Sowing and Propagation

The easiest method of propagation can be performed with sprouting Coryphantha spp. The sprouts may be picked from the mother plant and planted into separate pots.

Another, somewhat more complicated, method is derived from the fact that all Coryphantha spp. have dormant vegetative centres in their grooves. If a tubercle of a Coryphantha is grafted onto any usual grafting stock, after maybe 1-3 years, it will sprout from the groove and a new plant will appear. This method also serves to rescue sick or dying plants.

The growth of seedlings can be accelerated by early grafting onto fast-growing stocks like Pereskiopsis. In fact, such plants flower much earlier, but later on they show a somewhat different, usually lesser spined appearance.

In general, the grafting of Coryphantha spp. can be performed without major problems. However, in view of their easy cultivation, grafting is usually unnecessary.

The most common method of propagation is by seeds. Seeds are available from retailers, but it is only worth sowing seeds of documented origin, e.g. seeds with a collector's number. It is difficult to get well-documented and correctly diagnosed seeds and plants from nurseries. In our experience, most nursery supplies or seed lists have incorrect labels, or are invented names, or turn out to be undefinable cultivation hybrids. Another possibility is to sow self-produced seeds, if someone has two plants of the same origin and avoids hybridization when pollinating the plants. Sowing hybridized seeds under the name of the mother plants should be avoided. Too many such hybrids exist already and have contributed a lot to the confusion within the genus Coryphantha in the past.

With a few exceptions Coryphantha seeds germinate within 10 days. The best time to sow is spring because the seedlings can grow without a break during the whole summer. To protect them from fungus and bacterial diseases, it is wise to disinfect the seeds and the soil with a disinfectant like Chinosol. One of the best soils for sowing is fine-grained pumice. Initially, constant humidity of the soil and the air should be guaranteed and this is easily obtained in a closed container. The temperature should vary between about 20 and 32 °C. In their first or second year, the seedlings should be planted into a deep bowl to develop their root system easily. Later, after 3 or 4 years of growth, it is important to cultivate each seedling in its own pot to avoid competition between the plants, which may hinder growth.

Most Coryphantha seedlings are about 3-5 mm in diameter after 1 year. Some species need a high light intensity, otherwise they grow upwards very fast, forming very long, thin, weak columns which may die early. This tendency towards long growth can be seen e.g., in C. clavata, C. wohlschlageri und C. glanduligera.

The time period from sowing to flower production is different from one species to another. In our experience, the fastest flowerers are C. clavata and C. pulleineana (3-4 years). However, many species need about 5-7 years (e.g. C. echinoidea, C. vaupeliana, C. delae-tiana, C. nickelsiae, C. sulcata, C. neglecta), others 8-10 years (e.g. C. ottonis, delicata, pseudoechinus, hintoniorum) and some even longer (e.g. C. difficilis, salinensis, poselgeri-ana, robustispina, recurvata).

Despite this long time period, propagation of Coryphantha species remains a thrilling task.

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