Cereus cacti encompass more than 30 species of plants in the family Cactaceae. The most identifying feature is their remarkable ability to live smoothly in places where there is a lot of drought.
They are columnar-like with stems that have sharp spines, pronounced ribs and large flowers. The main representatives of Cereus cactus types are: Cereus peruvianus, Cereus spiralis and Cereus hexagonus.
Originally Cereus comes from South America, in this country it is mainly grown as an indoor plant.
One of the biggest features of this cactus is the flower, which only blooms at night.
- Types of Cereus Cactus
- Cereus jamacaru
- Cereus peruvianus (Hedge Cactus)
- Cereus peruvianus ‘Monstrosus'
- Cereus aethiops
- Cereus forbesii
- Cereus forbesii cv. Spiralis (Spiral Cereus)
- Cereus hexagonus (Lady of the Night Cactus)
- Cereus kroenleinii
- Cereus lanosus
- Cereus spegazzinii (Moonlight Cactus)
- Cereus stenogonus (Narrow-angled Cereus)
- Cereus Cactus Care
- Soil / Substrate
- Fertilization / Nutrient needs
- Propagation and Growth
- Frequently Asked Questions
Types of Cereus Cactus
There are in total about 33 different species of this cacti, but they are not recommended for the home. Among well-adapted species with low care requirements are:
- Cereus jamacaru
- Cereus peruvianus
- Cereus peruvianus ‘Monstrosus'
The columnar cactus Cereus jamacaru is single-stemmed at its base and has a bluish-green color. When kept in an apartment, it rarely branches. The 6-10 ribs are very pronounced with deep, narrow incisions. The so-called areoles sit on the ribs are hairy and have 7-8 to 2 cm long yellow-brown thorns. The up to 30 cm long flowers with their white bracts develop rather rarely and only on older and larger plants.
Cereus peruvianus (Hedge Cactus)
The Cereus peruvianus, also known as Peruvian Apple Cactus or Hedge Cactus, is very similar to the variety ‘jamacaru'. In contrast to ‘jamacaru', the ‘peruvianus' has 5-8 ribs and the areoles have 7-8 brownish thorns. Its flowers are up to 15 cm long, white inside and red outside.
Cereus peruvianus ‘Monstrosus'
The variety ‘Monstrosus', also known as Monstrose Apple Cactus, is particularly popular with cactus collectors. In contrast to other species with only one vegetation point at the upper end of the shoot, this variety has several vegetation points that can produce flowers and side shoots as well as leaves. Because of this, this columnar cactus has a rather gnarled, irregular shape. It is very sensitive to unfavorable culture conditions.
Cereus aethiops is a shrubby, erect, more or less columnar cactus, sometimes prostrate, usually much branched from the base, to 2 m high, 1.5 m wide, with blue waxy coating on young stems and peculiar black spines. It is one of the few true Cereus which will flower when small (on 50 cm tall plants), the night-blooming flowers are fragrant, white to pale pink, to 20 cm long.
Cereus forbesii is a much branched shrubby or treelike cactus, with blue-green cylindrical-columnar stems armed with long spines. It attains a height of about 2 meters (sometimes 7 m or taller with a distinct trunk up to 40 cm in diameter). In spring to early summer it produces large funnel-form flowers which are white or pinkish white inside and reddish in the exterior.
Cereus forbesii cv. Spiralis (Spiral Cereus)
The spiral cereus (Cereus forbesii cv. Spiralis) is a shrubby or treelike species dubiously thought of as a mutant Cereus forbesii. It is a (usually) trunkless cactus that forms numerous tall, ascending, columnar stems which branch at the base in a candelabra-like arrangement. Stems have a waxy bloom on the surface and reach a height of 2-4 metres (but can grow up to 5 m high or more), and are 10 to 12 cm in diameter.
Is has five to nine widely-spaced ribs. It is a heavy bloomer and large purple fruits are easily produced when flowers are pollinated. It is self-sterile.
Cereus hexagonus (Lady of the Night Cactus)
Cereus hexagonus is a treelike cactus that grows like a candelabrum with a short thick trunk from the top of which it sends out cylindrical shoots which as soon as they have room rise straight upwards in fluted pillars up to 15 metres high. This plant has pillars rising side by side and almost touching one another.
Cereus kroenleinii is a shrubby cactus with thin and flexible branches, standing erect among the other vegetation, otherwise creeping and forming tangled clumps to 2 m tall and 6 metres in spread.
