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Classification, origin and description
Common name: Pereschia.
provenance: Central America.
Genre description: includes about 20 species of plants which, although belonging to the Cactaceae family, are not succulent. They are shrubs with an erect or climbing habit with thin and woody stems (especially in older specimens), equipped with thorns that bear real leaves. They are used as ornamental plants and as rootstock for different species of Epiphyllum.
Pereskia grandifolia (Berlin Botanical Garden) (photo website)
Species and varieties
Pereskia aculeata: native to Central America, this fast-growing climbing shrub has young stems, on which oval leaves appear, with a shiny and bright green leaf, which have curved thorns on the lower page to which young shoots and old stems that bear leaves attach , in the armpit of which are areoles that produce erect spines. In October it produces panicles of yellow, pink or white flowers, with intensely scented yellow-orange stamens. Flowering is followed by the production of edible fruits (small yellow round shaped berries), which, in the Antilles, are consumed, together with the leaves, before complete ripening. It is a species used as a rootstock for several species of Epiphyllum. It can reach 9 m. in height. Among the varieties on the market we find the "Godseffiana" which has large, variegated leaves of yellow and red that fall after the summer.
Pereskia grandiflora or Rhodocactus grandifolius: this shrubby species has stems, sprinkled with black spines, which bear non-persistent, oval leaves, 13-15 cm long, light green in color. In April-May it produces pink flowers.
Environmental requirements, substrate, fertilizations and special precautions
Temperature: the minimum winter temperature must not be lower than 10-16 ° C.
Light: very bright exposure, even full sun, especially when buds appear.
Watering and environmental humidity: in spring-summer, water regularly, letting the soil dry between one administration and another. From October to March the frequency of watering will have to be very reduced until it is almost suspended.
Substrate: very fertile mixture based on garden soil, leaf earth and sand, with the addition of bone meal and vegetable charcoal.
Special fertilizations and tricks: replace the pot in spring only if the roots have completely filled the bread with earth. Arrived to use pots of 25-30 cm. in diameter, it will be sufficient to replace the surface layer (5 cm.) of the compost with a new substrate. In spring-summer, give liquid cactus fertilizer every 4-6 weeks.
Multiplication and pruning
Multiplication: the peresches are sown in the spring, in a container filled with seed compote, kept in the shade and at a temperature of 21 ° C. After germination, the seedlings must be moved to the sun and watered sparingly. As soon as the dimensions allow, they will have to be transplanted into single pots and treated as adults. From the apices of the semi-woody stems, cuttings of 10-13 cm can be taken, which, after waiting for a few days for the healing of the cutting surface, must be rooted in a mixture of peat and sand and transplanted into single pots, to engraftment occurred.
Pruning: in March, together with any repotting, proceed with pruning the adult plants, taking care not to cut the branches formed in the previous year, on which the flowers will bloom.
Diseases, pests and adversities
- Soft and discolored stems: excess of water.