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Friday, September 30, 2011

Coryphanta cornifera

Coryphanta is somewhat under-appreciated genus of mostly Mexican plants. It has been in cultivation for over 100 years, and Coryphanta cornifera is one of the old classics.
The genus Coryphanta has plants that will find place in any common 'eclectic' collection, and also is a good choice of specialization. Plants vary in shapes and spinaton, and lots of forms of otherwise well-known plants are discovered recently. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mammillaria melanocentra

Mammillaria melanocentra is a 'classical' Mammillaria, a distinct plant that has been around. It is a larger plant with slightly blueish step and large for the genus flowers, that on mature plants come in proper rings. Each areole has a prominent black central spine, hence the name.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Trichocereus hybrid 'red'

This unnamed Trichocereus hybrid I bought some tome ago from the garden store, with grafting in mind. Something got on the way and that grafting project got postponed for a while, and in the meantime the plant bloomed. After seen the flowers it was spared from becoming a grafting stock, and 'lives happily ever since'. It usually produces one or two flashes of that beautiful red flowers per season, and I use it to make seeds crossing with other Echinopsis hybrids I have.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Echinocactus grusonii

Echinocactus grusonii is a common 'golden barrel' cactus, easily available in stores. It blooms at a size of basketball or larger, and requires lots of sun. Here in Central California it can be planted outside, and grows well. It tolerates light frost, but when exposed to it the plants start developing unnatural side shoots.
Flower looks unusual for both Echinocactus and Ferocactus, with needle-like pointy petals. The blooms come from the felt that this plant develops at it's top once mature.
There is a lot of story around this species. Despite been probably the most commonly sold cactus, it's main habitat area is destroyed - sunk under the artificial lake. There are some newly discovered locations of this plant though. It is commonly accepted now that this species is actually of natural hybrid origin, with parents coming from Ferocactus and Echinocactus genera. The plant is commonly viewed as a golden ball, but really old plants in habitat are actually growing taller than 6 ft, with stem wrinkled like an elephant leg.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mammillaria petterssonii

Mammillaria petterssonii - another beautiful Mammillaria. This attractive form with yellow spines is common in garden stores. It is a large growing plant, slowly forming a clump of boll-shaped heads. Larger plants, like the one in the picture, will show hundreds of open blooms per time.
Here in Central CA Mammillaria petterssonii can be grown without cover year-round, but will develop somewhat slower.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mammillaria teresae

Mammillaria teresae is a small plant with large underground taproot. This plant is popular but not too easy to get - mainly due to the fact that each fruit contains just a few seeds and it stays embedded into plant body when ripe. Extracting seeds is a meticulous and slow procedure.
The plant is generally easy in culture but not for the beginners - mainly because it can not grow in "Cactus soil" available from the stores and needs a stable culture, something that takes time for everyone to establish.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Nyctocereus serpentus

Nyctocereus (Peniocereus) serpentus is probably the oldest cactus been in cultivation for nothing but it's flowers. It is known to be grown in before-Columbus time, and has no recognized use value. The plant without blooms is easy to call ugly - the stem is nothing but a spiny stick, usually somewhat deformed and scarred. The large fragrant flowers get cactus aficionado stunned.
It is interesting to watch the flowers of Peniocereus serpentus open. The process starts once it is completely dark, at around 10-11pm here in Bay Area, and it takes about half an hour for the flower to go from slightly inflated blob to the full open marvel.
In the morning flowers wither quickly on a sunny day, or may me still open at 9or 10am if the morning is cloudy.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Echinocereus reichenbachii

Here is one of multiple forms of Echinocereus reichenbachii. It is modest plant with white spines and interesting light-pink flowers, unusual for the species. It is easy plant, blooming while still small at two-three years from seed.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Parodia chrysacanthion

Parodia chrysacanthion is native to Jujuy province of Argentina, a place known to cactus lovers for many fine plants growing there. This plant grows large for the genus, forming a fat disk wrapped in dense yellow spines. The name  'chrysacanthion ' refers to the golden spines color here. There is also a nice white-spined form of that species in cultivation.
This plant is one of the more 'difficult' Parodias and easy can loose it's roots in the soil that is too dense and if watered at the wrong time. Apart from that it is more or less easy plat, growing with moderate rate and blooming readily. In my greenhouse it appreciates light shading.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Matucana haynei

Flowers of Matucana haynei have the characteristic asymmetrical shape seen in majority of Matucanas. Like most of asymmetrical cacust flowers they are adopted to be pollinated by hummingbirds. It would be nice to capture a Californian hummingbird on Maticana flower, but so far I was not that quick with my camera. But from the look of it - they are sure made for each other, Matucana flowers and hummingbir beak s that is.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cylindropuntia tunicata

