Echinopsis - How to care for and grow your Echinopsis
HOW TO GROW AND CARE FOR OUR PLANTS
The Echinopsis they are delightful cacti, very popular and appreciated for their pleasant appearance and ease of cultivation.
Species: see the paragraph on "Main species"
The genre Echinopsis belongs to family of Cactaceae and includes many species native to South America found in different habitats ranging from flat desert areas to arid undergrowth.
L'Echinopsis, like all genera belonging to the family of Cactaceae, is also called fat plantfor its particularly rounded shape. It is actually more correct to call itsucculent plant, due to the fact that they have no "fat" in their tissue but lymph, juice.
The particularity of the Cactaceae and therefore also ofEchinopsisis that they are plants totally devoid of branches and the flowers grow from a "pillow" of hair (areola) directly from the stem.
They are plants with a stem globose, very often elongated, provided with ribs for all its length in which fairly consistent thorns develop, which are none other than the leaves. This transformation is an adaptation of nature to the conditions in which they live in their natural environments that allows to reduce transpiration to a minimum and therefore the loss of water stored with so much difficulty.
The spines arise along the ribs from small protuberances called areoles arranged in tufts that resemble a star.
THE flowers they appear in summer, in correspondence of the areoles not before the plant has reached the third year of age, very large, showy, mostly white-pink in color, variously shaded, fragrant.
The flowers do not have a long life, in fact they last no more than two days: they bloom shortly after sunset and last one night and the whole day after and then die but are continuously renewed throughout the summer.
There are numerous species belonging to the genus Echinopsis among which we remember:
Echinopsis eyriesii; Echinopsis ancistrophora; Echinopsis bridgesii; Echinopsis leucantha; Echinopsis mamillosa; Echinopsis tubiflora; Echinopsis melanopotamica; Echinopsis mirabilis; Echinopsis obrepanda; Echinopsis huascha; Echinopsis mamillosa; Echinopsis minuana; Echinopsis multiplex; Echinopsis oxygona; Echinopsis pachanoi; Echinopsis shaferi; Echinopsis silvestrii; Echinopsis subdenudata; Echinopsis tapecuana; Echinopsis calochora, Echinopsis turbinata; Echinopsis vallegrandensis; Echinopsis tubiflora.
A widespread belief is that succulents thrive even if they are neglected. This is not true at all because like all living beings, they need attention and care. They can survive if we neglect them but certainly not live to the best of their abilities. Considering that the care they require is not that many, we dedicate a few minutes a week to these incredible plants and they will pay off with a stupendous growth.
The Echinopsis they are plants that require a lot of light, in all seasons of the year, with direct exposure to the sun. The best is a southern exposure while it is absolutely to avoid a northern exposure.
If the plant is kept on a windowsill behind double glazing, during the summer keep it in a light shade as the sun's rays in that case are too concentrated, making the glasses look like lenses.
The optimal summer temperatures for cultivation are between 15 - 24 ° C. While the autumn and winter ones must be around 10-13 ° C and also withstand temperatures around 7 ° C. In this case, however, it is important to keep the ground completely dry.
They are plants that love the air so give them fresh air especially in summer by placing them near an open window.
The watering of the Echinopsis they must be carried out when the soil is dry, avoiding leaving stagnant water in the sub-pot as water stagnation is not tolerated in any way and would quickly rot the roots.
Remember that one less watering is always better than one more.
TYPE OF SOIL - REPOT
There Echinopsis , like all plants, it needs to be repotted periodically. Very often we do not carry out this practice discouraged by the thorns so we always postpone the "difficult moment" with serious damage to our plant.
In general, all Cactaceae have a root system that expands a lot on the surface due to the fact that the roots, in their natural environment, search the surrounding soil for the little humidity and the little nourishment they can find. We think that in nature a desert cactus of just 15 cm can have roots that develop for a square meter!
