'Old Man' Cactus / Cephalocereus Senilis

'Old Man' Cactus / Cephalocereus Senilis

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Deets: You should watch it carefully for pests, however, which can hide in the hair. These include mealybugs, scale, and flying pests.

Water: Allow the top couple of inches of soil dry out completely between waterings. In winter, reduce watering to once or twice during the season.
Also, use an unglazed pot for growing old man cactus. This will allow the pot to evaporate any excess moisture. Old man cactus houseplants like their soil on the dry side and overwatering is a common cause of rot and disease.

Light: Indoor cactus growing requires a southern- or western-facing window and temperatures of at least 65 F. (18 C.). Cactus generally come from desert climates, so you can guess what kind of location they like! Sun, sun and more sun. However, beware! Even cactus can burn, especially if they are in direct sunlight behind a glass window, as this magnifies the sun’s impact. A south facing window is ideal. If you see your cactus start to turn yellow or brown on the side facing the sun, then you might need to let it cool down in a different spot.

Soil: Cactus gardens are very popular, where a number of different species of cacti grow together in one container garden to create an oasis of beautiful plants. Often this requires repotting the cacti! Besides always wearing thick gloves (or using salad tongs to pick up and hold the cacti), you also need to consider the kind of soil you’re using in the new container. Cactus enjoy their own unique flavor of dirt, and it needs to be very effective at draining excess H2O. You’ll find it is sandier and rockier than regular potting soil. This is essential in making sure your water drains through and doesn’t keep your cactus feeling soggy. 

Repotting: Before repotting that cactus, take a look at the container you are choosing. Sure, a pot with drainage holes is the best solution because you don’t have to worry about stagnant water in the bottom. But cacti can be planted in containers without drainage holes as well, it just means a bit more care. Always make sure the soil is very dry all the way through between waterings. Another option is to measure the amount of water you use to make sure you’re not accidentally drowning your cacti. A 1/4 to 1/2 cup, every week or two, is enough for your cactus to thrive, depending on the season.

Fertilizer: Cactus can really benefit from fertilizer, and there are specialized ones with just the nutrients they need. (A 10-10-10 fertilizer is another good option for a balanced meal.) During the summer growth months you can fertilize them lightly with every watering, as they prefer to be fed small doses regularly. Taper off during the winter months to allow the plants to rest.

Extra Deets: For best growth, give it a winter hibernation period in an area where temperatures are below 65 F. (18 C.) Fertilize with a cactus food in early spring and you might be rewarded with thick pink flowers. In the plant’s natural habitat it grows a 1-inch (2.5 cm.) long fruit, but this is rare in captive cultivation. There is very little leaf or needle drop and no reason to prune as part of old man cactus care.

Grower: Intermediate to expert.

Toxic: Generally No.