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Escobaria: growing cactus at room conditions and breeding


Escobaria is a genus of cacti, named after the famous cactus collectors of the Escobar brothers. This genus was first described in 1923 by scientists Nathaniel Britton and Joseph Rose. Not so long ago, during a new revision of taxonomy, two genera of cacti Cochisea and Neobesseya entered the genus Escobaria. Now the habitat of cacti of the genus Escobaria has expanded from the central regions of Mexico almost to the border with Canada. These miniature cacti prefer inaccessible mountainous areas, but, nevertheless, even there are very few of them left. Some species are on the verge of extinction and taken under state protection.

These “babies” prefer mountains, with their cracks, piles of stones and rock fragments, some species of escobaria have taken root in alluvial deposits in the form of sand and pebbles in place of long-dried streams and rivers, there are also species that grow under the protection of bunch grasses that dry in hot periods. The natural habitat of escobarians does not indulge in their comfortable conditions. Sudden changes in day and night temperatures, drought, followed by long rains, summer heat and winter cold. Species that previously belonged to the genus Necessia, growing in the northern United States, are generally able to withstand winter frosts under -20 ° C under snow. Under natural conditions, researchers still encounter whole groups of these cacti with up to one hundred or more plants.

It would seem that plants so unpretentious in nature should grow perfectly in the conditions of collections, but often the opposite happens. Natural tempering turns into “waywardness” and great demanding in culture. Many collectors are faced with the fact that the escobaria suddenly stop growing, lose their roots, dry out due to dry rot and are exposed to other misfortunes. The main reason that escobarians do not tolerate seemingly optimal conditions in collections is a violation of their life cycles. Such things are inherent in plants at the genetic level, even after many generations the memory of climatic conditions, soil composition, moisture and so on is passed on. Those plants that have been exported from natural conditions, and those grown from seedlings in culture, will have the same needs for maintenance. Cactusists who decide to replenish their collections with escobaria need to prepare for certain difficulties and stock up on knowledge.

The main difficulty is to provide the escobaria with optimal humidity. These cacti do not tolerate moisture stagnation. This applies even to sowing trays. As soon as the seedlings germinate, they must be transferred to a less humid environment. The potting substrate for the escobaria should be as air and water permeable as possible. Half the recommended mixture should consist of rippers in the form of vermiculite, perlite or pumice. The rest is in equal parts of soddy soil and coarse sand mixed with marble or gypsum chips.

In winter, escobariums are not watered at all and kept at a temperature of 4-8 ° C, if the environmental humidity is low, even short-term night frosts will not harm plants. With the advent of spring and the onset of the growing season, plants begin to water moderately, observing small intervals between watering, so that the soil has time to dry out to the right degree. With the onset of summer, watering the escobaria can be practically stopped, it is enough to spray them from time to time. Only in the fall, watering is resumed for some time, so that by winter the plants switch to dry mode. Escobarians prefer open sunlight and fresh air. The same applies to grown seedlings.

Due to the slow growth of escobaria, many collectors plant them on stocks, this method is also used to save specimens affected by rot. Applying vaccinations, it should be borne in mind that the stems are unnaturally extended and form a lot of “children”. With natural growth, Escobariums form multi-headed groups of a large number of lateral shoots. The main stem, as well as in natural conditions, can become cork-like, numb in the lower part. The rooting of escobaria is quite problematic, the main way to propagate these cacti in a culture is by sowing seeds and grafting lateral shoots.

Escobarya blooms before the summer hibernation period. The flowers in most species are relatively small - up to 30 mm in diameter. Petals can be white or have a pinkish, reddish, yellow or brownish tint. But some species, such as, for example, E. tuberculosa, have aromatic and rather large flowers, about 40 mm across.

Due to its compact size and interesting appearance, under proper conditions of detention, escobariums can become an adornment of even a small collection, limited by a lack of space.

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Rules for growing escobaria indoors

    Lighting and selection of space for the pot. The place is suitable for the plant with bright, but diffused lighting, which is possible with room care on the windowsill of the east or west window. Despite the fact that in nature some varieties grow quietly in an open area under the sun, in the southern location shading from direct ultraviolet fluxes will be required. Autumn-winter or on the northern windowsill need lighting.

The temperature of the content. The cactus must be grown at constant moderate to warm temperatures, the value of which can vary between 15–20 degrees. With the advent of autumn, the thermometer column should be gradually reduced, bringing the indicators to 6-10 units. There is evidence that the escobaria can withstand even frosts, but the soil in the pot must be completely dried. However, one should not be zealous and subject the cactus to survival experiments.

Air humidity when caring for Escobaria it is kept low, the maximum value of the indicators should not exceed 40%. Therefore, spraying a cactus or raising humidity is not required.

