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ISSUE 7 (8):

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    Here is a selection of articles by Andrey P. Sokolov referring to cultivars and crested forms. The articles were published in Alma-Ata magazine "Astrophitum".


Photo 1. Растения из коллекции А. П. Соколова: Ariocarpus furfuraceus.

Most of cacti to set full value seeds demand cross-pollination by the pollen of another plant belonging to the same species. Unfortunately, even if you have another plant it may not bloom or they bloom in turn. There is a method to "cheat" the nature and get germinating seeds.

A thick transparent nectar that secretes in spring above areoles of Hamatocactus setispinus, Coryphantha clava and some other species of Ferocactus will help us. I dip a sharpened match into the nectar, apply it onto the pistil of the flower that should be pollinated and then, in 2-3 minutes, apply the pollen of the same plant. In most cases the fruit is set and it gives full value seeds. (№ 2 - 1985).


Any cactophile noticed that some species of cacti root easily and quickly and others spend months without any results. Often the only way to save such "lazy-bones" is to graft them.

Another way out is to use modern chemical stuff stimulating growth and development of roots. Heteroauksin is a popular stuff of this kind.

A cut off graft or offset should be dried during a day and then powder the cut with a thin layer of heteroauksin. After that plant the cutting into the substratum 1 cm deep.

As research showed after this treatment rooting is quicker and more roots develop. The roots are stronger than when a plant is rooted in a usual way. (№ 9-1985)


Photo 2. Растения из коллекции А. П. Соколова: Ariocarpus trigonus.

Looking through the old German cacti magazines I came across a very interesting article with a photo about a fantastic stock. As the article says a 6 mm Gymnocalycium mihanovichii rubra grafted into Setiechinopsis mirabilis became 15 mm in 6 months and gave two flowers. The photo shows one flower opening and the other as a big bud.

Setiechinopsis mirabilis (now called Arthrocereus mirabilis) has a special physiology as a small plant can develop a 12-cm long flower during a night. The flower is autogamous. (№12-1987)


In December 1984 I received several seeds of a new species Turbinicarpus flaviflorena (probably T. Flaviflorus - W.K.). I sowed them in January 1985. The seeds germinated well and in February I grafted them into Pereskiopsis. The grafted seedlings developed well and in July 1986 gave 3-4 flowers each. After pollination they set fruit and in September 1986 I collected the first harvest. So, the cycle "from seeds to seeds" took 20 months. That was a record during 28 years of my dealing with cacti. (№ 1-1987)

A bit later Andrey P.Sokolov expanded his report. A friend of his Otakar Sadovskiy (Brno, Czechoslovakia) wrote in his article "Experience of culture of chlorophyll-free cacti" published in magazine "Cacti and succulents" in 1982 that nutrient saps of cacti on which we graft chlorophyll-free cacti (echinopsis, eriocereus, cereus, trichocereus) do not meet the demands of Gymnocalicium. He recommends grafting cacti onto Espostoa lanata, Haageocereus versicolor, Oreocereus neocelsianus. He considers Ritterocereus as the best stock.


Photo 3. Растения из коллекции А. П. Соколова: Austrocilindropuntia clavarioides.

Oscar Schmidt in his article "Is it possible to solve the secret of crests" ("Cacti and succulents", 4, 1972) states that during 16 years of his dealing with cacti he got a crested form out of seedlings only once though he sowed quite a lot every year. Being an amateur I sow 100 times less annually but every year I get one or two crested seedlings.

Sure enough it does not depend on the quality of seeds as I use the seeds by European companies. It does not depend either on the method of sowing. The key is in the difference of climate in Vienna and Alma-Ata.

Not to sound unfounded I will give an example of the results of my sowing. It was done under the influence of the article called "Crest as a result of shock" published on page 130 of magazine "Cacti and other succulents" (July 1958).

Hanan Brule - the author - says that crested form is a result of different shocks: electric, overmoisturizing or sharp difference of temperature. I made a number of researches. But only in 1970 I got first results. Early in the spring I transplanted 200 one month old seedlings of HYBRIDS (highlighted by editors) of Rebutia into a box that fitted the freezer compartment. In a hot sunny day with +40?С I moved the box 5 times from the sunny place to the freezer and back. That is the temperature changed from +40?С to -12?С or -15?С. I kept the seedling for 20-30 minutes in the sunshine and for 3-5 minutes in the freezer. Most of seedlings died during the next days but not all of them. I still have 17 of them. 7 develop normally, 8 developed 2 to 15 heads and 2 developed crests that are 4 cm long.

If a sharp change of temperature is the reason of developing crests one can explain why it happens 1000 times more often in Alma-Ata than in Vienna. Alma-Ata has a pronounced continental climate characterized by sharp changes of temperature with amplitude of 80?С (from +40?С tо - 40?С). The difference between day and night temperature is 30?С (+40?С in day to +10?С at night). Don't forget about 1000 meters above sea level.

Another proof of these conclusions is frequent crests on the cacti growing in Andes of South America where the temperature also changes sharply in day and night.

(To help a cactophile. Methods manual. Alma-Ata (Kazakhstan), 1973)


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