Austrocylindropuntia is one of the most bizarre cacti, for many it evokes unusual associations and always generates polar opinions. The appearance of this unusual succulent may not please everyone. But what cannot be taken away from austrocylindropuntium is originality. Elongated lines of thick shoots, unusual spines are not as impressive as the endurance of this plant. Capable of surviving even in extreme conditions, this relative of prickly pear is a succulent that seems to be created for modern interiors and for those who do not have enough time to regularly care for indoor crops.
Austrocylindropuntia – the original cactus for lazy flower growers
Austrocylindropuntia is the longest and most coral of all cacti
Until recently, austrocylindropuntia were considered rare and unpopular plants. But the spread of florariums and succulent gardens in modern interiors and the fashion for hardy ones, able to be content with almost one watering per month of culture, led to the fact that they finally appreciated all their decorative characteristics.
The variety of austrocylindropuntia, among which there are both gigantic ordinary and compact crested, but equally bizarre species, only increases interest in this culture.
Austrocylindropuntia is often called simply coral or cylindrical prickly pear, or even just prickly pear. And in the West, even the real botanical name is rarely indicated in catalogs, limited to outdated brasilipuntia or cilidropuntia.
Despite the common roots in the name, this cactus has nothing to do with prickly pears. Austrocylindropuntia belongs to the Cactaceae family. In nature, austrocylindropuntia can be found mainly on the west coast of South America. The largest representation of the species of this plant is in Ecuador and Peru.
Austrocylindropunciations (Austrocylindropuntia) Are not the largest, rather changeable in appearance, fast-growing succulents. Depending on the species, the height of austrocylindropuntium is limited to 15 cm or reaches almost 70 cm.
It is not by chance that austrocylindropuntia cacti are called fast-growing cacti: they add up to 10-12 cm per year, actively release side shoots and grow families. Their durability makes austrocylindropunctions one of the top candidates for succulent gardens. After all, there is often no need to divide, transplant or update these cacti.
Young plants and sprouts of all, without exception, austrocylindropuntia seem miniature and funny: densely pubescent, rounded, they only cause a smile, creating bizarre groups that look like corals. But with the beginning of growth and changes, small “families” and interesting crumbs quickly turn and transform into large and strange cacti.
All austrocylindropuntia are characterized by soft and cylindrical shoots, although it is rather difficult to predict their future shape in young plants. Deprived of ribs, bright in color, the stems easily release lateral shoots and, over time, acquire a columnar-tree-like shape.
On young plants and on young growth, all austrocylindropuntia flaunt with rudimentary, rod-shaped, fleshy leaves with a sharp edge only from 1 to almost 10 cm long.As the pseudo-leaves grow older, they fall off, and much more familiar thorns begin to grow in their place. Straight, large, rather massive, they are striking in their sharpness and require extremely careful handling. At the same time, they only emphasize the unusual flat tubercles in the leaf axils, which give the plant even more originality.
In addition to spines, austrocylindropuntia also form glochidia: invisible to the naked eye, hook-shaped bent, they cause extremely painful sensations when digging into the skin. Therefore, these cacti should be handled very carefully, avoiding any work without skin protection. Some species have an edge down to the long hairs on the areoles, creating whimsical effects and highlighting the beauty of the cactus.
Cristate forms, which are constantly expanding and deforming, have gained popularity among austrocylindropuntium. The original lumpy “ridges” with often non-standard pubescence seem to be bizarre green sculptures. Each type of this cactus has its own cristates, sometimes they appear on sale completely unnamed. Cylindrical cacti, in which the point of growth changes and deformation of the stems begins, are still easily recognizable by falling leaves, tubercles and other signs.
How does austrocylindropuntia bloom?
Blooming of austrocylindropuntium in a room culture is a great rarity and great luck. When wintering cool or cold, mature plants can produce beautiful, star-shaped flowers in a unique shade of lilac-pink or more familiar yellow, orange and red colors that appear startlingly delicate against a backdrop of bizarre stems.
