When the "Queen of the night" blooms
For a quarter of a century of careful study and comparison of the sights of St. Petersburg, I came to the conclusion that in our city - a monument, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful cities in Russia (probably due to its two hundred year period as the capital of the Russian state), there are very, very many interesting places that you can endlessly admire. But, in my opinion - the look of a person who has seen the main sights of the city many times, the five wonders of St. Petersburg and its suburbs include the Golden Pantry of the State Hermitage, the Porcelain Museum of the Lomonosov Porcelain Factory, the Amber Room of the Catherine Palace (St. Pushkin), the fountains of Peterhof and the blooming cactus (cereus) "Queen of the Night" from the State Botanical Garden. Not blooming, this succulent seems unremarkable from the outside. Such a gorgeous name may even seem ridiculous, the more amazing is then the effect of meeting with the "Queen of the Night" who has blossomed its flowers - she causes delight and admiration. In natural conditions, there are more than 20 species of these cacti belonging to the genus Selenicereus, which includes both creeping and curly forms - with relatively thin 3-12-ribbed stems, on which aerial roots develop. Botanical gardens are mainly cultivated Selenicereus large-flowered (Selenicereus Mrs. Macdonald - S. macdonaldiae (5-6 ribbed stem) and selenicereus uniculate S.hamatus (4-5 - ribbed stem with large hook-shaped processes along the edge of the stem) In our Botanical Garden, BIN RAS, there is one of the oldest plants in the country (since 1824). During the season, this large specimen of Mrs. MacDonald's Selenicereus sometimes releases up to 100 buds, half of them open. "Queen of the Night" throws out large (25-40 cm in size) beautiful flowers with a vanilla aroma, with white petals and golden yellow sepals, with a long a flower tube and ovary covered with scales, spines and hairs. Flowers appear only once a year, which, by the way, occurs during the white nights. Most St. Petersburg gardeners can hardly bring this "thorny joy" in their collection and wait for its flowering, since the plant needs a fairly tall room: length its creeping stems (up to 1.5-2.5 cm in diameter) can reach 6-7 meters or more, and before the flowering period it can be a little capricious. In its homeland (tropics and subtropics of America), Selenicereus with long climbing snake-like stems with many aerial roots clings to trees, using them as props, or uses them when crawling (and for feeding) on the ground.It should be noted its endurance and peculiar structure of leathery, covered with wax bloom of stems: this makes the plant grows normally in rooms with dry central heating air and tolerates temperature fluctuations. Selenicereus has thorns on the stems. It is nothing more than modified leaves, which contain a large amount of calcium, therefore, when growing it, it is important that the soil is sufficiently saturated with this element. The thorns must be handled carefully, since, when broken, they do not recover: this is taken into account when transplanting or transporting a plant. On the ribs of the stalks of the selenicereus, there are non-pubescent areoles (special tubercles), on each of which there are bundles of 7-11 short yellowish-green spines. In these areoles, flower buds are laid, buds and flowers appear, "babies" are formed. The bloom of the St. Petersburg "Queen of the Night" with huge flowers (up to 30 cm in diameter and 15-20 cm long) is an unforgettable sight, therefore the plant and received such a "royal" name. In late May - mid June, with the onset of evening, it opens its flowers, which persist only for several hours until the morning. As a rule, this perennial succulent forms a lot of buds, so flowering often stretches for many days: the flowers bloom one after another. Growing such a giant with beautiful and unusually fragrant flowers in indoor conditions can only be afforded if you have a fairly spacious light (but not very sunny ) premises. The stems must be tied to a solid support, guiding them, for example, along a specially provided ladder. An unpretentious plant grows well when planted in the soil of a greenhouse near the wall. It develops normally on any fertile soil, but the most suitable substrate is a mixture of clay-sod land, deciduous soil and a coarse fraction (2-3 mm in diameter) of washed river sand (ratio 1 : 2: 0.5), but sufficiently moisture and air permeable. An adult cactus is kept in large pots or flower wooden tubs. Selenicereus grows relatively quickly, therefore it takes a lot of nutrients from the soil: for powerful growth and subsequent flowering, it should be periodically fed with solutions of complex mineral fertilizers. Spring and summer dressing is done with a weak solution of fermented infusion from organic fertilizer. From the beginning of budding until the end of summer, the "queen of the night" is regularly watered; in winter, watering is reduced (temperature 15 ... 17 ° C). If an amateur florist wants to start this succulent for vertical gardening of the room (he will tie its stems to a trellis), let him mean that it is propagated by cuttings of shoots. Cuttings root better and form a root system more quickly if they are sprayed with warm water from a spray bottle, or when placed under a glass jar. I recommend that residents of the northern capital and city guests do not miss the announcements of night tours that appear during the flowering of the "Queen of the Night" cactus in the future to be able to see this miracle. The specialists of our Botanical Garden, located on Aptekarsky Island (not far from the Petrogradskaya metro station), worked hard to preserve this Selenicereus during the wars of the last century and in the difficult years of perestroika, with great difficulty keeping warm in winter in greenhouses. They say there is a sign: the one who saw the blooming "Queen of the Night" will be happy, and at the same time will recall with delight the aroma and charm of her flowers.
