This cactus collector from Kerala loves to adorn his garden with thorny beauties

Sexagenarian E Balakrishnan from Kozhikode maintains over 2,500 particular person crops comprising greater than 200 totally different species, a lot of that are imported ones

Four years in the past, E Balakrishnan planted just a few cacti in his terrace garden amongst different frequent house-plants. But little did the sexagenarian from Kozhikode in Kerala know that the thorny beauties would captivate him. He began potting cuttings of cacti varieties gathered from native sources. Gradually, his assortment grew. Today, his cactus garden boasts over 2,500 particular person crops comprising greater than 200 totally different species, a lot of that are imported ones.

“There is something about cacti that fascinates me. This enthusiasm was fired up once I started learning more about the plant to beautify my garden,” says Balakrishnan who runs a printing press.

He maintains the crops on the terrace of his home and press. While Mammillaria, a bulbous decorative selection that could be a standard house-plant, are aplenty, rarer ones corresponding to Euphorbia abdelkuri damask, Copiapoa and Euphorbia trigona (also referred to as African milk tree) discover satisfaction of place on his terrace. Balakrishnan, a local of Thiruthiyad, says he sourced most of the imported varieties by means of eBay from nurseries afar.

“For occasion, I introduced within the pinkish-bodied Euphorbia from Brazil, whereas the small-sized Copiapoa got here from New Zealand. I collected many different species from Thailand, Japan, and Indonesia. It’s a relatively costly interest,” he says with fun. Just a few “crested” styles of the thorny plant too adorn his garden.

Balakrishnan acknowledges the goodwill of different gardeners in his hometown who’ve been blissful to contribute to his assortment. He propagates the crops himself by means of grafting, whereas some species are simply grown from stem cuttings. “I rarely use seeds for propagation since seed development is not conducive in this blow-hot-and-cold Kerala climate, which otherwise facilitates good growth,” he says.

Some unique varieties in his garden

  • Astrophytum, Gymnocalycium, Rebutia, Copiopoa, Sulcorebutia rauschii, Moon Cactus (Gymnocalycium mihanovichii), Euphorbia, Echinopsis

Balakrishnan says it’s useful that cacti demand much less consideration, in contrast to many different decorative crops. “I water them only once a week or so. Cacti are quite resilient. Though they need less water, it is important to ensure that there is no water retention or stagnation in the pot, which may damage the plant,” he factors out. He has additionally erected a rain shelter on the terrace.

The 65-year-old, nevertheless, checks on them each day, primarily for worms. “I water the plants only after the medium or surface is dry. Cacti need a bit of sunlight but overexposure is not advisable. Depending on the growth, I prune them once in a while. In any case, cacti do not tend to grow too large,” he says, including that he makes use of cow dung powder as fertiliser. Balakrishnan says typically upkeep of the garden turn out to be a household affair, with his spouse, Devi, and sons Rahul and Gokul, lending a serving to hand.

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