Table of contents:
Family of cactus. This genus includes about 70 species of the most diverse in appearance cacti, native to Mexico and the United States. Echinocereus have a medium to slow growth rate. A feature of the genus Echinocereus is the presence of areoles with a set of thorns on the bud, and given the length of the bud (up to 10 cm), it looks rather prickly, hence the name: "Echinus" - "hedgehog".
Many species of Echinocereus are characterized by a comb-like arrangement of radial spines, they are similar to the numerous legs of a spider, or cilia, located on two sides of the areola, while they are often bent, pressed against the body of a cactus.
Echinocereus hardest Echinocereus rigidissimus - with a cylindrical straight stem, about 7-10 cm in diameter. There are no central spines. Radial spines in the amount of 15-23 pieces are located in the areoles in a comb (spider) - slightly curved towards the body of the cactus. The spines are creamy, almost white, in the v. rubrispinus - 30-35 spines and they are red. Often, the radial spines are colored differently - stripes of pink-colored spines alternating with white or gold. Areoles bristly, golden brown. Flowers about 10 cm in diameter, bright pink or purple. The berries are spiny brown, about 3 cm in diameter. The species is not the easiest to grow, prone to root and stem rot at the slightest waterlogging. A cold, dry wintering is necessary for successful flowering.
Echinocereus thornless Echinocereus subinermis - native to Central Mexico, has a cylindrical stem up to 20 cm long in a young cactus light green, darkens with time, then takes on a purple hue. Ribs from 5 to 11, areoles small, slightly bristly, central spines are often absent, but in some subspecies they are from 1 to 4. Radial spines 3-8, sometimes smaller, short 1-7 mm, gray-brown in color. The flowers are large, up to 12 cm in diameter, lemon yellow. It blooms from about four years of age, the flower lasts for a week. The species is not frost-resistant at all, in nature it can withstand for a short time not lower than minus 1-2 ° C, protection from the midday sun is required.
Echinocereus scarlet Echinocereus coccineus - has a cylindrical dark green stem about 5-6 cm in diameter, bush in the lower part of the stem. Ribs 8-11, shallow, poorly expressed. Radial spines from 5 to 20, they are yellowish-gray, about 6 cm long; central spines 1-4, they are slightly longer than the radial ones up to 7 cm. Although there are varieties with a different number of spines, for example, Echinocereus coccineus subsp. rosei - has 12-14 ribs, the central spine is only one, straight, somewhat longer and darker than the radial ones, of which there are about 10, they are slightly curved, gray-brown in color.
Flowers in Echinocereus coccineus range from orange-yellow (AG11) * to deep pink, lilac (subsp.rosei SB (Steve Brack) 0236) *, 8 cm long, about 3 cm wide. The plant is dioecious - has male and female flowers. This species is sensitive to overflow, but more hygrophilous than desert cacti. It is frost-resistant, under natural conditions it tolerates short-term frosts down to -20 ° С. This type of Echinocereus can be used as a rootstock for other types of cacti.
* a lot of cacti, the seeds of which end up on the flower (cactus) market from collectors - people who study cacti in their historical homeland (for example, somewhere in the New Mexico desert), give a thorough description of their appearance, the exact place of growth, and collect seeds for further distribution. Each collector assigns field numbers to the described cactus: the alphabetic part (acronym) is an encryption of the name (for example, AG - Alan Gilmore, or several names) and a digital code under which the seeds appear in the future. The species Echinocereus coccineus is popular with collectors and collectors of cacti; many plants have been found that differ in flower color and other characteristics. For example, E. coccineus Steve Brack alone described more than 40 specimens.
Echinocereus three-spined Echinocereus triglochidiatus - stems are initially spherical, then cylindrical. The species is very variable, the subspecies are very different in appearance. Ribs from 5 to 12, spines: radial, usually up to 10. color from yellowish to almost black, central up to 4. In some varieties the spines are small - about 1.5 cm, in others - huge 8-9 cm radial and up to 12 cm central. What they have in common: unlike other echinocereus, flowers last not a day, but two or three days.
Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. mojavensis comes from the Mojave Desert - erect stems, 10 ribs, flat, curved thorns, up to 5 cm long.The body of an adult cactus is practically invisible - it is completely covered with thorns, 1 central thorn is almost indistinguishable from the radial ones, it is slightly longer than the others, only 6- 8, in white fluffy areoles. Over time, forms dense clumps of clusters of 50-100 cacti. The flowers are orange-red, solitary, about 8 cm in diameter. This cactus is easy to care for, needs a cool winter, and is frost-resistant.
Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. mojavensis f. inermis - originally from the territory of Manzano (Mexico) - the spherical body begins to branch at a young age, gradually growing into a colony. Ribs 7-9, rounded, with small papillae, areoles are white, fluffy, practically devoid of thorns, if there are thorns, then short 2-5 pieces, 1-5 mm long, the peculiarity of this variation is that the buds do not appear from the areola, and just above it, and after flowering, deep scars remain on the skin. The variety is very unpretentious, extremely frost-resistant (down to -25 ° C) and quite hygrophilous in summer.