A. Lazarev, Candidate of Biological Sciences, All-Russian Research Institute of Plant Protection, Pushkin
Diseases and pests
The Queen of the Night has a fairly strong immune system, so she rarely gets sick. This is usually due to improper care or conditions of detention. The most common problems with Selenicereus are:
- Rotting of the root system. Occurs due to excess moisture or fertilizers.
- Falling leaves... May be caused by a lack of water or a sudden change in temperature.
- Withering shoots... It occurs due to a critical lack of moisture, or due to an insufficient amount of nutrients and trace elements in the soil.
- Falling petals. Selenicereus drops its flowers only if it lacks enough to keep them alive.
There is only one pest that can cause inconvenience to a cactus - the scabbard (spider mite). In order to cope with it, the plant and soil must be treated with insecticides.
Selenicereus is an unusual, eye-catching cactus. It is somewhat difficult to care for due to the nature of its shoots, but its extravagant appearance and large, beautiful flowers are worth a little tinkering with this plant.
Diseases and pests
In the description of the species, it is said that the main problem during cultivation is the development of root rot due to excessive moisture in the soil. The problem is solved by reducing the frequency of watering.
Spider mites and scale insects are isolated from pests of cactus. After the detection of parasites, the cactus needs to be treated with insecticidal preparations.
Selenicereus cactus, which blooms several times per season, requires actual supervision. Violation of watering rules can lead to the death of a cactus. But if everything is done correctly, the unusual exotic will definitely delight the owner.
This plant belongs to the genus of cacti that arrived from the forest and rocky areas of South America. The body of Selenicereus is represented by thin multi-ribbed cascading shoots, on which aerial roots-attachments are formed, with the help of which the plant is strengthened on any supports.
In mid-spring, flower buds begin to form on the shoots. They are small fluffy balls that gradually grow and turn into huge buds. Flowers up to 35 cm in diameter open in the evening, filling the space with a thick vanilla aroma. The flowers are composed of multiple white petals with gilded sepals.
Blooming lasts only one night.
How to properly care for a plant:
- Selenicereus prefers brightly lit places and easily tolerates the influence of direct sunlight, but they react painfully to the slightest drafts and sudden changes in temperature.
- Watering should be carried out as needed - after the soil has completely dried out. The plant does not need spraying, but periodically it should be given a light warm shower to wash off the dust.
- Selenicereus should be planted in a fertile, but light and loose soil mixture. Soil is good for cacti.
How to grow cacti from seeds
- - cactus seeds
- - shallow bowl or pot
- - prepared soil
- - plastic bag.
Activated charcoal tablets can be used instead of charcoal
Never sow on dry soil. Otherwise, small cactus seeds will go deep into the soil and will not sprout.
When sowing, small seeds can be mixed with fine sand by volume 1: 4. This will help prevent small seeds from sticking together.
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Latin name: Selenicereus testudo
Main genus: Selenicereus
Selenicereus tortie is a cactus distributed from southern Mexico to Colombia.
ON THE PICTURE: Selenicereus tortoiseshell, creeping cactus, can be found in nature in Nicaragua, Honduras, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Belize.
Description of the plant:
Selenicereus tortoiseshell is an epiphytic or terrestrial cactus with climbing or creeping shoots.
