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Cactus Culture For Amateurs by W. Watson

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Produced by W. Christie and Leonard Johnson






Assistant Curator of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.




[Illustration: FIG. 1.--A COLLECTION OF CACTUSES. Frontispiece.]


The idea that Cactuses were seldom seen in English gardens, because so
little was known about their cultivation and management, suggested to
the Publisher of this book that a series of chapters on the best kinds,
and how to grow them successfully, would be useful. These chapters were
written for and published in The Bazaar, in 1885 and following years.
Some alterations and additions have been made, and the whole is now
offered as a thoroughly practical and descriptive work on the subject.

The descriptions are as simple and complete as they could be made; the
names here used are those adopted at Kew; and the cultural directions
are as full and detailed as is necessary. No species or variety is
omitted which is known to be in cultivation, or of sufficient interest
to be introduced. The many excellent figures of Cactuses in the
Botanical Magazine (Bot. Mag.) are referred to under each species
described, except in those cases where a complete figure is given in
this book. My claims to be heard as a teacher in this department are
based on an experience of ten years in the care and cultivation of the
large collection of Cactuses at Kew.

Whatever the shortcomings of my share of the work may be, I feel certain
that the numerous and excellent illustrations which the Publisher has
obtained for this book cannot fail to render it attractive, and, let us
also hope, contribute something towards bringing Cactuses into favour
with horticulturists, professional as well as amateur.


























The Cactus family is not popular among English horticulturists in these
days, scarcely half a dozen species out of about a thousand known being
considered good enough to be included among favourite garden plants.
Probably five hundred kinds have been, or are, in cultivation in the
gardens of the few specialists who take an interest in Cactuses; but
these are practically unknown in English horticulture. It is not,
however, very many years ago that there was something like a Cactus
mania, when rich amateurs vied with each other in procuring and growing
large collections of the rarest and newest kinds.

"About the year 1830, Cacti began to be specially patronised by several
rich plant amateurs, of whom may be mentioned the Duke of Bedford, who
formed a fine collection at Woburn Abbey, the Duke of Devonshire, and
Mr. Harris, of Kingsbury. Mr. Palmer, of Shakelwell, had become
possessed of Mr. Haworth's collection, to which he greatly added by
purchases; he, however, found his rival in the Rev. H. Williams, of
Hendon, who formed a fine and select collection, and, on account of the
eagerness of growers to obtain the new and rare plants, high prices were
given for them, ten, twelve, and even twenty and thirty guineas often
being given for single plants of the Echinocactus. Thus private
collectors were induced to forward from their native countries--chiefly
from Mexico and Chili--extensive collections of Cacti." (quoting J.
Smith. A.L.S., ex-Curator of the Royal Gardens. Kew).

This reads like what might be written of the position held now in
England by the Orchid family, and what has been written of Tulips and
other plants whose popularity has been great at some time or other. Why
have Cactuses gone out of favour? It is impossible to give any
satisfactory answer to this question. No doubt they belong to that class
of objects which is only popular whilst it pleases the eye or tickles
the fancy; and the eye and the fancy having tired of it, look to
something different.

The general belief with respect to Cactuses is that they are all wanting
in beauty, that they are remarkable only in that they are exceedingly
curious in form, and as a rule very ugly. It is true that none of them
possess any claims to gracefulness of habit or elegance of foliage, such
as are usual in popular plants, and, when not in flower, very few of the
Cactuses would answer to our present ideas of beauty with respect to the
plants we cultivate. Nevertheless, the stems of many of them (see
Frontispiece, Fig. 1) are peculiarly attractive on account of their
strange, even fantastic, forms, their spiny clothing, the absence of
leaves, except in very few cases, and their singular manner of growth.
To the few who care for Cactuses there is a great deal of beauty, even
in these characters, although perhaps the eye has to be educated up to

If the stems are more curious than beautiful, the flowers of the
majority of the species of Cactuses are unsurpassed, as regards size and
form, and brilliancy and variety in colour, by any other family of
plants, not even excluding Orchids. In size some of the flowers equal
those of the Queen of Water Lilies (Victoria regia), whilst the colours
vary from the purest white to brilliant crimson and deep yellow. Some of
them are also deliciously fragrant. Those kinds which expand their huge
blossoms only at night are particularly interesting; and in the early
days of Cactus culture the flowering of one of these was a great event
in English gardens.

Of the many collections of Cactuses formed many years ago in England,
that at Kew is the only one that still exists. This collection has
always been rich in the number of species it contained; at the present
time the number of kinds cultivated there is about 500. Mr. Peacock, of
Hammersmith, also has a large collection of Cactuses, many of which he
has at various times exhibited in public places, such as the Crystal
Palace, and the large conservatory attached to the Royal Horticultural
Society's Gardens at South Kensington. Other smaller collections are
cultivated in the Botanic Gardens at Oxford, Cambridge, Glasnevin, and

A great point in favour of the plants of the Cactus family for gardens
of small size, and even for window gardening--a modest phase of plant
culture which has made much progress in recent years--is the simpleness
of their requirements under cultivation. No plants give so much pleasure
in return for so small an amount of attention as do these. Their
peculiarly tough-skinned succulent stems enable them to go for an
extraordinary length of time without water; indeed, it may be said that
the treatment most suitable for many of them during the greater portion
of the year is such as would be fatal to most other plants. Cactuses are
children of the dry barren plains and mountain sides, living where
scarcely any other form of vegetation could find nourishment, and
thriving with the scorching heat of the sun over their heads, and their
roots buried in the dry, hungry soil, or rocks which afford them
anchorage and food.

In beauty and variety of flowers, in the remarkable forms of their
stems, in the simple nature of their requirements, and in the other
points of special interest which characterise this family, and which
supply the cultivator and student with an unfailing source of pleasure
and instruction, the Cactus family is peculiarly rich.



Although strictly botanical information may be considered as falling
outside the limits of a treatise intended only for the cultivator, yet a
short account of the principal characters by which Cactuses are grouped
and classified may not be without interest.

From the singular form and succulent nature of the whole of the Cactus
family, it might be inferred that, in these characters alone, we have
reliable marks of relationship, and that it would be safe to call all
those plants Cactuses in which such characters are manifest. A glance at
some members of other families will, however, soon show how easily one
might thus be mistaken. In the Euphorbias we find a number of kinds,
especially amongst those which inhabit the dry, sandy plains of South
Africa, which bear a striking resemblance to many of the Cactuses,
particularly the columnar ones and the Rhipsalis. (The Euphorbias all
have milk-like sap, which, on pricking their stems or leaves, at once
exudes and thus reveals their true character. The sap of the Cactuses is
watery). Amongst Stapelias, too, we meet with plants which mimic the
stem characters of some of the smaller kinds of Cactus. Again, in the
Cactuses themselves we have curious cases of plant mimicry; as, for
instance, the Rhipsalis, which looks like a bunch of Mistletoe, and the
Pereskia, the leaves and habit of which are more like what belong to,
say, the Gooseberry family than to a form of Cactus. From this it will
be seen that although these plants are almost all succulent, and
curiously formed, they are by no means singular in this respect.

The characters of the order are thus defined by botanists: Cactuses are
either herbs, shrubs, or trees, with soft flesh and copious watery
juice. Root woody, branching, with soft bark. Stem branching or simple,
round, angular, channelled, winged, flattened, or cylindrical; sometimes
clothed with numerous tufts of spines which vary in texture, size, and
form very considerably; or, when spineless, the stems bear numerous
dot-like scars, termed areoles. Leaves very minute, or entirely absent,
falling off very early, except in the Pereskia and several of the
Opuntias, in which they are large, fleshy, and persistent. Flowers
solitary, except in the Pereskia, and borne on the top or side of the
stem; they are composed of numerous parts or segments; the sepals and
petals are not easily distinguished from each other; the calyx tube is
joined to, or combined, with the ovary, and is often covered with
scale-like sepals and hairs or spines; the calyx is sometimes partly
united so as to form a tube, and the petals are spread in regular
whorls, except in the Epiphyllum. Stamens many, springing from the side
of the tube or throat of the calyx, sometimes joined to the petals,
generally equal in length; anthers small and oblong. Ovary smooth, or
covered with scales and spines, or woolly, one-celled; style simple,
filiform or cylindrical, with a stigma of two or more spreading rays,
upon which are small papillae. Fruit pulpy, smooth, scaly, or spiny, the
pulp soft and juicy, sweet or acid, and full of numerous small, usually
black, seeds.

Tribe I.--Calyx tube produced beyond the Ovary. Stem covered with
Tubercles, or Ribs, bearing Spines.

1. MELOCACTUS. Stem globose; flowers in a dense cap-like head, composed
of layers of bristly wool and slender spines, amongst which the small
flowers are developed. The cap is persistent, and increases annually
with the stem.

2. MAMILLARIA. Stems short, usually globose, and covered with tubercles
or mammae, rarely ridged, the apex bearing spiny cushions; flowers
mostly in rings round the stem.

3. PELECYPHORA. Stem small, club-shaped; tubercles in spiral rows, and
flattened on the top, where are two rows of short scale-like spines.

4. LEUCHTENBERGIA. Stem naked at the base; tubercles on the upper part
large, fleshy, elongated, three-angled, bearing at the apex a tuft of
long, thin, gristle-like spines.

5. ECHINOCACTUS. Stem short, ridged, spiny; calyx tube of the flower
large, bell-shaped; ovary and fruit scaly.

6. DISCOCACTUS. Stem short; calyx tube thin, the throat filled by the
stamens; ovary and fruit smooth.

7. CEREUS. Stem often long and erect, sometimes scandent, branching,
ridged or angular; flowers from the sides of the stem; calyx tube
elongated and regular; stamens free.

8. PHYLLOCACTUS. Stem flattened, jointed, and notched; flowers from the
sides, large, having long, thin tubes and a regular arrangement of the

9. EPIPHYLLUM. Stem flattened, jointed; joints short; flowers from the
apices of the joints; calyx tube short; petals irregular, almost

Tribe II.--Calyx-tube not produced beyond the Ovary. Stem branching,

10. RHIPSALIS. Stem thin and rounded, angular, or flattened, bearing
tufts of hair when young; flowers small; petals spreading; ovary smooth;
fruit a small pea-like berry.

11. OPUNTIA. Stem jointed, joints broad and fleshy, or rounded; spines
barbed; flowers large; fruit spinous, large, pear-like.

12. PERESKIA. Stem woody, spiny, branching freely; leaves fleshy, large,
persistent; flowers medium in size, in panicles on the ends of the

The above is a key to the genera on the plan of the most recent
botanical arrangement, but for horticultural purposes it is necessary
that the two genera Echinopsis and Pilocereus should be kept up. They
come next to Cereus, and are distinguished as follows:

ECHINOPSIS. Stem as in Echinocactus, but the flowers are produced low
down from the side of the stem, and the flower tube is long and curved.

PILOCEREUS. Stem tall, columnar, bearing long silky hairs as well as
spines; flowers in a head on the top of the stem, rarely produced.

With the aid of this key anyone ought to be able to make out to what
genus a particular Cactus belongs, and by referring to the descriptions
of the species, he may succeed in making out what the plant is.

For the classification of Cactuses, botanists rely mainly on their
floral organs and fruit. We may, therefore, take a plant of
Phyllocactus, with which most of us are familiar, and, by observing the
structure of its flowers, obtain some idea of the botanical characters
of the whole order.

