Cactus is a type of plant commonly seen in deserts. But it could also be grown in your backyard. Here are a few tips on how to take care of one.
A cactus is a part of the spine plant of the family Cactaceae native to the Americas. They are often displayed as ornamental plants. Others regard it as crop plants. They are noted as unusual and distinctive plants that can adapt to extremely hot and arid environments. They even show a wide range of physiological and anatomical features in conserving water. Their stems can expand into succulently green structures that contain chlorophyll, a necessary ingredient for its life and sustenance. The leaves have spines that help in their defense mechanisms.
Cacti grow in a wide array of sizes and shapes. Its flowers are large, similar to branches and spines that arose from areoles. Most of the varieties are night bloomers. This is since they are generally pollinated by nocturnal small animals or insects like bats and moths. Their varieties range from tall and columnar to small and globular.
Cacti often grow as shrubs, trees or a type of ground cover. Although most of its kind grows on the ground, there are also the epiphytic species. What is not generally known about these species is that its needles are used for sucking sugars and liquids on whatever gets stuck onto them. Aside from this, almost all its varieties have a milky or bitter sap.
Its life span is impressive. It can sometimes reach more than 300 years old. Some will last for only 25 years. Thus, if you would like to have your very own desert-like garden at home, it is very easy to grow a cactus especially if you will start by using seeds (advisable to beginners). You only need to follow a few easy steps:
Check if the pod is ripe for harvesting. Only the pod remains when the flower dies. There are even varieties that produce a lot of seeds in every pod.
Gather these pods before they begin to dry out. Although they seem to lack moisture, they are always damp inside. Some seeds are black; others have a light red on them. It is very important that the seed matures. This is when the pod can easily come off when you twist it slightly, showing off the cotton/fiber of the cactus.
With a knife, slice off the top portion and slice down one of the pod’s sides. This way, the seeds are exposed.
Carefully remove the seeds from the actual pod. Scrape it off and put it in 2 parts water and 1 part number 2 coarse sands, mixing it well.
Evenly sow the seeds and keep your soil moist until you see the seeds germinating. When the seeds come up, they would look like small pencil erasers reddish in color. After some time, they will start to grow needles.
Cacti should be handled with care. It is best to use a special kind of gloves when handling it, especially when the spines have grown. You can also make your cacti appear tatty.
Watch out for parasites. You can become confused with the different types of parasites that can ruin your cactus. You can mistake Mealy Bugs for white blobs. Use a skewer or stick /to get rid of them. As for Scale and Red spider Mites, you can kill them with a Malathion. These insects would only appear like brown spots so be aware.
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