ON THE PICTURE: The length of the shoots of Selenicereus tortie can reach three meters.
Stems are long, narrow at a young age, become wide and thick at maturity, divided into segments.
The flowers are white, large, 21–26 cm in diameter.
ON THE PICTURE: Like all representatives of this genus, Selenicereus tortoiseshell dissolves its large, showy flowers at night.
Fruits are purple in color, covered with thorns.
In summer, tortoiseshell Selenicereus can be grown outdoors by placing a pot near a wall so that the cactus can use it as a support. Wintering at a temperature of about + 15 ° C.
The cactus requires full or partial sun.
Watering is regular in summer, rare in winter.
Excessive watering can lead to rotting of the cactus roots. You want the soil to dry out between waterings.
The soil should be well-drained, it is best to use a mixture of two parts sand, one part clay, one part peat and one part gravel.
Selenicereus tortie can be propagated by stem cuttings or seeds. When propagating by cuttings, you need to cut off the healthy apical segment of the stem in the place where it joins with another segment. Do this in dry warm weather. The cut should be allowed to dry for 1-3 days, but the cutting should not be kept in a place where direct sunlight can fall on it. Then the cutting is planted in a small pot to a depth of about 2.5 cm and placed in a sunny place.
Where can I get the "Queen of the Night"?
The "Queen of the Night" can be found ... in the trash heap. Few resign themselves to the fact that a thorny "monster" with long curved stems is growing in the house. And they are thrown out without waiting for flowering. The easiest way is to grow selenicereus from a cuttings that are pre-dried. You can sow seeds and wait for flowering for 4 - 5 years. In stores, small selenicereus are often sold as “assorted mini cacti”. "Queen of the night" is also in nurseries. In one greenhouse near Moscow, for a long time, an adult Selenicereus was sold with a tag, but with which it was written: "Ampelous cactus." Nobody bought it: it was not clear how to shove this prickly miracle into the car and take it home.
Queen of the night
There is a belief that the blooming "queen of the night" brings happiness, good luck, and makes wishes come true. Only one night a year the "dragon cactus" - "queen of the night" gives people a wonderful flower. The plant is so interesting and unpredictable that there are legends about it, one of which you can read.
“Once,” says a beautiful fairy tale, “in an unknown country, in an unknown world, many, many flowers gathered. The queen of this kingdom - the rose - was, as always, in the spotlight. Pushed aside and squeezed into a corner, a nondescript serpentine, thorny cactus silently admired her. He was ugly, and this did not go unnoticed among the slender and proud plants. Caustic taunts and witticisms were directed towards him like poisonous arrows. The cactus resignedly bore them: the highest pleasure for him was to admire the beauty of his queen.
It was getting dark, night was approaching, and suddenly a small bright speck appeared in a dark corner, where until now only the silhouette of intricately intertwined, thorny branches was visible. Increasing in size, it emitted a delicate, transparent greenish, mysterious light. All the flowers turned towards him. A flower of indescribable beauty was slowly opening before them. It was a symphony of light and color. All the plants froze in silent admiration when the rosette of the flower unfolded completely and became the size of a large plate. Until dawn, silently, as if enchanted, the flowers contemplated this miraculous beauty.
But then dawn broke, and where there had just been a beautiful flower, a ray of sun again illuminated the thin body of a cactus silently and modestly nestled in the corner. A rumble ran through the rows of flowers. Where could the miracle they saw come from? Cactus? No, of course, he was not the reason. - And yet - this is it! - exclaimed the enchanted rose.
The cactus stood confused in front of the amazed gazes of flowers. On his body, which no longer seemed ugly to anyone, several dewdrops, transparent as a tear, rolled down. He could not contain them, feeling a deep sense of gratitude to the queen of flowers. After all, no one else, and the queen herself believed and confirmed to everyone that it was he, the cactus, who was so beautiful.
So the fairy tale ended. But the cactus, which was discussed in it, actually exists. In all languages of the world, he is called the queen of the night. He has a scientific Latin name - Selenicereus grandiflorus (L.) Br. et R. ("SELENITSEREUS") (based on the book "Cacti" S. Turdiev, R. Sedykh, V. Erikhman.).