Stenocereus thurberi (Engelm.) Buxb.
Organ Pipe Cactus, Pitayo Dulce (Spanish)
Cereus thurberi, Lemaireocereus thurberi
Stenocereus thurberi is a cactus with several narrow branches that rise vertically, growing from a short trunk just above ground level. It takes 150 years to reach maturity. The branches are up to 16 feet (4.9 m) tall, up to 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter, and have 12 to 19 ribs that bear dark brown to black spines that turn gray with age. They rarely branch but rather grow annually from the tip of the last growth.
The mature plant reaches a width of 12 feet (3.7 m) and produces flowers annually. The flowers are white with a purple or pink tint, open at night, and close in the morning. They are funnel-shaped, up to 4 inches (10 cm) long and 3 inches (7.5 cm) in diameter, and usually appear from late spring to early fall. Fruits are about the size of a tennis ball, bear deciduous spiny areoles, and contain sweet pulp and glossy seeds.
USDA hardiness zones 9b to 11b: from 25 °F (−3.9 °C) to 50 °F (+10 °C).
How to Grow and Care
Like most cacti, Cereus are fairly low-maintenance and hardy. Ensure they receive enough water without becoming waterlogged, especially during the summer, and fertilize them for the best results. If the roots have become black or overly soft, the cactus could be experiencing root rot. Cut away the affected parts and replant them. Most gardeners interested in cacti should be able to cultivate these without much problem.
It may become necessary to repot your Cereus if it outgrows its container. If so, ensure the soil is dry and remove the pot. Knock away old soil, prune out rotted or dead roots, then replace it in a new pot and backfill it with fresh soil. Ensure not to overwater cacti planted in new pots, as this can lead to root rot. It should be left dry for about a week and then watered lightly.
These cacti propagate quite easily from cuttings. Simply sever a branch and replant in moist, well-drained soil.
See more at How to Grow and Care for Cereus.
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