Neoporteria continued

Neoporteria villosa unlike the species described on the previous page is a fairly reliable flowerer once it has reached a height of 2 to 3 in (5 to 8 cm). Like other members of this genus it is a native of Chile and starts as a hemispherical plant body which later becomes elongated and eventually reaches a height of over 4in (10cm). The plant bodies are normally tinged with red but this tint may disappear during dull summers or if the plant is shaded from direct sunlight. It has fewer ribs than N. subgibbosa, normally only about thirteen in number, but like the latter species the areoles are closely packed and filled with a considerable amount of white wool. The most prominent feature is, of course, the abundance of dense numerous yellowish radial spines which pale with age.

The species is free flowering, producing a ring of flowers round the apex of the plant often as frequently as twice a year first in the early spring and then again in the late autumn. For this reason it should not be dried out too soon and should be rested only from December through to February. By allowing it to become dormant too soon the chances of flowers being produced so freely can be jeopardized.

Neoporteria jussieui is another species which has reddish-brown plant bodies when it is stood in direct sunlight. It has up to eighteen broad prominent ribs which are sharply notched round the areoles. There are seven stout greyish radial spines surrounding a longer central upward-pointing one and all may be tinged brown at the 140 tips. The flowers are reddish.

Notocacti are some of the most commonly seen cacti in cultivation and this is probably because they germinate readily from seed and are. therefore, easy to produce in large numbers. Generally they make only a few flowers each year, although some of the rarer varieties with smaller flowers go on flowering for quite a long period. The larger-flowered varieties tend to open their flowers fully for only a short period at midday and this makes it difficult for people who go out to work to appreciate them I have had many sad letters from people complaining that they have only seen their plant in bud and when it has finished flowering. Notocactus apricus. N. concinnus and N. tabularis are all somewhat similar in appearance with low. rounded, green plant bodies and brownish spines. Plants thought to belong to any of these species should also be compared with the illustration of N. muricatus on page 142. which is slightly similar when young.

Notocactus apricus has pale green plant bodies surrounded by fifteen to twenty low ribs which are closely covered by the areoles. When young these have wool in them but with age this disappears leaving the older ones bare. The radial spines normally number between eighteen and twenty and are weak and bristle like, reddish yellow when young but becoming paler with age. There are four brownish-red. yellow-tipped central spines. The yellow flowers are produced early in the season and their presence is indicated by woolly buds appearing amongst the spines as the new growth unfolds in late March.

species but has fewer radial spines, normally ten to fifteen in number and yellowish rather than brownish in colour. It is a native of Southern Brazil and the yellow flowers, which are produced on quite young plants of two years of age or more, are often over 2 in (5 cm) in diameter and can completely cover the plant bodies.

tween the two species just described with between sixteen and eighteen radial spines, about half an inch (1 cm) in length, and white rather than yellowish although they are frequently tipped brown when young. The central spines are paler than those of N. muricatus with which this species should

Notocactus generally require a longer resting period than other varieties of cactus and I dry them out a month earlier and water them a month later-than the other varieties. This seems to encourage the plant to produce rather more flowers than would otherwise be the case and greatly increases the chances of seeing them.

sold as Brasilicaclus liaselbergii and is, as the latter name suggests, a native of Brazil where it grows in the south near Rio Grande. The plant bodies are mid-green but are surrounded by very numerous low ribs. Although globular when young the plant bodies quickly elongate and the spines near the base of the plant at ground level become fewer in number and generally rather unattractive: however, this is not a cultural problem but rather a completely normal growth phenomenon. As with most other Nolocaclus species il appreciates a slightly more acid soil than other cacti and a little aluminium sulphate, dissolved at the rate of one gram per litre, should be watered in twice or three times a year depending on how hard the water is in your area, the harder il is Ihe more applications it will

The areoles are spaced closely on the sides of the ribs and have white wool in them, which is particularly prominent where the growing point is depressed in the centre. The spines are white and translucent giving the plant a faintly shimmering appearance in bright sunlight and contrasting magnificently with the small reddish dowers which are produced on three-lo four-year-old plants from the new areoles as they unfold in midsummer. Although this plant does not flower as young as some species, the attractive covering of white spines contrasts well with the mid-green stems and makes this an attractive plant even when not in flower.

Nolocaclus horsiii is one of the most recent species to be brought into cultivation and was introduced into this country as a pot plant from Holland where its long flowering life, which extends late into the season, makes il an especially useful species for ihe commercial nurseryman. Il can be grown readily from seed and is particularly undemanding in its habits: however. because of its generally rather late season, it may need a little more warmth later in the year lhan other cacli. Where feasible it should be brought out of the greenhouse into a warmer room in the house until ihe end of October when it may be rested until watering is restarted in mid-lo late March. N. Iiorsiii is also sometimes sold as N.Juncineus and ultimately attains a height of some 4 in (10 cm). It has a superficial resemblance to Parodia gracilis illustrated on page 144 and flowers over the same long period. The stems are pale green wilh twelve sharp, very prominent ribs on which ihe areoles are borne about a fifth of an inch (O S cm) apart. The radials, which normally number about twelve, arc weak and bristly and vary in colour from white lo a pale brown. The centrals are similarly coloured and usually four in number. The flowers are rather small for ihis genus bui are produced over a long period when there is little else in flower, making this otherwise somewhat unremarkable plant a useful addition lo ihe small collection.

Generally speaking the Nolocacii flower when comparatively young but this is not true of N. leningliausii which normally has to attain a height of 9 in (23 cm) or more before it can be relied upon to flower (in the illustration the flowers are shown for reference only). Although it is fairly slow glowing and you may have to wait some lime for a plant to reach flowering size, it is covered with silky golden hair-like spines which make it very attractive in its own right. Care must be taken during the summer not io give ihe planl too much water or warmth as ihis can cause ihe siems to bursl open through over-growing. It is also nol uncommon for the plant to branch al Ihe lip.

The stems are cylindrical, although those of very young plants may at first be round in appearance. They ultimately attain a height of about 10 in (25 cm) after which the main growth is concentrated in the side shoots which spring up from the base. They are pale to mid-green in colour and almost completely covered by the long golden hairs mentioned earlier which are produced on ihe closely packed areoles on the sides of the numerous low ribs.

If the stems do explode all is nol lost. The plant will keep on growing but the gap will never close and il is wisest lo dusl ihe exposed fleshy surface with some dry powdered sulphur lo assist in ihe quick formation of a callus to prevent possible infection. Il would also be a good idea lo waler the plant with a systemic fungicide as a preventive measure. Normally the split does not occur right the way up the stem and an alternative is to slice off the unalleclcd upper part of the stem cleanly wilh a sharp knife and lo root this separately after allowing il to dry out for a day or two.

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