Made by humans: colorful cacti

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The Gymnocalycium mihanovichii belongs to the cactus family and is native to Paraguay and north-eastern Argentina. It grows about 5 centimeters high and is unassuming with its olive green coloring and white flowers. The peculiarity of the cactus is that it is the origin of numerous colorful cactus varieties, which do not occur naturally but are man-made.

How are colorful cacti formed?

The various mutants are completely or partially lacking in chlorophyll, resulting in yellow, red, or orange pigmentation. These mutations of Gymnocalycium mihanovichii are also known as moon cactus and hibotan cactus. There is no chlorophyll in completely colored variants, which means that the cactus cannot photosynthesize independently and thus survive. These mutated strains have the bottom cut off and then placed on top of Hylocereus cacti, which have also been cut off beforehand. These two types of cacti grow together through the contact of the cut ends. This connection of the two plants is called grafting. Hylocereus undatus, also known as dragon fruit, is the food source for the colorful part of the cactus. Thus, these moon cacti are not growing ungrafted. The red form of this Hibotan cactus is also known as the strawberry cactus.

Colorful cacti

Variegated cacti

Gymnocalycium mihanovichii variegata is an adulterated version of the original plant, which still has enough chlorophyll to carry out photosynthesis independently and thus grows ungrafted. The red to yellow variegation on the cactus is caused by localized deficiencies in leaf green in the epidermis, the outer layer of cells in a plant. Additional discolouration occurs due to embedded pigments in these areas.

The ideal location

Since all these cacti have their origins in the same plant species, all variants can have white, yellow, green or pink flowers from January. You need a bright location without direct sunlight, temperatures above 15 degrees Celsius all year round and special succulent soil.

You can find a suitable fertilizer for your plants under the FARBIO® organic liquid fertilizers .