Phyllocactus has thin woody stems and branches composed of numerous long
leaf-like joints, growing out of one another, and resembling thick
leaves joined by their ends. Along the sides of these joints there are
numerous notches, springing from which are the large handsome flowers.
On looking carefully, we perceive that the long stalk-like expansion is
not a stalk, because it is above the seed vessel, which is, of course, a
portion of the flower itself. It is a hollow tube, and contains the long
style or connection between the seed vessel and the stigma, a (Fig. 2).
This tube, then, must be the calyx, and the small scattered scale-like
bodies, b (Fig. 2), which clothe the outside, are really calyx lobes.


a, Calyx Tube. b, Calyx Lobes. c, Ditto, assuming the form of Petals. d,
Stamens. e, Style. f, Ovary or Seed Vessel.]

Nearer the top of the flower, these calyx lobes are better developed,
until, surrounding the corolla, we find them assuming the form and
appearance of petals, c (Fig. 2). The corolla is composed of a large
number of long strap-shaped pointed petals, very thin and delicate,
often beautifully coloured, and generally spreading outwards. Springing
from the bases of these petals, we find the stamens, d (Fig. 2), a great
number of them, forming a bunch of threads unequal in length, and
bearing on their tips the hay-seed-like anthers, which are attached to
the threads by one of their points. The style is a long cylindrical
body, e (Fig. 2), which stretches from the ovary to the top of the
flower, where it splits into a head of spreading linear rays, 1/2 in. in
length. When the flower withers, the seed vessel, f (Fig. 2), remains on
the plant and expands into a large succulent fruit, inside which is a
mass of pulpy matter, inclosing the numerous, small, black, bony seeds.

It must not be supposed that all the genera into which Cactuses are
divided are characterised by large flowers such as would render their
study as easy as the genus taken as an illustration. In some, such for
instance as the Rhipsalis, the flowers are small, and therefore less
easy to dissect than those of Phyllocactus.

The stems of Cactuses show a very wide range of variation in size, in
form, and in structure. In size, we have the colossal Cereus giganteus,
whose straight stems when old are as firm as iron, and rise with many
ascending arms or rear their tall leafless trunks like ships' masts to a
height of 60 ft. or 70 ft. From this we descend through a multitude of
various shapes and sizes to the tiny tufted Mamillarias, no larger than
a lady's thimble, or the creeping Rhipsalis, which lies along the hard
ground on which it grows, and looks like hairy caterpillars. In form,
the variety is very remarkable. We have the Mistletoe Cactus, with the
appearance of a bunch of Mistletoe, berries and all; the Thimble Cactus;
the Dumpling Cactus; the Melon Cactus; the Turk's cap Cactus; the
Rat's-tail Cactus; the Hedgehog Cactus; all having a resemblance to the
things whose names they bear. Then there is the Indian Fig, with
branches like battledores, joined by their ends; the Epiphyllum and
Phyllocactus, with flattened leaf-like stems; the columnar spiny Cereus,
with deeply channelled stems and the appearance of immense candelabra.
Totally devoid of leaves, and often skeleton-like in appearance, these
plants have a strange look about them, which is suggestive of some
fossilised forms of vegetation belonging to the past ages of the
mastodon, the elk, and the dodo, rather than to the living things of

By far the greater part of the species of Cactuses belong to the group
with tall or elongated stems. "It is worthy of remark that as the stems
advance in age the angles fill up, or the articulations disappear, in
consequence of the slow growth of the woody axis and the gradual
development of the cellular substance; so that, at the end of a number
of years, all the branches of Cactuses, however angular or compressed
they originally may have been, become trunks that are either perfectly
cylindrical, or which have scarcely any visible angles."

A second large group is that of which the Melon and Hedgehog Cactuses
are good representatives, which have sphere-shaped stems, covered with
stout spines. We have hitherto spoken of the Cactuses as being without
leaves, but this is only true of them when in an old or fully-developed
state. On many of the stems we find upon their surface, or angles, small
tubercles, which, when young, bear tiny scale-like leaves. These,
however, soon wither and fall off, so that, to all appearance, leaves
are never present on these plants. There is one exception, however, in
the Barbadoes Gooseberry (Pereskia), which bears true and persistent
leaves; but these may be considered anomalous in the order.

The term "succulent" is applied to Cactuses because of the large
proportion of cellular tissue, i.e., flesh, of their stems, as compared
with the woody portion. In some of them, when young, the woody system
appears to be altogether absent, and they have the appearance of a mass
of fleshy matter, like a vegetable marrow. This succulent mass is
protected by a tough skin, often of leather-like firmness, and almost
without the little perforations called breathing and evaporating pores,
which in other plants are very numerous. This enables the Cactuses to
sustain without suffering the full ardour of the burning sun and
parched-up nature of the soil peculiar to the countries where they are
native. Nature has endowed Cactuses with a skin similar to what she
clothes many succulent fruits with, such as the Apple, Plum, Peach, &c.,
to which the sun's powerful rays are necessary for their growth and

The spiny coat of the majority of Cactuses is no doubt intended to serve
as a protection from the wild animals inhabiting with them the sterile
plains of America, and to whom the cool watery flesh of the Cactus would
otherwise fall a prey. Indeed, these spines are not sufficient to
prevent some animals from obtaining the watery insides of these plants,
for we read that mules and wild horses kick them open and greedily
devour their succulent flesh. It has also been suggested that the spines
are intended to serve the plants as a sort of shade from the powerful
sunshine, as they often spread over and interlace about the stems.



By noting the conditions in which plants are found growing in a natural
state, we obtain some clue to their successful management, when placed
under conditions more or less artificial; and, in the case of Cactuses,
knowledge of this kind is of more than ordinary importance. In the
knowledge that, with only one or two exceptions, they will not exist in
any but sunny lands, where, during the greater part of the year, dry
weather prevails, we perceive what conditions are likely to suit them
when under cultivation in our plant-houses.

Cactuses are all American (using this term for the whole of the New
World) with only one or two exceptions (several species of Rhipsalis
have been found wild in Africa, Madagascar, and Ceylon), and, broadly
speaking, they are mostly tropical plants, not-withstanding the fact of
their extending to the snow-line on some of the Andean Mountains of
Chili, where several species of the Hedgehog Cactus were found by
Humboldt on the summit of rocks whose bases were planted in snow. In
California, in Mexico and Texas, in the provinces of Central and South
America, as far south as Chili, and in many of the islands contiguous to
the mainland, the Cactus family has become established wherever warmth
and drought, such as its members delight in, allowed them to get
established. In many of the coast lands, they occur in very large
numbers, forming forests of strange aspect, and giving to the landscape
a weird, picturesque appearance. Humboldt, in his "Views of Nature,"
says: "There is hardly any physiognomical character of exotic vegetation
that produces a more singular and ineffaceable impression on the mind of
the traveller than an arid plain, densely covered with columnar or
candelabra-like stems of Cactuses, similar to those near Cumana, New
Barcelona, Cora. and in the province of Jaen de Bracamoros." This
applies also to some of the small islands of the West Indies, the hills
or mountains of which are crowned with these curious-looking plants,
whose singular shapes are alone sufficient to remind the traveller that
he has reached an American coast; for these Cactuses are as peculiar a
feature of the New World as the Heaths are in the Old, or as Eucalypti
are in Australia.

Although the Cactus order is, in its distribution by Nature, limited to
the regions of America, yet it is now represented in various parts of
the Old World by plants which are apparently as wild and as much at home
as when in their native countries.

The Indian Figs are, perhaps, the most widely distributed of Cactuses in
the Old World-a circumstance due to their having been introduced for the
sake of their edible fruits, and more especially for the cultivation of
the cochineal insect. In various places along the shores of the
Mediterranean, and in South Africa, and even in Australia, the Opuntias
have become naturalised, and appear like aboriginal inhabitants. It is,
however, only in warm sunny regions that the naturalisation of these
plants is possible.

From these facts, we are able to form some general idea of the
conditions suitable for Cactuses when cultivated in our greenhouses;
for, although we seldom have, or care to have, any but diminutive
specimens of many of these plants as compared with their appearance when
wild, yet we know that the same conditions as regards heat, light, and
moisture are necessary for small Cactuses as for full-grown ones.

Although the places in which Cactuses naturally abound are, for the
greater portion of the year, very dry and warm, heavy rains are more or
less frequent during certain periods, and these, often accompanied by
extreme warmth and bright sunshine, have an invigorating and almost
forcing effect on the growth of Cactuses. It is during this rainy period
that the whole of the growth is made, and new life is, as it were, given
to the plant, its reservoir-like structure enabling it to store up a
large amount of food and moisture, so that on the return of dry weather
the safety of the plant is insured.

It is to the management of Cactuses in a small state, such as is most
convenient for our plant-houses, and not to the cultivation of those
colossal species referred to above, that the instructions given here
will be for the most part devoted; but, as in the case of almost every
one of our cultivated plants, it is important to the cultivator to know
something of the conditions which Nature has provided for Cactuses in
those lands where they are native.

There is nothing in the nature or the requirements of Cactuses that
should render their successful management beyond the means of anyone who
possesses a small, heated greenhouse, or even a window recess to which
sunlight can be admitted during some portion of the day. In large
establishments, such as Kew, it is possible to provide a spacious house
specially for the cultivation of an extensive collection, where many of
them may attain a good size before becoming too big. And it will be
evident that where a house such as that at Kew can be afforded, much
more satisfactory results may generally be obtained, than if plants have
to be provided for in a house containing various other plants, or in the
window of a dwelling-room. Apart altogether from size, it is, however,
possible to grow a collection of Cactuses, and to grow them well, in a
house of small dimensions--given the amount of sunlight and heat which
are required by these plants. We sometimes see Cactuses--specimens,
too, of choice and rare kinds--which have been reared in a cottager's
window or in a small greenhouse, and which in health and beauty have at
least equalled what has been accomplished in the most elaborately
prepared houses. It may be said that these successes, under conditions
of the most limited kind, are accidental rather than the result of
properly understood treatment; but however they have been brought about,
these instances of good cultivation are sufficient to show that success
is possible, even where the means are of the simplest or most restricted
kind. Whether it be in a large house, fitted with the best arrangements,
or in the window of the cottager, the conditions essential to the
successful cultivation of Cactuses are practically the same.

In Wardian Cases.--Many of our readers will be acquainted with the neat
little glass cases, like greenhouses in shape, and fitted up in much the
same way, which are sometimes to be seen in our markets, filled with a
collection of miniature Cactuses. To the professional gardener, these
cases are playthings, and are looked upon by him as bearing about the
same relation to gardening as a child's doll's house does to
housekeeping. Not-withstanding this, they are the source of much
interest, and even of instruction, to many of the millions to whom a
greenhouse or serious gardening is an impossibility. In these little
cases--for which we are indebted to Mr. Boller, a dealer in Cactaceous
plants--it is possible to grow a collection of tiny Cactuses for years,
if only the operations of watering, potting, ventilating, and other
matters connected with ordinary plant growing, are properly attended to.

