Cultivation Of Cacti

The growth and cultivation of cacti are heavily impacted by propagation methods, growing conditions, and specific needs according to their species.

Meticulous thought and preparation have been put into cacti cultivation for decades. These sensational plants have evolved to thrive in some of the most hostile environments on Earth.

In order to maintain their growth, development, and longevity, cacti must be properly cultivated. Factors such as propagation, environmental variables, watering, and more are all vital to cacti health.

In this article, we will explore the effective cultivation of cacti, everything from the start of growing cacti to the modern and most successful methods of cacti development.

Cultivation

There were many books written in dedication to the cultivation of cacti because of their popularity among plant collectors and enthusiasts.

The distribution of cactus worldwide is extensive. Cacti are native to the Americas and can be found in a series of environments, including deserts, woodlands, and grasslands, from Patagonia to Canada.

Additionally, they are extensively grown in many countries with various climates, such as South Africa, Australia, and parts of Asia and Europe.

The morphology of cactus is incredibly diverse, with over 2,000 species recognized worldwide. Understanding the types of cactus: taxonomy and classification can aid in their cultivation and conservation.

It is nearly impossible to replicate the natural conditions in which a particular species of cacti grow. For instance, semidesert cacti and epiphytic cacti need different cultivation conditions and should be grown separately under their own specific requirements.

As we progress from this section, we’ll look into the cultivation of semidesert cacti under the protection of certain containers, such as in a greenhouse or indoors. This is a polarizing difference from where cacti are usually found, which is in the outdoors in climates that they thrive in best.

Growing Medium

A growing medium carries the vital purpose of supporting the plant by maintaining its water content, turbidity and turgidity, alongside keeping a steady flow of oxygen and minerals to nourish it.

Cactus Growing Medium

For the conservation of cactus, it is crucial to understand their adaptations for water conservation when cultivating them- a growing medium that is open and allows high air content is important.

When grown inside containers, many experts have come forward with recommendations on how to do this for the best results.

However, the ideal cultivation mixture has been debated among experts for over a decade. As Miles Anderson stated in 1999, ‘Ten growers would give 20 different answers’ to the question of describing the best-growing medium.

Roger Brown (2001)

In 2001, Brown stated in his study that a mixture of two parts of commercial soilless growing medium, one-part coarse perlite or pumice, one-part hydroponic clay, and some soil from earthworm castings, is best for cacti cultivation.

According to other sources, the ideal cultivation mixture should consist of between 25 and 75 percent organic material and the remaining 25 to 50 percent inorganic material like pumice, perlite, or grit.

Hans Hecht, 1994

However, other sources reject the use of organic material altogether. Hecht recommends coarse sand as the basis of a growing medium and says that cacti (other than epiphytes) ‘Want soil that is low in or free of humus.’

Like Hecht, other experts recommend using coarse sand as a cactus growing medium. Taking the unique adaptations for water conservation of cactus into consideration, cacti can grow in low nutrient conditions and are able to take up most of their nutrients from the soil using their roots.

These qualities are the very reason why the uses of cactus in early history were varied and included food, medicine, and even construction materials. Therefore, using a growing medium that is too rich in organic matter, such as humus, can actually be detrimental to the plant’s health.

Watering

It is difficult to provide any specific guidelines on this as the watering frequency depends on a number of factors, such as the growing medium, location of growth, and the natural conditions and environment of the cactus.

Watering

Roger Brown noted that the most common reason for cactus death is watering the plant at the wrong time. This fact stands even in the dormant winter season, as cacti still need to be watered.

Other sources, however, recommend withholding watering during winter (November to March in the Northern Hemisphere). The mineral content of water is also a concern. If hard water is unavoidable, experts suggest frequent re-plotting to prevent salt and excess mineral build-up.

During the growing season, it is generally advised to wait a while between thorough watering to let the soil dry out. Experts also recommend using a water meter to measure soil moisture levels and plan out an effective watering routine.

Light and Temperature

Depending on the species, cacti have a broad range of light requirements, but in general, they need bright light to thrive. To avoid being damaged by excessive heat and light, cacti may still require shade in greenhouses during the summer.

Light and Temperature

In general, temperatures above 32 °C (90 °F) are not advised for cacti. With the exception of cold-sensitive genera like the Discocactus and Melocactus, the lowest temperature needed for winter survival varies depending on the species.

However, a temperature between 5 °C (41 °F) and 10 °C (50 °F) is typically advised for a mixed collection. Some high-altitude cacti are completely frost-hardy when kept dry, and some may even flower better after being exposed to cold for a period of time.

Rebutia Minuscula, which can withstand temperatures as low as 9 °C (16 °F) in cultivation, is an example of this.

Propagation

Cacti can be propagated using three methods: cuttings, grafting, or sowing seeds.

Seeds that are sown in the first months of the year produce seedlings with a longer growing period. Cacti seeds should be sown in a watered growing medium and kept covered until 7-10 days after germination to prevent drying out.

These are other factors that play into propogation —

Maintaining Optimal Temperatures

A temperature range of 18-30°C (64-86°F) is recommended for germination, with soil temperatures of around 22°C (72°F) promoting the best root growth. While low light levels are enough for germination, semidesert cacti require higher light levels to promote strong growth.

Handling Cuttings

However, acclimatization is necessary for greenhouse conditions such as strong sunlight and high temperatures.

Handling Cuttings

For cuttings, some cacti produce joints or pads that can be cut off, while others produce branches that can be removed. Also, stem cuttings can be taken from newly growing cacti.

When handling cuttings, it is recommended to let any cut surfaces dry for several days to weeks until a callus form over the cut surface. Then, it can be rooted in an appropriate growing medium at around 22°C (72°F).

Grafting

Thisis used for species that are difficult to grow well in cultivation, or that cannot grow independently.

The stock or host plant is a plant that grows in cultivation and is compatible with the plant to be propagated. And the scion is the plant that is to be propagated.

Grafting

In grafting, the host plant is chosen by growers, and cuts are made on both the stock and the scion and joined together, tightly securing them as they fuse together.

Using this grafting process, cacti have been propagated in large numbers commercially in many countries. For instance, over 31 million plants were propagated this way in Korea in 2002.

All in all, understanding the propagation methods and reproductive ecology of cactus is important for their successful development. In addition, understanding the phylogeny and evolution of cactus can give further insight into the adaptations of these unique plants.

Conclusion

In order to carry out proper cacti cultivation, it is necessary to possess a thorough knowledge of the various species, their specific requirements, and their unique propagation methods.

For effective flowering and growth, attentive care to environmental variables such as temperature and light is vital.

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