Pereskia

Pcreskias are very like a dog rose in habil and might at first sight be mistaken for any plant species other than cacti. The give away is the presence of areoles below the leaves from which the stout and quite vicious spines emerge. They generally require more warmth than other cacti and will appreciate a different type of compost. A suitable mix would be four parts of medium loam or sterilized garden soil, six parts of medium peat and two parts of washed river sand. It is particularly important when using sand for cacti to make sure that it is fresh-water sand as salt-water sand can kill off the plants.

A minimum temperature through the winter of 10°C (50°F) is required if the plants are to maintain their appearance. If they are grown n the sí

Pereskia Godseffiana

conventional i facing bedroom windowsill as recommended when growing cacti indoors, they will drop many of their bottom leaves, and those that are grown for the foliage only, such as Pereskia godseffiana. will probably lose some of the top leaves as well. However, once the warmer weather returns and regular watering and feeding become possible again the plant will quickly producc fresh

Pereskias are not easy plants to raise from seed although nearly every (lower will set in due course and it is best to propagate them by cuttings, which root very readily. Even the stems carrying buds will root and can produce a most attractive little flowering plant.

Pereskias ultimately make large sprawl ing plants and will need support. If you have a greenhouse or conservatory with a sunny wall they will do best when planted out in the ground and allowed to sprawl naturally all over the wall. They can be trained up over the roof and when the pink flowers emerge are extremely attractive. They are also used extensively as grafting stock for other cacti, particularly the epiphytic types such as Zygocaclus (the Christmas cactus) or Schlumbergera (the Whitsun cactus). For this purpose a stem about 18 in (45 cm) high is chosen and a vertical slit is made in the centre of it. The pads of the selected scion can then be inserted in the slit and the whole either bound round with an elastic band or pinned together with a long cactus spine.

There are three varieties commonly found frequently seen and is a vigorous climbing shrub ultimately growing up to 30 A (9 m) in height. The leaves are hardly succulcnt at all and each has a very prominent rib running down the centre. It is more spiny than other species having up to three brownish spines under each leaf. The spines being hooked. The flowers have the great advantage of being scented, and the fruits, which are also ornamental, are yellow and spiny. P. godseffiana is regarded by many as a variety of P.aculeala and is distinguished by the reddish-gold colour of its leaves which are reminiscent of autumn foliage. P. godseffiana seldom flowers and is of a more bushy habit than P.aculeala although it is definitely less hardy, and makes a splendid pot plant. P. grandiflora has pink flowers and more oval leaves than P.aculeala and has long black spines on the older areoles. even though there are none on the newer growth.

Although I have recommended putting the plants against a sunny wall it is essential that they are given plenty of fresh air at the same time if the stems arc to ripen sufficiently to produce flowers. Indoors they are probably best kept away from direct, unvenlilated sunshine as this can scorch the leaves, particularly those of P. godseffiana.

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