In Window Recesses.--In the window recess larger specimens may be
grown, and here it is possible to grow and flower successfully many of
the plants of the Cactus family. In a window with a south aspect, and
which lights a room where fires are kept, at least during cold weather,
specimens of Phyllocactus, Cereus flagelliformis, Epiphyllum, and, in
fact, of almost every kind of Cactus, are sometimes to be met with even
in England; whilst in Germany they are as popular among the poorer
classes as the Fuchsia, the Pelargonium, and the Musk are with us. One
of the commonest of Cactuses in the latter country is the Rat's-tail
Cactus (Cereus flagelliformis), and it is no unusual thing to see a
large window of a cottager's dwelling thickly draped on the inside with
the long, tail-like growths and handsome rose-coloured flowers of this
plant. This is only one among dozens of species, all equally useful for
window gardening, and all as interesting and beautiful as those above

In Greenhouses.--For the greenhouse proper, Cactuses are well adapted,
either as the sole occupants or as suitable for such positions as are
afforded by shelves or baskets placed near the roof glass. If the
greenhouse is not fitted with heating arrangements, then, by selecting
only those species of Cactus that are known to thrive in a position
where, during winter, they are kept safe out of the reach of frost (of
which a large number are known) a good collection of these plants may be
grown. In heated structures the selection of kinds may be made according
to the space available, and to the conditions under which they will be
expected to grow. Fig. 3 represents a section of a house for Cactuses,
which will afford a good idea of the kind of structure best suited for
them. The aspect is due south.

[Illustration: FIG. 3. SECTION OF HOUSE FOR CACTUSES--A,A, Hot-water
Pipes; B,B, Ventilators.]

When grown on their own roots, the Epiphyllums, as well as the
pendent-growing kinds of Rhipsalis, and several species of Cereus, may
be placed in baskets and suspended from the roof. The baskets should be
lined with thin slices of fibrous peat, and the whole of the middle
filled with the compost recommended for these plants under "Soil". When
well managed, some very pretty objects are formed by the Epiphyllums
grown as basket plants. The climbing Cactuses are usually planted in a
little mound composed of loam and brick rubble, and their stems either
trained along rafters or allowed to run up the back wall of a
greenhouse, against which they root freely, and are generally capable of
taking care of themselves with very little attention from the gardener.

In Frames.--For cultivation in frames, the conditions are the same as
for greenhouses. Even when grown in the latter, it will be found
conducive to the health and flowering of the plants if, during the
summer months, they can be placed in a frame with a south aspect,
removing them back to the house again on the decline of summer weather.
Wherever the place selected for Cactuses may be, whether in a large
plant-house, or a frame, or a window, it is of vital importance to the
plants that the position should be exposed to bright sunshine during
most of the day. Without sunlight, they can no more thrive than a
Pelargonium could without water. In Germany, many growers of almost all
the kinds of Cactuses place their young plants in frames, which are
prepared as follows: In April or May a hot-bed of manure and leaves is
prepared, and a frame placed upon it, looking south. Six inches of soil
is put on the top of the bed, and in this, as soon as the temperature of
the bed has fallen to about 70 deg., the young plants are placed in
rows. The frames are kept close even in bright weather, except when
there is too much moisture inside, and the plants are syringed twice
daily in dry, hot weather. The growth they make under this treatment is
astonishing. By the autumn the plants are ready to be ripened by
exposure to sun and air, and in September they are lifted, planted in
pots, and sent to market for sale. This method may be adopted in
England, and if carefully managed, the growth the plants would make
would far exceed anything ever accomplished when they are kept
permanently in pots.

Out-of-doors.--There are some kinds which may be grown out of doors
altogether, if planted on a sunny, sheltered position, on a rockery. The
most successful plan is that followed at Kew, where a collection of the
hardier species is planted in a rockery composed of brick rubble and
stones. During summer the plants are exposed; but when cold weather and
rains come, lights are placed permanently over the rockery, and in this
way it is kept comparatively dry. No fire-heat or protection of any
other kind is used, and the vigorous growth, robust health, and
floriferousness of the several species are proofs of the fitness of the
treatment for this class of plants.

In any garden where a few square yards in a sunny, well-drained position
can be afforded for a raised rockery, the hardy Cactuses may be easily
managed. To make a suitable rockery, proceed as follows: Find a position
against the south wall of a house, greenhouse, or shed, and against this
wall construct a raised rockery of brick rubble, lime rubbish, stones
(soft sandstone, if possible), and fibrous loam. The rockery when
finished should be, say, 4 ft. wide, and reach along the wall as far as
required; the back of the rockery would extend about 2 ft. above the
ground level, and fall towards the front. Fix in the wall, 1 ft. or so
above the rockery, a number of hooks at intervals all along, to hold in
position lights sufficiently long to cover the rockery from the wall to
the front, where they could be supported by short posts driven in the
ground. The lights should be removed during summer to some shed, and
brought out for use on the approach of winter. Treated in this manner,
the following hardy species could not fail to be a success:

Opuntia Rafinesquii and var. arkansana, O. vulgaris, O. brachyarthra, O.
Picolominiana, O. missouriensis, O. humilis, Cereus Fendleri, C.
Engelmanni, C. gonacanthus, C. phoeniceus, Echinocactus Simpsoni, E.
Pentlandii, Mamillaria vivipara.

Having briefly pointed out the various positions in which Cactuses may
be cultivated successfully, we will now proceed to treat in detail the
various operations which are considered as being of more or less
importance in their management. These are potting, watering, and
temperatures, after which propagation by means of seeds, cuttings, and
grafting, hybridisation, seed saving, &c., and diseases and noxious
insects will be treated upon.

Soil.--The conditions in which plants grow naturally, are what we
usually try to imitate for their cultivation artificially. At all
events, such is supposed to be theoretically right, however difficult we
may often find it to be in practice. Soil in some form or other is
necessary to the healthy existence of all plants; and we know that the
nature of the soil varies with that of the plants growing in it, or, in
other words, certain soils are necessary to certain plants, whether in a
state of nature or cultivated in gardens. But, whilst admitting that
Nature, when intelligently followed, would not lead us far astray, we
must be careful not to follow her too strictly when dealing with the
management of plants in gardens. There are other circumstances besides
the nature of the soil by which plants are influenced. Soil is only one
of the conditions on which plants depend, and where the other conditions
are not exactly the same in our gardens as in nature, it is often found
necessary to employ a different soil from that in which the plants grow
when wild.

It has been stated that plants do not grow naturally in the soil best
suited for them, and that the reason why many plants are found in
peculiar places is not at all because they prefer them, but because they
alone are capable of existing there, or because they take refuge there
from the inroads of stouter neighbours who would destroy them or crowd
them out. There are, as every gardener knows, numerous plants that
succeed equally well in widely different soils, and a soil which may be
suitable for a plant in one place, may prove totally unsuited in
another. Hence it is why we find one gardener recommending one kind of
soil, and another a different one, for the same plant, both answering
equally well because of other conditions fitting better with each soil.
This helps us to understand how it is that many garden subjects grow
much better when planted in composts often quite different from those
the plants are found in when wild. Few plants have a particular
predilection for soil, and some have what we may call the power to adapt
themselves to conditions often widely different.

In Cactuses we have a family of plants for which special conditions are
necessary; and, as regards soil, whether we are guided by nature or by
gardening experience, we are led to conclude that almost all of them
thrive only when planted in one kind, that soil being principally loam.
Plants which are limited in nature to sandy, sun-scorched plains or the
glaring sides of rocky hills and mountains, where scarcely any other
form of vegetation can exist, are not likely to require much decayed
vegetable humus, but must obtain their food from inorganic substances,
such as loam, sand, or lime. So it is with them when grown in our
houses. They are healthiest and longest-lived when planted in a loamy
soil; and although they may be grown fairly well for a time when placed
in a compost of loam and leaf mould, or loam and peat, yet the growth
they make is generally too sappy and weak; it is simply fat without
bone, which, when the necessary resting period comes round, either rots
or gradually dries up. In preparing soil, therefore, for all Cactuses
(except Epiphyllum and Rhipsalis, which will be treated separately) a
good, rather stiff loam, with plenty of grass fibre in it, should form
the principal ingredient, sand and, if obtainable, small brick rubble
being added--one part of each of the latter to six parts of the former.
The brick rubble should be pounded up so that the largest pieces are
about the size of hazel nuts. Lime rubbish, i.e., old plaster from
buildings, &c., is sometimes recommended for Cactuses, but it does not
appear to be of any use except as drainage. At Kew its use has been
discontinued, and it is now generally condemned by all good cultivators.
Of course, the idea that lime was beneficial to Cactuses sprang from the
knowledge that it existed in large quantities in the soil in which the
plants grew naturally, and it is often found in abundance, in the form
of oxalate of lime, in the old stems of the plants. But in good loam,
lime, in the state of chalk, is always present, and this, together with
the lime contained in the brick rubble, is sufficient to supply the
plants with as much as they require.

For Epiphyllums and Rhipsalis, both of which are epiphytal naturally,
but which are found to thrive best in pots in our houses, a mixture of
equal parts of peat and loam with sand and brick rubble in the same
proportion as before recommended, will be found most suitable. Leaf
mould is sometimes used for these plants; but unless really good it is
best left out of the soil. The finest Epiphyllums have been grown in a
soil which consists almost wholly of a light fibry loam, with the
addition of a little crushed bones.

Potting.--Cactuses, when healthy, are injuriously affected by frequent
disturbance at the roots. On the arrival of the potting season, which
for these plants is in April and May, established plants should be
examined at the root, and if the roots are found to be in a healthy
condition, and the soil sweet, they should be replaced in the same pots
to continue in them another year. If the roots are decayed, or the soil
has become sour, it should be shaken away from the roots, which must be
examined, cutting away all decayed portions, and shortening the longest
roots to within a few inches of the base of the plant. Cactuses are so
tenacious of life, and appear to rely so little on their roots, that it
will be found the wisest plan, when repotting them, to cut the roots

The size of pots most suitable is what would be considered small in
comparison with other plants, Cactuses preferring to be somewhat cramped
in this respect. This, indeed, is how they are found when wild, the
roots generally fixing themselves in the crevices of the rocks or stones
about which the plants grow, so that a large specimen is often found to
have only a few inches of space in the cleft of a rock for the whole of
its roots. When thus limited, growth is firmer and the flowers are
produced in much greater profusion than when a liberal amount of root
space is afforded. The pots should be well drained-about one-fifth of
their depth filled with drainage when intended for large, strong-growing
kinds, and one-third for the smaller ones, such as Mamillarias. A layer
of rough fibry material should be placed over the crocks to prevent the
finer soil from stopping the drainage. When filling in the soil, press
it down firmly, spreading the roots well amongst it, and keeping the
base of the plant only an inch or so below the surface.

For plants with weak stems, stakes will be necessary, and even
stout-stemmed kinds, when their roots are not sufficient to hold them
firmly, will do best if fastened to one or two strong stakes till they
have made new roots and got firm hold of the soil. Epiphyllums, when
grown as standards, should be tied to strong wire supports, those with
three short, prong-like legs being most desirable, as, owing to the
weight of the head of the plant, a single stake is not sufficient to
hold the whole firmly. After potting, no water should be given for a few
weeks. In fact, if the atmosphere in which the plants are placed be kept
a little moist, it will not be necessary to water them till signs of
fresh growth are perceived. For Epiphyllums and Rhipsalis, water will be
required earlier than this; but even they are best left for a few days
without water, after they have been repotted. As soon as fresh growth is
perceived, the plants may be well watered, and from this time water may
be supplied as often as the soil approaches dryness. Newly-imported
plants, which on arrival are usually much shrivelled and rootless,
should be potted in rather dry soil and small pots, and treated as
recommended above. Cactuses, we must remember, contain an abundance of
nourishment stored up in their stems, and upon this they will continue
to exist for a considerable time without suffering; and, when their
growing season comes round, root action commences whether the soil is
wet or dry, the latter being the most favourable.

