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By (Matt Mattus)

A large golden yellow Rebutia sp. thrives on neglect, and winter cold ( if kept dry) in a bonsai pot.
I must have been around ten years old, when I started growing cacti. As most young boys, cacti fascinated me, at least enough so that I collected a windowsill full in my bedroom. I remember when one finally formed a large flower bud and bloomed one spring – – I felt as if I had raised the rarest plant of all, as even my mother had never been able to bring a cactus into bloom ( aside from her Christmas Cactus!). Today, I have to admit that I phase in and out of cactus collecting – which is OK, I suppose, as the cacti remain healthy and fine ( most of them, anyway) with about as much abuse as I can give them. Apparently, cactus are rather care free – at least when one has a cold, glass house.
This peach colored Rebutia ‘Sunrise’ is almost hidden by its display of flowers in the greenhouse.

With a post like this, I will undoubtedly get emails and comments like “SO…what DON’T you grow?” After all, in one post you may read about German Bearded Iris, and the next, about Columbine, or begonias, or vegetables, or Acacia trees – most of you know that I am a little obsessed about plants – many plants, but especially those which are collectible. Ever since I saw the flowering cacti display at Chelsea, I started collecting (on and off) various cacti that are known for their floral display. Mainly, the South American species in the genus Rebutia and Lobivia, and the North American Mammilaria and Echinocereus.

I am such a lazy gardener sometimes. I think I have lost most of the labels on my cacti, but as most are misnamed anyway, it really don’t make much different to me.

I will never say that I am a cacti expert, nor even a novice collector – I just buy a few now and then, at plant auctions and on-line, when I feel like I need a few more for the collection – a term I use loosely, as I really don’t fuss over these plants. I simply pot them up in clay or bonsai pans, add a gravel mulch, and place then high on the upper benches in the greenhouse. They remain bone dry and ice cold, near freezing, for most of the winter, which is half of the trick, the other half is that I am lucky enough to have single pane glass, so the light quality is great, even in the winter. When spring arrives, the plants begin to form flower buds, and once I begin watering them, they bloom within a few days.

Two Rebutia species show variability in color.
This tiny-flowered cacti is a Mammilaria.
June may be showy in the garden outdoors, but under glass, many plants are still blooming, protected from June cool, damp rain storms.

Source: blogspot/KxxH