Pseudopilocereus (2003)

PhotoBy Don Krechel (February 2003)

The Pseudopilocereus and Pilocereus genera are very closely related and, according to some authorities, inseparable. This large group of Cereus cacti is native to tropical South America, Florida and the West Indies.

The majority reach treelike porportions, but some only grow to a few feet in height. Some of the larger species have central spines up to 5 inches long, and most species have well-developed white areole hair that remains mainly on the upper third of the stem. Upon maturity, they develop a dense growth of hairlike spines at the flowering zone that is known as a pseudocephalum, which only superficially resembles a cephalum.

The large flowers are somewhat bell-shaped and always glaborous and nocturnal. Most of the species in cultivation are native to Brazil and easily grown. The most popular species are the ones with the bluest epidermis.

Pseudopilocereus and Pilocereus plants require a free-draining soil of moderate fertility and slight acidity. In the summer, they require very warm and humid conditions, ample water and constant soil moisture.

Even in the winter, these species should be kept slightly moist by giving them a small amount of water regularly. The winter temperature should be kept warm, ideally between 57 and 68 degrees F, with the night temperature not falling below 50. Colder night temperatures will not be tolerated by the plants.

Pseudopilocereus and pilocereus grow quite rapidly if fed well, often growing 12 inches in a single season. You do not need to use only low-nitrogen cactus fertilizers. Standard flower fertilizer or general-purpose nutrient salt can be used intermittently.