Growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area. With a wiener dog.

July 1, 2015

Planting a curiosity cactus from pieces

The cereus monstrosus, or what I like to call a curiosity cactus, is a great choice for growing in pots in the Phoenix and Los Angeles area. It really is a cactus, but it has no spines. You can rub your hands on it. Don't worry, go ahead. I do it all of the time whenever I see one of these plants. They require very little water (in fact, the danger to them is over-watering), and in my opinion, they're just kind'a cool. And I really don't like cacti very much!

But wait, it gets better! Like all cacti (cactuses?), you can break off a piece and replant it. So if your plant has gotten too big for its pot, or has started leaning over, just dig it out and cut it up. This is how you do it:

• Cut the plant so that you have a good, clean, green piece with a nice top. If the top is damaged, it will grow, but it will just look terrible. And you don't even need clippers for the smaller pieces, you can break it with easily with your hands. Set them aside for a day or two. This is important! The cut end needs to form a little bit of a callus - if you put it in the potting soil too quickly it runs the risk of rotting. Don't do that.

• Stick it in the dirt. Nothing fancy about this. Deep enough so that it doesn't tip over is fine. The new roots will grow. By the way, get some regular potting soil for this - you don't need cactus mix. Soil tends to dry out very quickly in pots, anyway. So get regular potting soil and just remember not to overwater it. Maybe once a month in the heat of the summer, no water in the winter. By the way, if your plant is turning yellow, guess what, it's rotting - you overwatered it. Break off the green parts and replant them, they'll be fine.

I just planted the one in the photo this morning, and I clipped off a couple of pieces that you can see lying there next to it. Tomorrow I'll stick them in the soil. This will be a beautiful plant, in a beautiful pot!
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