Succulents

Echinocactus

Echinocactus, the mother-in-law’s pillow

In the garden or in the homes of succulents lovers, there is certainly no lack of echinocactus, a plant of the Cactaceae family among the most characteristic and easily recognizable, due to its spherical shape and deep ribs. The echinocactus can have various sizes, depending on the age, as well as be widespread in varieties with different characteristics depending on the species; most echinocactushowever, they have a spherical shape, dark green color and long robust thorns which give the plant its characteristic appearance. The color and shape of the thorns can also vary depending on the species, decorating the plant with white, yellow or even pink. The echinocactus owes its famous nickname of “mother-in-law’s pillow” to its spherical or slightly cylindrical shape. It is a plant capable of storing large quantities of water and thus resisting long periods of drought, growing and developing even in apparently adverse areas and having a very long life: in its natural habitat, namely the desert areas of America. central, the echinocactus can live up to thirty years and reach a meter in diameter.

Cultivation


Echinocactus is one of the most sought after succulents, so much so that in the last century the indiscriminate collection of specimens in their natural habitat led to the risk of extinction for this plant of great charm and easy cultivation. Although the European climate is very different from the original one of these plants, in fact, the echinocactus can grow and develop reaching large sizes even in our areas, if cultivated with due care. It is a plant that particularly loves sun exposure, therefore it is advisable to guarantee direct exposure in the summer and spring period, while in the phases of vegetative rest the plant can be stored in dry conditions and protected from excessive cold, in environments that are however well ventilated. From October to March, period of vegetative rest, watering must be completely suspended, while in the spring and summer period they must in any case be sparse and carried out only once the soil is dry, categorically avoiding the formation of water stagnation, which would lead to the death of the roots and therefore of the plant itself. Fertilizer can be added to the watering water to make the soil sufficiently rich in the substances necessary to favor the growth and development of the echinocactus. which would lead to the death of the roots and therefore of the plant itself. Fertilizer can be added to the watering water to make the soil sufficiently rich in the substances necessary to favor the growth and development of the echinocactus. which would lead to the death of the roots and therefore of the plant itself. Fertilizer can be added to the watering water to make the soil sufficiently rich in the substances necessary to favor the growth and development of the echinocactus.

Multiplication


Echinocactus lovers know that they must arm themselves with patience: before reaching the size of a tennis ball, the echinocactus can take up to five or six years. The growth of this plant can in fact be considerable, but it is also slow and this has contributed to the risk of extinction that was close to the last century, since the reproduction of the echinocactus occurs mainly by seed. The seeds should be placed in a tray that is not too deep inside a mixture of soil and theorbo, in the month of April. Until the moment of germination it is good to ensure a constant level of soil moisture, which will be placed in a warm place with at least 21 degrees guaranteed, but without direct exposure to sunlight. To ensure the right temperature and humidity it is possible to cover the container with a glass plate or film, to be removed daily to check the condition of the incoming plants. As the plants grow, it will be possible to extract the strongest and most robust ones and place them in the ground, respecting the growing conditions of adult plants.

Diseases and parasites


Like most succulents, echinocactus does not allow an easy life for pests and fungi. The main enemies of this plant are only aphids and cochineal. Both recognizable by the presence of light spots on the plant, observed with a magnifying glass leave no room for doubt. To combat these infesting parasites, which steal nourishment from the plant to the point of death, it is necessary to intervene with specific products in a preventive way and with specific pesticides if the infestation is already extensive and it is not possible to eliminate all the parasites present otherwise. It is important to remember, in fact, that only if the colony is completely eradicated will there be no risks of a new spread and of having to start the fight all over again. If there are few parasites and colonization is therefore at an early stage, it is possible to eliminate the aphids or cochineal with a cotton swab. Proper care of the plants and periodic control will allow you to avoid risks and not have to resort to chemical products that usually have a systemic function, penetrating into the lymphatic system of the echinocactus to then act against the parasites that will feed on them. This type of product, in fact, guarantees its effectiveness, but at the same time it can weaken the plant therefore it is necessary to resort to it when it is not possible to act differently. Proper care of the plants and periodic control will allow you to avoid risks and not have to resort to chemical products that usually have a systemic function, penetrating into the lymphatic system of the echinocactus to then act against the parasites that will feed on them. This type of product, in fact, guarantees its effectiveness, but at the same time it can weaken the plant therefore it is necessary to resort to it when it is not possible to act differently. Proper care of the plants and periodic control will allow you to avoid risks and not have to resort to chemical products that usually have a systemic function, penetrating into the lymphatic system of the echinocactus to then act against the parasites that will feed on them. This type of product, in fact, guarantees its effectiveness, but at the same time it can weaken the plant therefore it is necessary to resort to it when it is not possible to act differently.

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