Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
The crown cactus are particularly beautiful plants. Native to South America, these plants have a neat, symmetrical appearance. The crown cactus assumes a globe-like shape. They range in color from deep to light green. The glossy plants are dotted with symmetrical rows of closely spaced tubercles. Depending on the species, the soft, thin spines range from deep brown to white.
Very floriferous, a crown cactus can have nearly two dozen funnel-like blossoms at any given time. With a few exceptions, these tend to open in a ring or circle near the base of the plant. They can range in color from purple to scarlet or yellow. Blooming at a very early age, it isnít uncommon for a one-year-old crown cactus to begin flowering.
All crown cacti have attractive fruits. The self-fertile plants are quite fruitful.
Several species of crown cactus are commonly grown. These include the following.
There are at least two species that are known simply as red crown.
Red crown (Rebutia kupperiana)
Reaching about four inches or so in height and half as wide, this species is especially slow growing. The areoles are almost yellow. This has fewer offsets than some crown cactus species. The spines are brown or white.
Opening during the summer, the blossoms are dark scarlet. These are about an inch in diameter and about equally long. Unlike other crown cactus, red crown has blossoms that are located on the upper part of the plant. These donít open in a ring. Eager to bloom, this begins flowering at an early age.
Red crown (Rebutia miniscula)
A very popular species, this is native to South America. This needs cool conditions during the winter in order to prepare for blooming the following summer. This ribbed plant is almost globe-like, and tends to have offsets that form large clusters. The vivid green stems or bodies are less than an inch tall and about twice as wide. These are covered with white, bristle-like spines. It is very spiny. The red blossoms open in large numbers, and can last for several days.
Fire crown cactus (Rebutia senilis)
Native to South America, fire crown cactus is a woolly species that is simply covered with long, glistening, white spines.
This soft green species is almost sphere-like. It reaches three inches in diameter. Fire crown cactus is a fast growing species that forms lots offsets within a few years.
The blossoms are red, for which the plant is named. These are over an inch across with a matching length. There are varieties with pinkish-lilac or yellow blossoms.