Plants altogether exposed to the air will push roots in due time. A
remarkable instance of this has been recorded by Mr. J. R. Jackson,
curator of the museums at Kew. A plant of Pilocereus senilis, which had
grown too tall for the house, was cut off at the base, and placed in the
museum as a specimen. Here it gradually dried up to within 2 ft. of the
top, where a fracture across the stem had been made. Above this the stem
remained fresh and healthy, and, on examining it some months afterwards,
it was found that not only had the top of the stem remained green, but
it had formed roots of its own, which had grown down the dead lower
portion of the stem, and were in a perfectly healthy state. When it is
remembered that all this happened in the dry atmosphere of a museum, it
will be apparent how exceptional Cactuses are in their manner of growth,
and in the wonderful tenacity of life they exhibit under conditions
which would destroy the majority of plants in a very short time. We
sometimes find, when examining the bases of Cactus stems, that decay has
commenced; this is carefully cut out with a sharp knife, and the wound
exposed to the action of the air till it is perfectly dry, or, as we
term it, "callused."

Watering.--It will have peen gathered from what has been previously
said in relation to the conditions under which the majority of the
plants of the Cactus family grow when wild, that during their season of
growth they require a good supply of moisture, both at the root and
overhead; and afterwards a somewhat lengthened period of rest, that is,
almost total dryness, accompanied by all the sunlight possible, and
generally a somewhat high temperature. The growing season for all those
kinds which require to be kept dry when at rest is from the end of April
to the middle of August, and during this time they should be kept
moderately moist, but not constantly saturated, which, however, is not
likely to occur if the water is not carelessly supplied, and the
drainage and soil are perfect. This treatment corresponds with what
happens to Cactuses in a wild state, the frequent and heavy rains which
occur in the earlier part of the summer in the American plains supplying
the amount of moisture necessary to enable these plants to make fresh
growth, and produce their beautiful flowers and spine-clothed fruits.
After August, little or no rain falls, and the Cactuses assume a rather
shrivelled appearance, which gives them an unhealthy look, but which is
really a sign of ripeness, promising a plentiful crop of flowers when
the rainy season again returns.

As the sun in England is not nearly so powerful as in the hot plains of
Central America and the Southern States of North America, where Cactuses
are found in greatest abundance, it will be evident that, if flowers are
to be produced, we must see that our plants have a sufficiency of water
in early summer, and little or none during the autumn and winter, whilst
the whole year round they should be exposed to all the sunlight
possible, the temperature, of course, varying with the requirements of
the species, whether it is a native of tropical or of temperate regions.
It is important that the cultivator should understand that if water is
liberally supplied all through the summer, the plants cannot obtain the
rest which is necessary to their ripening and producing flowers, as
dryness at the root alone is not sufficient to provide this, but must be
accompanied by exposure to bright sunlight, which is not possible in
England during winter, so that the ripening process must begin before
the summer is over.

It is possible to preserve most Cactuses alive by keeping them
constantly growing; but, with very few exceptions, such treatment
prevents the plants from flowering. The following is what is practised
in the gardens where Cactuses are successfully cultivated. For the
genera Cereus, Echinopsis, Echinocactus, Mamillaria, Opuntia, and
Melocactus, a moist tropical house is provided, and in April the plants
are freely watered at the root, and syringed overhead both morning and
afternoon on all bright days. This treatment is continued till the end
of July, when syringing is suspended, and the water supplied to the
roots gradually reduced. By the end of August, the plants are placed in
a large light frame with a south aspect, except the tall-growing kinds,
which are too bulky to remove. In this frame the plants are kept till
the summer is over, and are watered only about once a week should the
sun be very powerful. The lights are removed on all bright sunny days,
but are kept on during wet or dull weather, and at night. Under this
treatment, many of the species assume a reddish appearance, and the
thick fleshy-stemmed kinds generally shrivel somewhat. There is no
occasion for alarm in the coloured and shrivelled appearance of the
plants: on the contrary, it may be hailed as a good sign for flowers.

A common complaint in relation to Cacti as flowering plants is that they
grow all right but rarely or never flower. The explanation of this is
shown by the fact that the plants must be properly ripened and rested
before they can produce flowers. On the approach of cold weather the
plants which were removed to a frame to be ripened should be brought
back into the house for the winter, and kept quite dry at the roots till
the return of spring, when their flowers will be developed either before
or soon after the watering season again commences.

Hitherto we have been dealing with those genera which have thick fleshy
stems; but there still remain the genera Rhipsalis, Epiphyllum, and
Phyllocactus, which are not capable of bearing the long period of
drought advised for the former. The last-mentioned genus should,
however, be kept almost dry at the root during winter, and, if placed in
a light, airy house till the turn of the year, the branches will ripen,
and set their flower buds much more readily than when they are wintered
in a moist, partially-shaded house. During summer all the Phyllocactuses
delight in plenty of water, and, when growing freely, a weak solution of
manure affords them good food. Epiphyllums must be kept always more or
less moist at the root, though, of course, when growing freely, they
require more water than when growth has ceased for the year, which
happens late in autumn. The same rule applies to Rhipsalis, none of the
species of which are happy when kept long dry. For the several species
of Opuntia and Echinopsis, which are sufficiently hardy to be cultivated
on a sunny rockery out of doors, it will be found a wise precaution to
place either a pane of glass or a handlight over the plants in wet
autumns and during winter, not so much to serve as protection from cold
as to shield them from an excess of moisture at a time when it would
prove injurious.

Temperature.--As the amount of heat required by the different species
of Cactus varies very considerably, and as the difference between the
summer and winter temperatures for them is often as great as it is
important, it will be as well if we mention the temperature required by
each when describing the species. It is true that the majority of
Cactuses may be kept alive in one house where all would be subjected to
the same temperature, but many of the plants would merely exist, and
could not possibly flower. It would be easy to point to several
instances of this unsatisfactory state of things. At Kew, for example,
owing to the arrangements necessary for the public, it is found
convenient to have the majority of the large collection of Cactuses in
one house, where the plants present an imposing appearance, but where,
as might be expected, a good number of the species very rarely produce
flowers. The Cactuses which inhabit the plains of the Southern United
States are subjected to a very high summer temperature, and a winter of
intense cold; whilst on the other hand the species found in Central and
South America do not undergo nearly so wide an extreme, the difference
between the summer and winter temperatures of these countries being
generally much less marked. A word will be said under each species as to
whether it is tropical, temperate, or hardy, a tropical temperature for
Cacti being in summer 70 degs., rising to 90 degs. with sun heat, night
temperature 60 degs. to 70 degs., in winter 60 degs. to 65 degs. Temperate:
in summer 60 degs., rising to 75 degs. with sun heat, night 60 degs. to
65 degs., in winter 50 degs. to 55 degs. The hardy species will, of course,
bear the ordinary temperatures of this country; but, to enable them to
withstand a very cold winter, they must be kept as dry as possible. In
the colder parts of England it is not advisable to leave any of these
plants outside during winter.

Insect Pests.--Notwithstanding the thickness of skin characteristic of
almost every one of the Cactuses, they are frequently attacked by
various kinds of garden pests when under cultivation, and more
especially by mealy bug. There is, of course, no difficulty in removing
such insects from the species with few or no spines upon their stems;
but when the plants are thickly covered with clusters of spines and
hairs, the insects are not easily got rid of. For Cactuses, as well as
for other plants subject to this most troublesome insect, various kinds
of insecticide have been recommended; but the best, cheapest, and most
effectual with which we are acquainted is paraffin, its only drawback
being the injury it does to the plants when applied carelessly, or when
not sufficiently diluted. A wineglassful of the oil, added to a gallon
of soft water, and about 2oz. of soft soap, the whole to be kept
thoroughly mixed by frequently stirring it, forms a solution strong
enough to destroy mealy bug. In applying this mixture, a syringe should
be used, or, if the plants are to be dipped overhead, care must be taken
to have the oil thoroughly diffused through the water, or the plant,
when lifted out, will be covered with pure paraffin, which does not mix
properly with water, but swims upon the surface if allowed to stand for
a few moments. The plants should be laid on their sides to be syringed
with the mixture, and after they have been thoroughly wetted, they may
be allowed to stand for a few minutes before being syringed with pure
water. Plants that are badly infested with mealy bug should be syringed
with the paraffin mixture once a day, for about a week. It is easy to do
serious harm to these plants by using a stronger solution than is here
recommended, and also by not properly mixing the oil with the soap and
water; and the amateur cannot, therefore, be too careful in his use of
this excellent insecticide. It would be easy to recommend other
insecticides, so called, for Cactuses; but whilst they are less
dangerous to the plants, they are often as harmless as pure water to the

For scale, which sometimes infests these plants, and which is sometimes
found upon them when wild, the paraffin may be used with good effect.

Thrips attack Phyllocactus, Rhipsalis, and Epiphyllum, especially when
the plants are grown in less shade, or in a higher temperature, than is
good for them. Fumigation with tobacco, dipping in a strong solution of
tobacco, or sponging with a mixture of soap and water, are either of
them effectual when applied to plants infested with thrips. The same may
be said of green-fly, which sometimes attacks the Epiphyllums.

A blight, something similar to mealy bug, now and again appears on the
roots of some of the varieties of Echinocactus and Cereus. This may be
destroyed by dipping the whole of the roots in the mixture recommended
for the stems when infested by mealy bug, and afterwards allowing them
to stand for a few minutes immersed in pure water. They may then be
placed where they will dry quickly, and finally, in a day or two,
repotted into new compost, first removing every particle of the old soil
from the roots.

Diseases.--When wild and favourably situated as regards heat and
moisture, the larger kinds of Cactus are said to live to a great age,
some of the tree kinds, according to Humboldt, bearing about them signs
of having existed several hundred years. The same remarkable longevity,
most likely, is found in the smaller kinds when wild. Under artificial
cultivation there are, however, many conditions more or less
unfavourable to the health of plants, and, in the case of Cactuses, very
large specimens, when imported from their native haunts to be placed in
our glass houses, soon perish. At Kew, there have been, at various
times, very fine specimens of some of the largest-growing ones, but they
have never lived longer than a year or so, always gradually shrinking in
size till, finally, owing to the absence of proper nourishment, and to
other untoward conditions, they have broken down and rotted. This
rotting of the tissue, or flesh, of these plants is the great enemy to
their cultivation in England. When it appears, it should be carefully
cut out with a sharp knife, and exposed to the influence of a perfectly
dry atmosphere for a few days till the wound has dried, when the plant
should be potted in a sandy compost and treated as for cuttings.
Sometimes the decay begins in the side of the stem of the plant, in
which case it should be cut away, and the wound exposed to a dry air.
The cause of this decay at the base or in the side of the stems of
Cactuses is no doubt debility, which is the result of the absence of
some necessary condition when the plants are cultivated in houses or
windows in this country.

Grafted plants, especially Epiphyllums, when worked on to Pereskia
stocks, are apt to grow weak and flabby through the stem wearing out, or
through the presence of mealy bug or insects in the crevices of the part
where the stock and scion join, in which case it is best to prepare
fresh stocks of Pereskia, and graft on to them the best of the pieces of
Epiphyllum from the old, debilitated plant. It is no use trying to get
such plants to recover, as, when once this disease or weakness begins,
it cannot easily be stopped.



Cactuses may be multiplied from cuttings of the stems, from seeds, and
also by means of grafting; this last method being adopted for those
species which, under cultivation, are not easily kept in health when
growing upon their own roots, or, as in the case of Epiphyllums, when it
offers a means of speedily forming large and shapely specimens. From
seeds the plants are generally freer in growth than when cuttings are
used, although the seedlings are longer in growing into flowering
specimens than large cuttings would be. To the amateur, the process of
germination and development from the seedling to the mature stage, is
full of interest and attraction, the changes from one form to another as
the plant develops being very marked in most of the genera.

