Cacti are a collector's delight.They are now being increasingly used by landscpe designers because of their dramatic forms and abstract shapes enhanced by ribbed bodies and specatacular colours...
The greatest advantage of cultivating cactus plants is that they can be taken out of their pots, wrapped in paper and plastic, and carried to any place and replanted even after a month or 2 months.
Some facts about Cactus plants
Cactis plants are tough, adaptable and with an estimated 1600 + species in the world varying greatly in size, shape and appearance. Cacti have come a long way from their original habitat stretching along the Western range of North and South America.Cacti and Succulents are hardy palnts that has a highly specialised system which enables them to endure prolonged drought conditions.
Cacti generally have thick stems and in most species leaves are either absent or reduced minimising the surface area susceptible to water loss.The root system is generally fibrous and shallow, helping them absorb moisture efficiently from the soil. All Cacti are Succulents but, all Succulents are not Cacti. Cacti are distinguished from other succulents by their aeroles or buds on their bodies.
Cacti thorns are modified leaves providing a defense against predators but their main function is to condense moisture, so that it drips on to the ground above the roots of the plant. Although Cacti are hardy they do require looking after. The soil should be right - porous enabling the water to flow through immediately after the plant has been watered. A combination of soil and sand is best suited for growing cacti.
They need very little water. While most plants die due to lack of water, the Cactus plant can die because of excess water. They require water twice a week during Summer and once a week or even once a fortnight during winter and probably once a month during rainy season.They need to be protected from rain but need light and sunshine. One hardly ever comes across Cacti plants being attacked by pests.Among Cacti, the most dreaded disease though is the one which attacks the roots of the plant causing them to decay and the plant to die...
Most cacti and succulents have shallow roots and they respond well to being grown in containers. Containers that enhance the shape and form of the plants - a wide, shallow are best suited for displaying low-growing and creeping species of cacti, whereas those with stronger form, such as Agave attenuata require large pots or urns..
Organic manures added once a year takes care of most of the plants needs. The flowering variety of Cacti need more nutrition and need to be manured at least twice a year.Cacti flowers are remarkable when they begin to evolve. The blooms are brightly coloured and very attractive.
It is very easy to graft and make new plants with cuttings.
Some of the common variety of cacti are Cereus Peruvinus, Monstrosa cacyus so named because of its monstrous unnatural form. Melocactus Cephalium with a crown from which flowers appear . the Echinopsis Cactus which flowers profusely and is very easy to grow - ideal for someone who has just started growing cacti, Astrophytum Ornaturin is another easy to grow cactus that flowers freely and is very hardy.
Apart from being cultivated as ornamental plants in their original habitats Cacti have other benefits as well. Some species such as prickly pears are cultivated as food and some are used as living fences ..