Cereus lanosus is a shrubby, much branched, semiprostrate cactus, to 1.5 m high. It is a poorly known species seldom seen in cultivation. It is easy to cultivate, easy to propagate, and produces numerous showy white flowers.
Cereus spegazzinii (Moonlight Cactus)
Cereus spegazzinii, more commonly known as Monvillea spegazzinii, is a slender shrubby cactus that has a similar form and habitat to the night-blooming cereus (Peniocereus greggii). It puts forth many basal shoots, soon becoming tillered.
Cereus stenogonus (Narrow-angled Cereus)
Cereus stenogonus is a tree-like columnar cactus, with erect stems up to 6 to 8 meters high, much branched or nearly simple. It occurs naturally in Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Its spines are between 2-4, short, conical, thick or bulbous basally, spreading, yellow with black tips or black the longest 5 to 7 mm long or subulate and the longer up to 4.5 cm long.
Cereus Cactus Care
In order to have any type of cactus from this extensive family, a set of attentions associated with cultivation, irrigation, soil, humidity, etc. must be taken into account. Thus the specimens can live many years and have an ideal flowering.
Growing them is simple and does not require any special treatment; However, it is important to emphasize that they should not be sown in places with temperatures below 10°C. They have to receive direct sunlight and the more intense it is, the better; avoid all low light areas. Finally, they are plants that require an airy environment, but taking care that the air currents are not cold.
Watering and humidity are also important. These types of plants are greatly affected by excessive humidity; in extreme cases it could kill them. It is preferable to water them with a good amount of water for long periods, instead of putting little water on them for days in a row. The vital liquid must be poured directly onto the earth and not onto the cactus. During hot seasons they should be watered only when the land is completely dry and in cold seasons, very occasionally. At all costs, you have to avoid waterlogging.
Regarding the substrate, it must be permeable and very well-drained to avoid any type of humidity that could put the well-being of the plants at risk. In the case of compost, it is a very good idea to use a liquid form in the irrigation water. Give it fortnightly between spring and summer and suspend it completely in the remaining seasons.
To maintain the health of the plants, they should be fumigated a couple of times a year to avoid fungi and mealybugs.
During the dormant period in winter, you need very little watering and care should only be taken that the cactus substrate does not dry out completely.
In winter, you should place a Cereus in a cool place with temperatures around 10°C. Cacti of this genus tolerate temperatures as low as 0°C.
From late spring to autumn, cacti adapt to normal ambient temperatures.
Soil / Substrate
For the cultivation of these cacti you can use a soil based on compost or peat. For good drainage, one part of sharp sand is added to two parts of this soil.
Fertilization / Nutrient needs
Only during the main growing period is the cactus given a normal flower or cactus fertilizer. The concentration of the fertilizer should not be too high.
Propagation and Growth
Cereus cacti have a very accelerated growth. Under ideal growing conditions they can reach heights of up to 15 meters and bloom continuously. They reproduce in two ways: by seeds and by cutting. The latter is achieved by cutting portions of the plant stem and sowing them in a mixture of 50% peat and 50% sand. The compound should be kept slightly damp, at a good temperature and with light.
Cacti grow quickly, so they have to be replanted in a slightly larger pot about once a year. In early spring, remove the cactus from its pot and check if the root ball is already well rooted.
If this is the case, put the cactus in a larger pot. The old substrate is carefully removed and the cactus is carefully placed on the new substrate. Be careful when treating the roots and not crushing or breaking them.
The hot, dry air provides an ideal climate for mites in winter. Cobwebs are particularly easy to recognize by the leaf axils and the bulging edges of the leaves.
Mealybug infestation is easily seen in Cereus whereby you will observe a small network of white and cotton-like mass.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is cereus cactus poisonous?
Since the Cereus cactus thrive as succulents, the plants have created large supplies of water in their stems. Thus it is mainly cell water that flows out of the wounds after being cut. It does not contain any toxic substances.
However, you should not take a skin injury from the sharp thorns lightly. As with any other injury, there is an increased risk of infection even with the smallest wound. You should therefore also carefully clean small scratches and disinfect them with iodine ointment. As a preventive measure, we recommend that you always approach the well-fortified plants with thorn-proof gloves when doing all planting and care work.
How often should I water my Cereus cactus?
During the growing season, water the Cereus cactus moderately—the soil must always dry slightly between watering.
During the rest period in winter, water very little and only make sure that the substrate of the cactus does not dry out completely.