Seeds.--Good fresh seeds of Cactaceous plants germinate in from two to
four weeks after sowing, if placed in a warm house or on a hotbed with a
temperature of 80 degs. If sown in a lower temperature, the time they
take to vegetate is longer; but, unless in a very low degree of heat,
the seeds, if good, and if properly managed as regards soil and water,
rarely fail to germinate. For all the kinds, pots or pans containing
drainage to within 2 in. of the top, and then filled up with finely
sifted loam and sand, three parts of the former to one of the latter,
and pressed down moderately firm, will be found to answer. If the soil
be moist at the time of sowing the seeds, it will not be necessary to
water it for a day or two. The seeds should be scattered thinly over the
surface of the soil, and then covered with about 1/8 in. of soil. Over
this, a pane of glass may be placed, and should remain till the
seedlings appear above the soil. Should the position where the seeds are
to be raised be in a room window, this pane of glass will be found very
useful in preventing the dry air of the room from absorbing all the
moisture from the soil about the seeds. For the germination of Cactus,
and indeed of all seeds, a certain amount of moisture must be constantly
present in the soil; and after a seed has commenced to grow, to allow it
to get dry is to run the risk of killing it.

[Illustration: FIG. 4.--SEEDLINGS OF CEREUS. a, One month after
germination. b, Two months after germination. C, Three months after
germination. (Magnified six times,).]

The seeds of Cactuses may be sown at anytime in the year; but it is best
to sow in spring, as, after germinating, the young plants have the
summer before them in which to attain sufficient strength to enable them
to pass through the winter without suffering; whereas plants raised from
autumn-sown seeds have often a poor chance of surviving through the
winter, unless treated with great care. The seeds of all Cactuses are
small, and therefore the seedlings are at first tiny globular masses of
watery flesh, very different from what we find in the seedlings of
ordinary garden plants. The form of the seedling of a species of Cereus
is shown at Fig. 4, and its transition from a small globule-like mass of
flesh to the spine-clothed stem, which characterises this genus, is also
represented. At a we see the young plant after it has emerged from the
seed, the outer shell of which was attached to one of the sides of the
aperture at the top till about a week before the drawing was made. At b,
the further swelling and opening out, as it were, of what, in botanical
language, is known as the cotyledon stage of development, will be seen;
a month afterwards, this will have assumed the shape of a very small
Cereus. It is interesting to note how the soft fleshy mass which first
grows out of the seed is nothing more than a little bag of food with a
tiny growing point fixed in its top, and that, as the growing point
increases, the food bag decreases, till finally the whole of the latter
becomes absorbed into the young stem, which is now capable of obtaining
nourishment by means of its newly-formed roots.

GERMINATION. (Magnified three times).]

In the genus Opuntia, the cotyledon stage (see Fig. 5) of the plant is
different from that of the Cereus, and is more like that of a cucumber.
Still, though the form is different, the purpose of the two cotyledons
and the juicy stem in the seedling Opuntia is the same as in the Cereus;
and, as the growing point develops, the cotyledons shrivel up and fall
off, the plant food they contained having passed into that part of the
young seedling which was to be permanent. The seedlings of these two
genera serve as an illustration of the process of germination from seed
of all the Cactuses; and it must be evident that there is much that is
singular and full of interest in raising these plants from seeds. As
soon as the seedlings are large enough to be handled, they may be
planted separately in small pots, using a compost similar to, but
slightly coarser than, that in which the seeds were sown. The soil
should be kept moist till the summer is over; and after that, till the
return of warm sunny weather, it will be found safest to keep the
seedlings on the dry side, a little water only to be given at intervals
of a week, and only when the sun is shining upon the plants.

To obtain seeds from cultivated plants, it is necessary, in order to
insure fertilisation that the top of the stigma (see Fig. 2) should be
dusted over with the dust-like pollen from the anthers. This may be done
by means of a small camel-hair brush, which should be moistened in the
mouth and then pushed among the anthers till covered with pollen, which
may then be gently rubbed on to the stigma. A warm, sunny morning is the
most suitable time for this operation, as fertilisation takes place much
more readily under the influence of bright sunshine than at any other
time. Some of the kinds have their floral organs so arranged as to be
capable of self-fertilisation; still, it is always as well to give them
some assistance. The night-flowering species must, of course, be
fertilised either at night or very early in the morning. By using the
pollen from one kind for dusting on to the stigma of another, hybrids
may be obtained, and it is owing to the readiness with which the plants
of this family cross with each other, that so many hybrids and forms of
the genera Epiphyllum and Phyllocactus have been raised. It would be
useless to attempt such a cross as Epiphyllum with Cereus giganteus,
because of their widely different natures; but such crosses as
Epiphyllum with Phyllocactus, and Cereus flagelliformis with C.
speciosissimus, have been brought about. To an enthusiast, the whole
order offers a very good field for operations with a view to the
production of new sorts, as the different kinds cross freely with each
other, and the beautiful colours of the flowers would most likely
combine so as to present some new and distinct varieties.

Cuttings.--No plants are more readily increased from stem-cuttings than
Cactuses; for, be the cutting 20 ft. high, or only as large as a thimble,
it strikes root readily if placed in a warm temperature and kept
slightly moist. We have already seen how, even in the dry atmosphere of
a museum, a stem of Cereus, instead of perishing, emitted roots and
remained healthy for a considerable time, and it would be easy to add to
this numerous other instances of the remarkable tenacity of life
possessed by these plants. At Kew, it is the common practice, when the
large-growing specimens get too tall for the house in which they are
grown, to cut off the top of the stem to a length of 6 ft. or 8 ft., and
plant it in a pot of soil to form a new plant. The old base is kept for
stock, as it often happens that just below the point where the stem was
severed, lateral buds are developed, and these, when grown into
branches, are removed and used as cuttings. Large Opuntias are treated
in the same way, with the almost invariable result that even the largest
branches root freely, and are in no way injured by what appears to be
exceedingly rough treatment. Large cuttings striking root so freely, it
must follow that small cuttings will likewise soon form roots, and, so
far as our experience--which consists of some years with a very large
collection of Cactuses--goes, there is not one species in cultivation
which may not be easily multiplied by means of cuttings. The nature of a
Cactus stem is so very different from the stems of most other plants,
that no comparison can be made between them in respect of their
root-developing power; the rooting of a Cactus cutting being as certain
as the rooting of a bulb. The very soft, fleshy stems of some of the
kinds such as the Echinocactus, should be exposed to the air for a time,
so that the cut at the base may dry before it is buried in the soil. If
the base of a plant decays, all that is necessary is the removal of the
decayed portion, exposure of the wound to the air for two or three days,
and then the planting of the cutting in a dry, sandy soil, and placing
it in a warm moist house till rooted. All cuttings of Cactuses may be
treated in this way. If anything proves destructive to these cuttings,
it is excessive moisture in the soil, which must always be carefully
guarded against.

Grafting.--The object of grafting is generally either to effect certain
changes in the nature of the scion, by uniting it with a stock of a
character different from its own, which usually results in the better
production of flowers, fruit, &c., or to multiply those plants which are
not readily increased by the more ordinary methods of cuttings or seeds.
In the case of Cactuses, however, we resort to grafting, not because of
any difficulty in obtaining the kinds thus treated from either cuttings
or seeds, as we have already seen that all the species of Cactuses grow
freely from seed, or are easily raised from cuttings of their stems, nor
yet to effect any change in the characters of the plants thus treated,
but because some of the more delicate kinds, and especially the smaller
ones, are apt to rot at the base during the damp, foggy weather of our
winters; and, to prevent this, it is found a good and safe plan to graft
them on to stocks formed of more robust kinds, or even on to plants of
other genera, such as Cereus or Echinocactus. By this means, the
delicate plants are raised above the soil whence the injury in winter
usually arises, and they are also kept well supplied with food by the
more robust and active nature of the roots of the plant upon which they
are grafted. Grafting is also adopted for some of the Cactuses to add to
the grotesqueness of their appearance; a spherical Echinocactus or
Mamillaria being united to the columnar stem of another kind, so as to
produce the appearance of a drum stick; or a large round-growing species
grafted on to three such stems, which may then be likened to a globe
supported upon three columns. As the species and genera unite freely
with each other, it is possible to produce, by means of grafting, some
very extraordinary-looking plants, and to a lover of the incongruous and
"queer," these plants will afford much interest and amusement. Besides
the above, we graft Epiphyllums, and the long drooping Cereuses, such as
C. flagelliformis, because of their pendent habit, and which, therefore,
are seen to better advantage when growing from the tall erect stem of
some stouter kind, than if allowed to grow on their own roots. By
growing a Pereskia on into a large plant, and then cutting it into any
shape desired, we may, by grafting upon its spurs or branches a number
of pieces of Epiphyllum, obtain large flowering specimens of various
shapes in a comparatively short time. For general purposes, it is usual
to graft Epiphyllums on to stems, about 1 ft. high, of Pereskia aculeata;
pretty little standard plants being in this way formed in about a year
from the time of grafting, As an instance of how easily some kinds may
be grafted, we may note what was done with a large head of the
Rat's-tail Cactus which had been grown for some years on the stem of
Cereus rostratus, but which last year rotted off just below the point of
union. On re-grafting this head on to the Cereus a little lower down, it
failed to unite, and, attributing the failure to possible ill-health in
the stock, we determined to transfer the Rat's-tail Cactus to a large
stem of Pereskia aculeata, the result being a quick union and rapid,
healthy growth since. Upon the same stock some grafts of Epiphyllum had
previously been worked, so that it is probable these two aliens will
form on their nurse-stem, the Pereskia, an attractive combination. In
Fig. 6 we have a fine example of this kind of grafting. It represents a
stem of Pereskia Bleo upon which the Rat's-tail Cactus and an Epiphyllum
have been grafted.


For most plants the operation of grafting must be carefully and
skilfully performed, but in the case of Cactuses very little skill is
necessary if one or two rules, which apply to all kinds of grafting, are
observed. The period of vigorous growth, and while the sap of both the
stock and the scion is in motion, is the most favourable time for the
operation. It is then only necessary, in order to bring about a speedy
union, that the parts grafted should be cut so as to fit each other
properly, and then bound or in some way fastened together so that they
will remain in close contact with each other till a union is effected. A
close atmosphere and, if possible, a little shade should be afforded the
worked plants till the grafts have taken. The ligature used should not
be bound round the graft too tightly, or it will prevent the flow of the
sap; if bound tightly enough to hold the parts together and to prevent
their slipping, that will be found quite sufficient.

Epiphyllums are treated as follows: Cuttings of Pereskia are rooted and
grown on to the required size, and in the month of September they are
headed down, the tops being used as cuttings. Grafts of Epiphyllum are
then prepared by cutting them to the required length, usually about
6 in., and removing a thin slice of the fleshy stem on each side so as to
form a flat wedge. The stem of Pereskia is then split down about 1 in.
with a sharp knife, and into this the wedge of the graft is inserted,
and fastened either by means of a small pin passed through the stem and
graft about half-way up the slit, or by binding round them a little
worsted or matting, the former being preferred. The worked plants are
then placed in a close handlight or propagating frame, having a
temperature of about 75 degs., where they are kept moist by sprinkling
them daily with water; they must be shaded from bright sunlight. As soon
as a union has been effected, which will be seen by the grafts beginning
to grow, the ligature and pin should be removed, and the plants
gradually hardened off by admitting air to the box, till finally they
may be removed to the house where it is intended to grow them. In a
cottage window this operation may be successfully performed if a box
with a movable glass top, or a large bell glass, be used to keep the
grafts close till they have taken.