Tubular flowers with a diameter of 3 to 7 cm open very wide. On austrocylindropuntia, they bloom in late spring or June. After flowering, large, spherical fruits are tied up to 3 cm in diameter and up to 4 cm long, densely covered with pubescence.
Types of indoor austrocylinders
In nature, these amazing cacti are represented by almost two dozen species. But in room culture it is much more modest. Austrocylindropuntia often remain unnamed, but their species are easily recognizable, differing in the size and diameter of the stems, in the appearance of young plants.
Austrocylindropuncture acuminate (Austrocylindropuntia subulata) grows in the form of numerous, rather thin (rarely exceeding 1 cm in diameter), rounded in cut, smooth cylindrical shoots of saturated green color, creating bizarre dense bushes over time. Modified, thickened rod-shaped leaves fall off with age, giving way to thorns.
Adding only a few centimeters in height, this bizarre cactus constantly releases side shoots and spreads out strongly in breadth. Creating whole families from “columns”, he always looks fresh and original. The originality of the plants is also given by tubercles with several beige spines, reaching a length of 3 to 8 cm, dividing the entire surface of the stem.
Almost a separate species is considered scallop decorative cristate shape quite common prickly pear subulate. As a result of a slowdown in growth, the plant develops for many years not in the form of cylindrical stems, but in the form of flattened, widespread, bizarre ridges similar to corals. Together they form striking furry and spiky living sculptures.
This species is often used as a rootstock for original cacti and crested forms of other prickly pears.
Austrocylindropunction of Verschaffelt
Charming and compact Wershaffelt austrocylindropuntium (Austrocylindropuntia verschaffeltii) became famous for its shape – even at an advanced age, cactus families seem to be bizarre spherical thickets of dozens of cylinders. The maximum stem diameter of 1,5 cm in room culture is rarely achieved, but the bright matte surface of green stems is fully manifested.
The stems are constantly lengthening, but when summer in the fresh air and hardening at low temperatures, the cactus can remain miniature, with short beautiful shoots. Beautiful cylindrical leaves up to 3 cm long are quickly replaced by small spines.
In indoor culture, austrocylindropuntia blooms much more often than other species, striking with bright reddish-orange flowers up to 5 cm in diameter, which open surprisingly wide.
Coated austrocylindropuntium (Dressed Austrocylindropuntia) in the West is known as the cotton coral cactus. This is a very beautiful cactus with elliptical, often almost spherical, cylindrical stems only with age, capable of growing up to 60 cm with a thickness of up to 3 cm. A distinctive feature is noticeable white halos with very long hairs covering almost the entire cactus, and short, looking upward leaves, alternating with almost imperceptible needles.
The edge is especially pronounced in winter, when the plant seems to be covered with cotton wool entangled in thorns. The shape of the cristate looks absolutely inimitable, its fluffiness is manifested several times stronger.
Austrocylindropuncture mace-shaped (Austrocylindropuntia clavarioides) Is a species, the classification of which is still being actively debated. Narodname “Hand Negro” Cactus deserved for his bronze color stems on a bright sun. Cylindrical stems with a brownish-green color with a diameter of only 2 cm are limited to a height of 25 cm. They do not branch as often, forming a kind of antlers.
With age, the compact cactus acquires shrub silhouettes. The spines are pressed to the stem, only a few millimeters in length, very small and thin, in medium-sized areoles. If this species blooms, it surprises with its tubular bronze flowers.
Like the styloid prickly pear, it has a crested shape that outwardly resembles fluffy bronze corals. But became especially popular albispine form, with flattened, cobblestone-like stems with densely set white areoles, outwardly somewhat reminiscent of living stones.
