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Choon's Cacti Collection

 
Date: Thu, 27 Nov 1997 17:59:29 -0600 (EST)
From: Roger Sieloff ISDH <sieloff@doe.state.in.us>
To: cacti_etc@opus.hpl.hp.com
Subject: Rebutias for everyone!
Message-ID: <Pine.PTX.3.94.971127161007.6599A-100000@ideanet.doe.state.in.us>
 

Greetings from Indiana - state of boredom..

****************** How to Grow Rebutias in the Tropics *******************

Although it is true this genus needs a cold winter rest to keep it healthy, one CAN grow these cacti in the rain forest! First of all, I make the assumption that since the reader has access to a computer, then there exists access to that other piece of technology most westerners could not survive without - a refrigerator. If refrigerators and computers populate your local ecology then perhaps there also exists "luxury plastic", specifically polythene bags (we Yanks know then as "ziplock baggies") and also, perchance, styrofoam cups.

Having enumerated a host of synthetic species, I now turn our attention to a few natural ones. Rebutias make such nice cacti because they are naturally compact; they do tend to offset into mounds after awhile, but individual heads are usually small enough such that even after 10 year's growth, many species fit comfortably into 6" diameter pots. Some Rebutia offset less enthusiastically than others and an excellent example is R. flavistyla, with orange flowers in the spring (whenever this occurs in your locality).The R. senilis and R. haageii "complex" is not only dwarf, but all the cultivars offer an assortment of flower colors as well; reds, violets, pinks, white, yellow and glorious bicolored flowers amoungst the R. haageii.

Therefore, my suggestion to tropical growers is they "overwinter" one or two Rebutias in the refrigerator. Potted in styrofoam cups and packed in plastic bags, the plants will be no more obtrusive than a choice wedge of roquefort an no less sanitary than Friday's fish dinner. All Rebutias can comfortably tolerate temperatures down to 2 C; most can tolerate frost as well, so simply tuck them far behind everything else and forget about them for 6 months. The lack of light will not bother them, but it is very important they be absolutly dry before placing in the refrigerator. This is best achieved by letting them dry out inside the house for two weeks before "hibernating" them. Periodically inspect the plants for flower buds; if these appear, continue dormancy another three weeks and then take the plants out, water and very gradually re-introduce them to the sun.

Flowering will occur (you can take them to work as the little boquets look very attractive on one's desk) and after the blooms fade in a week or so, growth will start and continue for another 6 weeks. After another three months or so, dry them out and refrigerate them for 4 to 6 months. When activly growing, treat them like regular houseplants - lots of water and some feeding every two weeks.

Happy Gardening,

Roger L. Sieloff

 

Last updated: July 12, 1998. Copyright 1997 & 1998 Ching Yen Choon all rights reserved.