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Cereus hexagonus (Lady of the Night Cactus)

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Scientific Name

Cereus hexagonus (L.) Mill.

Common Names

Blue Cereus, Lady of the Night Cactus, Queen of the Night, Six-angled Torch Thistle, Tall Columnar Cactus

Synonyms

Acanthocereus thalassinus, Cactus hexagonus, Cactus octogonus, Cactus peruvianus, Cactus regalis, Cephalocereus perlucens, Cephalocereus peruvianus, Cereus horridus, Cereus horridus var. alatosquamatus, Cereus karstenii, Cereus lepidotus, Cereus longiflorus, Cereus paraensis, Cereus perlucens, Cereus regalis, Cereus thalassinus, Cereus thalassinus var. quadrangularis, Pilocereus perlucens, Pilosocereus perlucens

Scientific Classification

Family: Cactaceae
Subfamily: Cactoideae
Tribe: Cereeae
Genus: Cereus

Origin

This species is native to Brazil, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela.

Description

Cereus hexagonus is a shrub or tree-like cactus that usually branches from near the ground and grows into candelabra form with a short main stem. It can reach a height of 50 feet (15 m). The branches are greyish-green, blue-green to light green, up to 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter, and usually with 6 ribs and 8 to 10 spines per areole. The young spines are brown and become white or gray with age. The main stem is 16 inches (40 cm) in diameter. Flowers are white, funnel-shaped, and up to 10 inches (25 cm) long. They appear from spring to summer and open at night. Edible fruits are pale red, egg-shaped, and up to 5.2 inches (13 cm) long.

The specific epithet "hexagonus" derives from a Latin word meaning "with six angles" and refers to the six-angled stems.

How to Grow and Care for Cereus hexagonus

Light: Cereus cacti like full sun. They can handle partial shade but thrives during the summer in direct sunlight. Sunny south, east, or west window is a good spot to grow a Cereus indoors.

Soil: These cacti do not like to have "wet feet" and need to be grown in well-draining soil. Use commercial soil mixes for cacti and succulents or make your own potting mix.

Hardiness: Cereus hexagonus can withstand temperatures as low as 20 to 50 °F (-6.7 to 10 °C), USDA hardiness zones 9a to 11b.

Watering: From spring to fall, during the active growth period water thoroughly, but allow the soil to dry out before watering again. With the arrival of fall, gradually reduce the watering frequency.

Fertilizing: During their growing season, Cereus cacti like regular fertilizing. A balanced, water-soluble fertilizer, which has been diluted to 1/4 strength, can be added to the water for each watering. Do not feed during the winter.

Repotting: While Cereus cacti are young, it is recommended to repot each year in early spring to provide them with fresh soil, inspect the root system, and move them to larger pots if necessary.

Propagation: Using stem cuttings is the easiest method to propagate Cereus because seed propagation is a slow process.

Learn more at How to Grow and Care for Cereus.

Toxicity of Cereus hexagonus

Cereus cacti are non-toxic to humans or animals.

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