The stem is single, initially spherical, in older plants taking a slightly columnar shape. It has about 14 ribs with a light green epidermis. He has 9-11 lateral spines, solid and lignified. The central spines are usually 4: they are thick, sharp, up to 3.5 cm long. The final cephalus usually has a diameter of 7 cm and 5 cm in height, consists of whitish-gray cotton wool and bristle spines. Large raspberry flowers about 4 cm in diameter grow from cephaly. The oblong fruit, up to 3.5 cm long, is red in the upper part and white at the base. The fruit contains brownish-black seeds, each 2 mm long.
This species lives on the west coast, in the state of Jalisco. American botanist J.E. Dawson first collected these plants near Barra de Navidad, but they were later found in other places along the coastal area of Jalisco. This cactus does not need a warm wintering, unlike other small cactuses. but nevertheless, the winter temperature should not fall below + 15 ° C. Propagated by seeds that germinate well. However, young seedlings grow slowly, and this cactus blooms only in the twentieth year of life.
Melocactus Delesser (Melocactus delessertiartus)
This species also forms a spherical stalk with a diameter of up to 10 cm. The stalk is divided into 15 ribs bearing areoles with striking spikes. The lateral and central spines are rigid. lignified and very sharp. Purple-pink flowers appear in the summer and have up to 2 cm across. Cephaly, on which the flowers appear, has an eye diameter of 5 cm, and its height is the same, tiny bristles, cotton wool and thick spines complement its structure.
This is one of the few Mexican small cactuses that grows in Oaxaca. Cultivation is not as difficult as in the case of coastal species. Warm wintering is important (about + 15 ° C): sparse watering, once every two months.
Melocactus bellavistensis (Melocactus bellavistensis)
The stem of this cactus can grow in height up to 40 cm at 25 cm in diameter. All spines are bent. like claws in the direction of the stem. Of great interest is the large variability of the spines in individual specimens. It must be many years before the apical cephaly is formed, and in the oldest cacti it can reach a height of 10 cm. The pink-purple flower has only 1 cm across. The decoration of all the melactus is red, shaped like a truncheon fruit that emerges from cephalus.
The species grows in the hot regions of Southern Ecuador and in Northern Peru, where the temperature never drops below + 20 ° С. Wintering in a cool climate should take place at a temperature not lower than + 15 ° C. Grafting on a slowly growing stock is recommended. Cephaly begins to form in about 15 years.
Types of "Melocactus"
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Melocactus peruvian (Melocactus peruvianus)
Adult specimens of this species have a short pyramidal stem with a maximum height of 20 cm. The spines are dense, interwoven and very hard. 1-2 central spines stick out perpendicular to the surface of the plant. Cephaly is formed after many years, its diameter is 6 cm and its maximum height is 8 cm. The flowers are violet-red, about 1 cm across. The species belongs to a rather complex family, which is not well studied, since its distribution range extends hundreds of kilometers along the Pacific coast from the northern to southern borders of Peru. Peruvian melocactus is one of the most moody during the cultivation of the members of the genus. It is vital that he receives enough heat and light in the winter. Seedlings usually grow without problems, therefore, we advise to plant already grown plants on a permanent stock.
Melatus peruvian different. lurinepsky (Melocactus peruvianus var. lurinensis)
This cactus is rightly distinguished as a separate species. Not to mention the fact that it was found in a completely different area, it is smaller (a spherical stem reaches a height and a diameter of only 10 cm), a smaller flower size and shorter, pressed thorns. The species was discovered at an altitude of about 1000 m among the rocks on the rocky terraces between the valleys and Lurin and Eulalia in Peru. Cultivation does not differ from the main species.
Melocactus azure (Melocactus azureus)
This species was named for the gray-blue color of its epidermis. In adult plants, a slightly columnar single stalk can reach 20 cm in height and forms protruding spines. Apical cephaly is usually up to 5 cm in height and is formed from rusty red bristles and white hairs. Pinkish-purple flowers have a diameter of 1 cm with full disclosure. The fruit is a red, baton-like berry 2 cm long.
In nature, this cactus grows only in the mountains of Serra do Espinhasu, on the southern slopes, near the river Jaca re. The popularity of small cacti among cactus lovers is growing. Melocactus winter in the warmth, they can be kept on the windowsill in a room with central heating. However, it should be remembered that they need a lot of light, and during the winter they should be watered 1-2 times depending on the temperature and the level of illumination. The soil mixture should be slightly acidic and well drained. Cultivation is easier in the early years of plant life; older specimens are more sensitive to owner mistakes.
