P. namaquanumis native to Cape Provinces in Namibia where it lives in the extreme conditions of the desert. The cactus can grow in the mountains up to 900 m of altitude and it is drought resistant, it can survive with only 15mm of rainfall a year. P. namaquanum prefers rocky soil, south facing where it can reach the scorching temperature of 50 °C.
P. namaquanum is a single stem cactus whose shape of the trunk is wider at the base and it gradually narrows towards the apex. The plant can grow up to 4 m in height and can lives for hundred years; the base can reach 25 cm in diameters, so it is strongly anchored to the ground. Where the stem is damaged, the trunk produces new side-branches that develop upwards.Warty tubercles bear from 3 to 5 shape spines bent down; spines are denser to the top than to the base. Leaves are wavy and oblong in shape, they are green, but the high number of “hairs” create a green-grey velvety cover called indumentum. Leaves grow thickly at the apex of the trunk forming a rosetteduring the growing season (september-july).The blooming appears from august to october with velvet-texturd multicolour flowers.Before the sixth year of cultivation P. namaquanum doesn’t give his wonderful flowers red inside and yellow outside, but the wait is worth the show. If you are looking for an exotic garden, this is the plant for you.
P. namaquanum is suitable for patient people because it grows 1 cm per year, it is an extremely slow-growing plant indeed. The cultivation is simple and does not require special care, it is a great plant for beginners.The soil must be well-drained sand-loam. You can water from august to october during the growing season, but in the dormancy period you must interrupt it because the cactus suffers the root rot. It’s enough watering twice a week. The sun exposure can be full light or light shadow.
Propagation can be realized through cutting, but more easily byseed. Seed can be sown in the summer and then will be enough to water it properly; after germination watch out to rot so you place the plant in a ventilated and dry area. Cutting is more difficult, because the wound exposes the plant to fungal attacks. When you do the cutting, consider that the dormancy period for this plant is from march to october, so you will be cutting during this period, just before the growing season starts. It is recommended to treatthe wound witha fungicideto prevent the rot, after planting the cutting you can water it once a week, during the winter. Grafting is possible onto P. gaeyi or P. lamairei. Plant grafted grow even faster and flower easily.
Plants, specially cactus and succulents, often uses indumentum to conserve water in the leaves and to adapt to the dry habitat of the deserts. Seeds are particular because are attached to a tuft of whitish hairs that act as parachutes, functional to the dissemination by wind.P. namaquanum contains poisonous alkaloids, so be careful to the sap!
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