Native to multiple regions in Peru, including Lambayeque, Piura and Tumbes, the Haageocereus versicolor (syn: Cereus versicolor) cactus grows as a cylindrical central stem that branches out into smaller such stems. The stems are light green in color with several ribs that then produce sharp spines of golden, white and yellow colors.
The flowers of the Haageocereus versicolor cactus tend to bloom at the tips of the stems. They are typically white or cream in color, measuring up to four inches in their width.
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How To Care For Haageocereus versicolor
In order to have this plant, 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 Haageocereus versicolor 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 take care that the air currents are not cold.
Watering and humidity are also important. The Haageocereus versicolor 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 the Haageocereus versicolor in a cool place with temperatures around 10°C. Haageocereus versicolor tolerates temperatures as low as 0°C.
From late spring to autumn, Haageocereus versicolor adapts to normal ambient temperatures.
For the cultivation of these cacti, you can use soil based on compost or peat. For good drainage, one part of sharp sand is added to two parts of this soil.
Only during the main growing period is the Haageocereus versicolor given a normal flower or cactus fertilizer. The concentration of the fertilizer should not be too high.
Propagation and Growth
Haageocereus versicolor has very accelerated growth. Under ideal growing conditions, they can reach heights of up to 2 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.
Haageocereus versicolor 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 Haageocereus versicolor whereby you will observe a small network of white and cotton-like masses.