CHAMAECEREUS SILVESTRH (peanut cactus)

2 deg C/36 deg F

As a houseplant. this cactus almost ranks with the aspidistra in its resistance to ill-treatment and neglect, and even survives temperatures down to near freezing – if not below – for brief periods. It can exist for a long time without water, to the stage of becoming sick-looking and shrivelled, and then make a remarkable recovery when moisture is available. It is best grown in fair-sized shallow pots where, with reasonable care, it will quickly spread to give complete coverage and form a clump of prickly, cylindrical branches. This Argentinian species, the only one of the genus, is outstanding for its lovely showy flowers, borne for at least two weeks. They are starry in shape and bright red, and well-grown plants become smothered with them. It is certainly a cactus to show those people who seem to think cacti are dull and uninteresting. or rarely flower. Give the plant a bright position such as a sunny window-sill and water reasonably freely while growing during summer. In winter, hardly any water should be given. If the compost is kept too moist. flowering may not be so generous. The same may apply in shady conditions.

Propagation can be easily carried out by carefully pulling away one of the young branches and potting during summer. Roots soon form.

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