Cactus or Cacti Plants, How To Grow And Care For Yours
Succulent plants plants that are adapted to arid climates, poor soil, and retain their water supply. They can store water in their leaves, roots and stems. The storage of water often gives succulent plants a more swollen or fleshy appearance than other plants, a characteristic known as succulence.
All cacti are succulent plants. Not all succulent plants are a cactus. Native to the Americas, the cacti are members of the Cactaceae family.
Cacti thrive in diverse regions, from coastal plains to high mountain areas, and from the sub-tropics to the deserts. Having a few cactus plants in your yard or garden is not impossible, but they will require a little more attention in some wet areas.
With over 2500 species, in a variety of sizes and shapes, producing fruit and colorful blooms, you are certain to find one or two that are worthy of your admiration.
The following tips and suggestions apply to those of a desert variety.
Getting The Cactus
Most home improvement or gardening supply centers will have a small selection of small plants. If you are unable to find something suitable nearby, you can purchase seed, or a cutting from another plant.
More on taking a cutting can be found here:
One source on cacti seed online:
Getting The Soil Ready
Desert cacti prefer a nutrient rich, rocky soil with good drainage. These are pear-lite, pumice, potting soil, rocks, sand, peat, and gravel. Your mixture should consist of 60% pumice, 20% peat 20% topsoil. The pumice can be replaced with pear-lite or vermiculite and the peat, replaced with coir. Coir is the fiber or hair from coconut. Peat tends to be rather hard to re-wet and can make your mix impenetrable to water.
Some people use earthworm castings for extra nutrients. Bone-meal is acceptable , so are other light commercial fertilizers.
Cacti will deplete the soil, and often need to be re-potted after 2-3 years. This need makes them well suited to container gardens.
Water And Sun
A good rule of thumb is to water it once a week. In extremely dry conditions, it may need water twice in a week, or only every other week, if there is rainfall.
Stick your finger in the top 1/2 inch of soil. If the soil is dry, go ahead and water. If it's not, wait! . If the stem segments are shriveled and the soil is dry, it is probably in need of water. Over watering can cause the same symptoms. Touch the soil to be sure.
A drowning cacti plant will start to turn yellowish, and become mushy, and rot. This usually happens from the ends first. This rotting will continue even if you stop watering .
( Overwatering the cacti with the garden hose can get a little girl in trouble with her Grandmother.)
Desert Cacti require lots of sunshine.
They are hearty plants requiring little care.
Their blooms will be worth the attention you gave to get them off to a good start.
The Saguaro Cactus is the official state flower of Arizona. It is also protect by state law as a native plant. It is listed as Carnegiea Gigantea, under the Cactaceae Cactus Family. Arizona rates it as highly safeguarded.
This should spark your interest.
Cacti In Medicine
Ranchers have turned to cactus to sustain their livestock during droughts.
Studies have shown that the eating ofthe prickly pear pad has been helpful in combating diabetes, aiding in the production of insulin.
It has been found to lower cholesterol levels.
Traditional Mexican healers use the juice of the prickly pear to treat urinary tract infections and relieve inflammation.
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