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How to Grow and Care for Eriosyce

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Eriosyce is a group of mostly globose or somewhat cylindrical South American cacti. Their round ribbed stems, which in most species are heavily armed with dense strong spines, and similar flower structure had earned them a place in the genus Echinocactus in early taxonomies. However, the genus has existed since Rudolph Philippi in 1872 and everyone for the last 100 years or more agrees these plants are not Echinocactus.

Plants in the genus Eriosyce are rugged survivors of arid South American deserts. Many occur at high altitudes where they endure big temperature swings and high UV. To deal with the harsh climate, the plants will sit dormant until conditions are again favorable. This environmentally controlled growth leads to a big discrepancy between plants in habitat and those in cultivation even of the same species. Plants in cultivation with sparse spines and plump round stems may be flattened and covered with spines so dense that the stem is not visible at all.

Growing Condition and General Care

Eriosyce requires strong sun exposure to develop good spinal growth, but tolerate light shade. Some light shadow my be useful in the hottest summer days.

A rich, fast-draining cactus mix is ideal. Good drainage is essential for health.

Eriosyce senilis subsp. coimassenis

Photo via magicactus.com

During the summer, water the cactus every two weeks or slightly less often, depending on how moist the soil remains. In the winter rest period, cut watering back to once a month, or in humid areas, not at all. One of the key factors in success with these cacti is avoiding any hint of wet soil. Because their root systems are weak, they are especially prone to root rot, which will eventually kill your plant.

During the summer, regular doses of a cactus fertilizer will help it grow its best. Use diluted fertilizer for best results.

Repotting

Eriosyce are slow growing cacti that should only need repotting every other year or so. When repotting a cactus, carefully remove it from its pot and knock away any clumped soil.

Propagation

Eriosyce are usually propagated from seeds.

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