For the spherical-stemmed kinds of Mamillaria, Cereus, Echinocactus,
&c., a different method is found to answer. Instead of cutting the base
of the graft to a wedge shape, it is simply cut across the base
horizontally, or, in other words, a portion of the bottom of the graft
is sliced off, and a stock procured which, when cut across the top, will
about fit the wound at the base of the scion; the two sliced parts are
placed together, and secured either by passing a piece of matting a few
times over the top of the graft and under the pot containing the stock,
or by placing three stakes around it in such a way that, when tied
together at the top, they will hold the graft firmly in position.
Another method is that of cutting the base of the scion in the form of a
round wedge, and then scooping a hole out in the centre of the stock
large enough to fit this wedge; the scion is pressed into this, and then
secured in the manner above mentioned. To graft one spherical-stemmed
kind on to three columnar-stemmed ones, the latter must first be
established in one pot and, when ready for grafting, cut at the top into
rounded wedges, three holes to correspond being cut into the scion. When
fixed, the top should be securely fastened by tying it to the pot, or by
means of stakes. For this last operation, a little patience and care are
necessary to make the stocks and scions fit properly; but if the rules
that apply to grafting are properly followed, there will be little fear
of the operation failing. In the accompanying illustrations, we have a
small Mamillaria stem grafted on to the apex of the tall
quadrangular-stemmed, night-flowering Cereus (Fig. 7), and also a
cylindrical-stemmed Opuntia worked on a branch of the flat,
battledore-like Indian Fig (Fig. 8.)



In the hands of a skilful cultivator, the different Cactuses may be made
to unite with one another almost as easily as clay under the moulder's
hands; whilst even to the amateur, Cactuses afford the easiest of
subjects for observing the results of grafting.



(From epi upon, and phyllon, a leaf).

It is now about a century since some of the most beautiful of Cactaceous
plants came into cultivation in this country, and amongst them was the
plant now known as E. truncatum, but then called Cactus Epiphyllum; the
name Cactus being used in a generic sense, and not, as now, merely as a
general term for the Natural Order. Introduced so early, and at once
finding great favour as a curious and beautiful flowering plant, E.
truncatum has been, and is still, extensively cultivated, and numerous
varieties of it have, as a consequence, originated in English gardens.
We do not use the seeds of these plants for their propagation, unless
new varieties are desired, when we must begin by fertilising the
flowers, and thus obtain seeds, which should be sown and grown on till
the plants flower.

Epiphyllums have already "broken" from their original or wild
characters, and are, therefore, likely to yield distinct varieties from
the first sowing. In the forests which clothe the slopes of the Organ
Mountains, in Brazil, the Epiphyllums are found in great abundance,
growing upon the trunks and branches of large trees, and occasionally on
the ground or upon rocks, up to an elevation of 6000 ft. It was here that
Gardner, when travelling in South America, found E. truncatum growing in
great luxuriance, and along with it the species known as E.
Russellianum, which he sent to the Duke of Bedford's garden, at Woburn,
in 1839. These two species are the only ones now recognised by
botanists, all the other cultivated kinds being either varieties of, or
crosses raised from, them. The character by which Epiphyllums are
distinguished from other Cactuses, is their flattened, long, slender
branches, which are formed of succulent, green, leaf-like branchlets,
growing out of the ends of each other, to a length of from 3 ft. to 4 ft.
As in the majority of Cactuses, the stems of Epiphyllum become woody and
almost cylindrical with age, the axes of the branchlets swell out, and
the edges either disappear or remain attached, like a pair of wings.

Cultivation.--Epiphyllums require the temperature of an intermediate
house in winter, whilst, in summer, any position where they can be kept
a little close and moist, and be shaded from bright sunshine, will suit
them. Remembering that their habit, when wild, is to grow upon the
trunks of trees, where they would be afforded considerable shade by the
overhanging branches, we cannot be wrong in shading them from direct
sunshine during summer. Some growers recommend placing these plants in a
hot, dry house; but we have never seen good specimens cultivated under
such conditions. All through the summer months, the plants should be
syringed both morning and evening; but by the end of August they will
have completed their growth, and should, therefore, be gradually exposed
to sunshine and air.

It is advisable to discontinue the use of the syringe from September
till the return of spring, but the plants should always be kept supplied
with a little moisture at the root and in the air about them during the
winter months. In this respect, these plants and the Rhipsalis are
exceptions among Cactuses, as all the others are safest when kept dry
during the cold, dull weather between September and April. The soil most
suitable for them is a mixture of peat, loam, and sand, unless a light
and fibrous loam be obtainable, which is, perhaps, the best of all soils
for these plants, requiring only the addition of a little rotted manure
or leaf-mould, silver sand, and some small brick rubble. The Pereskia
stock is not a stout-rooted plant, and does not, therefore, require much
root-room, although, by putting in plenty of broken crocks as drainage,
the soil space in the pots may be reduced to what is considered
sufficient for the plant. If small pots are used, the head of the plant
is apt to overbalance the whole. The stems should be secured to stout
stakes, and, if large, umbrella-like specimens are wanted, a frame
should be made in the form of an umbrella, and the stem and branches
fastened to it. Smaller plants may be kept in position by means of a
single upright stake, which should be long enough to stand an inch or
two above the head of the plant, so that the stoutest branches may be
supported by attaching a piece of matting to them, and fastening it to
the top of the stake. In the remarks upon grafting we mentioned the
large pyramidal specimens of Epiphyllum which are grown by some
cultivators for exhibition purposes; and, although these plants are much
rarer at exhibitions now than they were a few years ago, yet they do
sometimes appear, especially in the northern towns, such as Liverpool
and Manchester.

It would not be easy to find a more beautiful object during winter than
an Epiphyllum, 5 ft. or 6 ft. high, and nearly the same in width at the
base, forming a dense pyramid of drooping, strap-like branches bearing
several hundreds of their bright and delicate coloured blossoms all at
one time, and lasting in beauty for several weeks. With a little skill
and patience, plants of this size may be grown by any amateur who
possesses a warm greenhouse; and, although it is not easy to manage such
large plants in a room window, handsome little specimens of the same
form may be grown if the window is favourably situated and the room kept
warm in winter. Mr. J. Wallis, gardener to G. Tomline, Esq., of Ipswich,
has become famous for the size and health of the specimens he has
produced. Writing on the cultivation of Epiphyllums, Mr. Wallis gives
the following details, which are especially valuable as coming from one
of the most successful cultivators of these beautiful plants:

"The Epiphyllums here are grown for flowering in the conservatory, and
are usually gay from the first week in November till February. During
the remainder of the year, they occupy a three-quarter span-roof house,
in which an intermediate temperature is maintained. All our Epiphyllums
are grafted on the Pereskia aculeata. We graft a few at intervals of two
or three years, so, if any of the older plants become sickly or shabby,
they are thrown away, and the younger ones grown on. Some of the stocks
are worked to form pyramids, and some to form standards. The height of
the pyramids is 6 ft., and, to form these, six or eight scions are
inserted. The heads of the standards are on stems ranging in height from
41/2 ft. down to 11/2 ft. To form these heads, only one scion is put on the
stock. Some of our oldest pyramids are 4 ft. or 5 ft. through at the base,
and the heads of the standards quite as much. When in flower, the heads
of the latter droop almost to the pots. The pyramids occupy No.2 and
No.4 sized pots, the standards 8's and 12's. Each plant is secured to a
strong iron stake, with three prongs fitting the inside of the pot, and
the Epiphyllum is kept well supported to the stake by ties of stout
wire. After the plants are well established, they are easily managed,
and go many years without repotting; but, of course, we top-dress them
annually, previously removing as much of the old soil as will come away
easily. We grow these plants with plenty of ventilation on all
favourable occasions, and they are seldom shaded. During active growth,
water is given freely, occasionally liquid manure; they are also
syringed daily. After the season's growth is completed, water is given
more sparingly, and syringing is dispensed with."

When grown on their own roots, Epiphyllums are useful for planting in
wire baskets intended to hang near the glass; large and very handsome
specimens form in a few years, if young rooted plants are placed rather
thickly round the sides of the baskets, and grown in a warm house.
Epiphyllums are employed with good effect for covering walls, which are
first covered with peaty soil by means of wire netting, and then
cuttings of the Epiphyllums are stuck in at intervals of about 1 ft. The
effect of a wall of the drooping branches of these plants is attractive
even when without their beautiful flowers; but when seen in winter,
clothed with hundreds of sparkling blossoms, they present a most
beautiful picture. Large plants of Pereskia may be trained over pillars
in conservatories and afterwards grafted with Epiphyllums; in fact,
there are many ways in which these plants may be effectively employed in


E. truncatum (jagged); Bot. Mag. 2562.--Branchlets from 1 in. to 3 in.
long, and 1 in. wide, with two or three distinct teeth along the edges,
and a toothed or jagged apex (hence the specific name). The flowers are
3 in. long, curved above and below, not unlike the letter S; the petals
and sepals reflexed, and exposing the numerous yellow anthers, through
which the club-headed stigma protrudes; colour, a deep rose-red, the
base of the petals slightly paler. The varieties differ in having
colours which vary from almost pure white, with purplish tips, to a
uniform rich purple, whilst such colours as salmon, rose, orange, and
scarlet, are conspicuous among them.


E. Russellianum (Russell's); Fig. 9.--This has smaller branchlets than
the type plant (E. truncatum), and is thus easily distinguished; they do
not exceed 1 in. in length and 1/2 in. in width, whilst the edges are
irregularly and faintly notched, not distinctly toothed, as in E.
truncatum. The flowers are a little larger than in the older kind, and
are not curved, whilst the petals are narrower; their colour is bright
rosy-red. This species flowers rather later in the year than E.
truncatum, and may be had in blossom so late as the month of May or
June. There are several varieties of it which have either larger and
darker, or smaller and variously tinted flowers. Both the species will
cross with each other, and probably many of the varieties enumerated by
nurserymen have been obtained in this way.


The following is a selection of the best varieties, with a short
description of the flowers of each:

E. bicolor (two-coloured).--Tube of flower white; petals purple,
becoming almost white towards the base.

E. Bridgesii (Bridges').--Tube violet; petals dark purple.

E. coccineum (scarlet).--Bright scarlet, paler at the base of the

E. cruentum (bloody).--Tube purplish-scarlet; petals bright scarlet.

E. Gaertneri (Gaertner's).--This is an interesting and beautiful
hybrid, raised from Epiphyllum and a Cereus of some kind. The branchlets
are exactly the same as those of E. truncatum, but the flowers are not
like Epiphyllum at all, resembling rather those of Cereus or
Phyllocactus. They are brilliant scarlet in colour, shaded with violet.

E. magnificum (magnificent).--Tube rosy-violet; petals dark red.

E. salmoneum (salmon-coloured).--Tube and base of petals white, rest
salmon-red, shaded with purple.

E. spectabile (remarkable).--Tube and base of petals white; tips of
petals carmine.

E. tricolor (three-coloured).--Tube salmon-red; petals red, centre

E. violaceum (violet).--Tube white; petals carmine, margined with



(From phyllon, a leaf, and Cactus).