Cylindrical austrocylinder (Austrocylindropuntia cylindrica) Is one of the largest species. Shoots in diameter can reach 6 cm, and the length of the “pillars” even in indoor culture can exceed 1 m. Pentagonal tubercles on a young growth emphasize juicy cylindrical leaves, which fall off very quickly, leaving white elongated halos and white spines.
With age, the cactus seems too massive. His appearance is not to everyone’s taste, often causing not entirely decent associations. With age, the plant can become so large that it practically loses its attractiveness.
Growing conditions for indoor austrocylindropuntia
This type of cactus is one of the easiest to grow. Not afraid of even short-term negative temperatures, austrocylindropuntia is hardly the only indoor succulent that responds well to temperature changes. Even to different lighting conditions, this cactus is able to adapt better than all its competitors.
Lighting and placement
Austrocylindropuntia is one of the most adaptive cacti. They are not at all afraid of the direct sun (even at noon on the southern windowsill), they can grow in bright and not very bright lighting.
Unlike most cacti, austrocylindropuntia adapts well to partial shade and can grow at a distance from the window under “medium” lighting conditions. Artificial supplementary lighting for a plant is not the best option, but gardens of succulents and florariums with a plant can also be placed in the interior of bright rooms.
If the plants grow in partial shade, and also after wintering in not too bright light, it is better to adapt the plants to the direct rays of the sun gradually.
Changes in color and growth rates in plants are the main landmarks when looking for a place somewhat distant from the window. Until the austrocylindropuntium begins to fade or stops growing, the lighting should be considered quite comfortable.
A prolonged lack of light and ignoring the first symptoms in development can turn into stretching of the shoots, their thinning, fragile and painful appearance. Plants that have lost their compactness do not recover, but they do not die either.
If austrocylindropuntia is to be blooming, it is very important during the budding stage not to change the light intensity and to avoid turning the pots in relation to the light source.
Temperature control and ventilation
One of the most capricious cacti can grow in almost any conditions. They are not afraid of ordinary living rooms or cool offices. There is no optimal growing range other than the requirement to keep to reasonable limits.
During the period of active development, in summer, these plants reach the greatest decorative effect and growth rates at an air temperature of 21 to 27 degrees, but austrocylindropuntia will not be afraid of the heat.
For a period of rest, a low temperature for austrocylindropuntium is not at all necessary. Short-term frosts (up to -3 ° C), lowering up to 4-5 degrees for a long time, resistance to cold drafts and drops allow leaving the austrocylindropuntia to winter where it works.
In medium-cool or room temperatures, of course, the plant will do better than in extreme temperatures. The optimal wintering regime is considered to be a temperature of about 5-12 degrees Celsius, but such recommendations are more likely to apply to large cylindrical species and varieties, which usually stretch out during warm wintering. Cristates are also more decorative in cold weather.
Austrocylindropuntia love fresh air and do not feel very well indoors. These cacti can not only be taken out into the fresh air for the summer, but also dripped in pots in the garden or displayed on terraces or areas protected from precipitation. Austrocylindropuntia can stay in the fresh air from May to October – as soon as night temperatures rise to an average of 8-10 degrees and until they drop to 7-8 degrees.
Home care for austrocylindropuntium
For the successful cultivation of austrocylindropuntia, it is enough to remember only one thing – the need to avoid getting the cactus itself wet and dampness of the soil. Caring for this cactus is not easy, but super simple, the absence of mandatory procedures is easy for the cactus and requires minimal care. All care procedures are reduced to several feeding and watering.
Watering and air humidity
These are unique cacti that can be content with really minimal watering. Of course, experimenting with permanently dry soil is not worth it. But austrocylindropuntia will need minimal water procedures. Water the plant so that the substrate dries out almost completely between these procedures. Even in summer, one watering per week is usually sufficient. In spring, autumn and winter, the plant will prefer 2-3 times less watering.
In winter, when kept cool or cold, watering is not carried out; when wintering in warmth, they are made minimal, only after the stems lose turgor. Watering “in several passes” – with light soil saturation is the best option.
