Table of contents:
Family of cactus. The oldest genus, which includes 6 species of large spherical cacti. Many of them are on the verge of extinction. Representatives of this genus are characterized by very slow growth, on average, cacti over 5 years old grow 1-2 areoles per year. It is interesting that young plants are very different from adults, in 3-4 year old seedlings the ribs are not yet sharp enough, they have pronounced tubercles, the trunk of a cactus can be clearly seen. In old plants, the ribs are sharp, even, and many thorns cover the body of the cactus with a solid carpet, and better protect from the scorching sun.
The most famous and widespread species in culture is Echinocactus Grusoni Echinocactus grusonii - its homeland is Mexico (San Luis Potosi, Hidalgo). The species was first described by the famous German collector Heinrich Hildmann in 1891, and named after Hermann Gruzon, a German inventor, scientist and part-time collector of cacti.
This spherical cactus can grow up to 40 cm in diameter in indoor conditions, in nature it is much larger. It has very sharp, strong spines, straight or slightly curved, of various shades of yellow, sometimes almost white. Radial spines 8-10, they are up to 3 cm long, and 4 central spines, arranged crosswise, up to 5 cm long. Ribs on average 35-45. Flowering occurs in mature, even old cacti - after 20 years. The flowers are yellow, the corolla is up to 7 cm long and 5 cm in diameter, forming a wreath on the top of the cactus. Does not bloom in indoor conditions. By the way, the top of a cactus is always covered with thick white bristles of growing thorns. Over time, after 13-15 years, the body of the echinocactus from a rounded, even slightly flattened spherical, gradually takes the shape of a barrel, slightly stretches, in old specimens in nature, the height of the trunk reaches 1,3 m and about 90 cm wide. That is why the popular name of this cactus Golden Barrel Cactus is the Golden Barrel.
Одно время Эхинокактус Грузони был единственным видом из эхинокактусов, доступным цветоводам, но сейчас для выращивания доступны семена всех видов.
Echinocactus flat-spiked Echinocactus platyacanthus is another species known in culture, large, reaches 1.5-2 m in height and 1-1.5 m in width, less ribbed in comparison with Gruzon - ribs from 20-25. Spines are grayish - 5-6 radial, up to 3.5 cm long and 3-4 central, about 4.5 cm long, straight, slightly flattened, with transverse shading. The flowers are bright yellow, the corolla is 3.5-4 cm long, crowned at the top of the trunk. It blooms in adulthood. Homeland - Central Mexico and the United States (New Mexico, Oklahoma). This type of echinocactus is endangered, as it is widely popular in the confectionery industry - the Mexicans from the pulp of this cactus and sugar make sweets called 'Dulce de biznaga'. This species has a separate form, Echinocactus platyacanthus f. grandis.
Echinocactus horizontal Echinocactus horizonthalonius - so named for the flat-spherical body, natural specimens, whose homeland Mexico (Chihuahua) and the southern states of the United States, reach only 25 cm in diameter. Unlike the previous species, the ribs are slightly twisted in a spiral, there are few of them - on average 10-13. The spines in the amount of 6 to 9 pieces are all the same length, slightly curved, round or slightly flattened, dark red in young plants, amber in older ones. The flowers are purple-red, up to 3 cm long. In indoor conditions, it blooms easily.
Echinocactus Texas Echinocactus texensis - widespread in Texas (USA). The cactus is medium-sized, with a flat-shaped body 15-20 cm in height and up to 30 cm in diameter. Ribs 13-24, upper areoles with white fluffy bristles. There are usually 8 spines, one central up to 5-6 cm long, 7 radial slightly curved, about 4 cm long. Previously, this cactus belonged to the genus Homalocephalus Homalocephala. When grown from seeds, it is not capricious, grows well on its own roots.
Echinocactus polycephalus Echinocactus polycephalus is a Mexican spherical cactus prone to bush and form clumps (up to one hundred cacti in a group). The body of the cactus reaches 70 cm in height, the ribs are 15-20, the cactus looks like a real hedgehog. Radial spines 5-8, about 4.5-5 cm long, central spines - 4, up to 6 cm long. The spines are powerful, flat, slightly curved from a distance, look pink, if you look closely, the shade is more likely from yellowish to red-brown. The flowers are yellow, up to 6 cm long, rarely blooms.
Echinocactus Parry Echinocactus parryi - a spherical cactus native to northern Mexico (Chihuahua), with a blue-gray body, initially spherical, then cylindrical, up to 30 cm high.Ribs 13-15, radial spines 8-11, they are thinner, central - 4, large from 4 to 10 cm long. In a young plant, the spines are brown-pink, curved, in old ones they are almost white. Areolae with white bristles. The flowers are golden yellow. The cactus is very capricious, too prone to root rot, seed germination is low, many seedlings die. In nature, this species is on the verge of extinction. The species is very similar to polycephalus, and there have been debates among specialists for a long time whether this is the same plant or not, but nevertheless, genetic analysis has confirmed that these are two different species. Moreover, Echinocactus parryi is less tall and does not tend to bush on such a scale as Echinocactus polycephalus.
As for the content, it is the same for all types of echinocactus - due to the narrow distribution area and the scarcity of species.
Temperature: In summer, normal room temperature, in winter, a dormant period at a temperature of + 8-12 ° C, with a dry content. It is better to keep the cactus outdoors in summer. Despite the fact that Echinocactuses are somewhat frost-resistant, and in nature they tolerate short-term frosts up to -5-12 ° C, potted plants are never exposed to subzero temperatures, the wintering limit is + 5 ° C.
Lighting: Bright lighting in both winter and summer. Echinocactus loves a lot of light and needs direct sunlight, grows well on a southern window. But at the beginning of spring, it is necessary to accustom to the bright sun gradually so as not to get burns.
Watering: Moderate in spring and summer, decreases in autumn, and very rare in winter when kept cold. Echinocactus are extremely susceptible to overflow, so the substrate must be well drained. If there is even the slightest doubt, it is better to underfill than overflow, i.e. during the growth period, it is necessary to water the cactus only after the substrate is completely dry and it will stand dry for another day.
Fertilizer: From late spring to mid-summer, echinocactus can be fed with a special fertilizer for cacti once every two weeks.
Air humidity: Echinocactus is resistant to dry air, but regular spraying (dusty) in summer with warm water is quite useful (in natural conditions, dew falls naturally).
Transfer: Soil - 1 part sod, 1 part leaf, 1/2 part coarse river sand and 1 part crushed pumice or lava - this is ideal. Pumice stone can be replaced with akadama (special soil for bonsai), at worst, with small expanded clay (3-4 mm). It is also necessary to add pieces of birch charcoal to the soil. Soil pH is about 5.7-5.8. Young echinocactus are transplanted annually, cacti older than 4-5 years - in a year or two. Drainage is required to the bottom.
Reproduction: Seeds and grafting. Echinocactus Parry should be grown by cascade grafting, i.e. by re-grafting of grown seedlings, first on Pereskiopsis Pereskiopsis, then temporary - Echinopsis Echinopsis and then on a permanent stock - Eriocereus Yusbert Eriocereus jusbertii. Echinocactus directly on the rootstock take root very poorly, so you cannot do without intermediate inserts.
For more information about the features of various modes of maintenance, transplantation and reproduction, see the section Cacti.