As in the case of the Epiphyllums, the principal character by which the
Phyllocactus is distinguished is well described by the name, the
difference between it and Epiphyllum being that in the former the
flowers are produced along the margins of the flattened branches,
whereas in the latter they are borne on the apices of the short,
truncate divisions. If we compare any of the Phyllocactuses with Cereus
triangularis, or with C. speciosissimus, we shall find that the flowers
are precisely similar both in form and colour, and sometimes also in

In all the kinds the stem is compressed laterally, so as to look as if
it had been hammered out flat; or sometimes it is three-angled, and the
margins are deeply notched or serrated. These notches are really the
divisions between one leaf and another, for the flat, fleshy portions or
wings of the stems of these plants are simply modified leaves--not
properly separated from each other and from the stem, but still to all
intents and purposes leaves--which, as the plant increases and matures,
gradually wither away, leaving the central or woody portion to assume
the cylindrical stem which we find in all old Phyllocactuses. It is from
these notches that the large, showy flowers are developed, just as in
plants the flowers of which are borne from the axils of the leaves.

Under the names "Spleenwort-leaved Indian Figs," and "Winged
Torch-thistles," as well as those here adopted, the most beautiful
perhaps of all Cactuses, and certainly the most useful in a garden
sense, have been cultivated in English gardens for more than 150 years;
for it was in 1710 that the flowering of E. Phyllanthus was first
recorded in English horticulture. Philip Miller grew it with many other
Cactuses in the botanical garden at Chelsea which was founded by Sir
Hans Sloane, in 1673, to be maintained "for the manifestation of the
power, wisdom, and glory of God in the works of creation," and which
still exists as the botanical emporium of the Apothecaries' Society. The
majority of the gorgeous Phyllocactuses which we now possess are of only
recent introduction, or are the result of cultivation and crossing.

The species are natives of various parts of tropical America, chiefly
Mexico and Central America, where they are found generally growing, in
company with Bromeliads and Orchids, upon the trunks of gigantic
forest-trees. Phyllocactuses are therefore epiphytes when in a wild
state, but under cultivation with us, they thrive best when planted in
pots or in baskets--the latter method being adapted for one or two
smaller kinds. It is easy to imagine the gorgeousness of a group of
these plants when seen enveloping a large tree-trunk, clothing it, as it
were, with balls of brilliant or pure white flowers. We are told by
travellers of the splendours of a Cactus haunt during the flowering
season, and those who have seen a well-managed pot specimen of
Phyllocactus when covered with large, dazzling flowers, can form some
idea of what wild plants are like when seen by hundreds together, and
surrounded by the green foliage and festooning climbers which associate
with them in the forests where they abound.

Cultivation.--For the following cultural notes we are indebted to a
most successful grower of Cactuses in Germany, whose collection of
Phyllocactuses is exceptionally rich and well managed: The growing
season for these plants is from about the end of April, or after the
flowers are over, till the end of August. As soon as growth commences,
the plants should be repotted. A light, rich soil should be used, a
mixture of loam, peat, and leaf-mould, or rotten manure with a little
sand, being suitable. Small plants should have a fair shift; larger ones
only into a size of pot which just admits of a thin layer of fresh soil.
When pot-bound, the plants flower most freely, and it is not necessary
to repot large specimens more often than about once every three years.
When potted they should be placed in a sunny position in a close house
or frame, and be kept freely watered. In bright weather they may be
syringed overhead twice a day. For the first few days after repotting it
is advisable to shade the plants from bright sunshine. A stove
temperature is required until growth is finished. After this they should
be gradually ripened by admitting more air and exposing to all the
sunlight possible. During winter very little water is needed, just
sufficient to prevent shrivelling being safest. Excess of moisture in
winter is ruinous, as it often kills the roots, and sometimes causes the
plant to rot off at the collar. The lowest temperature in winter should
be 50 degs., lower than this being unsafe, whilst in mild weather it
might be 5 degs. higher.

It is a bad plan to turn these plants round, in order, as some think, to
ripen the growths properly. As a matter of fact, it does no good, but
often does harm, by suddenly exposing the tender parts to the full force
of sunlight.

The stems may be trained either in the form of a fan or as a bush. Old
branches which have flowered and are shrivelling may be cut away in the

Some fine specimens have been grown in pockets on old walls inside
lean-to greenhouses, where the conditions have been favourable to the
healthy growth and flowering of most of the species. When grown in this
way, water must be supplied exactly as advised for plants grown in pots;
if the pockets are not within easy reach of the watering pot, the plants
can be watered by means of a heavy syringing.

Propagation.--For the propagation of the Phyllocactus either the whole
plant may be divided at the base, or cuttings of the branches may be
used; the latter, after having dried by remaining with their bases
exposed to the air for a day or two, should be planted in small pots
filled with very sandy soil; they may be placed on a dry, sunny shelf
near the glass, and be slightly sprinkled overhead daily till rooted.
Seeds, which sometimes ripen on cultivated plants, should be gathered as
soon as the fleshy fruits have turned to a purplish colour, dried for a
day or so, then sown in a light, porous soil, and placed in a warm frame
or house to germinate.


P. Akermanni (named after a Mr. Akermann, who introduced it from Mexico
in 1829); Fig. 10.--Stem becoming cylindrical at an early age, and
clothed with little clusters of spiny hairs; the branches are flattened
out, and form broad, rather thin, blade-like growths, with the margins
sinuately lobed (waved and notched). The flowers are large--over 6 in.
in diameter--the petals, very acutely pointed and undulated along the
edges; flower tube 2 in. long, with a few small scales scattered over its
surface; stamens curved, clustered around the stigma, and almost hiding
it. Colour of whole flower a rich scarlet, with a satin-like lustre.
Flowers in June and July.


This is one of the best-known kinds, having been extensively cultivated
as an ornamental greenhouse plant till within the last few years. It was
grown by several nurserymen for Covent Garden Market about eight years
ago; small plants, about 1 ft. high, and bearing each from two to six
flowers, finding much favour among the costermongers, as the plants
could be bought at a low price, and, owing to their large, brilliant
flowers, always sold well at a good profit. This species has been
employed by the hybridists for the obtaining of new kinds, and some very
handsome and distinct varieties have consequently been raised. As well
as crossing with other species of Phyllocactus, P. Akermanni has been
used in combination with several species of Cereus, good hybrids having
been the result. As a compact-growing and free-flowering species, this
may be specially recommended.

P. anguliger (angle-stemmed); Fig. 11.--The branches of this kind are
distinguished by having the notches along their margins more like the
teeth of a saw than the others. The habit is rather stiff and erect. The
flowers are produced near the apex of the branches, and are composed of
a curved tube 6 in. long, spreading out at the top to a width of 6 in.,
and surmounted by a whorl of pure white petals, in the centre of which
are the stamens, rather few in number, and the large, ten-rayed stigma.
The flowers are developed in December and January, and have a powerful
and delicious odour. Introduced, in 1837, from West Mexico, where it is
said to grow in oak forests.


P. (Disocactus) biformis (two-formed); Fig. 12.--This is a small plant,
and is intermediate between this genus and the Epiphyllums. It possesses
no particular beauty or distinctive character such as would render it of
much value for garden purposes. The branches are short, rather narrow
and drooping, the margins notched and tinged with red. The flowers are
borne generally on the ends of the branches, and are drooping in habit;
in form they are more like the Epiphyllums than the ordinary
Phyllocactuses, as they have their petals arranged in a sort of tube
about 3 in. long. The fruit is a red berry as large as a gooseberry.
Honduras, 1839.

[Illustration: FIG. 12.--PHYLLOCACTUS BIFORMIS.]

P. crenatus (toothed); Bot. Reg. 3031.--A large-flowered and very
beautiful species, rivalling, in the size and fragrance of its blossoms,
the gigantic night-flowering Cereus grandiflorus. It grows to a height
of about 2 ft., with round-based branches, the upper portion flattened
out and the margins serrated. The flower tube is 4 in. long,
brownish-green, as also are the sepals; petals 4 in. long, in a whorl,
the points curving inwards; stamens and pistil erect, forming along with
the petals a large star of a pale cream-colour. The beauty and fragrance
of these flowers, which open in June, render them specially valuable for
cutting and placing in rooms, where, notwithstanding their short
duration, they never fail to win much admiration. Introduced from
Honduras, in 1839. This fine species is one of the parents of the
hybrids which have been raised both in this country and in America,
where Mr. Hovey succeeded in obtaining some of the choicest as regards
colour and size. Some of these latter were exhibited in London two or
three years ago, and were much admired.

P. grandis (large-flowered).--The large, creamy-white flowers of this
plant are like those of the night-flowering Cereus; and, in addition to
the similarity in form and size between these two, there is a further
one in the time when the flowers expand, this species, along with one or
two others, opening its flowers after sunset; and although they remain
in good condition till late on in the day following, and sometimes even
longer, we may suppose that the proper flowering time is at night. The
delicious almond scent of the flowers of this fine Cactus is so strong,
that during the flowering period the atmosphere of the large
Cactus-house at Kew Gardens is permeated with it, the large specimens
there having usually a score or more flowers open together, the effect
of which is truly grand. Even this number of flowers is, for this
species, by no means extraordinary, specimens having been grown
elsewhere, in pots only 8 in. across, with as many flowers open on each.
From this it will be seen that P. grandis is one of the most useful
kinds, its large, sweet-scented flowers, and its free-growing nature,
rendering it of exceptional value as a decorative plant. Its branches
are broad and notched along the margins, and the flowers are 1 ft. in
length, including the tube, whilst across the broad, spreading petals
they measure almost as much. Honduras. Introduced 1837 (?). Time of
flowering, summer and autumn.

P. Hookeri (Hooker's); Bot. Mag. 2692, under Cactus Phyllanthus.--A
robust-growing kind, often attaining to the size of a good shrub. Its
flowers expand in the evening, and are sweet-scented. They are produced
along the margins of the broad, flat, deeply-notched branches, the
serratures being rounded instead of angled, as in some of the kinds. The
tube of the flower is long and slender, no thicker than a goose quill,
and covered with reddish scales; the petals are spreading, and form a
cup 6 in. across; they are narrow, pointed, and pure white, the outer
whorl, as well as the sepals, being tinged on the under side with a
tawny colour. The stamens form a large cluster in the centre, and are
bright yellow, the style being red and yellow. It is probable that this
plant has been in cultivation for many years, as it was figured in the
work quoted above under the name of one of the first introduced kinds of
Phyllocactus, from which, however, it is abundantly distinct, as will be
seen by a comparison of the descriptions of the two. There are, in the
Kew collection, several large plants of P. Hookeri that flower annually
during the summer and autumn. Brazil.

P. latifrons (broad-stemmed); Bot. Mag. 3813.--This is another
large-growing species, as large at least as P. Hookeri, to which,
indeed, it bears a close resemblance, both in flowers and in habit. Like
that species, too, its date of introduction is not known, though it
appears to have been cultivated in England at an early period. It may be
grown so as to form a large shrub in a few years; or by cutting it back
annually, or growing on young plants from cuttings every two years, nice
little pot plants may be obtained; and as the plant produces flowers
freely when in a small state, it is available for small greenhouses as
well as for large ones. A fine specimen, such, for instance, as that at
Kew, which is over 8 ft. in height, and well furnished with branches, is
an attractive object when clothed with numerous creamy-white flowers,
here and there tinged with red. The branches are from 4 in. to 5 in.
broad, and deeply notched; the flowers are about 8 in. in length, and the
same across the spreading petals. Mexico. Spring.

P. phyllanthus (leaf-flowering).--This species is now rarely seen in
cultivation. As the oldest of the garden kinds it is, however, deserving
of a little notice. Philip Miller grew it in his collection in 1710. The
branches are broad and flat, the edges waved, not notched, and the
flowers are composed of a thin tortuous tube, 9 in. in length, bearing at
the top a whorl of recurved greenish petals, 1 in. long, with a cluster
of whitish stamens and a green, club-shaped style and stigma. Brazil.

