Preface  Cultivation


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To Sow
To Sow but where
Seed harvesting
Storing seed
Cultivation Climate
Growth season

Photo from the collection of J. Hovens


Plants we find in nature are beautiful, but very often found far from the place we live. Fortunately is it also possible to admire exotic plants at home. A vase with flowers gives pleasure but for a limited period. Plants in a pot gives longer satisfaction, and if you treat it well it rewards you with radiant flowers. It will also be interesting to study the differences within the species.


We sincerely hope that the following advise based on our experience with the cultivation in North-Western Europe, are useful to you.

Shortly after the first publications it became clear that based on cultivation experiences and comparison with imported material from Mr. Buining that, likewise many other genera, also within the species of the genus  Discocactus important differences in phenotype could be noted.

The plants of the genus  Discocactus have a great genettical  variation within the species because of cross-pollination. Cultivated plants grown together under the same climatologically conditions (greenhouse) show this clearly. A correct determination of the species at their habitat is twice as difficult, on one side caused by their above mentioned genetical variation and on the other side by their individual capacity to adapt themselves. These phenotypical differences shown so clearly in habitat  are due to microclimatological conditions and soil composition.

For the serious amateur who has experience in sowing and grafting, cultivation of the genus Discocactus from seed to a blooming species is not more complicated then other cacti. The reason that we don't find Discocactus-species very often in collections is because the species are relatively new and it demands special temperature conditions during the winter period (rest phase).

An average cactus collection could withstand without problem a temperature of 5o C during the winter, for cold sensitive species such as the Discocactus and many other Brazilian species, this is too cold. Although for some Discocactus-species a minimum temperature of 10o C is indicated, the majority requires higher temperatures during their rest period, consequently a collection with many plants of this kind the temperature should not come below 15o C . Important for the cultivation is also to know the conditions in habitat In general this can be indicated as follows.

  • Plants found exclusively in Brazil and the adjacent area's of Bolivia and Paraguay, the southern hemisphere between the 5th and the 24th degree latitude. The growing season in habitat is opposite from ours, here in the northern hemisphere.

  • During the rest period, the hot dry season, the temperature will almost never drop below the 10o C.

  • The plants grow usually in loose, often rocky soil, sometimes granite or quartz-like soil. Humus is seldom found and very limited.

  • The forming of roots is practically always surfacial, where the span could become more then one meter.

  • Humidity could be extremely low in daytime and at night very high due to the formation of dew.

The above mentioned means that   Discocacti, both cultivated and in early years imported species, are forced to adapt themselves to less favorable growth conditions in our climate. Experience has proven that long term, survival chances with own roots are very small due to the weak root development

. To approach as close as possible the requirement for a balanced  growth of  Discocacti the habitat conditions needs to be simulated as close as possible and grafting is recommended. During the growing period the plants require lots of water.

However care has to be taken that the plants do not stand in water too long, this could easily lead to damaged roots caused by bacteria's and/or molds or shortage of oxygen in the soil. By maintaining a higher minimum temperature  we prolonged the growth season a little bit and thereby preventing  the plants to dry out too much during the rest period. A good rootstock which is not emptied too fast during the winter is of great importance

Copyright 2003

email: Piet van der Laken