A signal that the plant gives you to tell you that the pot that hosts them is too small, despite the perfect watering, fertilization and exposure, is a slowdown in growth. If you lift the plant from the pot you will see that the roots are one with the soil and some are also sticking out of the drainage hole. So it is a good idea every year, in spring, to check to see if the roots are constrained and too crowded.
Repotting is also an excellent time to check the condition of the roots: if you notice blackened or greyish roots (the roots must be creamy-white) they must be eliminated. Then take some washed and sterilized scissors (possibly at the flame) and proceed with the cut. Then sprinkle broad spectrum fungicide powder into the cut wounds and then repot. In this case, however, wait at least a week before watering to allow the wounds to heal.
For repotting, use a specific compost for Cactaceae to which you add coarse sand or perlite in the measure of 2: 1 (2 parts of compost for 1 part of sand or perlite).
Take care to place pieces of crock in the drainage hole so that the earth or roots do not obstruct the drainage hole as waterlogging is lethal for this plant.
Personally, I always recommend using clay pots and not plastic ones as they allow the earth to breathe and if the drainage hole has been arranged in such a way as to ensure a good drainage of the water, well, I would say that it is perfect. Furthermore, the vessels must be wider than deep as the root system tends to develop in width rather than in depth.
To carry out a good repotting of these thorny plants proceed as follows: water the soil well and let the water drain for a few hours: this operation makes it easier to extract the plant from the pot. So put on a nice pair of gloves or grab some newspaper leaves that you will use as a glove.
Turn the pot upside down by tapping on the bottom and gently pull the plant. If the plant is resisting, stick a pencil into the drainage hole and push it out.
Shortly before you will have already prepared the new, larger pot, in which you will have placed pieces of earthenware in the bottom in the drainage hole and some of the soil indicated previously mixed and ready to be used. Then arrange the new soil all around taking great care that the composition and therefore the height at which you place the plant, is the same as the previous one. Do not bury it more or less.
The first watering after repotting, do it by immersion of the pot. Remember that if you have pruned the roots you need to wait at least a week before watering to give the wounds time to heal.
From spring and throughout the summer, fertilize once a month with a liquid fertilizer to be diluted in irrigation water.
Starting from autumn and throughout the winter, stop fertilizing because the Echinopsis it goes into vegetative rest so you must not give fertilizers that would accumulate in the soil, creating a harmful environment for the roots of the plant.
To insure yours Echinopsis excellent growth and excellent flowering, give a fertilizer equally balanced in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (for example 30:30:30) .In addition to nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (macroelements), make sure that the fertilizer you use for yours Echinopsis always contains microelements, that is to say those compounds that the plant needs in minimal quantity (but still needs it) such as magnesium (Mg), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), boron (B), molybdenum (Mo), all important for a correct and balanced growth of the plant.
If you insure the Echinopsis the right amount of sunlight, water and fertilizer, as indicated in the respective paragraphs, you will have beautiful blooms.
The plant usually begins to flower from the beginning of summer and continues throughout the summer.
The flowers bloom from the side or almost at the apex of the stem and are very large in the shape of a trumpet or bell-shaped. They do not have a long life, in fact they last no more than two days: they bloom shortly after sunset and last one night and all day after and then die but are continuously renewed throughout the summer.
L' Echinopsis it multiplies by division of the basal shoots or by seed. In choosing the technique to be adopted, it should be borne in mind that multiplication by seed has the disadvantage that, taking over the genetic variability, it is not certain that plants will be identical to the mother plants, in which case if you want to obtain a very specific you are not sure of the quality of the seed you are using, it is good to do the multiplication by cuttings.
MULTIPLICATION FOR BASAL SPROUTS
Often these shoots are provided with roots so in this case, as soon as they are taken from the mother plant they must be repotted immediately without watering for about 2-3 weeks to avoid the onset of rot.
Basal shoots are the small seedlings that grow at the base of the mother plant. To remove them, use a very sharp and disinfected knife (possibly on a flame).
