Information About Chin Cactus
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What Is A Chin Cactus – Tips For Growing Chin Cacti
By Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
A succulent bowl with several species makes an attractive, unusual display. Tiny chin cactus plants complement many types of succulents and are small enough they won't outcompete other diminutive specimens. What is a chin cactus? Click here to learn more.
Ruby Ball Cactus (Moon Cactus) Plant Profile
The ruby ball cactus, also known as the red cap cactus, is a grafted specimen. The colorful red top (the sicon) is Gymnocalycium mihanovichii) (the name refers to the flower buds bearing no hair or spines). The lower green cactus host portion can be any number of species, but is usually a Hylocereus cactus. The main job of the lower cactus is to display the Gymnocalycium at an advantageous height.
These plants rarely last more than a few years, since the upper sicon and the lower rootstock portions grow at different rates. This can eventually destroy the graft union between the two sections. However, it is not a difficult matter to separate the sicon and graft it onto a new rootstock cactus.
|Botanical Name||Gymnocalycium mihanovichii|
|Common Name||Ruby red cactus, moon cactus, ruby ball cactus, red top, red cap cactus|
|Plant Type||Herbaceous perennial|
|Mature Size||Varies, depends on rootstock|
|Sun Exposure||High light|
|Soil Type||Rich, fast-draining cactus mix|
|Soil pH||Acidic to neutral|
|Flower Color||Red, orange, or yellow|
|Hardiness Zones||11 to 12 usually grown as a houseplant|
|Native Area||South America|
Watch Now: How to Grow a Ruby Ball Cactus (Moon Cactus)
While the amount of light should be your first consideration when placing your cacti, temperature and humidity also play a role in the success of your houseplant. Most cacti like the low humidity and warm temps indoors, but tropical cacti prefer a bit more humidity. Place those cacti on a tray with pebbles that you keep constantly wet so the air around the plant stays humid. Avoid placing tropical cacti near heating vents.
Watering depends on the type of cactus you have and the time of year. For most of the year, water only when the soil has dried out from the last watering, which you can check by pressing your finger into the soil the soil is dry if no soil particles cling to your finger when you remove it. For some cacti, you might need to water weekly, while for others, watering every two to three weeks is all that's needed. In the winter, cut back on water for desert-type cacti and water once a month. For tropical cacti, water regularly year-round but also keep the soil moist instead of dry while the plant is in flower.
Selecting Cold-Hardy Cactus Plants
Because of the wide variety of plants within each species, check the hardiness of all cacti before buying them for outdoor use. The champions of cold-weather cacti come from the prickly pear family, known botanically as Opuntia. Opuntia species come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes. They grow with paddlelike pads and flowers that grow in red, bright pink, or yellow.
There are many kinds of cacti in this family, but two of the toughest are Opuntia fragilis, hardy to -35 degrees F, and Opuntia poryapantha, hardy to -25°F. The eastern prickly pear (Opuntia compressa), native to most parts of the eastern United States and southern Ontario, is an easy-to-grow choice. Its juicy red fruits (the "pear" of the common name) are edible.
Not all prickly pears are hardy in cold-winter climates. Other cactus plants with cold-weather tolerance to Zones 5 or 6 include:
Succulent identification chart & growing info, climate zones, conditions, etc. for a wide variety of succulents
Succulents by their nature are drought resistant and prefer a coarse, well drained coarse gravely soil. However, most are very hardy and tolerant of our soils and growing conditions. For those that require special treatment, planting instructions can be provided.
We grow several types of succulents: Cacti, Hens and Chickens (Houseleeks), short and tall Stonecrop (Sedum) and Yucca, as well as other unusual ones. The Cacti, Hens and Chickens, and short Sedums are all low growing and work well in rock gardens or ‘front of border’ in flower gardens. The tall growing Sedum and Yucca are good specimen plants for mid to back of flower beds.
Succulents are considered by many people to be mainly foliage plants and are not noted for their blooms. Most do bloom, however, some in early summer, and many in late summer to early fall. Some blooms are very eye catching. Many are very attractive to butterflies. As foliage plants, succulents provide a unique texture and a wide variety of colors and variegation.
Some succulents are evergreen and provide winter interests. For instance, hens and chicks being alpine plants, prefer cooler weather and many turn from green to shades of red during the colder months. Yuccas are evergreen and are quite striking, standing above the snow on cold winter days. The tall growing sedums all go dormant with the first hard frost. Cacti go dormant in the fall, turning gray green to brown until the warm spring weather returns.
There are several different groupings of Hens and Chicks. The two most common are Scientific Name: Jovibarba and Scientific Name: Sempervivum. Individual plants of the two look very similar. The difference is that Jovibarba grow chicks on very short stolens(stems) that make for a compact clumping plant mass. Sempervivums produce the chicks on longer stolens that allow the plant to slowly spread and eventually form a sizeable ground cover.
