Dendrocereus nudiflorus: Care and Propagation Guide
Dendrocereus nudiflorus (also known as Cereus nudiflorus) is the name of a plant that is also referred to as aguacate cimarrón. It’s originally grown in Cuba. This plant is also known as the biggest cactus that looks like a tree in Cuba. It grows up to 13 meters tall and is found in coastal areas.
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How to Care for Dendrocereus nudiflorus
This plant is massive and looks like a tree, which is how it can be distinguished from other cacti species growing in the thickets ideal for xerophytes and the dry forests of Cuba.
Interestingly, the Dendrocereus nudiflorus plants are a significant source of food for moths and bats, especially when it’s the flowering season. Now, these species are actually quite popular among visitors and locals because of how striking they are visually compared to other cacti. In fact, they look like some kind of apple trees till you take a closer look.
But the Dendrocereus nudiflorus plants need some conservation and restoration efforts as it is an endangered species. Whether for that or for fun, if you want to grow the Dendrocereus nudiflorus plant, here’s how you do it.
As you might have noticed, the Dendrocereus nudiflorus plants are originally grown in tropical areas. They are classified as succulents and cacti but also as tropicals and tender perennials. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that they need full sun. But you don’t want to expose them to direct sunlight when it is harsh.
That’s because even in their original habitat, the Dendrocereus nudiflorus plants grow among bushes and other large trees. So, when the sun is harsh in the afternoon, you should get them under shade.
Being xeromorphs, these cacti don’t need to be watered regularly. You should make sure that the soil is dry on the top before you water the plant again. And even this schedule is to be followed only in the summer when they need average levels of water.
Like other cacti, the Dendrocereus nudiflorus also needs well-draining soil. That’s because this plant is prone to root rot when you give it too much water. So, you need to make sure that a standard cactus potting mix is used in a perforated pot.
The soil needs to be mildly acidic, which means the pH value must be 6.1 to 6.5. But it can also be neutral which means it can range from 6.6 to 7.5, or mildly alkaline, which is 7.6 to 7.8.
Now, as mentioned earlier, this is more like a tree which means it has a lot of branches and a robust presence. This cactus is capable of growing up to 15 meters in height. The diameter of the tree trunk can be as much as 1.20 meters and it has three to five ribs.
And while the required amount of sun and water will work just fine, you can introduce some cactus-specific fertilizers in its growing season that is the summer.
According to the USDA, this cactus grows well when it is in the temperature range of 35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Accordingly, it can be grown anywhere from hardiness zones 10b to 11.
Pests and Diseases
Not much is known about the kind of pests and diseases this plant might have since it is a species that doesn’t reproduce a lot anymore.
The plant organically grows from 15 to 20 feet tall, so it might not be a great fit for all kinds of indoor situations. But because of its lighting requirements, if you want to grow it inside, you will need to prune it regularly.
And if you don’t see it get there very soon, don’t be fooled because it is known to grow very slowly and live a long life. In fact, there is a sample of this tree in Cuba’s Ecologic Reserve Varahicacos called Patriarca, which is over 500 years old.
Potting and Repotting
It’s not really a plant you can grow in a pot, so this is a tricky question. But since it grows slowly, you can start with a small, perforated pot and take it from there.
And since it grows to the size of a full tree, you should keep that in mind while repotting. Either way, it is important to remember that this plant is a cactus and as such it has spines with sharp edges which demand extreme caution.
Propagating Dendrocereus nudiflorus
This plant can be propagated through seeds or stem cuttings. If you’re going to use seeds, make sure you get them from a properly overripe and unblemished fruit. And you can do this after the last frost of the year by sowing the dry and clean seeds directly into the soil. You need to store them properly before you prepare to sow them.
The fruits are usually shaped like a pear and in the size of an avocado.
If you’re going to use stem cuttings, you can collect softwood or woody cuttings for the task. Make sure you allow the calluses to develop after cutting the stems. Once they do, you can plant the cuttings into the ground.