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Saturday, 2 August 2014

Flower of the Rattail Cactus

Every Spring my Rattail cactus (aporocactus flagelliformis) rewards me with a mass of beautiful flowers. We’re heading for the end of winter now here in South Africa, so I don't have long to wait for these beauties again!

The bright pink flowers 1.5 inches long, 2.5 inches wide (4 by 6 cm), are produced along the long hanging stems, up to 4 feet long (120 cm) or more, in spring and summer and are sometimes followed by small red fruits. In the wild, they are pollinated by hummingbirds, but in cultivation, they generally need to be hand pollinated. They originate from the Highland plateaus of Mexico (Oaxaca, Hidalgo), but are cultivated throughout the world.

Although all the info I’ve read says they don’t tolerate frost, they have survived many frosty winters outside in my garden, but I must say, since I’ve decided to bring them inside during winter, I do get a much longer and better flowering period. But they do need some cold to produce their flowers, so I keep them in a cool place in the house.

They need to be kept moist all the time so water abundantly in summer. Needs good drainage.

One of my Rattail Cacti over-wintering it in my flower room

This is one cactus really worth cultivating and looks lovely planted in a hanging basket. But do be careful when handling this cactus - those little needles are deceptive-looking, once they get stuck in your fingers it's quite a job getting them out and cause a nasty burning sensation.


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