This entire genus consists of about 10 species, and this one is best known. The columnar stalk reaches 4 m in height, but only 10 cm in diameter. The cactus is densely covered with thorns, it has fragrant flowers that appear from cephalus, which forms on the top of the plant.
It lives on a fairly vast territory in the Brazilian state of Bahia, among thickets of shrubs. In recent years, the cactus has appeared in European collections. It is important that flower growers provide it with a warm wintering, watching the temperature, which should not fall below + 15 ° С. Bearing in mind the conditions in which it grows in nature, diffused sunlight will not damage the cactus, however, it cannot be left in the shade.
Austrocephalocereus Esteves (Austrocephalocereus estevesii)
This species is currently assigned to the newly created genus Siccobaccatus, but we put here its former name, familiar to cactus growers. The cactus can reach 6 m in height with a stem diameter of about 15 cm. The stem consists of 37–42 ribs with areoles along the edges, of which 11 lateral and 4 central spines grow. The plant has lateral cephalus formed from thick cotton wool, white hairs and yellow-red bristles. White flowers 3.5 cm long grow from this cephalus. The fruit is a fleshy rounded berry.
The species lives in hot regions of the states of Goias and Minas Gerais, where it grows among rare vegetation. A young cactus completely hides in the shade and appears in direct sunlight only when the surrounding plants outgrow. In the European climate, the bright sun withstands, however, young seedlings require shading. It needs a well-drained mixture with the addition of peat, from time to time it should be fertilized (3 times per growing season), it needs a warm wintering. He is currently rare in collections.
Features of care after purchase
The first time after purchase, it is better not to disturb the cactus: put it in a bright place and let it get used to the new climate, humidity and lighting. To rinse off "Hair" Cephalocereus street dust and dirt, you can spray it with water from a spray, but you should not get carried away.
Unfortunately, at home, Cephalocereus never blooms. Perhaps due to the fact that they can’t reach the required height. However, cacti of this species can bloom in greenhouses - and at any time of the year.
At the top of the plant, around the top of the stem, a signature Gray hair (cephaly)from which the buds emerge.
They open only for one night and are funnels of a creamy pink hue about 7 cm in diameter and 10 s in length.
The more light Cephalocereus receives, the better for him. He is not afraid of excessive lighting, as he is protected from burns by his hairs.
But with a lack of sunlight, the cactus will begin to stretch, its hairs will be short, and the plant will lose its recognizable appeal.
Therefore, the southern window may be the best option. Only in the spring will it be better to cactus slightly pritenit until active vegetation begins.
Dry air is fatal for Cephalocereus: because of it, the hairs will become painfully faded and brittle. Therefore, it is better to keep the cactus away from batteries and heaters.
However, the plant does not like waterlogged air either.
It is best to spray it with water from a small spray bottle from time to time, but in no case should you wash it in the shower with shampoo or soap.
As a last resort, if Gray hair the cactus is too dirty, it is possible to use a very small amount of laundry soap.
In the warm season, it will sometimes be useful to take the cactus to fresh air - to the open balcony, a well-ventilated loggia or to the garden.
Watering cacti should be very sparingly, otherwise they will begin to rot. It is better to do this with warm water. During the rest period, from October to April, it is not necessary to water the Cephalocereus at all.
Fertilizers (top dressing)
Fertilize the earth for Cephalocereus need feeding, designed for cacti. You can add calcium components to it - they will favorably affect the condition of the hairs. Crushed egg shells or a serving of old lime in a percentage of 3-5% of the total land will also benefit.
A sandy layer or small gravel will protect from overmoistening, which is dangerous for the plant: sprinkle the top layer of soil with them - this is both useful and, in addition to everything, also beautiful.
Fertilize plants should be from May to July.
It is better to transplant Cephalocereuses in the spring or in the summeras soon as the plants grow up. Young cacti are transplanted annually, old ones can be relocated to new spacious pots less often - once every two years.
For transplanting, it is better to use deep pots with good drainage. A slightly acidic nutrient mixture is preferred, in the composition of which is clay soil and coarse sand in equal proportions. However, at the same time, it should pass moisture well, otherwise the plant will quickly decay.
Cephalocereus reproduce by seed. Traditionally, the sowing procedure is carried out in the spring. Previously, the seeds need to be soaked in warm water for a day, then placed in a strong solution of potassium permanganate for half an hour.
After that, they will be washed, dried and sown in containers filled with a substrate of the same composition as for adult Cephalocereus.