Watering. For this, soil moistening plants should be carried out regularly, but in moderate doses. The signal for irrigation is a layer of soil that has dried on top. If the temperature is reduced in winter, then the escobary is not watered at all. Only soft, well-defended water with heat indicators in the range of 20-24 degrees is used for irrigation. You can use distilled water or one that is sold in bottles. Some gardeners collect rainwater or use a river, but this is only possible if there is confidence in its purity. Otherwise, it is recommended to boil tap water for half an hour, and then stand for a couple of days.

Fertilizers and top dressing. Since the soil on which the escobaria grows is rather poor in nature, the preparations necessary for succulents and cacti are introduced. These procedures are carried out from the beginning of spring to the end of summer; during the dormant period, Escobaria feeding is not disturbing. The regularity with which the drugs are applied is every 15–20 days. However, if the plant is kept in winter at higher heat indicators than they are recommended for this time, then it will also be necessary to fertilize the cactus, but once a month or a half. Those products are used in which there are mineral salts, but the dosage should be greatly reduced. It is better to choose fertilizers in liquid form, then it is easy to dissolve in water for irrigation.

  • Transplant and substrate selection. Under natural conditions, these cacti grow on a rather long range, therefore, it cannot be said that when it is maintained, one should be guided only by any one requirement. Some varieties prefer to settle on sandy and rocky ground, in open areas, while for others, bushes or tall grasses where the soils are more fertile are comfortable. Cactus lovers recommend changing the pot for the Escobaria as it grows or if the plant becomes sick and you should use disinfected soil and take a sterile container.

  • If it is decided to carry out a transplant due to the growth of a cactus, then it is better to perform it in the spring months. In a new pot, a drainage layer is laid at the bottom. The soil is suitable with low or neutral acidity and is not very fertile. The substrate should be easily permeable to air and moisture. You can use ready-made purchased mixtures intended for succulents or cacti. If the soil is prepared independently, then it is made up of a large amount of river sand and a little clay. There is evidence that a small amount of slaked lime or brick chips sifted from dust is added to such soil.

    Escobaria breeding rules

    To get a new exotic cactus, sowing of seeds or rooting of processes is carried out.

    Escobarium seeds are sown in a pot filled with a mixture of leaf soil and river sand, peat-sand substrate can be used. It is important to maintain 20–25 degrees Celsius and high humidity. The last indicator can be created by covering the container with a piece of glass or wrapping the pot in a transparent plastic wrap. It will be necessary to regularly air and spray the substrate when it dries. When the seedlings are covered with thorns, they are planted one at a time in separate containers, with a drainage layer at the bottom and suitable soil.

    It is possible to propagate Escobaria by shoots. They are planted in pots filled with sand, creating a support or next to the edge of the flowerpot on which they will rest. This will make it possible that the children do not move and quickly take root.

    Escobaria diseases and pests associated with room care

    When the plant begins a dormant period, that is, the probability of drying out of the papillae on which the areoles are located is likely. The cause of this problem has not been elucidated, but is not dangerous, although the decorative appearance of the cactus is falling.

    If the substrate is often poured into the pot, and the heat indicators are lowered, then fungal and bacterial diseases may occur. A transplant is performed with preliminary removal of the affected parts and treatment with fungicides. Also, with increased air dryness, a spider mite and a mealybug may be affected. Recommended spraying with insecticides.

    Facts about the Escobarium for the curious, photo

    This genus of cacti received its scientific name in honor of the famous Mexican brothers Escobar, who were engaged in collecting a variety of cacti growing in different parts of Mexico. The plant was first described in 1923 by Nathaniel Lord Britton (1859–1934) and Joseph Nelson Rose (1862–1928), American scientists studying botany and, in particular, cacti. But recently, a couple have been added to this genus, which were previously isolated separately - Cochisea and Neobesseya.

    Types of Escobarium

      Schned Escobaria (Escobaria sneedii). The number of stems in a bunch of this variety can reach one hundred or more units. Each stem reaches almost 8 cm in height, with a diameter of about 2.5 cm. The ribs on the stem have a cylindrical shape and are 5 mm long. The number of spines growing from the areoles on the surface of the stem can vary in the range of 30–90 units. The size of the spines is small, only 2.5 mm. The color of the spines is whitish, but at the tops of their colors it turns brown, they look like bristles. The central spines are a couple or one, they are also quite short. The root system is fibrous. In the flowering process, buds with pinkish petals appear. The flower is 1.5 cm in diameter. Flowers start blooming from mid-spring to May. The fruit berries are elongated, the color is green, but some have a reddish tint. The seeds inside are dark brown.

    Escobaria Lloyd (Escobaria lloydii). This variety is distinguished by elongated stems that grow into huge curtains. The number of radial spines reaches 17–25 pieces. Their color is whitish, the form is straight and thin. The spines growing in the center are lighter, but the tips are brown in color. There are only 5-7 units. The length of those and other spines does not exceed 2 mm. When the buds open, then they can reach a maximum of 2 cm across. The flower petals are painted white with a pinkish streak in the central part. After pollination, the fruits ripen in the form of berries, which have a red color. Their size does not exceed 1 cm.

