Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Dwarf Chin: A Veritable Flower Factory

Gymnocalycium baldianum

The most prodigiously flowering cactus in my collection is this Gymnocalycium baldianum, commonly called Dwarf Chin. I described the trials and tribulations of this particular cactus in an earlier post and I just can't stop gushing about its attributes.

This species is popular because it usually has red flowers, but you never know what you'll get until it blooms for the first time. I bought it because I wanted red flowers, but that wasn't to be. The flower color on G. baldianum can range from bright red through white, although most of the G. baldianum flowers that I've seen are in the pink range, like my specimen.

My specimen is now over five years old with four heads, still in its first permanent pot, with room to grow. The heads on this cactus are all larger than average at three inches and more. This cactus takes the extreme heat of Phoenix, and it withstood our record cold of this past winter. It flowers almost continuously for over five months a year. It will occasionally take a week's rest before forming another round of buds, but then will burst out in bloom for weeks on end.

An unusual feature of my cactus is the flower color range from year to year. This year's pink is quite a change from last year's salmon. Each head has flowers that are slightly different in color from its sibling, but all retain the color theme of the year. I have wondered if a variation in weather conditions or fertilizing schedules, or even the minerals in the water cause this color variation from year to year. Whatever it is, I'm glad it happens, because every year brings a surprise.


kate said...

That is a gorgeous flower. I wish mine did that ... I love when flowers provide surprises each year. My Columbines and Delphiniums do that. It is fun to wonder ...

No Rain said...

Out of all the cacti that I have, only two have shown color variations from year to year. This specimen actually changes color; the other, a Chamaelobivia 'Fire Chief' hybrid just changes the intensity of the same color.
This mystery is one of the many reasons gardening is fun!

farmingfriends said...

What a truely beautiful cacti flower. I am enjoying learning all about cacti from you and seeing the range of cacti beauty.
Sara from farmingfriends

Beth said...

Absolutely gorgeous! What a great photo.