Cylindropuntia tunicata is Texan species that is suitable for open ground culture here in Bay Area. This is moderately frost-hardy plant that tolerates wet winters well.
The plant in my picture grows at Stanford Arizona Garden. It forms nice dense low bushes there, with tight pure-white spines. 
Spines of 'true' Cylindropuntias bear thin paper-like sheath, easily detachable. That gives this species the 'tunicata' name. The plant is easy and vigorous in culture but needs extreme care when handled, due to int spines, not only long and sharp but also barbed, with harpoon-like back-pointing micro-teeth.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mammillaria insularis

Mammillaria insularis is another species from a large group of what I call 'western Mammillarias' - plants with generally large flowers and characteristic stigma with prolonged lobes. The species is native to Central Baja California, across the California bay from better known Mammillaria boolii. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Rebutia teresae

Rebutia teresae is a close relative of Rebutia heliosa, but a much easier plant to grow. It is both grows quicker and less pron to fungus rot. 
This nice group of about 10 seedlings is two ears old from seed and already flowering. 
The substance in the pots is my growing media. It is made of ceramic chips that are sold as soil conditioner for sport fields and called Turface (R). It serves as a perfect grow media for almost any cactus. All the nutrition my plants are getting with their water, as a weak solution of a regular low-nitrogen fertilizer with a full set of trace elements. This kind of culture with solid media for roots or without it is technically speaking called hydroponics, even if a lot of time the roots of my plants are properly dry.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Thelocactus bicolor v bolaensis

Thelocactus bicolor is a species of Mexican and Texan plants, known for it's spectacular multi-colored flowers. Ssp bolaensis is native to Coauhila state. It is a tall-growing solitary plant, with long white or yellowish spines that give it a completely different appearance compare to other forms in the genus. The characteristic red center of the flower is not so well pronounced as with other T.bicolor-s.
The care is common to other Mexican cacti. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sulcorebutia canigueralii

Sulcorebutia canigueralii is one of those bi-colored Sulcos that make the genus so addictive to collectors. It is a small plant with spines tight to stem, very neat. Plant is freely clumping, and freely flowering.
The plant at the picture is about two years old from seed, making a promise of pretty specimen in just couple more years.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Copiapoa calderana 'lembckei'

Copiapoa lembkei is a common name for a form of C. calderana and one of the more common in cultivation Copiapoas. It is relatively slow growing plant, reliably blooming once large enough. In my greenhouse it blooms repeatedly all the summer. This species forms a felty crown, with new spines and buds emerging from it.
This is a generally easy plant, requiring strong lite for more robust appearance. It responds well to common cactus culture. 'Calderana' name refers to a mining town Caldera of Chile.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Rebutia albopectinata

Rebutia albopectinata is a Bolivian plant. The plant I have has developed over time a tight clump of probably couple hundred heads.  It has a neat appearance with tight net of spines.
The nice red flowers are easily produced, as with all the Rebutias. This picture shows the very beginning of blooming.  All the small black buds that are hiding around plant's heads will develop quickly, and in several days the whole plant will be hidden under a dense blanket of red flowers.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Echinopsis hybrid

Here is another unnamed Echinopsis hybrid blooming. This is a relatively small-stemmed plant with flowers only about 3 inches across, but several times a season the it gives this show of flowers, completely obscuring it's stem. Flower stay open for two days.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mammillaria carretii

Mammillaria carretii is not particularly common in cultivation, despite been known to collectors for over 100 years. It is an interesting plant with larger that average Mammillaria flowers and long hooked centrals, readily clumping. Native to Nuevo Leon state of Mexico plant grows well in pure mineral substrate. With watering it better be kept on a dry side - to me that means good draining every 10 days or two weeks, letting pot to dry completely before watering.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Copiapoa echinoides 'dura'

Copiapoa dura is one of the easier to grow Copiapoas. It is Chilean plant, Atacama desert native. When grown with exposure to the full California sun it develops it's thick barbed-wire spines and dark-brown stem color. It also is a ready blooming plant, once reached the size of about 3 inches. Younger plants have tuberculate stems, and later with age they develop ribs, completely changing the appearance.
Copiapoas are generally easy to grow plants, but slow. Starting them from seed will take some patience.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Matucana haynei 'hystrix'

Matucana hystrix is a form of variable M.haynei species. It is a large Matucana, growing as a ball utill it reaches about 6 inches in diameter, after that slowly becomes cylindrical. It is densely covered with whitish spines, similar to other forms of M. haynei. It pushes out it's bright red flowers in bursts, several per time. always crowning the plant with another bouquet. 
Matucanas are generally easy and free flowering plants, responding well to common culture. It takes about 4-5 years to grow a flowering plant from seed. Generally considered small plants, under good growing conditions they reach significant size in not too long time. Matucanas are native to high elevations of Peruvian mountains and one should expect them to have limited heat tolerance. I have not seen any problems of that kind myself, beyond expected growth slow down during hot spells.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Mammillaria beneckei

