Polaskia chichipe f. crested
P. chichipe is native to Mexico Central and Mexico Southwest where the plant grows on alluvial limestone spread up to 2300 m of altitude. Polaskia chichipe f. crested has garden origin.
P. chichipe is a columnar cactus belonging to the Cactaceae botanical family. The plant grows in clumps and can reach up to 5 m in height. The cactus is tree-like, branched at the top with short trunk. The stem is erect, quadrangular, arranged in 9-12 ribs, pale green in color. The ribs bear whitish and wooly areoles on which are inserted spines. The spines are 6-7 per areola, stout and greyish. Blooming occurs in late spring early summer and flowers are small diurnal yellowish green flowers from which spherical red berries are born. The crested form usually grows in the shape of a fan and can branches at the base.
This is a slow growing plant, easy to cultivate. The plant needs a full light sun exposure but is recommended to avoid direct sun-light in the hottest periods. The plant does not like temperatures below 6°C so it needs to be placed indoors in the coldest periods. The soil should be mixed with pumice, clay and loam to allow the drainage and prevent the root rot, the plant is prone to it indeed. Remember to use a perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly in Spring and Summer: during the vegetative period you can water the plant (every 7 days), checking that the soil is completely dry before watering again; in winter you should stop the watering to allow the plant to enter dormancy. If you want a faster and lush growth you can fertilize the plant once a month during the growing season with the specific fertilizers for cacti; stop fertilizing throughout the winter. If the pot starts to be too small for the plant you can repot the plant in a pot 2 cm wider. Repotting should be done early in the growing season with fresh new potting soil. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.
Propagation can be done by cutting or by seed. By cutting you can make the cut during the spring and then let the cutting dry; after a few days the cut surface will dry and a callus will form, then place the cutting in a mixture of sand, soil and pumice. To increase the success of propagation you can make two or more cuttings at the same time. For cuttings it is recommended temperatures around 20 °C. By seed it is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to sow the seed in a sandy loam soil and keep it with a high level of humidity and at temperature of 14 C°.
The Polaskia name is a tribute to Charles Polaski, an American cactus lover from Oklahoma. The forma crestata is a natural mutation that occurred in the P. chichipe population and that was selected and propagated vegetatively.
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