Matucana is a genus of about 20 species of cacti native to Peru, particularly of the Andean city of Matucana, from which the genus takes its name. The species grow in the highlands above 8,200 feet (2,500 m) of altitude. Sturdy, robust, the Matucanas are quite popular among collectors for their ease of cultivation.
These cacti are characterized by bright green plants, sized small and medium, spherical and cylindrical, with numerous ribs segmented into dense spines and tubercles. The bloom is apical and flowers, usually appearing in late spring or summer, are elongated and tubular. They hatch at night and last from 2 to 4 days, offering various colors, from white to red, yellow, and bright orange.
Growing Conditions and General Care
All species are sensitive to moisture. Therefore, watering should be limited to the growing season and only when the substrate is completely dry. Suspend watering during the winter. Since Matucanas tend to lose their roots in cold and wet, they must be kept warm even in winter, a temperature not under 50 °F (10 °C) is suitable. Some species, for natural adaptation, can resist at temperatures below 32 °F (0 °C).
If the plants are in the vegetative stage and optimal environmental conditions (a low moisture content with substantial temperature swing between day and night is appreciated), the growth is quite fast. You can get blooms already after 2 to 3 years after birth.
Matucanas must be grown in very porous and draining soil. It can be composed largely of sand, lapilli, and gravel. To encourage the development of the dense network of spines, the quality of the nutrients in the substrate is very important. The soil must be rich in potassium and poor in nitrogen. Since the roots are very delicate and subject to rot, the soil should be kept as dry as possible. Do not forget that these plants grow in steep and inaccessible places in their natural environment.
Matucanas like dry, fresh, and light air. Direct exposure to sunlight is appropriate, but too high temperatures, above 90 °F (32 °C), very different from those of their original environment, may damage them. In these cases, it is best to filter the sun's rays or prefer a bright area anyway, but at least partially shaded.
Propagation is easy by seed. Sowing should preferably be done in the spring.
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