or Scientific Name
Cleistocactus winteri D. R. Hunt
Golden Rat Tail
Hildewintera aureispina, Winteria aureispinar, Winterocereus aureispinus
Cleistocactus winteri is a branching cactus with cylindrical trailing or pendant stems that can grow up to 40 inches (1 m) long and up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter. It has many short golden spines that cover the surface of the stems. Flowers are vivid orange to salmon-pink, up to 2.4 inches (6 cm) long, up to 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter. They are repetitively and freely produced on mature plants from spring to summer and can last for several days.
USDA hardiness zones 9a to 11b: from 20 °F (−6.7 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
Choose a location that gets full sun and has well-draining soil. During the spring and summer, water Cleistocactus when the top inch (2.5 cm) of soil dries out. During the fall, reduce watering to every five weeks if the ground dries out. In winter, keep Cleistocactus dry, or the moist ground combined with the cool temperatures and dormancy may cause the roots to rot. Fertilize Cleistocactus with a low-nitrogen fertilizer during the active growth period. A slow-release fertilizer applied in the spring will be sufficient for the whole year.
It is possible to propagate by cutting a small branch from a Cleistocactus and rooting it, but this inevitably leaves a disfiguring scar near the base of the main stem. If an offset is removed to be used in propagation, remember to let it dry for a week or so, letting the wound heal. See more at How to Grow and Care for Cleistocactus.
Endemic to Bolivia (Santa Cruz).
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