Echinocactus (Echinocactus) is a spherical cactus of the Cactaceae family. The homeland of echinocactus is the subtropical deserts of Mexico and the United States. This long-lived succulent is also called hedgehog cactus, translated from Greek echinos - hedgehog.
The height of these cacti can reach 3 m, and in girth - 1.5 meters. Some echinocactus weigh more than 1 ton, their age can exceed 500 years.
Echinocactus are unpretentious, therefore they are widespread in indoor culture. Caring for them is not particularly difficult, but it is worth noting that the flowering of an indoor hedgehog cactus is a rather rare phenomenon. Under natural conditions, only adult echinocactus bloom when they reach a diameter of 40-50 cm. Pink, yellow or red flowers bloom at the top of the plant.
Hedgehog cactus - popular varieties:
Echinocactus grusonii (Echinocactus grusonii), in Mexico it is called the Golden Ball or Golden Keg, apparently because of its amber-yellow spines and yellow pubescence on the crown. In culture, it reaches quite impressive dimensions: up to 135 cm in height and 70-90 cm in width. Adult plants bloom with large yellow flowers 6-7 cm long.
Echinocactus horizontal (Echinocactus horizonthalonius) is a small cactus 20-25 cm high. Its peculiarity is that young cacti have red spines, while older ones have amber yellow. It blooms with red flowers of different shades.
Echinocactus huge (Echinocactus ingens) or wide-spiked Echinocactus (Echinocactus platyacanthus). The name of the cactus corresponds to its size - adult plants reach 150 cm in height and 125 cm in diameter. The cactus is dotted with many brown spines, up to 3 cm in length. Blooms with yellow funnel-shaped flowers.
Lighting. Echinocactus is a very light-loving plant, therefore, it belongs to the south window. In March, the pot with the plant should be slightly shaded until the cactus comes out of hibernation. The hedgehog cactus does well in a well-ventilated area.
Temperature. A heat-loving cactus does not tolerate a drop in temperature below 8 ° C. In summer, it can be taken out onto an unglazed balcony (daily temperature drops are useful to him), in winter, put in a room with a temperature of 10-12 ° C.
Air humidity. It tolerates dry air well. In the summer, you can spray it once a month, taking care not to get water on the flowers.
Watering. From April to September, echinocactus is watered moderately, when the layer of earth dries out by a third. From severe overdrying, the cactus can shrink, and from overflow, its stem can rot.
Watering is reduced in autumn, and almost never watered in winter.
Top dressing. From April to September, once every 3 weeks, it is recommended to feed the echinocactus with fertilizers for cacti.
Transfer. Young cacti are usually transplanted in the spring every 2 years, older plants - every 3-4 years. A plant extracted with a lump of earth is not recommended to be placed immediately in a new pot, but to leave for 2-3 days so that the damaged roots dry out. At the bottom of the new pot, it is imperative to pour drainage from expanded clay or broken brick with a layer of 3-4 cm.
As a substrate, you can use store-bought, slightly acidic (pH 5.5) soil for cacti or prepare it yourself. To do this, mix in equal proportions low-fat soil, coarse sand and expanded clay. The mixture must be steamed to kill germs and pests.
Trimming and shaping. Not required.
Bloom. The hedgehog cactus blooms in summer, with white tubular flowers. With a certain luck, a plant can release 5-6 flowers at a time up to 8-10 cm in diameter.
As already mentioned, echinocactus rarely blooms indoors. However, this event can occur if the cactus overwinters in a cool, dry and bright room.
Important: The cactus will not bloom if it is around the axis and rearranged from place to place.
Reproduction. Propagated by both seeds and children (lateral offspring). In spring, babies are carefully separated from the mother plant and transplanted into cactus soil with the addition of coarse sand. Seeds are sown in early spring.
Diseases and pests. With excessive dryness, it can be affected by spider mites and mealybugs, especially at a young age. When overflowing, the roots and stem of the plant rot.
Plants in winter. Echinocactus rest in winter. It is advisable to place the plant in a dry, cool room (10-12 ° C) and not water until spring. If the cactus hibernates at a higher temperature, it is watered about 1 time per month.
Interesting facts Echinocactus can live up to 500 years. In Mexico, candied fruits are prepared from the pulp of some species.
PHOTO OF ECHINOCACTUS