. Optimum conditions for this can be achieved only with cold and dry contents in the winter season.
Wintering is not needed only for hygrophilous species native to tropical forests.
- The more often the owners look at kakuts - the faster they grow. This belief belongs to the mystical category, but it has a very real justification. If you constantly look at your green friends, you will be able to notice in time all the signs of their ill health - for example, loss of roots, wound or attack of pests - as you know, any plant ailment detected in the early stages is successfully corrected.
- The less often you touch cacti, the better they grow. That is the perfect truth. Many amateur gardeners, acquiring a new cactus, begin to rearrange it from place to place, choosing the best location in the room. However, in this case, the plant, not having time to get used to some living conditions, immediately finds itself in others, as a result - the cactus experiences stress, relieves thorns and begins to wither.
- The less often a plant is transplanted, the better it will grow. This is a common but extremely dangerous misconception. Cacti need an annual transplant, it stimulates enhanced root formation and stem growth, and also allows you to create conditions in which the plant receives all the nutrients necessary for development in full.
- Abundant top dressing causes frequent flowering of the cactus. Not true. Any plant, including a cactus, is fertilized only to the extent of its needs, and in this case they are much lower than that of deciduous brothers.
It should be noted that cacti do not die from malnutrition, but from an over-fertilization such an outcome is quite real - these indoor pets are simply not adapted for such feeding.
- High growth cacti die quickly. But this is true. Too fast growth, caused artificially, for example, when using hormonal substances, leads to poor resistance of the flower to infections and pest attacks. Such cacti have a rather poor pubescence and a very loose stem, so you should not stimulate the growth of this plant, it should develop in its own mode.
- If the cactus does not start growing in the hot summer, then in the winter it can die. As a matter of fact, if a cactus does not grow, then it is already partially dead, however, individual varieties can even survive for several years in this half-dead form.
To save your pet, first of all, you need to find out what is the reason for the stunting of growth: in most cases, the problem boils down to the loss of roots, and it is necessary to take a set of quick resuscitation measures.
In order for your cactus to please you for many years, there is no need to be afraid to pick it up, take care of it, transplant, touch and bathe. No breeder will achieve any success if he keeps his plants with fear - if only they would not be pricked.
Cacti require love and respect.
For how to care for cacti, see the next video.