Pereskia bleo blooming

Pereskia bleo (rose cactus, leaf cactus, orange flower cactus) This  is a leafy cactus and can grow between 2 meters to as tall as 20 metes in height. It was native to Central and South America.

This cactus species was probably introduced during the late Spanish or American colonial regime to beautify the homes and gardens.

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Pereskia bleo grown by the author

This cactus is commonly grown from cuttings in many parts of the country. Its beautiful orange flowers and almost care free growing conditions are some of the plus points for growing this wonderful cacti species.

The downside for this cactus species is that it can grow tall and can cause injuries to children and people who goes near the shrub because of its long thorns.

The thorns are either parallel in bundles or spread widely out. Long thorns on the branches are up to five to ten millimetres long. Along the main shoots there are up to 40 spines per areole, each 2 centimetres long.

The Red List of Threatened Species of the IUCN lists the species as “Least Concern (LC)” or not at risk. This cacti species is commonly grown and had naturalized in many sub-tropical or tropical areas of the world.

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Pereskia bleo growing at the Cactus and Succulent Garden within Quezon Memorial Circle

The author had seen large shrubs of this species growing in many parts of Kingspoint Subdivision, Goodwill Homes 1, San Pedro IX Subdivision ( Novaliches ), Fairvew, Valenzuela, Caloocan, Manila and within the Cactus and Succulent Garden within Quezon Memorial Circle, Quezon City.

Propagation :

This is easily propagated via mature stems or seeds from its fruits. The fastest way to grow them is via cuttings.

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Pereskia bleo grown as hedge plant

Economic Uses:

Pereskia bleo is normally planted as hedge plant and good divider. This keeps away goats and other animals.

The flowers are arranged in terminal lateral inflorescences. The bare, bright red, scarlet, salmon pink and orange-red-pink flowers reach diameters of 4 to 6 centimeters.

The fruits are more or less spherical, ripening yellow. They are edible and sour tasting. Sometimes, people in far flung areas of the country would use the fruits as souring agent for their sinigang or preserve in jars together with local fruits.

Fertilization

One can use a mix of organic and inorganic supplement to fertilize these cactus species. Try to prepare a regular fertilization mixture with a balanced, water-soluble cactus fertilizer to increase their propensity to bloom. This is especially during the growing season ( which coincide in rainy season late May to early November in western parts of the country).

Some would apply more potassium and phosphorus components 10N-30P-30K. This cactus species can tolerate almost full sun when fully established.

References:

  • Beat Ernst Leuenberger, “PereskiaMaihuenia, and Blossfeldia —Taxonomic History, Updates, and Notes”, Haseltonia 14 : 54-93. 2008.
  • Personal interview with some growers in Novaliches, Bulacan, Caloocan and Quezon City