Friday, May 25, 2012

Cactus on your Windowsill

By Chirag Sharma

Easy to grow, interestingly ornamental and perhaps the best mode of introducing plant study to children – Cacti grow in curious forms, with colorful flowers…

Dramatic forms emerge from thorny, spike-like projections – undemanding, where feeding and watering them is no chore, and climate variations pose no problems. Cacti seem to be a popular choice of house-grown plants, and are often called ‘Special Interest Plants’.

Morphology: They usually consist of spiny stems and roots; their leaves greatly reduced or entirely absent; stems usually swollen and fleshy, adapted to water storage, and many are shaped in ways that cause rain to flow directly to the root system for absorption. Cacti flowers are often large and showy, occurring singly rather than in clusters. The small, slow-growing species are the most popular because of their variety in shapes, colors, and spines. One of the best known is a group containing beautiful night-blooming flowers and the familiar Saguaro plant.

Saguaro Cactus

Nurturing the cacti is an undemanding (it can be placed anywhere in any container) yet fulfilling pastime – many a times, aesthetically so. The spines often play with natural light casting shadows on the Cactus to protect it from the sun, reducing leaf surface area, which reduces water loss, and serving as points of condensation for moisture, which then drips down for use by the roots.

Varieties: Here are a few varieties of Cacti that can enhance your rudimentary skills as a green-grower and add to the beauty of your interiors. These are characterized by low humidity, moderate watering when compost is dry, bright but not harsh sunlight, and need a monthly dose of fertilizer.
·         Rose Pincushion – Excellent for beginners, this is a free-flowering cactus even when young. Compact at first, it gradually divides to form a broad cluster. It bears rose-pink spring flowers. It is genetically known as Mammillaria zeilmanniana ‘Ubinkii’

Rose Pincushion

Rose Pincushion: Grows to a height of about 6 inches

·         Old Man of the Andes – is multi-branched when mature, forms erect, ribbed stems, and is clothed in long white hairs. It is lined with clusters of spines. It bears pink flowers in summer.

Old Man of the Andes

Old Man of the Andes: Grows to a height of about 3 feet 

  • Starfish Cactus – This Cactus is extremely tolerant of neglect. It is a succulent and forms clusters of toothed stems. It bears star-shaped summer flowers, which are ornamental with their exquisite mosaic-like pattern.
Starfish Cactus

Starfish Cactus: Grows to a height of about 4 inches

  • Queen of the Night – A plant to enjoy at night, its richly fragrant, creamy-white flowers are borne in summer and open only after dark. Its long stems need to be supported.
Queen of the Night

Queen of the Night: Grows to a height of about 10 feet and is around 3 feet in width 

Every plant yearns for a caring, loving touch and Cacti are no different.

Info & Photographs: Courtesy World Wide Web

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