Echinopsis (2002)

PhotoBy Rose Notheis (October 2002)

Echinopsis plants are distributed in Central and South America. There are approximately 150 species. Recently, this genus was expanded to include Lobivia, Pseudolobivia, Suehrensis and Trichocereus. The result of this has been a wide variation in size, shape and color of spination.

These plants bloom primarily at night, except for a few species which bloom during the day. Flowers are sustained for one night into the early morning of the next day, except for some plants that bloom during the day and sustain their blossoms for one to two days. In cultivation, flowering is more frequent, except for day-flowering species that are more erratic during spring and summer.

Flowers are a funnel form in shape, except for species which produce salver-form flowers. The funnel form allows all parts of the flower to be viewed easily. The salver form is like a “plate” of petals with the stamen/petals somewhat obscured by the petals.

Bloom stalks are uniformly long-necked, except for the few species whose flower necks are shorter. Plants are able to bloom when they reach one to two inches in diameter or height, except for the shy slowpokes that take a while longer.

Plants are usually globular, offset freely and at an early age, with many variations of spine and bloom colors. Spines vary in quantity, length and color, except for a few that seem to be spineless. Check closer, though, these plants are true cacti. A few echinopsis become columnar or recumbent with age.

The “exceptions” in this genera are likely the result of hybridization with other plants which have recently been added to this interesting family.

As far as “exceptional” care for these plants, I winter mine dry, except for the very small (young) plants, and these I water sparingly about once a month. I have found that after they are used to sunlight again, most of these plants enjoy a lot of sun and free watering. There are exceptions, of course, so keep a sharp eye on them when they go outside.

Some of these plants are kept in outdoor gardens in the United States and Canada. They stay snow-covered all winter and come back with a vengeance with the spring warm-up.

Of course, these are some of my favorite plants. My friends, neighbors and I never fail to be impresssed by the size of the bloom stalk and flowers once they fully open. They really are spectacular flowers.

I encourage one and all to take home a few “dollar” specimens at the next show or trip to a grower. With a little bit of tender, loving care, I’ll make book that any of these plants will be a welcome addition to anyone’s collection.