Espostoa lanata (Kunth) Britton & Rose
Peruvian Old Lady
Cephalocereus melanostele (basionym), Binghamia melanostele, Cereus melanostele, Espostoa haagei, Haageocereus melanostele, Pseudoespostoa melanostele
Espostoa melanostele is a cactus that displays an abundance of long, woolly spines that cover and hide the body of the stems, including sharp, up to 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) long, white, yellow, or red spines. It slowly grows up to 7 feet (2.1 m) tall in its natural habitat, but raised in a pot, it will reach up to 10 inches (25 cm) in 10 years. Even at a very young age, As the cactus matures, all the spines become darker. The stems are erect and columnar and branch at the base to form a clump. Flowers are white, nocturnal, and up to 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter. Fruits are berry-like with edible, dull black seeds inside.
USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
Several species of Espostoa are especially popular in cultivation due to their fuzzy white hairy appearance. The plants are typically sold by large commercial growers as up to 12 inches (30 cm) stems. However, being large columnar species, these plants do not grow nearly as vigorously in pots as they would in the ground. Plants tend to fill the pots, becoming pot bound quickly, and then growth slows to a crawl. These plants rarely, if ever, reach maturity, meaning they don't produce the cephalium and subsequently do not flower. On the other hand, those in warmer climates that can plant the species directly in the ground may indeed have plants that form a nice grouping of stems that will eventually flower.
Like all cacti, Espostoa requires a sunny location and well-drained soil. But in summer, it appreciates fertilizer and wetter conditions. In winter, it needs a rest, but the temperature must not drop below 54 °F (12 °C).
See more at How to Grow and care for Espostoa.
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