    Escobaria Runyon (Escobaria runyonii). A cactus of this species is distinguished by an elongated stem with a height of about 5 cm. It is painted in a grayish-green tone. There are a large number of radial spines, the color is whitish. Their appearance is bristle-like, with a length not exceeding 4 mm. The number of central ones varies from five to seven units, they are more powerful than radial ones, the length is 8 mm. Coloring them in brown tones with black tops. When flowering, buds bloom with light purple petals and a darker center. The flower length and diameter reaches 1.5 cm. When bearing, slightly elongated berries, scarlet color, which do not exceed 1 cm, are formed.

    Escobaria Alverson (Escobaria alversonii). The plant has abundant branching at the base. The height of the cactus does not exceed 20, but the diameter is 10 cm. There are up to 50 spines on the surface, they are thin with a white color. The plant blooms with light purple flowers, the length of which is 3 cm.

    Small Escobaria (Escobaria minima). The dimensions of this cactus are miniature, and the outlines are elegant. The stems do not grow more than 4 cm in height with a diameter of about two centimeters. The surface of the stem is covered with tuberous outgrowths up to 2 mm in height. There are a lot of radial spines, their color is light and they are located very densely to the stem. The plant is devoid of central thorns. The flowers of this species are distinguished by light pink petals, in the central part of which there is a darker strip. The diameter of the flower when fully opened is about 1.5 cm.

    Escobaria Orcutt (Escobaria orcuttii). The stem is painted in a light bronze color, its shape is ovoid. The height of the stem rarely exceeds 6 cm, with a diameter of about 3 cm. The number of radial spines is multiple, their outlines are thin, white. The length of such spines is 8 mm. Spines located in the central part of 10-15 pieces, they have a light shade with a darker top. One or a couple of them are more powerful and tough. The length of the central spines reaches 1.5 cm. When flowering, buds with pink petals open. The diameter of the flower corolla is approximately 1.5 cm.

    Escobaria Missouri different. turfy (Escobaria missouriensis var. caespitosa). The cactus is the owner of a rounded stem, painted in green, characterized in the lower part by abundant branching. At the top, 14 snow-white spines grow, the central one is not, but occasionally it appears. The arrangement of flowers is quite extensive, they can cover the entire surface of the cactus stem. Petals of flowers have a silver-yellowish tint, while the anthers have a bright yellow color.

    Cuban Escobaria (Escobaria cubensis). The plant stem begins to branch from the very base and can grow into fairly large groups. The diameter of the stem is usually almost 3 cm. The length of the radial spines can reach about 4 mm, there are almost 10 units, soft to the touch. Occasionally, a single central spine appears. The color of the petals in the flowers is greenish yellow.

    Escobaria viviparous (Escobaria vivipara) may be found under the name Coryphantha vivipara. The stem has a spherical shape, its diameter is about 5 cm, and the plant can be close to 7 cm in height. There are almost 20 units of thorns, their color is white. There is one central spine, the length of which reaches two centimeters. When flowering, buds bloom with petals painted in dark pink, the diameter of the flower in the opening is 3.5 cm.

  • Escobaria thick-thorned (Escobaria dasyacantha). A fairly rare species in nature. The plant stem has a bushiness with a light green color. The shape of the stems is elongated, the height is 20 cm with a diameter of about 7 cm. Radial spines of a whitish color, resemble bristles. Their outlines are thin, their length reaches almost 1 cm. The number of such spines is almost 20 units. The central spines can form 5–9 pieces, they are more powerful and longer, their parameters are 2 cm. Areoles on the surface are placed very densely relative to each other. Petals of pink flowers. Fruits in the form of berries can grow up to 2 cm, the color of scarlet.
  • General information:

    Escobaria (Escobaria) - this genus has signs that clarify the stages of development of a modern cactus - Mamillaria. In a more primitive cactus, a flower forms on the areola, directly under a bunch with thorns.

    In the Mamillaria family at an early stage of development, the areola is divided into two parts, and forms a papilla, or Mamilla, and axillary kidney. At the top of the papilla, thorns form, and from the axillary buds, a flower or children are formed. Escobaria has a large axillary kidney, clearly visible, and the papilla has grooves. Escobaria can mainly be found in the countries of Mexico and the neighboring southern US state.

    Often, Escobaria is covered with sharp bristles that protect the soft body. Cactus Escobaria has a spherical or pointed apex of the stem, which gives multiple processes that form a small cushion-like turf.

    Escobarium flower is greenish white, light pink, pink or carmine pink.

    A plant belonging to the subgenus Neobessia is resistant to severe freezing, but the soil on which the plant grows must be absolutely dry. Another species of the genus needs the same care as a corifant with a densely arranged spine.

    Top dressing:

    In the spring and summer, Escobaria is fed with special fertilizer for the cactus. Escobarium is fed with a frequency of once every half a month. During the rest period, namely in the winter period, top dressing is not carried out.