Water from the pallet, even if it appears in a minimal amount, is drained immediately, preventing it from accumulating. It is worth watering the plant carefully, without soaking the stems. This plant can also be grown with bottom irrigation.
Austrocylindropunctions not only do not require, but are also afraid of high air humidity. For them, you should carefully choose a place, avoiding the neighborhood with tropical moisture-loving plants.
Top dressing and composition of fertilizers
An excess of nutrients is very dangerous for austrocylindropuntia. Plants are fed very rarely, but with a standard portion of fertilizers. The usual strategy is feeding from May to September once a month. If this is more convenient, feeding can be made more frequent, but less concentrated.
For austrocylindropuntia, standard cactus or succulent fertilizers are used. Particular attention should be paid to trace elements. Universal fertilizers will not work for this plant.
Transplant, containers and substrate
The transplantation of austrocylindropuntium is carried out not annually, but as they develop the soil and container space. Usually, the plant is transplanted no more than 1 time in 2-3 years. Replacement of the topsoil is carried out annually in years without replanting. The optimal time for changing the capacity and substrate is considered early spring (if the cactus blooms, the transplant is postponed until the end of flowering). Always oriented towards the beginning of growth.
For the cultivation of this type of cacti, it is preferable to use purchased soil mixtures. When compiling the soil, it is worth checking the quality of all components yourself and paying attention to the disinfection of the substrate.
The optimal characteristics of the substrate for austrocylindropuntia are good water permeability, light, loose, fine-grained structure and pH from 6 to 8 with addition of brick chips. The optimal soil composition is coarse-grained sand, soddy soil, leafy soil and peat in a ratio of 3: 2: 2: 2.
Austrocylindropunctions are planted only in containers with large drainage holes and not too deep. Regardless of the substrate or composition, a high drainage layer is laid at the bottom. This cactus can grow in a minimal amount of soil, in rocky, sandy, ornamental substrates and common decorative and nutritious options for florariums.
Before transplanting, the substrate should stand completely dry for several days. When transplanting austrocylindropuntia, it is best to avoid root trauma, but instead of transplanting, it is better to use full extraction. The roots of the cactus must be examined, removing all damaged, dry, and even more rotten areas and processing the sections. After transplanting, watering is resumed no earlier than 1 week later. At the same time, it is better to keep cacti in shade for 7-10 days.
Diseases, pests and problems in the cultivation of austrocylindropuntia
This is one of the most persistent indoor cacti. Problems with austrocylindropunctions are extremely rare, mainly due to improper care. At very low temperatures and dampness of the soil, the roots are affected by rot, and in unventilated rooms with very long pauses in watering, mealybugs can settle on the cactus.
Stretching and blanching in poor lighting are not the only signs of problems in the development of austrocylindropuntia. If the stem is bent and pulled out without signs of color change, you should pay attention to too warm temperatures in winter. In this cactus, the tip of the stem may wrinkle and no growth appears when overflowing or wetting the stems, as well as with improper feeding.
Reproduction of austrocylindropuntia
Thanks to the active formation of side shoots and children, it is very easy to propagate austrocylindropuntia. With this cactus, it is enough to break off the side shoot and let all the slices dry out.
After treating the surface of the scrap with charcoal, the shoots are carefully buried in slightly damp sand in shallow containers. As they take root, they are planted in medium-sized containers. During the entire rooting and after it, the care of the austrocylindropuntia is quite normal, but the harm from waterlogging the soil or wetting the cactus is much higher, so you need to be very careful when watering.
Seed propagation is rarely used. Before planting, they are kept in the cold for 5-6 weeks, and then soaked for several hours. Sowing is carried out superficially, slightly moistening the substrate. Under film or glass, with frequent ventilation and light spraying. Seedlings will appear only after 3 months. The shelter is removed immediately after the first shoots appear.