A native of Mexico, the Pond lily Cactus was introduced into Europe in the 19th century and soon became a popular house plant.
It was often displayed with pride in the parlour, where the cool conditions suited its needs — low winter temperatures are necessary for the production of flower buds.
The plant was crossed with similarto create several hybrids which produced in a wide range of colours. The species has rather small flowers, which resemble those of the , but the much improved hybrid NopaIxochia phyllanthoides ‘Deutsche Kaiserin’ has large blooms.
Once the flower buds have formed, at a winter temperature of 10-13°C (50-55°F), the plant should be moved to a warmer. After flowering, you can move the plant out into the garden. Warmth during the growing season will produce new on which flowers will be carried the following year.
Pests And Diseases
Brown humped or flat discs on the stems or in theare . Treatment: Remove scale insects on stems with a cotton bud that has been dipped in diluted methylated spirit. To treat scale insects on , drench the with . If the attack is severe, take from healthy stems and discard the plant.
Pale or reddish stems are a sign of stress, caused by very dry compost. Prevention: Water regularly, but do not let the compost become wet.
Making new plants
The easiest way to increase your plant is to takecuttings. The best time to do this is in May, although cuttings will at any time.
1 To ensure an attractive plant, choose short, mature stems. Use a sharp knife to remove them from the parent plant, and allow the cut surfaces to callus for a few days before you plant them.
2 Insert the cuttings infilled with compost made from equal parts sphagnum moss, mould and sharp sand. Put 3-5 cuttings in each pot to get a fuller plant.
3 Water carefully — the compost should be kept on the dry side — and place the pot in a shaded.
4 After 6-8 weeks the roots should be well established. You can then bring the plants into bright light and treat them as mature.
This is a fairly easy plant to care for, so long as it is given a cool position in winter, to encourage flower buds to form, and a rich compost. Remove any stems that become discoloured or deformed.
: Repot after flowering, using a mixture of four parts leaf mould, two parts sand and one part charcoal.
Water moderately and regularly in the spring and summer. The plant can tolerate drought for short periods, but try to avoid this. Water sparingly throughout the winter until buds form, then increase.
Feeding: Feed once a month from March to October.
BEST GROWTH ENVIRONMENT
- Light: It needs bright light, but not full sun.
- Temperature: Keep at 10— 13°C (50-55°F) in winter to encourage the formation of flower buds. Increase the temperature gradually as buds form. It will tolerate normal summer temperatures.
- It is best to buy Pond Lily Cactus in the spring when it is in bud. If you cannot find it at local nurseries, try a specialist grower.
- Choose a plant with healthy green stems. Avoid any with pale or reddish stems, which indicate that the compost has been too dry.
- Pond Lily Cactus will live for many years, but the leaf-like stems become unattractive in time, and the plant should be renewed with cuttings.
The Pond Lily Cactus is one of the most profusely flowering of all. It is not difficult to grow indoors, and can also form part of a cacti collection in the .