Cactaceae widespread in nature in Mexico and in the southern part of the United States, the ferocactus are plants that over the years can reach even conspicuous dimensions, up to 70-80 cm in height, even if grown "in captivity".
The species are numerous, characterized by long sharp thorns, of various colors, from yellow to black, often purple or bright red, sometimes broad and curved; they have a generally roundish body in the first years of life, which becomes cylindrical with the passing of the years. Often the stem is characterized by deep ribs, sometimes they also present opercula, from which numerous thorns sprout. Generally the ferocactus produce single specimens, few species tend to accrue over the years.
In spring, at the apex of the stem, numerous flowers bloom, often gathered in a sort of crown, of pink, yellow, purple or red color. The flowers follow small yellow fruits, which do not have pulp, but are full of seeds, generally fertile.
We cultivate the ferocactus
These cacti are among the most widespread among enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts, being of fairly simple cultivation. They are planted in pots, as in Italy they cannot survive the winter temperatures and humidity; we use a soil for succulent plants, rich in sand and pumice stone, so as to obtain a soil similar to that present in the deserts of origin.
They love sunny positions, but remember to avoid placing a plant we kept in the house or in a sheltered place directly in the sun: move it in the sun gradually, to prevent direct sunlight from burning the plant's epidermis, causing a bluish color.
In the spring and summer, in a warm climate, let's water our ferocactus regularly, always waiting for the soil to become dry between waterings; in nature these plants live in desert places, where the rains are only occasional, they can therefore remain dry even for weeks, without suffering in any way; excessive watering instead quickly leads to the development of diseases such as rot and mold, which can ruin or even kill specimens of many years of age.
When the climate becomes cool, we suspend the watering, and leave the plant dry until the following spring.
Ferocactus can withstand temperatures close to zero for short periods of time, but only if the soil is completely dry.
As with many other cacti, the climate is cold and less water must be present in the soil; if we cultivate the ferocactus in a cold greenhouse, let them dry until the first warm spring, if instead we grow them at home, with average temperatures close to 17-18 ° C, we water them sporadically.
To obtain abundant blooms it is necessary that the plant goes through a period of cool vegetative rest, therefore it is more probable that the specimens grown in cold greenhouses bloom; while the plants kept at home are unlikely to bloom.
Ferocactus - Ferocactus: Propagate a succulent
The ferocactus live in the central American deserts; these are arid areas, with scarce rains. In any case, however, these are not completely desert areas, without any type of precipitation, as could be the typical African sand desert. Therefore these plants live in places with low rainfall, where, however, on some occasions there are brief storms, with high presence of water for short periods of time. Furthermore, in rocky deserts it often happens that water flows towards depressed areas, such as the bottom of the valleys; in these areas the soil remains damp for short periods of time, interspersed with long periods of drought.
The seeds of ferocactus fall among the rocks during periods of rain, and therefore find, in order to germinate, a very humid environment.
If we want to propagate our ferocactus by seed we will therefore have to ensure a sandy and moist soil, at least until complete seed germination; when all the seeds are out of the way we will transfer the small plants in a drier and warmer climate, so that they can develop without too much water around, which could quickly lead to the formation of very harmful rots.