Mammillaria beneckei is only of Mammillaria tat has the 'true yellow (c)' flowers, and one of only two cacti like that I now of - the other been Matucana aurieflora. Flowers are about 3.5 inches across and large for Mammillaria. But the most unusual feature of this plant is it's seeds. They are by fare the largest in the genus. On that base solely the plant was at some point segregated to a mono-specific genus Oehmea. 
I had trouble growing this plant when still used the soil-based cactus substrate, but after switching to pure mineral base this plant become more like a greenhouse weed. It pops a lot, and hooked offsets catch my cloths, to be then dispensed to some nearby pot like a cuckoo egg, often with adventurous roots ready.
This plant is not at all common in culture, something that puzzles me. It s spread over large territory of Western Mexico, not rare there. It also fast growing and very easily offsetting. And the plant was first presented to collectors some 150 years ago.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Eriosyce subgibbosa nigrihorrida

This is a first flowering of Eriosyce subgibbosa nigrihorrida JA126 that I grow from habitat seed collected by Juan Acosta, a cactus lover and a reliable supplier of quality seeds from Chile. This is a small-blooming Eriosyce, and the early flowers are even smaller - about 3/8 inch across only.
Plants grown from wild seed often show a  range of features. In this batch I have seedlings with light brown, grayish and almost black spines, some more ore less straight and some noticeably curved.
When grown in pure mineral porous substrate Eriosyce subgibbosa is a generally easy plant, hardy and ready  to flower. Larger plants exposed to full sun develop dense and robust spines, and look very hansom.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Echinocereus russanthus

Echinocereus russanthus is a smaller Echinocereus from Big Bend region of Texas and Chihuahua state across Rio Grande. White and red spines give the plant a pretty bright appearance. This plant has orange-greenish small flowers, red flowering plants are also common.
This plant is easy to grow, as most of Echinocerei, and blooms readily at late spring.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ferocactus latispinus

Here is a young plant of Ferocactus latispinus trying to push it's first blooms. This is an easy in culture plant, that is common in garden centers. Growing from seed is also easy, and plants are quick for cacti. It is also one of the Ferocacti that bloom relatively small. The plant in picture is only about 5 inches across without spines.
Ferocacti except from several species that are common in garden stores are not that common in amateur collections. The main reason for that is of cause the plant size. Many species will not flower until reached 8 inches across or more. Among exceptions are Ferocactus fordii, the smallest blooming Fero, Ferocactus latispinus and Ferocactus glaucescence.
But the main attraction of any Ferocactus is their ferocious spines, that are among the most striking in the genus. Ferocactus latispinus develops wide dagger-blades with down-pointing hooked tip, giving the plant quite unusual appearance.
Note the growth grooves on spines - the regular marks across their surface. I believe these marks correspond to the daily development of the spine.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Mammillaria heidiae

Mammillaria heidiae is native to Pueblo state. The plants in the picture are about 2 years old from seed. The plants look similar to another Mammillaria from same genera area- M.zepherantoides, but ready to bloom much smaller, and flowers are green-yellow.
This is an interesting plant, and if grown properly stays flat with the ground. Greenish flowers do not open wide, usually staying bell-shaped. 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Rebutia minuscula

This tight mess of flowers completely hides the modest stem of Rebutiao minuscula. All of the 'true' Rebutias are easy in culture and common among amateur collectors plants. Here in California they prefer partial shade away from greenhouse heat in the middle of the summer, and bright sunny position other time. Plants reach flowering size in about a year from seed, and reliably bloom at two years age. Flowering of Rebutia minuscula is usually only once per season in mid to late spring, other species may have repeating blooms over the season, or even over the whole year.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Opuntia fruit

Many North American Opuntias are fruit-bearing plants. Apart from not to be underestimated inconvenience of glochids, they are eatable and sweet, with pulp full of large seed. Back in time, for the native people of the deserts the cactus fruit harvest season was a blessed time of easy and abundant food.
Now days in cactus collection they still keep the great decorative value. Once ripe, berries stay bright and fresh for couple more months. Squirrels in my back yard quickly learned to leave them along.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Eriocactus (Parodia) leninghausii

Eriocactus leninghausii is a common in cultivation plant, South America native. It is easy to grow, and reaches flowering size of about 4-5 inches tall in several years from seed. Plants are often sold in garden centers.
Flower size depends on the size of the plant, and on mature plants they are at least twice larger. Nice silky texture of the flower 'petals' (strictly speaking not the proper term for cacti) makes the blooms very special.
Several plants I have blooming repeatedly over all summer, and sometimes also off  season. Common cactus culture suits them well,

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Echinocereus coccineus flower

Here are flowers of Echinocereus coccinneus species. They are smaller then hybrid blooms, and the color is pure  crimson red, with throat that lacks pigment, and sometimes green. This is gioious-male plant with lots of pollen produced.
Nice thing about E. coccinneus, usually inherited by it's hybrids, is a long flowering duration. Flowers do not close for night and blooms stay open for about a week.

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