Imagine a plant that captivates your senses with its striking appearance and mesmerizing flowers. Allow us to introduce you to the Trichocereus shaferi, a cactus species that truly stands out in the botanical world. With its globose to elongated stems, ranging from a modest 15-35 cm in height to a towering 1.5 m, this cactus undergoes a remarkable transformation. Initially grayish-green to brownish, it eventually turns cylindrical, becoming a magnificent presence in any collection. The Trichocereus shaferi starts out as a solitary specimen but often develops offsets, adding intrigue to its overall charm.
Delving deeper into its physical attributes, this cactus boasts 10 to 14 straight, somewhat compressed ribs that lend it a distinctive appearance. The areoles are closely packed together and oblong in shape. With remarkable spines, the Trichocereus shaferi showcases 7-8 radial spines, up to 2 cm long, curved and brownish in color. Its central spine, standing out amidst the rest, points upwards, often elongated to a striking 10 cm and sporting a dark brown hue. Truly a sight to behold!
Yet, it is the Trichocereus shaferi’s flowers that steal the show. Picture trumpet-shaped blooms in shades of white or pale pink, boasting breathtaking dimensions of approximately 16 cm in length. The dark brown tube, about 3 cm wide at the mouth, bears scattered areoles with small tufts of brown hairs. As the flower unfolds, the outer perianth-segments, brownish and spreading, reveal their acute, scarious tips. The inner perianth-segments appear in about 3 series, spreading gracefully, with shades transitioning from purplish to nearly white. The filaments, arranged in numerous series of varying lengths, create an intricate dance within the flower. And let’s not forget the impeccable presentation of the style, its luscious green stigma-lobes whispering of hidden wonders.
Enthralling both novice and seasoned gardeners alike, the Trichocereus shaferi is a plant that demands attention. In the following sections, we will uncover the secrets to caring for and propagating this captivating cactus. Stay with us on this journey as we unlock the mysteries behind the Queen of the Night, the Easter Lily Cactus, the Turkey-head cactus. By the end, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge and techniques to cultivate your very own enchanting Trichocereus shaferi, a masterpiece of nature’s ingenuity.
40 Types Of Trichocereus Species [With Pictures]
How to Care for Trichocereus shaferi
Though the Trichocereus shaferi is low maintenance, the following information can help in better cultivation.
Trichocereus shaferi, like most cacti, prosper when exposed to direct sunlight. However, this is the case only after the first year—seedlings require some amount of shade as they may suffer sunburn in direct sunlight.
In the summer months, Trichocereus shaferi plants grow best in light shade.
If you overwinter your plants in the colder months, ensure that you gradually increase your plant’s exposure to direct sunlight, instead of all at once, as this could also cause sunburn.
6-8 hours of sunlight a day is good; if you’re growing them indoors, 14-16 hours of lighting is necessary.
The Trichocereus shaferi goes dormant in the winter months, as most of its cacti cousins do, which means that you should refrain from watering them between the months of October and April to reduce the possibility of rot.
In the other months, water only when the soil is completely dry to the touch, and just enough to make the soil moist, all the while ensuring proper drainage of water. Allow sufficient drying time between watering periods.
A mushy cactus is a sign of overwatering.
Trichocereus shaferi cacti grow best in slightly acidic, fertile potting soil—good drainage goes without saying!
To reduce the risk of rot, small amounts of humus may be incorporated into the potting mix.
The best option is store-bought cactus/citrus mix; if this is unavailable, mix sand, fine gravel, peat moss, and perlite to make your own cactus potting mix.
In the seedling phase, a small amount of highly diluted fertilizer is healthy, encouraging the plant to grow well. Adult Trichocereus shaferi plants can handle larger amounts of fertilizer, though even these should be diluted and only very occasionally fed to the plant.
Many gardeners don’t fertilize their cacti, as over-fertilizing can be quite harmful to the plant. Fertilizer is not a necessity unless you observe your plant not hitting its growth milestones properly.
However, if you do want to fertilize your plant regularly, do so only during the growing season, once a month, feeding it diluted liquid fertilizer or cactus-specific fertilizer.
Plants of the desert, Trichocereus shaferi can tolerate extreme temperatures. The plant can tolerate temperatures as low as 10°C, and even the occasional -9°C, and highs of 38°C and higher.
However, the most ideal conditions for the Trichocereus shaferi plants are around 21°C.
The Trichocereus shaferi is prone to certain pests and diseases, such as fungal diseases (characterized by rotting stems), root aphids, mealy bugs, and spider mites.
Another common disease is black spots, a fungal infection. However, this is non-fatal and easily treated.
As mentioned earlier, Trichocereus shaferi cactus plants can reach heights of up to 6 ft, so you may have to cut them to manageable sizes.
Apart from that, rotting, soft stems, pests, and the appearance of dead stems after blooming are all signs that your cactus needs to be cut back.
Trichocereus shaferi cactus plants need to be transplanted to bigger spaces once they turn a year old.
As for when to repot your cactus, you need to do so when you see the roots protruding from the container’s bottom. Generally, a rule of thumb is to repot every 2 to 4 years. However, if you fertilize your plant, repotting once in 4 years will suffice.
Repotting should be done during the active growing period—January or February.
Propagating Trichocereus shaferi
Trichocereus shaferi can be propagated via cuttings or seeds.
Cutting is the easier and more effective method of the two. You can make use of a cutting from a full-grown plant. Allow it to form a callous post-cutting, and dry it in a cool location before transplanting.
Once dry and calloused, set in the soil, setting them 2-3 inches deep. After a couple of weeks, roots should develop—you can check this by lightly tugging the plant upwards and checking for resistance, which indicates the presence of roots.
Using seeds, though more uncommon, is still an effective way to grow Trichocereus shaferi. Place the seeds just beneath the soil and keep the soil moist during the germination period, maintaining temperatures at around 27°C during the day and 21°C during the night.
Roots develop after a month or so in this process.