Sedum, in most cases, are easy to grow. Most of the low growing varieties spread slowly but given time will develop a dense mat. Others are clump forming. The taller varieties are all clump forming. To prevent them from being top-heavy at fall bloom time, you can trim them back by a third to a half in mid June. Sedums actually prefer poor soil and little or no fertilizer.
There are several cacti that perform well in Zone 5 and will winter over outdoors. However they all require well drained soils for both summer and winter. Rock gardens or raised beds with coarse soil is best.
Succulents attract bees and butterflies when they bloom and are very disease and insect resistant.
Succulents Description List
Inspiring, practical and richly photographed, this comprehensive guide offers creative ideas and DIY projects using beautiful low-maintenance, water-wise plants
Succulents are the ultimate easy-care plant: versatile, effortless to grow both indoors and outdoors, and drought tolerant. From Aloe and Agaves, to Senecio and Taciveria, this handbook by leading garden expert Robin Stockwell highlights 200 of the easiest, most useful, and gorgeous plants, and shares advice on care and cultivation. Readers will find inspiration for imaginative and exciting new ways to use succulents in striking garden designs, containers, vertical walls, and indoor arrangements, as well as step-by-step projects, such as living bouquets and terrarium ornaments.
This is the essential reference for landscapers, home gardeners, and anyone looking for a thorough introduction to the perfect plant for modern times.
Popular Cacti for the Garden
Cacti are very popular with gardening enthusiasts, and in most cases do not require much care. Most of them require good sunlight and minimal amount of water, and should not be exposed to frost. Many of the popular cacti are hybrids created to be unique and thus stand out when compared to the natural cacti growing in the wild.
This one is also known as ‘Whitsun Cactus’, and is very popular and widely cultivated as a houseplant. It is a highly branched plant, with flat, segmented, dull green stems bearing brightly-colored flowers that bloom in April or May. Native to Brazil, it can withstand a wide range of temperatures. However, it is advisable not to expose it to temperatures below 7° C. It can be safely watered all year round, but over-watering, especially in winter, should be avoided.
The cacti belonging to the genus Mammillaria are called Pincushion Cacti. Their stems are usually short when young, but elongate as they grow. The flowers emerge from the region between the areoles. Mammillaria require good sunlight, but exposure to harsh midday sun during the summer months should be avoided. Watering should be done only if the roots are completely dry.
Popular Species – Mammillaria zeilmanniana, Mammillaria hahniana, Mammillaria elongata, Mammillaria.
Golden Barrel Cactus
The Golden Barrel Cactus, although very popular as a cultivated species, is endangered in its natural habitat. It was almost wiped out from its natural habitat in Mexico by a single catastrophe: the construction of a dam. It is globose, or cylindrical with a flattened top, and grows to a height of about 1 – 2 feet, and a diameter of 2 – 3 feet. It may grow as a solitary plant, or more often, spawn offshoots at the side to form clusters. It grows well in a high-temperature environment.
Also known as ‘Crab Cactus’, it blooms in winter around the time of Thanksgiving, hence the name. It is native to Brazil, but is widely cultivated for its flowers, that come in a range of hues. It is often confused with the Christmas Cactus, which is a hybrid of two species. One of the main differences between the two is that the Thanksgiving Cactus blooms almost a month before the Christmas Cactus. The Thanksgiving cactus needs cooler temperatures and shorter day lengths to produce buds.
Dutchman’s Pipe Cactus
‘Dutchman’s Pipe’ is an epiphytic cactus (grows on trees instead of on the ground) native to Brazil, but popular throughout the world for its large, white, fragrant flowers that bloom only at night and wilt at dawn. Being a native of tropical rainforests, it needs more watering than cacti from a desert-like environment. However, over-watering should be avoided. It should be protected from scale bugs by spraying with a suitable insecticide.
Also known as ‘Sea Urchin Cactus’ or ‘Sand Dollar Cactus’, it is a small, star-shaped cactus with a woolly appearance. In the wild, it does not grow much above the surface of the soil and so is seen to be almost level with the ground. It has no spines, so is easy to handle. The variety “Super Kabuto” is especially popular. The star cactus needs to be repotted more frequently than other cacti and needs to be watered depending on whether it is growing or not.
The Christmas Cactus is a hybrid of two species, Schlumbergera russelliana and Schlumbergera truncata, usually written as Schlumbergera x buckleyi. However, Schlumbergera truncata is also often sold as Christmas Cactus. This cactus blooms around the time of Christmas, and the flowers that are produced are quite striking, and come in various colors like pink, orange, white, and many more. It grows well in both a warm and cold environment. However, the plant should not be exposed to frost.
Cacti of the genus Gymnocalycium are popularly called ‘chin cacti’. One of the most popular cultivars of the chin cactus is the ‘Hibotan’. It is a mutant that lacks chlorophyll, so the stem manifests colors such as red, yellow, pink and orange. Since it lacks chlorophyll, it cannot manufacture its own food. For this reason, it is grafted onto some other cactus (usually one of the genus Hylocereus), so that it can derive nourishment from it.