Friday, 28 November 2014

Cacti - spiny curiosities

When in my early teens I had a small collection of cacti and for me they have always had a fascination, not least because of their flamboyant flowers. My theory is that cacti tend to grow in hostile environments where pollinating insects such as bees are uncommon, and to attract the chance visitor the flowers must be unmissable.

I already have a handful of specimens. Unless cacti are purchased from a specialist they tend to be unnamed and I haven't yet got around to positively identifying mine (and unless they flower it may be impossible).

This bowl sat precariously on a window ledge for a decent photograph to be obtained but was then quickly returned to a safer spot. I crushed some brick and used it as a dressing and am quite pleased with the effect.

I have tentaatively identified two ofthe plants. The specimen on the left appears to be Mammillaria huitipochtli and the central one may be Myrtillocactus geometrizans. As for the columnar species on the right, it would be a challenge for Alan Turing.

This specimen will need re-potting in the spring, but being root-bound suits many species and may encourage flowering.

Any road, wishing to increase my stock I sent for some seeds via Amazon. The last packet was slow to arrive and I was surprised, on receiving them, to find that they had been sent from China.

The instructions were interesting:

                 Latin name: Cactaceae


                 Succulents. the lower portion of the stem nearly woodiness, obovate
                 or ellipse with intensive thron. Dry resistance and dislike waterlogging,
                 likes enough sunshine with relaxed for soil.

I smiled of course, but have to admit that my Chinese - Mandarin or otherwise - isn't too hot. The seeds can't be sown yet, that will have to wait until the New Year. Apparently they germinate quite easily so I'm looking forward to having a go.

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