Melocactus does not have a pronounced dormant period and can be kept all year at ordinary room temperature. Do not expose the cactus to temperatures below 15 ° C.
Melocactus Akuni (Melocactus acunai)
With age, this cactus begins to turn into a columnar (about 30 cm in height and about 10 cm in diameter). It forms striking beautiful spines. Their greatest length is 5 cm, they are lignified and very thick. Cephaly has been growing for many years. Dark red flowers are small, not more than 1.5 cm across. The fruit is a red, elongated berry.
This species is a typical island endemic cactus. He hails from Cuba, where he grows in coastal areas. In terms of cultivation, all coastal melactus are very demanding. So that they safely wintered, arrange them in the sunniest place and make sure that the temperature does not fall below + 15 ° С. The mixture of land should be well-drained, with mineral additives.
In summer, shading of melocactus from direct sunlight in the daytime is possible. In the morning and evening, cacti can sunbathe. In autumn and winter, the maximum possible lighting.
Soil should easily pass water and air, pH not higher than 6.5. A mixture of leaf humus, soddy ground with a lot of coarse river sand or perlite is suitable to improve drainage and small pieces of charcoal. For the cultivation of melocactus, you can use a ready-made substrate for cacti and succulents.
From spring to autumn, when the cactus grows, feed it monthly with liquid fertilizers specially designed for cacti and succulent plants. In the fall, top dressing is stopped and resumed only with the beginning of a new growth.
1.7 Soil moisture
In spring and summer, water regularly, but allow the soil to dry to half the depth between watering. In autumn, the frequency of irrigation is reduced, and in winter they simply protect the soil from complete drying. For watering, use soft water at room temperature.
Melocactus has a superficial root system, so it can be grown in shallow pots. Transplant only when necessary, in the spring, when the plant. It becomes a small pot. After planting, stop watering for 7 to 10 days. Melocactus does not tolerate transplantation, so try not to disturb the root system - use transshipment.
- 1. Description
- 2. Growing
- 3. Diseases and pests
- 4. Reproduction
- 5. First steps after purchase
- 6. Secrets of success
- 7. Possible difficulties
One of the most amazing representatives of the Succulent family is Melocactus. More than 40 species occupy a wide range of growth: Antilles, coastal tropics of Central America, Colombia, Brazil, Peru.
Melocactus is also called Melon Cactus (translated from Latin as “melo” means melon). The stem of the Succulent has the appearance of a rather large ball with 10-12 ribs. The thorns are sharp, white, slightly curved. The genus is attractive especially at the stage of growing up, at about ten years of age. During this period, the ribbed stem ceases to grow, and a charming “hat” of the plant begins to form - cephaly. Often on a single stalk a tandem is formed - two or more cephaly. These spherical or cylindrical formations with small, dense spines gradually increase in size, reaching 15-20 cm in height.
On the orange top, small, bell-shaped flowers of various colors, depending on the variety, appear alternately. The last corollas are discolored and barely open.
The plant has another interesting feature: from self-pollinating flowers, edible fruits-berries are formed, sour in taste.
In indoor floriculture, mainly three to four species are cultivated. As they grow older, the cactus becomes moody and rather demanding.
In natural tropical conditions, Melocactus feed on minor moisture from rare raindrops, thanks to a developed and superficial root system. In connection with such a morphological structure of the roots, Melocactus prefers to grow in wide, but small, flat containers.
Young specimens are transplanted annually, more mature - every four to five years in a light, nutritious soil with a good layer of drainage.
For cacti, both waterlogging and excessive drying of the soil are dangerous. As a result, the roots may lose their viability, and the plant faces death. In this case, Melocactus is inoculated or promotes the formation of new roots using hormonal drugs (e.g. heteroauxin).
First steps after purchase
The world of cacti attracts the attention of many novice gardeners with the amazing beauty of plants during the flowering period. But, acquiring a flowering Melocactus, one should remember about the upcoming difficulties in the cultivation of this capricious specimen. Experienced florists advise buying a young cactus without flowers - it is undemanding in care, better acclimatized at home and save the buyer from unnecessary problems. The best option to get healthy Melocactus is to grow it from seeds yourself.
Choosing a copy you like in a store or garden center, you should pay attention to its appearance, that is, make sure that there are no diseases and pests.