The soil must be covered with glass, and only after a week it can be moistened, but so far only with the help of a spray bottle.
Seeds germinate when temperature around 25 degrees. The first time they need to be protected from too bright spring sun.
When the first thorns appear, the seedlings can be dived, transplanted into a spacious container and watered with a pallet.
The grown cacti need to be planted in separate pots and begin to gradually accustom them to the usual for adult Cephalocereus avaricious watering and bright lighting.
Diseases and Pests
Cephalocereus enough resistant to various diseases and pests. However, inappropriate conditions for cacti can contribute to the appearance of mealy worms and flat red ticks.
therefore "Hair" plants need periodically check for unwanted inhabitants in it.
Also with street air, a spider mite can get on a cactus.
To prevent its occurrence, it is necessary to spray cacti with any means of ticks twice a year - in spring and autumn.
Be especially careful if you take Cephalocereus out onto the street or put it near an open window.
Cephalocereus cannot be called an unpretentious plant: Gray-haired the cactus is picky enough.
But he is worthy of this trouble.
Original appearance "Shaggy" Mexican decorate any collection and allow this plant to become the center of the composition of cacti.
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Primary genus: Cephalocereus
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Senile cephalocereus grows in the states of Guanajuato and Hidalgo in eastern Mexico, where it inhabits limestone canyons and is one of the dominant species of xerophytic vegetation.
ON THE PICTURE:In the natural environment, Cephalocereus senile is threatened with extinction.
Plant size and type:
Cephalocereus senile - a tall, columnar cactus. In nature, old bicentennial specimens can reach 12–15 m in height and 40 cm in diameter, but under indoor conditions, a cactus rarely grows above 30 cm.
The stalk is columnar, erect, usually unbranched, as it is not able to withstand the weight of the side shoots.
The stem is divided into 20-30 shallow ribs, along the edges of which are rows of closely spaced areoles.
Areoles carry spikes and silver-white hairs up to 12 cm long. Thick white wool envelops the entire cactus and serves to protect against frost and sun.
ON THE PICTURE:On young plants, the hair is especially snow-white, with age the hairs darken.
Each areola carries from one to five yellow spikes 2 cm long.
Senile cephalocereus begins to bloom at the age of 10–20 years. Flowers appear on cephaly, which is formed in mature specimens near the apex on one side of the stem. Lateral cephalus does not appear until the cactus reaches a height of 6 m.
Since indoor cactus can not grow to an impressive size and reach maturity, in culture Cephalocereus senile not blooming.
The flowers are tubular, about 8 cm long and 7 cm in diameter, open at night.
ON THE PICTURE: The flowering period of senile Cephalocereus is summer.
Fruits are pinkish-red, 2-3 cm long, covered with yellowish hairs.
In spring and summer, temperatures of + 18–29 ° C are suitable for the actively growing senile Cephalocereus. In winter, the plant should rest at temperatures below + 16 ° C, but above + 5 ° C. If wintering takes place at high temperatures in combination with insufficient winter lighting, the cactus stalk stretches and takes on an unnatural shape.
In nature, these cacti are protected from the bright sun by their hairs. Thus, the brighter the lighting, the longer and thicker the cephalocereus fur. If possible, keep the plant on a sunny windowsill.
During the period of active growth, cephalocereus senile should be watered moderately, the soil should be moistened to the full depth. During the dormant period, watering is limited, since excess moisture in a short winter day stimulates unnatural growth and can cause rotting of the base of the stem.
At the beginning of the period of active growth, fertilizer with slowly released substances must be applied and mixed with the topsoil. You can not spray the cactus wool with fertilizer.
A peat-based soil mixture with the addition of 1/3 of coarse sand can be used. A cactus with a height of 7-10 cm is planted in a pot with a diameter of 8 cm. Every spring, you need to check whether the roots of the plant have filled the entire volume of the pot. If filled, then the cactus is transplanted into the pot one size larger. If there is still room for the roots, then the plant is planted in the same, pre-cleaned pot, adding fresh soil mixture if necessary.
Wintering is cool and almost dry.
Diseases and pests:
Cactus may be rotten.
Mealyworms and spider mites can hide in the thick cactus fur. Insecticides should be used to combat them.
Sudden wilt and light green color of the stem indicates infection with a fungal infection (late blight). Affected plants should be destroyed, and to prevent infection with the fungus, it is necessary to improve the drainage properties of the soil and prevent excessive feeding.
Cephalocereus senile propagated only by seeds.
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