Pilosocereus is a genus containing several species of cacti. It is also commonly referred to as a blue or tree cactus since it grows in the shape of a small tree.
If you want to figure out how to grow this cactus by yourself, you can go through this Pilosocereus care and propagation guide.
Types of Pilosocereus Cacti
Pilosocereus glaucescens is a controversial cactus species, based on the invalid cactus name Pilocereus glaucescens described by Labour in 1853 (nom. inval., Art. 43.1). The type described in the middle of the last century had been lost and Werdermann (1933) used the name P. glaucescens for populations included within Pilosocereus pachycladus. The true identity of this species remains uncertain and most authors have dismissed Pilosocereus glaucescens as perhaps not worthy of even specific status. Most plants in cultivation under this name are Pilosocereus pachycladus.
Pilosocereus lanuginosus is a columnar cactus composed of slender, tubular-shaped branches up to several metres tall. Pilosocereus lanuginosus looks very attractive when young. Spines 8-12, differentiated into radials and centrals, rigid; flowers 5-6 cm long.
Pilosocereus leucocephalus is a tree-like cactus whose branches are clothed in thick silky wool. Near the tops emerge short, funnel-shaped, flesh-coloured flowers. Pilosocereus leucocephalus is a variable species with a large distribution area. This accounts for the numerous synonyms.
Pilosocereus machrisii is a columnar cactus 1-1.5 m tall, branching from the bottom. It is distinguished for the branches that are blue-green, shining glaucous blue when young with yellow fine needle-like spines.
Pilosocereus pachycladus is one of the most spectacular columnar tree-like cereus 1 to 10 (or more) m tall. It ramifies at the base or develops a distinct trunk with dozens of erected glaucous (bluish-silver) branches. Its elegant habit (shape) makes it look like a miniature blue Saguaro. This is one of the bluest columnar cacti.
Pilosocereus pachycladus ssp. pernambucoensis
Pilosocereus pachycladus ssp. pernambucoensis has 13-19 lower thinner ribs, the radial & central spines are about the same length and not easily distinguishable from each other. The areoles that bear flowers are not very hairy.
1,000 Types of Cacti with Pictures
How Do You Care for Pilosocereus?
There are several care requirements that you should be aware of when it comes to growing this cactus at home. Take a look at these below.
You should provide plenty of sunlight to the Pilosocereus to allow it to grow to its fullest extent. On a daily basis, you should keep this cactus under direct sunlight for up to 12 hours.
This can be easier to achieve if you are growing it outdoors, but you can simply place the potted cactus on a suitable windowsill of your house if you want to grow it indoors.
These cacti commonly grow in USDA hardiness zones of 9b to 11b. This means that they can withstand hot and tropical climates but will not be able to do too well in extreme cold. Make sure you bring them in indoors if it gets too cold in winter where you live.
Thai cactus needs a good amount of water to grow healthily. Watering it thoroughly once a week should be sufficient for it. However, you should let the soil become dry enough before you water it again.
Overwatering this cactus can cause root rot which can adversely affect the healthy growth of this cactus. You should water the Pilosocereus regularly during its growing season, which is usually spring and summer.
You do not need to water this cactus in winter since it becomes dormant during this time. However, you can water it once or twice in the season if you think it needs it.
You should grow this cactus in well-draining soil so that any excess water can drain away or evaporate without being retained in the soil. Generally, a good potting soil or cactus mix will work well for this cactus.
You can also add some sand or perlite to keep the soil dry enough.
Pilosecereus generally does not require too much fertilizer since it can grow well without it. However, you can choose to add a well-balanced fertilizer that contains equal parts of all nutrients. Make sure that you dilute this a bit as it can be a bit too strong for the cactus on its own.
Fertilizing the soil once or twice during the growing season will be sufficient for this cactus. You can also make use of compost for a more organic approach.
Pests and Diseases
Some common pests and diseases that this cactus tends to experience include mealybugs throughout its length, scales and mites, among others. Too much watering can also lead to root rot. Bruises and yellow specks are also common.
If you notice these pests and diseases, you can try to get rid of them using a pesticide or by using rubbing alcohol. You can also simply try to hose them out. It is important to keep an eye on your cactus as these methods will not be as effective if these pests have spread too much.
How to Propagate Pilosocereus
You can propagate this cactus at home mainly by using cuttings. While you can also use seeds, this can be a much slower process as this cactus may not easily bloom by itself if grown at home.
You can go through the following steps to learn how to propagate the Pilosocereus using cuttings.
- You should obtain some cuttings from a mature or adult cactus. Once this cactus becomes tall enough, you can cut off some branches from the top of the plant.
- Make sure you divide the cuttings into small pieces so that you can easily plant them in.
- Take a well-draining container or pot and place some of the soil mix in it.
- Plant the cuttings into this soil. Make sure you push them in well and cover them up with enough soil mix.
- You can then moisten the soil up a bit so that the cuttings can start developing roots.
- After the roots develop well enough, the cactus will start growing well as long as you provide the required conditions. It will also start flowering well regularly in the growing seasons.
How Fast Do Pilosocereus Grow?
Pilosocereus cacti tend to grow pretty quickly. They can generally gain a couple of feet in height every year and grow up to a height of 30 feet. However, if you are growing them in a pot, then their height will be restricted to 10 feet, depending on how big or small the pot is.
Other growing and care conditions can also affect this growth rate. They also regularly bloom flowers.