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The Gardener's Guide to Cactus: The 100 Best Paddles, Barrels, Columns, and Globes

The Gardener's Guide to Cactus: The 100 Best Paddles, Barrels, Columns, and Globes

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The Gardener's Guide to Cactus: The 100 Best Paddles, Barrels, Columns, and Globes

valutazioni:
2.5/5 (3 valutazioni)
Lunghezza:
347 pagine
2 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Jan 31, 2012
ISBN:
9781604693805
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

 “Gardeners new and old will close this book with an arsenal of ideas on how to take their cactus cultivation to a new level.” —Terrain

The Gardener’s Guide to Cactus
reveals how easy, hardy, and rewarding cactus can be for home gardeners. Succulent plant expert Scott Calhoun picks 100 of the best cactus available and shows how they can make striking additions to your garden. Information includes advice on planting and care, tips for growing in containers, and details on identify and avoiding pests. Whether you want striking form, gorgeous flowers, or a low-maintenance plant for a spot that needs little or no supplementary water, you’ll find it in this friendly, informative, and eye-catching guide.

Editore:
Pubblicato:
Jan 31, 2012
ISBN:
9781604693805
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Scott Calhoun is an award-winning author and garden designer based in Tucson, Arizona, where he lives with his wife and daughter. In his design practice, he incorporates cactus into every residential space and sees them as the plant family of the future—especially in arid parts of the world. Calhoun is the author of six gardening books. His work has earned an American Horticultural Society Book Award and a Garden Writers Association Silver Book Award. He writes a monthly garden column for Sunset magazine and has written for most national gardening magazines.


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The Gardener's Guide to Cactus - Scott Calhoun

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Introduction


PLANTING AND CARE

CACTUS PLANTED IN THE GROUND

CACTUS IN CONTAINERS

SHOWING CACTUS

TOOLS OF THE PRICKLY TRADE


THE COLORFUL AND LONG-PERSISTING YELLOW FRUIT OF THE FISHHOOK BARREL ARE COMPLEMENTED BY TRUE-BLUE WILDFLOWERS LIKE THESE DESERT BLUEBELLS.

INDIAN FIG PLANTED UP AGAINST A COLORED WALL IN TUCSON’S BARRIO VIEJO NEIGHBORHOOD.

KOENIG’S SNOWBALL COMING INTO BLOOM IN A HIGH-ELEVATION ROCK GARDEN.

WHITE SANDS CLARET CUP BLOOMING IN HABITAT AT WHITE SANDS NATIONAL MONUMENT IN NEW MEXICO.

A STOCKY LLOYD’S HEDGEHOG PUTS ON AN APRIL SHOW IN A DISPLAY GARDEN AT BACH’S CACTUS NURSERY IN TUCSON.

LARGE PINK FLOWERS GRACE THE STEM TIPS OF THIS RAYONES HEDGEHOG IN AN ARIZONA COLLECTOR’S GARDEN.

The cactus family is a group of plants containing around 2500 different species

—nearly a quarter of all succulent plant species. As the rubric goes: all cactus are succulents, but not all succulents are cactus. Cactus store water in fleshy stems, have waxy skin, and usually, though not always, have spines. Because cactus don’t have traditional leaves, they photosynthesize with their stems. The stems can be shaped like columns, cylinders, paddles, rods, spheres, and barrels. Although the largest cactus species have trunks with diameters larger than telephone poles and reach heights of over 60 feet (18 m), the bulk of cactus species are low and mounding types that seldom grow taller than 18 inches (45 cm).

In place of leaves, most cactus have spines. The spines emerge from specialized parts of the skin called areoles. The spines themselves don’t photosynthesize, but instead protect the plant from hungry herbivores and omnivores. Additionally, spines help direct water to the plant’s root zone and provide shade and camouflage. The main spines tend to be stout, but some cactus species have secondary spines called glochids, which are small, hairlike, and irritating to remove from one’s skin. Descriptions of main spines and glochids might lead you to think that cactus are fearsome plants, but a number of cactus are spineless (or nearly so) and welcome tactile contact. Even well-armed cactus species are not untouchable; more than a few cactus growers learn to handle them barehanded. For the rest of us, there are a host of specialized cactus tools that allow an amateur to grasp, lift, cut, and transplant even the most threatening cactus with ease.

A wholly New World family, all cactus species have genetic roots in the Americas. In North America, the epicenter of cactus diversity occurs in Mexico’s Tehuacán Valley south of Mexico City. As one travels northward—eventually reaching the United States—the diversity of wild cactus decreases, with a few notable exceptions. The Sonoran Desert, the Mojave Desert, and the Chihuahuan Desert are all home to a broad and useful array of cactus species. Beyond the treasure trove of plants found in the southwestern states, a few species prefer the short-grass prairie and range as far north as Canada’s Northwest Territories and east nearly to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. With the exception of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, cactus are native to all of the contiguous United States.

Observing cactus species in the wild tells us much about how they are best incorporated into gardens. Cactus grow in diverse habitats: you’ll find them poking out of rocky out-crops, sprawling over sandy flats near oceans, mingling with grasses in prairie clay soil, and atop 11,000-foot (3300-m) mountains. If you choose the right species, it will be tolerant of harsh conditions. In the Southwest, when wild lands become severely degraded by overgrazing, cholla and prickly pears multiply and replace other plants that were eaten. They are survivor plants. When you look at cactus in the wild, it is helpful to notice what other plants are growing around them. While some grow alone in rubble or gravel, you are likely to find grasses, annual flowers, perennials, other succulents, and woody shrubs and trees growing next to cactus. Contrary to the way cactus are depicted in cartoons and advertising as widely spaced solo specimens, they are part of a plant community. By noting the companion plants that grow with cactus in the wild, you’re more likely to have success when choosing companion plants in your garden.

CACTUS CONSERVATION

Throughout North American cactus have lost habitat as a result of human economic activities such as development, dams, agriculture, mining, and grazing. Some species have also been removed from habitat (legally and otherwise) to market to collectors and the nursery and landscape trade. If you are a gardener looking for cactus plants for your gardens, nine times out of ten the best conservation choice is to buy plants grown from seed at reputable cactus and succulent nurseries.

Seed-grown nursery plants are generally smaller and can be readily identified by their more or less perfect appearance. That is, nursery-grown cactus are generally free of the scars, broken spines, and tough corky tissue that are common on wild-collected cactus. Nursery-grown specimens are also not subjected to drought and extreme temperatures, so they tend to have a fresh, newly minted look. If you are unsure as to whether or not a plant is seed grown, ask. Buying seed-grown plants discourages smugglers from removing venerable wild plants from habitat. You vote with your dollars to take pressure off of wild populations.

There is one circumstance when buying wild-collected plants is a good conservation choice. Some cactus and succulent societies (those in Tucson and Las Vegas among them) have negotiated agreements with developers and mines that allow the salvaging of species that would otherwise be bladed under by heavy equipment. These wild-collected plants must have a state tag affixed to the plant for resale. Buying salvaged plants helps cactus and succulent societies finance robust conservation activities. Local cactus and succulent societies also promote reputable growers and are a great place to glean information about which species will thrive in your climate.

Planting and Care

In terms of watering, pruning, and other sorts of plant maintenance, cactus are undoubtedly among the least-demanding group of plants on the planet. That said, like all plants, they require the least care when situated in an environment that mimics their natural habitat as much as possible. Once these conditions are provided, and the plants are established, cactus can be left on their own for weeks, or even months at a time with little or no care. Their reputation as tough plants is well deserved, but they are especially low maintenance if they are kept in robust health by paying attention to the following care

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