Echinocereus Reichenbach Echinocereus reichenbachii- a cactus of quite diverse habitats - its homeland stretches from the southwestern United States (Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas) to northeastern Mexico (Coahuila, Tamaulipas), and it grows in the Chihuahua desert and on the plains of Texas, and on rocky foothills at an altitude of 1500 m above sea level. The stem is cylindrical, single at the beginning, tends to branch with age, 8-25 cm long and 2.5-9 cm wide, ribs 10-19, they are straight or slightly curved, 20-36 radial spines, arranged in a comb-like spider, on two sides of the areola, while they are slightly bent, pressed against the body of the cactus. The central ones are usually absent, in some variations there are 4-7 of them (Echinocereus reichenbachii ssp.armatus). Flowers are bright pink with a purple tint, up to 10 cm in diameter. The buds are covered with hairs, bristles and spines.There is no clear division among the species or intraspecific taxa of Echinocereus reichenbachii.
Echinocereus reichenbachii subsp. armatus - has 15-20 ribs, 2-4 long straight central spines, up to 3 cm long, they are light brown below, dark brown at the ends. Radial spines are white short, up to 23 spines are arranged in comb-like spiders. Areoles are white, fluffy.
Echinocereus reichenbachii subsp. baileyi is a subspecies, previously isolated as an independent species. It has at least 16 radial spines of white or brownish color, they are straight, up to 3 cm long and thin, sticking out in all directions, there are no central spines. Areoles are white, bristly. Flowers up to 12 cm in diameter.
Echinocereus reichenbachii subsp. albispinus is a popular cactus variety, a transitional variation between Echinocereus reichenbachii var. baileyi and var. caespitosus. "Spiders" of radial spines are white, central spines are absent. The flowers are pink, about 7 cm in diameter. Sometimes cacti of this subspecies, especially at a young age, resemble cacti of the species Echinocereus rigidissimus, but a significant difference is immediately noticeable - in E. reichenbachii ssp. albispinus areoles are always white, and in E. rigidissimus, even cactus with white spines have golden halos.
Echinocereus reichembachii var. albertii - a small cactus only 5-15 cm in height, 10-13 ribs, no central spines, or barely visible 1-3 pieces no more than 3 mm long, radial spines up to 20, they are short, no more than 3-6 mm long, arranged comb-like "spiders". Areoles are white fluffy, located very closely - almost touching each other. The flowers are lilac, dark purple inside, up to 7 cm in diameter.
Temperature: In summer, normal room temperature, it is advisable to take out the cacti to fresh air, in a place protected from wind and rain. If it is not possible to put cacti on the balcony or in the garden, you need to ventilate the room as often as possible, it is advisable to open the window at night to ensure maximum access to fresh air and daily temperature drops.
In winter, Echinocereus should have a dormant period at a temperature of 8-10 ° C, not higher than 12 ° C, at least + 5 ° C, when kept dry. Despite the fact that among Echinocereus there are very frost-resistant species that in nature can withstand severe winters up to -20-25 ° C, potted plants should not be exposed to subzero temperatures. Ideally, the dormant period should continue until flowering, which usually occurs in February - March, this coincides with an increase in sunny days.
Lighting: Bright lighting both in winter and in summer, most echinocereus grow well only in full sun, on the southern window. The only exception is echinocereus with rare and few spines (for example, Echinocereus subinermis) - such cacti gradually accustom to the sun, especially after winter, and in summer they partially shade in the hottest hours of the day with a mosquito net.
Watering: Moderate in spring and summer, decreases in autumn, and in winter, when kept cold, plants should do without watering. Rainwater, filtered or boiled water is preferable. During the dormant period, slight wrinkling of the cactus stem is allowed. When buds appear and the temperature rises to + 14-15 ° C, cacti can not be watered, but sprayed with boiled water with dusty spray from a spray bottle, preventing the formation of drops on the cactus stem.
Fertilizer: From April to August, adult cacti are fed with a special cactus fertilizer. You can also use fertilizer for orchids (in the recommended dose), it is highly undesirable to use nitrogen fertilizers for ordinary indoor plants - in this case, it is advisable to transplant the cactus into a fresh substrate than to use such fertilizer.
Air humidity: Echinocereus is resistant to dry air. But regular spraying with warm water from a very fine spray bottle is useful throughout the growing season (until September). Spraying should not be drip, but in the form of a fog. Under natural conditions, in places where Echinocereus grow, abundant dew falls every day, but this often spoils the appearance of the plant - contact with water leads to the formation of corking, and Echinocereus is extremely susceptible to stem and root rot. Therefore, in order to preserve the decorative and healthy appearance of the plant, only mist spraying is allowed.
Transplant: The soil must be well-drained and sufficiently nutritious, so the generic peat soil that is sold in the store is not suitable. You can make a soil mixture from the following components: 1 part of sod land (sifted from sod, or from molehills), 1 part of coarse river sand, 1 part of brick chips, 1 part of fine gravel (2-3 mm). Plus a few pieces of birch charcoal. Young plants are transplanted annually, old (more than 5 years) in two years.
Reproduction: Seeds and cuttings. It should be remembered that to reproduce the exact clone, only vegetative propagation can be used, since most Echinocereus bush well, forming lateral shoots in the lower part of the trunk.
Echinocereus are mostly frost-resistant cacti, for which the sensation of daily and seasonal temperature fluctuations is natural; it is advisable to stratify the seeds before sowing - to stand for about 1 month at a temperature of about + 4-5 ° C (in the refrigerator). Seeds are sown at the end of summer - in August, in a mixture of leafy soil and river sand in equal parts. Crops must be covered with glass or foil, placed in a warm and bright place, regularly sprayed and ventilated. Baby cacti will spend the whole winter in a greenhouse, if necessary, with additional lighting.