In the first days after purchase, Melocactus is a little sprayed with soft, always warm water. Choose a well-lit place in the room (western, eastern or southern exposure) for constant vegetation of the plant.
Secrets of Success
Melocactus is a thermophilic and photophilous plant. It tolerates heat, but moderate temperatures in the range of + 20-25 ° C are the most optimal option for its existence in room conditions. In the autumn-winter period, the temperature in the room is reduced to + 10-15 ° C and watering is reduced to a minimum, thereby creating a rest period for Melocactus.
Succulents are very sensitive to excess moisture or excessive dry earth coma. Therefore, even during the wintering season, one must not forget to maintain the minimum soil moisture by spraying.
It is necessary to water Melocactus as the top layer of the substrate dries only with settled water and always warm. The plant is afraid of temperature changes in the room and drafts. During the formation period, cephalus becomes more demanding to care. Often the slightest disturbance in watering or top dressing a plant leads to the unwillingness of the Cactus to go into the flowering phase.
Rotting of the rhizome and stem
Reason: 1) waterlogging (especially in the autumn-winter period), 2) watering with cold water.
The plant does not bloom
Reasons: 1) insufficient lighting, 2) excessive humidity.
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Blue Melocactus (Melocactus caesius)
A single stem of this cactus grows up to 20 cm in height and about the same in diameter. It attracts attention with a bluish epidermis. Usually it has 10-15 pronounced ribs with recessed areoles along the edges, 6 lateral and one central spine grow from the areoles. The length of both is the same (2-3 cm). Apex cephaly consists of cotton wool and spikes-bristles. During the summer, violet-red flowers emerge from this cephaly, up to 2 cm across. The fruit is a red berry.
This is one of the few species of cacti native to Venezuela, but it also grows on the island of Trinidad in the Caribbean. Like all his relatives, he needs a very warm winter, better - in good light. The temperature should not fall below + 16 ° C for a long time. Seedlings grow quite safely on their own roots, but problems with adult plants can occur. If you prefer to plant this species, the best stock is myrtillocactus geometric (Myrtillocactus geometrizans).
Melocactus vulgaris (Melocactus communis)
The species was described back in 1811 as Cactus melocactus communis. With age, the most noticeable feature of the spherical stem becomes cephalus, tall and cylindrical in shape, pinkish-red flowers 1.5 cm across appear on it.
The species grows on some islands - in Jamaica, small islands near Guadeloupe and in the South Bahamas. It is extensively represented in collections and needs the same treatment as other more demanding members of the genus.
Guitarian Melocactus (Melocactus guitarti)
The species has a single spherical stem growing up to 15 cm in diameter. The lateral spines are thick and lignified. 2 central stick out perpendicular to the stem. Cephaly reaches a height of 4 cm, and 7 cm across. The flowers are the largest in the genus and can be 4 cm long.
Nowadays, it is a very rare endemic cactus from the central regions of Cuba. Its distribution range is limited to several hills of the Sierra de Jatibonico. Experts are of the opinion that it belongs to cacti, over which the most serious threat of destruction looms. Cultivation of the species is problematic; it is best to plant it on a slowly growing stock.
Melocactus Harlow (Melocactus harlowii)
The stem of this species has a slightly columnar shape, its height is about 25 cm. An adult plant is usually about 15 cm in diameter. Stebelraz is divided into 12 strongly protruding ribs, most of which are covered with thorns. Pink-red flowers 2 cm across appear on gray-brown cephalus.
This species is also endemic to Cuba, where it grows in the province of Oriente in the east of the island, by the ocean. A cactus is rare in collections because of the difficulties it creates for a grower. Warm and bright wintering are the main conditions for success. Propagated by seeds. Although the plant in the picture has shoots at the apex that can be used for propagation, this is very unusual for melocactus.
Melocactus Maxson (Melocactus maxonii)
The barrel-shaped stem of this cactus reaches a maximum of 15 cm in diameter and is divided into 11-15 protruding ribs. The upper 2 of 7-10 lateral spines growing from pubescent areoles are usually very small and thin.As a rule, there is 1 central spine, less often 2. Light red flowers with whitish sparkles grow on cephalus, low, wide and formed from white hairs, cotton wool and short bristles. The fruit is red, cylindrical and carries the dried remains of the bract.
The cactus is from Central America, where it can be found in the forests of Guatemala, near El Rancho and Salama. He is rare in collections. Seedlings grow quickly, but easily lose their roots and rot at the age of 10 years, when they become large. The care is the same as for all small cactuses.