Escobaria belongs to the Cactaceae family and includes about 25 species native to the desert areas of the Atlantic and the North American continent (Canada and the southeastern United States, Mexico). The specimens of Escobaria minima and Escobaria sneedii have become very rare in nature and are legally protected species; particularly, the Escobaria minima grows naturally only in a very narrow zone in Brewster County, Texas, on a specific substrate of novaculite. The genus especially passionate collectors of tiny and neat plants, with small, colorful, and elegant flowers.
These plants are small in size and globular or cylindrical form presenting tubercles paths by a longitudinal groove. Fairly common basal offsets, giving a caespitose appearance. The blooms (daytime) occur during late spring or early summer and can be of many different colors depending on the species: purple, pink, red, green and even yellow.
Light: Escobaria love to be in a very bright exposure, but generally not to direct light of sun: the risk, especially during the hottest hours of the day and during the summer, is to get sunburned.
Soil: The soil to grow Escobaria, needs to be well drained, porous and aerated. Despite being small in size, the plants develop a branched root system with extremely thin and fragile tubercles: the fragility of the radical apparatus constitutes a preferential route for the development of mold and rot, in the presence of moisture excess.
Temperature: The average winter minimum temperature, in general, should not fall below 42 to 46 °F (6 to 8 °C), unless individual exceptions; adult plants can withstand frosts also very intense, but only if the temperature rises again quickly. Some species, due to the natural environment in which they were born and grew up, developed characteristics of extreme resistance (Escobaria minima resists up to 18 °F (-8 °C), Escobaria vivipara and Escobaria missouriensis resist even down to -4 °F(-20 °C), in completely dry soil conditions and low humidity): for this reason the Escobaria are considered, with precautions, as winter resistant.
The Escobaria are very susceptible to rot and therefore require a well-drained soil, without any water excess or stagnation; it has been observed that the plants also suffer the environmental humidity, which should preferably remain very low (30-50%). Avoid watering during the winter, when the plant is dormant: watering Escobaria in cold environmental conditions will almost certainly lead to death of the plant. In the growing season the plants, whose growth is typically quite slow, like to perceive a significant temperature difference between night and day.
The experienced grower knows well the difficulties of survival of this genus, certainly not one of the easiest to grow. The seed germination rate is lower than other genus and in fact other methods of propagation are preferable, as a offsets or cuttings.
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