HOW TO GROW ECHINOCACTUS GRUSONII FROM SEED

C├ęsar Manrique jardin de cactus in Lanzarote

Echinocactus grusonii is a slow growing, globular or cylindrical cacti which given the right environmental conditions can reach up to a metre in height and width. They are cultivated for their beautiful spines, but when grown as houseplants in temperate regions they are the most unlikely to flower of all cacti species.

Native to east-central Mexico, be aware that Echinocactus grusonii will need full sunlight to produce the good spine formation. It is the ornamental effect of the spines that has helped this particular species become one of the more widely cultivated of all cacti.

Image credit - http://www.cactiguide.com/
When growing in northern Europe, the best germination results are achieved by sowing Echinocactus grusonii seed in April. Using a modular seed tray, fill with a good quality compost, such as John Innes 'Seed and Cutting', with a few handfuls of horticultural grit mixed in to help improve the drainage further. Gently water the compost in then sow one seed per module, gently pressing the seed into the surface of the compost. Be careful not to cover the seed with compost as Echinocactus seed needs the presence of light to help initiate germination. You can however provide a light sprinkling of vermiculite or horticultural grit.

Place the tray inside a heated propagator at a temperature of approximately 21 degrees Celsius, then keep the tray in a warm room that receives as much light as possible although try to avoid direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day. Alternatively seal the tray inside a clear polythene bag.

Field grown E. grusonii in China - image credit http://www.ec21.com/
You can expect the seedlings to emerge within 2-3 months, at which point they can be removed from their propagator or polythene bag. Avoid the temptation to water until the first two cotyledons are present, and do not touch them as this can damage their growth.

Pot on as necessary using a good quality, open cactus compost but you can make your own by using 1 part by volume horticultural sand to 2 parts John Innes 'No2' compost. This is only really necessary every 2-3 years and then only on warm sunny days.

Never allow temperatures to drop below 8 degrees Celsius, and while they will tolerate dry conditions an occasional spray of warm, tepid water will do wonders. Water as necessary but avoid watering from above especially on hot sunny days as the plants can easily become scorched. Remember that cacti will carry the scars their existence throughout their life. Over the winter period you can reduce watering to once a month and even then do not allow the compost to become fully soaked.

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