The cereus peruvianus originates in Brazil, northern Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. The plant is characterized by a tall cylindrical stem with columnar bearing, although some varieties have a prostrate development (eg the cereus peruvianus monstruosus). The stem is green or bluish in colour and usually consists of six to eight ribs edged with thorns. Like most plants belonging to the genus cereus, the cereus peruvianus develops mainly in height.
In the original habitat it can exceed 10 m in height and 40-50 cm in diameter, while in the apartment the dimensions are considerably smaller.
Cereus peruvianus in brief
Type of plant
Height at maturity
Height up to 10 m at the place of origin
Speed of growth
Diseases and pests
Rot from excess water and parasites (cochineal)
Between 10 and 29 degrees Celsius
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These cacti are to be cultivated in full sun, or at least in very luminous positions; they fear the cold, therefore in winter they are to be sheltered in the house or in a temperate greenhouse, keeping a temperature of 15-18°C.
Characteristics of the cereus plant
These cacti love the sun all year round and do not stand cold temperatures, so it is advisable not to expose the plant to temperatures below 100 degrees. In fact, the cereus peruvianus grows in dry soils and in areas with a warm climate, but it also resists in places with low humidity, as long as good ventilation is ensured. They are very long-lived plants, which can have a life span of up to 20 or 30 years.
The bloom occurs in summer, but not before the plants have reached at least three years of age, so you can not expect the plants purchased, if they are very young, to bloom immediately.
I flowers are very large (up to 15 cm in diameter), with white petals inside and red-brown outside, bloom at night and have a short lifespan. The flowers appear on the individual branches and are particularly decorative. The cereus also produces edible fruits, berries similar to Indian figs. The fruits are yellow or purple-red, the pulp is white with small seeds, the taste is acidulous.
Cultivation of the peruvianus cereal
Drained, sandy and rather acidic
Removing damaged parts
Water regularly in spring and summer, waiting for the soil to be well dry between one watering and the other; in autumn and winter decrease watering. These cacti can easily withstand long periods of drought, while they are afraid of waterlogging and always moist soil. In the vegetative period add septic fertilizer for cacti to the water of the watering every 15-20 days.
The cereus need loose and very well drained soil, consisting of balanced soil mixed with volcanic lapillus and sand.
Multiplication and Pests and Diseases
Multiplication: it happens by seed, in spring, the seedbeds are to be filled with a mixture of sand and peat in equal parts and kept humid, a place sheltered from the cold and the winds.
Parasites and diseases: it is particularly afraid of aphids and cochineal attacks.
Cereus peruvianus monstruosus
The cereus peruvianus monstruosus has a very different appearance from the cereus peruvianus with columnar bearing, in fact the genus monstruosus is characterized by the particular irregular and twisted shape of the stem. This variety is particularly appreciated by lovers of succulent plants for the particularity of its forms and for the dark red color of the spines, which are collected in tufts.
After a few years, when the cereus peruvianus monstruosus has reached its maturity, it produces small flowers about 15 cm long.
How to grow peruvianus cereal
The cereus peruvianus, like other cacti, requires very little care, but this does not mean that it grows and blooms wherever it is placed, and that it has no particular needs. For the plant to develop, live long and produce the magnificent flowers, it is necessary to comply with a number of rules relating to the environment, soil, watering, moisture and fertilization.
For example, an excessively humid place or abundant watering often results in rottenness, which frequently causes the death of the plant. In addition, if you live in a particularly cold area, you should protect the plant from frost in winter by bringing it indoors or providing shelter.
If you plant the cereus in the garden Choose a place that is sunny and protected from frost. If you want to grow the plant in a pot and keep it in the house, you need to have enough space, as even in an apartment it can reach a considerable height. Also, choose a place with plenty of light or, at least as long as the plant can be moved, keep it outdoors in the spring-summer period and inside the house in the coldest period. Place it preferably next to a window or a window.
Another tip for those who want to keep the plant in flat is to rotate the plant periodically towards the light source to prevent the part facing the light from developing more pronouncedly.
Failure to comply with certain rules relating to environmental conditions will not only affect the development of the plant, but will also make it more easily attacked by diseases and pests.
The calendar of the cereus peruvianus
From June to September
The cereus prefers full sun exposure all year round because, like all plants in the family of cacti, it needs a lot of light. But the plant must be protected from persistent frosts in winter, which would cause rot.
The cereus prefers a mild climate, with temperatures around 250 degrees, but also withstands higher temperatures. In winter, temperatures should not fall below 100 degrees Celsius. Cereus fears cold, frost and excessive humidity.
The soil suitable for the cereal is the one recommended for cacti in general. It must therefore be well drained, with parts of leaf, peat and sand mould. The addition of gravel and shards helps the drainage of water. A slightly acidic soil is preferable.
During the period of the vegetative recovery until September, the fertilizer must be administered. Use a liquid fertilizer for the cacti that will be diluted in the irrigation water every 20-30 days.
The watering of the cereus is very limited. From spring to autumn it is sufficient to water the plant moderately, every 10-15 days, checking however that the soil is dry before wetting the plant again. In the winter period, from October to January, it is sufficient to give a little water once a month. Before watering, examine that the substrate is not soaked in water to prevent the plant from rotting. For watering it is recommended to use non calcareous water.
If the cereus peruvianus is grown in the ground, it is not necessary to prune it. For potted plants it may be necessary to cut some branches if the plant becomes too large. For cutting, it is recommended to use tools with a well-sharpened blade.
Propagate the cereus
The multiplication of the cereus can be done by sowing or by cutting.
Sowing is done in spring so that the temperature does not fall below 150 degrees, or in previous months if you keep the seedbed in a heated place. Prepare the seedbed using plastic trays or plastic jars. Fill them with a soil suitable for succulent plants to which you will add some sand to make it softer and a layer of draining material on the bottom, to avoid stagnation of water. Water the seedbed, spread some seeds on the soil and cover with a little soil.
It is advisable to protect the container with plastic in order to create a humid environment with a temperature that does not undergo major temperature changes. Place the container in a bright place with a constant temperature. As soon as the seedlings emerge, remove the plastic. The soil must still be kept moist to ensure that the process of plant growth does not stop. Once the plants have become large enough, you can take them out and place them in individual pots.
The ideal conditions for the development of small plants are enough light and a slightly moist environment.
The reproduction by cutting is carried out in the period April-July, taking parts of the stem and letting them dry for a few days, until you see a transparent film appear, indicating the process of healing. For planting, prepare some soil with peat and sand. After planting, check that the soil is moist enough without being soaked in water, as this could cause the young plants to rot.
You can multiply the plant, using the plants produced by the plant itself: take them and plant them using tweezers so as not to sting you.
Cereus pests and diseases
The cereus peruvianus is attacked by aphids and cochineals. To eliminate these parasites, the plant must be treated with specific products.
Another problem of cereus, common to succulent plants in general, is rottenness, caused by various factors: stagnation of water and moisture, or damage to the stem. In these cases it is necessary to intervene by removing the damaged part and treating the plant with specific products to facilitate healing.
Cereo del Peru – Cereus peruvianus: Curiosities
It seems, from some recent researches, that the cereus peruvianus has the capacity to absorb the magnetic waves, therefore it is advised to keep it in places where there are devices (computers, televisions, cellular) that emit electromagnetic waves.
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