The species are numerous, characterized by long sharp spines, of various colours, from the yellow to the black, often purple or bright red, at times ample and curved; they have a usually roundish body during the first years of life, which becomes cylindrical with the passing of the years. Often the stem is characterized by deep ribs, sometimes also have opercules, from which emerge numerous spines. Usually, the ferocactus produce single specimens, few species tend to till over the years.
In spring, at the apex of the stem, numerous flowers bloom, often grouped in a kind of crown, pink, yellow, purple or red. The flowers are followed by small yellow fruits, which have no pulp, but are full of seeds, usually fertile.
Let’s grow ferocactus
These cacti are among the most common among enthusiasts and not, being cultivated simple enough. They are planted in pots, as in Italy they cannot survive the winter temperatures and humidity; we use a mould for succulent plants, rich of sand and pumice stone, in order to obtain a soil similar to the one present in the deserts of origin.
They love sunny locations, but remember to avoid placing directly in the sun a plant that we kept indoors or in a sheltered place: let’s move it to the sun gradually, to prevent direct sunlight from burning the epidermis of the plant, causing a bluish coloring.
In spring and summer, with a warm climate, we water our ferocactus regularly, always waiting for the soil to be dry between watering; in nature, these plants live in desert places, where the rains are only occasional, can therefore remain dry for weeks, without suffering in any way, excessive watering instead lead quickly to the development of diseases such as rottenness and mold, which can ruin or kill even specimens of many years of age.
When the climate becomes cool, let’s suspend watering and leave the plant dry until the following spring.
The ferocactus can bear temperatures close to zero for short periods of time, but only in case the soil is completely dry.
As for many other cacti, the colder the climate is, the less water must be present in the soil; if we grow the ferocactus in cold greenhouses, we should leave them dry until the first hot springs, if instead we grow them at home, with average temperatures close to 17-18°C, we should water sporadically.
In order to obtain abundant blooms, it is necessary for the plant to go through a period of vegetative rest in a cool place, therefore it is more probable that the specimens cultivated in cold greenhouses will bloom; while the plants kept in the house will hardly bloom.
Ferocactus – Ferocactus: Propagating a succulent
Ferocactus live in the Central American deserts; they are arid areas, with scarce rainfall. In any case, however, these are not completely desert areas, without any kind of precipitation, as could be the typical desert of African sand. Therefore, these plants live in places with scarce precipitations, where, however, in some occasions, are present short thunderstorms, with high presence of water for short periods of time.
In the rocky deserts, moreover, it often happens that the water flows towards depressed areas, such as the bottom of the valleys; in these areas the soil remains humid for short periods of time, interspersed with long periods of drought.
The seeds of ferocactus fall between the rocks during the rainy periods, and therefore find, for germinating, a very humid environment.
If we want to propagate our ferocactus by seed, we shall therefore have to ensure a sandy and humid soil, at least until the seeds have completely germinated; when all the seeds have come out, we shall transfer the small plants in a drier and warmer climate, so that they can develop without too much water around, which could quickly lead to the formation of very harmful rottenness.
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