Cactus Culture for Amateurs eBook

William Watson (poet)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 228 pages of information about Cactus Culture for Amateurs.

Propagation.—­Both the above-named species may be propagated to any extent, as every bit of branch with a leaf and eye attached is capable of rooting and soon forming a stock.  The practice among those who use Pereskias as stocks for Epiphyllums is as follows:  Cuttings of P. aculeata are planted in sandy soil, in boxes, and placed on a shelf in a stove till rooted.  In about a month they are ready to be planted singly in 3 in. pots, any light soil being used; and each plant is fastened to a stake 1 ft. long.  They are kept in a warm, moist house, all lateral shoots being cut away, and the leader encouraged to grow as tall as possible in the year.  From December the plants are kept dry to induce the wood to ripen, preparatory to their being used for grafting in February.  Stocks 9 in. or 1 ft. high are thus formed.  If taller stocks are required, the plants must be grown on till of the required length and firmness.  Large plants may be trained against a wall or along the rafters in a warm house; and when of the required size, the branches may be spurred back, and Epiphyllums, slender Cereuses, and similar plants, grafted upon them.  In this way very fine masses of the latter may be obtained in much less time than if they were grown from small plants.


P. aculeata (prickly); West Indian or Barbados Gooseberry.—­Stem woody, more or less erect, branching freely, and forming a dense bush about 6 ft. high.  Young branches leafy; old ones brown, leafless, clothed with large cushions of long, stout, brown spines, sometimes 2 in. in length.  Leaves alternate, with very short petioles, at the base of which is a pair of short spines, and a small tuft of wool in the axil; blade 3 in. long by 2 in. broad, soft, fleshy, shining green.  Flowers semi-transparent, white, in terminal panicles; sepals and petals 3/4 in. long by 1/4 in. wide; stamens in a large, spreading cluster, white, with yellow anthers.  Ovary covered with small cushions of short bristles, with sometimes a solitary spine in the centre of each cushion.  Fruit 1 in. long, egg-shaped, red, edible.  There is a large plant of this in the Succulent House at Kew which flowers almost annually, but it has never ripened fruits.  In the West Indies it is a very common shrub, whilst at the Cape of Good Hope it is used for fences—­and a capital one it makes.

P. a. rubescens (reddish).—­This variety has narrower, longer leaves, which are glaucous-green above and tinged with red below; the spines on the old stems are shorter and more numerous in each cushion.  This requires the same treatment as the type.

P. Bleo (native name); Fig. 87.—­A stout, branching shrub, having an erect stem, 3 in. or more in diameter, with green bark and very large cushions of spines; cushion a round, hard mass of short, woolly hair, from which the spines—­about fifty in each cushion—­radiate in all directions; longest spines 2 in. or more in length; one or two new ones are developed annually, and these are bright

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Cactus Culture for Amateurs from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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