Attractive Flowering Cactus



With very few exceptions cactuses are not grown for their flowers. However, when cactus flowers do appear they are every bit as gorgeous as many of the better know flowering houseplants. Indeed, with their intensely glowing ruby and purple shades, they can rival even the most showy of the orchids.

The flowers are also very large in comparison with other plants, so it is not unusual to see a little cactus three or four inches high in a small pot with two of three flowers the same size as the parent stock!

One of the most common flowering cacti for the window garden is the crab cactus (Epiphyllum truncatum) because it gives such a wealth of bright flowers. The young stems are flat, resembling the claws of a crab, but they become round and woody with age. During the winter each tip produces a pair of brilliant ruby-red flowers. They can also be violet-red depending on the variety. In Europe there are many named varieties of this cactus. It is a great cactus for hanging baskets. It flowers mostly in the winter. In its native country it is an epiphyte, but it can be grown successfully on its own roots in the soil. Another way to grow it is to have a plant grafted on Pereskia. Try growing your crab cactus in a soil made of equal parts fibrous loam, leaf-mould, and sand, with some finely broken up charcoal or broken up bricks for drainage.

Another beautiful red flowering plant which blooms in summer is the orchid cactus (Phyllocactus Ackermannii). Its big flowers grow up to six inches in diameter and are similar to those of the night-blooming cereus. They are scarlet-red outside and carmine-red inside. It has flat stems and grows only about three feet high. You should grow it in a similar way as the night-blooming cereus.

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