If the shoot you take is devoid of roots, then before repotting, let the cut surfaces dry for about 7 days. In both cases, use a compound as indicated in the "Repotting" paragraph. After repotting, the plant should be treated like a plant adult.
MULTIPLICATION BY SEEDS
The multiplication by seeds of the Echinopsis it is carried out in March-April by distributing the seeds as evenly as possible on a soil formed by 2 parts of soil per seed and one of vermiculite.
You can use pots that are not too tall or multiply trays leaving a space of at least 2 cm between the edge of the pot and the ground. Then immerse the pot in water until the soil is well wet. At that point, let the excess water drain and arrange the seeds on the surface of the soil evenly and possibly use a piece of wood to bury them evenly or sprinkle a little soil on top.
The tray should be covered with a transparent plastic sheet or a glass plate that will guarantee a good temperature and avoid too rapid drying of the soil. The plastic sheet must be removed every day to check the humidity level of the soil and to remove the condensation that forms on the plastic or in the glass.
The tray or jar that contains the seeds Echinopsis it should be kept in the shade, at a temperature around 21 ° C and slightly humid (use a sprayer to completely moisten the soil) until the moment of germination.
Once the seeds have germinated (usually germination takes place after 1-2 months and sometimes even more) the plastic sheet or glass is removed.Now since the seeds do not germinate all together but in a scalar manner, it will be necessary to guarantee to the new born a little light. So arrange the tray or the pot so that they receive a little light, but not too much, so as to respect even the seeds that have not yet germinated.
In any case, at that point remove the plastic or glass plate.
Once the seedlings are large enough to be handled they are transplanted into the final pot. Keep in mind that, at this stage, the new plants will take several months and even a year before they are the right size to be transplanted. Don't be discouraged. Keep them quietly in their tray and treat them like adult plants but do not repot them before they are the appropriate size.
PARASITES AND DISEASES
The Echinopsis , like all Cactaceae, they are not particularly disease-prone plants. In their case, perhaps it is more correct to speak of physiopathies, that is to say diseases due not to pathogens but to bad cultivation techniques.
The plant shrivels and becomes limp
This in cacti is the classic symptom of too much watering.
Remedies: unfortunately, when this stage is reached, it is not always possible to recover the plant. In any case, remove the plant with all the earthenware from the pot and leave it in the air so that the soil dries quickly. Check the roots and remove any by marching them by at least 1 cm above the rotten area with a sharp and disinfected scissors (possibly over the flame), sprinkle the surface of the cut roots with a broad spectrum fungicide powder and then repot. Wait at least two weeks before watering again and above all, be more careful in the amount of water you administer.
The plant does not bloom and takes on strange shapes
Mostly the plant stretches and takes on a light green color when there is little light.
Remedies: place the plant in a more illuminated position.
The green parts of the plant discolour and appear hollowed out
This symptom is usually due to too little irrigation. If we stay several months without watering the plant, especially in summer, the plant runs out of all the water contained in the tissues and therefore appears to be emptied.
Remedies: if you reach this stage it is not always possible to recover the plant, in any case, it is worth giving a little more attention to our plant with the right irrigations.
The green parts appear browned
If the plant begins to show this symptom, as if the plant had burned itself and small cracks are noticed, it means that the temperatures are too low.
Remedies: place the plant in a more suitable place.
Brown spots on the underside of the leaves
Brown spots on the underside of the leaves could mean that you are in the presence of cochineal: brown cochineal or floury (cottony) cochineal. To be sure, it is recommended to use a magnifying glass and observe them. Compare them with the photo shown: they are characteristics, you can't go wrong. Also if you try to remove them with a fingernail, they come off easily.
Remedies: remove them with a cotton swab soaked in alcohol or if the plant is large and potted, you can wash it with water and neutral soap rubbing very gently with a sponge to remove the parasites, after which the plant must be rinsed very well to eliminate all soap. For larger plants planted outdoors, you can use specific pesticides available from a good nurseryman.