Aylostera heliosa subsp. cajasensis
Aylostera heliosa subsp. condorensis
Rebutia heliosa var. cajasensis
Rebutia heliosa var. condorensis
Rebutia heliosa is native to Bolivia where the plant grows on mountainous areas and can spread up to 3000 m of altitude.
Rebutia heliosa is a small succulent belonging to the Cactaceae botanical family. The plant forms a clustering mound of tiny heads and can reach up to 3 cm in height and 2 cm in diameter. The stem is short, globular to oval, with the apex depressed and dark green in color. The areoles are small, brownish to greyish, very numerous and cover all the surface of the plant. The spines are inserted on the areoles and the central spines are absent and the 24-26 radial spines are short, spreading laterally, silvery white in color. The roots are big, fleshy, conical and taproot. Blooming occurs in early summer and the blossoms are borne near the apex of the stem in a ring arrangement, forming a crown of flowers. This plant blooms once it reaches 2 or 3 years of age. The flowers are funnel-shaped, covered outside and inside with greyish woolly and they are made of many petals. The flowers are bright orange to dark red in color and the stamens are yellow and are located at the center of the flower. The flowering lasts for 3-4 days. The small purple to magenta fruits contains tiny black seeds.
The plant grows very slowly but it is easy to cultivate. The plant needs a full light sun exposure but is recommended to avoid direct sun-light during the summer. Long exposure to direct sun-light can cause burns and burnt spots. The succulent can tolerate temperatures to 45° C, and short periods of frost, but prolonged cold will damage or kill the plant. Too low temperatures can cause the stem or leaves to break due to water freezing inside the tissues. Temperatures between 10 and 15 °C allow the plants to enter vegetative rest which is essential for the flowering of the following year. Plants should not be placed inside the house where average temperatures of 20 degrees prevent vegetative rest. The best draining soil for this genus is made up of 40% fertile loam, 40% pumice and 20% coarse sand. The pumice should always be placed on the bottom of the pot. Remember to use a perforating pot to drain excess water. Watering can be done regularly during the vegetative period. During the vegetative period you can water the plant every 5 days with half a glass of water, checking that the soil is completely dry before watering again; in winter you should stop the watering to allow the plant to enter dormancy. Decrease the amount of water if the plant is kept indoors or if the pot is smaller than 12 cm. The plant must be fed with a high potassium fertilizer in the summer. You can dilute the fertilizer twice a month in the irrigation water. 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; it is usually done every year until the plant reaches 13 cm in diameter. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.
Propagation can be done by seed, cutting or grafting. 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. It is advisable to use rooting hormone at the base of the cut to energize root development. 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 and keep it with a high level of humidity and at temperature of 14 C°. By grafting make the cut as close to the growing tip as possible, then chose a stock with a diameter similar to that of the scion. After the cut, wash away the latex until it no longer remains. Bring the scion closer to the stock and held together with elastic bands. The plants should be left in an airy and shady place for 7-10 days before the bands are removed.
Although they have been identified as a genus since the late 1800s, the classification of Rebutia is still being discussed, given their proximity to other genus of dwarf cacti.
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