P. phyllanthoides (phyllanthus-like); Bot. Mag. 2092.--For the
introduction of this handsome-flowered kind we are indebted to the great
travellers and naturalists, Humboldt and Bonpland, who discovered it
growing in the woods upon the trunks of old trees around Cartagena in
South America. Plants of it were forwarded by them to France, where they
flowered for the first time in 1811. From that time till now this
species has been in favour as a garden plant, though it is, at the
present time, much less common in English gardens than it deserves to
be. The branches are broad, triangular when young, flat when old, about
1 ft. long by 2 in. wide, with shallow incisions, the serrations rather
sharply angled. The height of the plant is from 2 ft. to 3 ft. The flowers
are produced on the margins of the young branches, and are composed of a
short, thick tube, not more than 2 in. in length, and short, dark,
recurved scales; the petals are broad, pointed, and form a stellate
cluster about 4 in. across; they are of a bright rose-colour, streaked
with white, and shaded here and there with a darker colour of red. The
stamens are numerous and pure white. The flowers open in the day-time,
and are scentless; they last in perfection for two or three days, and
may, therefore, be employed as cut flowers for vases, &c. Early summer.


In addition to the cultivated species of Phyllocactus there are numerous
hybrids and varieties, many of which are beautiful and distinct either
in colour or in size of blossom.

The following is a selection of the best of them:

P. albus superbus (superb white).--The most beautiful of white-flowered
kinds. Flowers fragrant, 6 in. across, resembling those of the
night-blossoming Cereus grandiflorus; sepals greenish-white, petals pure

P. aurantiacus superbus (superb orange).--A compact plant, with
numerous large, brick-red flowers, 5 in. to 6 in. in diameter.

P. Conway's Giant.--Flowers full, deep scarlet, about 8 in. in diameter.

P. Cooperi (Cooper's).--An English hybrid, remarkable for its large,
beautiful yellow flowers.

P. Franzi (Franz's).--Flowers 3 in. to 4 in. across; petals numerous,
outer ones scarlet, inner violet.

P. General Garibaldi.--Flowers very large, scarlet, tinged with orange
on the reflex side.

P. grandiflorus (large-flowered).--Flowers bell-shaped, 4 in. across;
sepals narrow, scarlet; petals incurved and of a fiery orange-scarlet

P. Haagei (Haage's); Fig. 13.--Flowers about 5 in. across,
flesh-coloured when first expanded, becoming carmine before fading.

[Illustration: FIG. 13.--PHYLLOCACTUS HAAGEI.]

P. ignescens (fiery).--Flowers 8 in. across, almost flat when expanded;
petals numerous, deep brilliant scarlet.

P. Jenkinsoni (Jenkinson's).--Flowers medium in size, colour

P. Johnstonei (Johnstone's).--Flowers large, with broad scarlet petals.

P. Kaufmanni (Kaufmann's).--Flowers purplish-red, very large.

P. kermesina magnus (large scarlet).--An enormous-flowered kind, having
produced blossoms which measured 10 in. across; petals vivid orange with
a tip and central stripe of red; sepals blood-red.

P. Pfersdorffii. (Pfersdorff's).--Flowers as in Cereus grandiflorus,
8 in. to 10 in. across, very fragrant; petals white; sepals yellow,
brownish outside.

P. Rempleri (Rempler's).--Branches three-angled; flowers with short,
linear, incurved sepals; petals long, broad, arranged like a tube,
colour salmon-red.

P. roseus grandiflorus (large rose-flowered); Fig. 14.--Flowers 6 in.
long and broad, nodding, white.


P. Schlimii (Schlim's).--Branches three-angled; flowers large, sepals
bright purple; petals broad, purple, tinged with scarlet.

P. splendens (splendid).--Flowers 8 in. across, purple-pink.

P. Wrayi (Wray's).--Flowers 5 in. long by 8 in. in diameter; sepals brown
on the outside, yellow inside; petals yellowish-white, fragrant when
first expanded.



(From cereus, pliant; in reference to the stems of some species.)

Over 200 distinct species of Cereus are, according to botanists,
distributed over the tropical and temperate regions of America and the
West Indies, extending to the Galapagos, or "Tortoise" Islands, 200
miles off the coast of Peru. It was in these islands that the late
Charles Darwin found several small kinds of Cereus, some of them growing
near the snow-line in exposed situations on the highest mountains. In
Mexico, C. giganteus, the most colossal of all Cacti, is found rearing
its tall, straight, columnar stems to a height of 60 ft., and branching
near the top, "like petrified giants stretching out their arms in
speechless pain, whilst others stand like lonely sentinels keeping their
dreary watch on the edge of precipices." In the West Indies most of the
night-flowering kinds are common, their long, creeping stems clinging by
means of aerial roots to rocks, or to the exposed trunks of trees, where
their enormous, often fragrant, flowers are produced in great abundance,
expanding only after the sun has set. Between these three distinct
groups we find among the plants of this elegant genus great variety both
in size and form of the stem and in the flower characters of the
different species. A large proportion of the 200 kinds known are not
cultivated in European gardens, and perhaps for many of them it is not
possible for us to provide in our houses the peculiar conditions they
require for their healthy existence. But there are a good many species
of Cereus represented in gardens, even in this country, and among them
we shall have no difficulty in finding many useful and beautiful kinds,
such as may be cultivated with success in an ordinary greenhouse or
stove. Lemaire, a French writer on Cactuses, groups a number of species
under the generic name of Echinocereus; but as this name is not adopted
in England, it is omitted here, all the kinds being included under


The most interesting group is that of the climbing night-flowering
kinds, on account of their singular habit of expanding their flowers in
the dark and of the very large size and brilliant colours of their
flowers. In habit the plants of this set are trailers or climbers, their
stems are either round or angled, and grow to a length of many feet,
branching freely as they extend. By means of their roots, which are
freely formed upon the stems, and which have the power of attaching
themselves to stones or wood in the same way as ivy does, these kinds
soon spread over and cover a large space; they are, therefore, useful
for training over the back walls in lean-to houses, or for growing
against rafters or pillars--in fact, in any position exposed to bright
sunlight and where there is a good circulation of air. Soil does not
appear to play an important part with these plants, as they will grow
anywhere where there is a little brick rubble, gravel, or cinders for
their basal roots to nestle in. They have been grown in the greatest
luxuriance and have produced flowers in abundance with nothing more than
their roots buried in the crumbling foundations of an old wall, upon
which the stems were clinging. The chief consideration is drainage, as,
unless the roots are kept clear of anything like stagnation, they soon
perish through rot. During the summer, the stems should be syringed
morning and evening on all bright days, whilst in winter little or no
water will be required.

Like all other Cactuses, these plants may be propagated by means of
large branches, which, if placed in a porous soil, will strike root in a
few weeks. We saw a very large specimen of C. triangularis, which last
autumn suddenly rotted at the base, from some cause or other, and to
save the specimen, a mound was built up of brick rubble and soil, high
enough to surround the base of the plant above the rotted part. In a few
weeks there was a good crop of new roots formed, and the plant has since
flowered most satisfactorily. With almost any other plant, this course
would have proved futile; but Cactuses are singularly tenacious of life,
the largest and oldest stems being capable of forming roots as freely
and as quickly as the young ones.

C. extensus (long-stemmed); Bot. Mag. 4066.--This has long rope-like
stems, bluntly triangular, less than 1 in. thick, with very short spines,
arranged in pairs or threes, about 1 in. apart along the angles, and
aerial roots. The flowers are developed all along the stems, and are
composed of a thick, green, scale-clothed tube, about 3 in. long; the
larger scales yellow and green, tipped with red, and a spreading cup
formed of the long-pointed sepals and petals, the former yellow, green,
and red, the latter white, tinted with rose. The flower is about 9 in.
across. When in blossom, this plant equals in beauty the finest of the
climbing Cactuses, but, unfortunately, it does not flower as freely as
most of its kind. It is cultivated at Kew, where it has flowered once
during the last five years. A native of Trinidad, whence it was
introduced, and first flowered in August, 1843. Judging by the
conditions under which it grows and blossoms in its native haunts, no
doubt its shy-flowering nature under cultivation here is owing to the
absence of a long continuance of bright sunshine and moisture, followed
by one of drought and sunlight. If placed in a favourable condition as
regards light, and carefully treated in respect of water, it ought to

C. fulgidus (glittering); Bot. Mag. 5856.--In the brilliant deep
scarlet of its large buds, and the bright orange-scarlet of the expanded
flowers, this species stands quite alone among the night-flowering,
scandent-stemmed Cereuses. Its one drawback is its shy-flowering nature,
as it is rarely seen in blossom even when liberally treated, and along
with the other kinds which flower so freely. The history of this plant
is not known; but it is supposed to be a hybrid between C. Pitajayi or
variabilis and one of the scarlet-flowered Phyllocactuses, or, possibly,
C. speciosissimus. It first flowered at Kew, in July, 1870. Stems bright
green, slow-growing, three or four-angled, about 2 in. wide; angles much
compressed, so that a section of the stem shows a cross; margins
notched, with clusters of short, hair-like spines at each notch. Flowers
6 in. long, and about the same across the top; tube covered with soft
hairs and short deep-red scales, which are enlarged towards the top,
where they spread out, and form, along with the petals, a large rosette
of several whorls, arranged as in a semi-double rose, the centre being
occupied by a brush-like cluster of greenish stamens, with the radiating
stigma standing erect in the middle. It is to be regretted that the
flowers are not more freely produced by cultivated plants.

C. grandiflorus (large-flowered); Bot. Mag. 3381.--There is scarcely
any plant that makes a more magnificent appearance when in full blossom
than this. A strong plant will produce many flowers together, but they
do not remain long expanded, opening at seven or eight o'clock in the
evening, and fading at sunrise the next morning; nor do they ever open
again, even when cut and placed in warm water in a dark place. The
closing of the flowers may, however, be retarded for a whole day by
removing the bud before it is fully open and placing it in water. The
stems are almost cylindrical, with four to seven slight ridges, or
angles, which bear numerous tufts of wool and short stiff spines. Roots
are thrown out from all parts of the stem, even when not in contact with
anything. The flowers are developed on the sides of the stems,
principally the younger, shorter ones; the flower tube is about 4 in.
long by 1 in. in diameter, and is covered with short brown scales and
whitish hairs; the calyx is 1 ft. across, and is composed of a large
number of narrow sepals of a bright yellow colour inside, brown on the
outside; the petals are broad, pure white, and arranged in a sort of cup
inclosing the numerous yellow stamens and the club-shaped stigma. The
flower has a delicious vanilla-like odour, which perfumes the air to a
considerable distance. Flowers in July. Native of the West Indies.
Introduced 1700, at which time it is said to have been cultivated in the
Royal Gardens at Hampton Court.

C. Lemairii (Lemaire's); Bot. Mag. 4814.--In the size and fragrance of
its blossoms, and also in the brilliancy of its colours, this species
rivals C. grandiflorus; differing in the following particulars: the tube
is covered with large green, crimson-edged scales instead of small brown
scales and white hairs; the sepals do not spread out in a star-like
manner, as in C. grandiflorus, and they are tinged with crimson; the
stem of the plant shows a bluntly triangular section, and the angles are
marked with a row of distant spines instead of the clusters of spines
and wool in C. grandiflorus. In all other particulars, these two species
are almost identical, so that where space is limited either the one or

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