The Peruvian Apple is tolerant of low humidity, prefers dry conditions, and occupies little space. Cereus repandus, or Peruvian apple cactus, gets its name from its 1-2 inch fleshy, red apple-like fruit. Typically, the cereus cactus plant is grown as a series of “cuttings” planted in varying heights, such as a 2 and 3 foot trunk planted in a 10 inch container. It is known as the apple cactus, column cactus, or Cereus peruvianus in Peru.
Planting in Pots
Three or four of the columnar trunks are planted at different lengths in larger pots of 14 and 17 inches, reaching a height of 4-6 feet and occasionally taller. The stems, or trunks, are gray-green in colour and have 6 to 8 vertical ribs. The flowers are typically 2-4 inches long and white when they emerge. Cereus peruvianus is a very upright plant that is mostly used as a floor plant.
Taking smaller plants, elevating them, and combining them with interesting pottery or containers can result in some very interesting effects and looks, similar to “living art.” Many people believe that because the plant is a cactus or belongs to the cactus family, it should not be watered or only require a small amount. It wants to be well watered in the watering department. This plant, like most cactus, prefers well-drained soil, warmth, sun, and low humidity. This plant is ideal for a sunny south, east, or west window. The plant can tolerate low light levels but thrives in high light levels.
Popular species of this plant family include:
- Cereus Peruvianus Monstrose (Cereus peruvianus mostrosus) – also known as curiosity plant. The monstrose cactus can grow up to 15 feet tall and grows in USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11.
- Cereus Hildmannianus monstrose – a species found in South American countries such as Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil. It can grow up to 33 feet and bear white flowers.
- Cereus Jamacandu – also known as the mandacaru or cardeiro. It’s usually found in Northeast Brazil and grows up to 20 feet tall.
- Cereus Tetragonus – a species also belonging to family cactaceae, native to North America. These grow as tall plants and should not be confused with fairytale castle, a dwarf and common succulent.
Water and Light
Allow your plants to dry out between waterings if they will be exposed to high or bright lighting. At lower light levels, the soil should be allowed to dry out to about 75%. Don’t just examine the soil. Before watering, make sure the blades and stems are soft and spongy. Do not immerse the Cereus in water. Overwatering can cause yellowing stems or blades, mushy stems, root rot, and a strange odour in your plant.
Scale and mealybugs are the most common pests of Peruvianus cactus. Many interior scapers find organic insecticides or insecticidal soaps to be effective. When transporting the plants, keep an eye out for cactus spines on your hands, clothing, and vehicle. I should also mention that the Cereus may not be the best choice for people with young children due to the spines. Most growers wrap extra paper around the stems to keep people and other stems from being pierced during shipping. Cereus peruvianus, like the candelabra Euphorbia cactus, may surprise you with its weight. This is due to the amount of water stored in the stems. This weight makes moving the plant difficult. To be successful with the Cereus peruvianus, provide adequate light and watering. You’ll have a sturdy plant that adds a distinctive or interesting look to your indoor “art collection.”
Question: What care does a Night-Blooming Cercus need? EP, Mesquite, TX
Answer: Keep it on the dry side during winter but if possible give it plenty of humidity and root moisture when growth is visible.
It likes a sunny place in winter, shade from bright sun in summer. When repotting use a soil mixture of good indoor potting mix and add about 25% sand. In summer apply dilute fertilizer about every ten days.
Question: How can I make my night-blooming cereus flower? JW, NY
Answer: Cereus is the member of the cactus family commonly called night blooming cereus. However, many others cactus belong to this genus that are not night blooming.
If planted in good soil and watered moderately, this cactus should bloom each year between June and August. After the blooming season water should be given the plant very sparingly for a period of three months. Then as new growths appear, watering should be increased. The plant grows and blooms in partial shade almost without care. It needs no pruning and requires repotting only after it has obviously outgrown its pot.
Question: I have a huge night-blooming cereus. Can it be cut back? Also, would it bloom if it was kept in the basement all year? Our basement has air, light and sunshine. OW, Indiana.
Answer: The cereus cactus may be cut back. Pruning is best done when the plant is in its resting cycle. That is, after it has quit blooming and when it is receiving – little water. It should grow and bloom in the basement you describe provided the humidity is not too high.
Question: My night-blooming cereus turns brown at the edges, even on the new shoots. Can you tell me what causes this? VA
Answer: A likely cause is too much water during winter. Water can be given freely throughout the growing season. The soil should be porous and well-drained. Cut out the affected parts and dust the wounds with sulfur.