We didn’t have a cactus talk for quite some time now. For getting the word out again, today we choose one of the most interesting members of the cacti family out there. Pachycereus Schottii Monstrosus aka Totem Pole Cactus is an unusual looking plant that will reward you with beautiful appearance if you invest just a bit of time in it. Native to Mexican Baja California, it will change the way you think about cacti shapes.
Totem Pole Cactus– Beautiful Mutation
This cactus has a growing habit that makes it different than many other cacti species. Therefore, Totem Pole Cactus will steal the show in any collection. If you want something that spikes the interest and turns heads, this is a plant for you. With this cactus, you can forget the usual spiny form of a stem. Totem Pole Cactus is fully covered in tiny spineless bumps. This appearance is a product of a mutation and this is where the botanical name originates from. The plant can get up to 12 feet (3.6 m) high. However, as a slow grower, it will be fine in a pot for a long time.
As the Totem Pole Cactus matures, you’ll notice some sharp grey spikes on the stem tips. It only flowers occasionally in the summer, sending up beautiful pink flowers. However, flowers open just during the night, so it easy to miss them. Thanks to interesting mutation and crested look, this cactus looks amazing on its own. You can combine it with some interesting, colorful containers and make it a central piece of your cacti collection.
Grow and Care Tips
Totem Pole Cactus is actually a great cactus for newbies. It thrives on neglect. All you need to do is get the growing conditions right from the start and it will grow healthy almost on its own.
You can grow Totem Pole Cactus both indoors and outdoors. However, since it’s pretty massive when matures, the outdoor growing may be more practical. Just keep in mind that it won’t tolerate long frost periods. Therefore, planting this cactus in a container you can bring indoors when winter temperatures get hard is a smart idea. Overall, the plant is pretty cold hardy. Warm temperatures also suit Totem Pole Cactus. It loves direct sunlight, but make sure it gets some shade during the hotter summer days, to prevent sunburns.
When it comes to water needs, Totem Pole Cactus can tolerate some serious drought. Still, try not to rely on that too much. If you’re growing this cactus indoors in a pot, you should water it once every two weeks. If you grow it outdoors, make sure you leave a week between two watering sessions. In both cases, keep an eye on the soil. As with all of the cactus species, you should water the plant only when the soil is dry. The amount of water your cactus will need depends on the season. In the summer, you can freely add a bit more. During the colder months, make sure you don’t overwater the plant since it will cause the root rotting.
On that note, Totem Pole Cactus needs highly-draining soil. Whether you’re growing it in a pot or in the ground, make sure the potting mix has some larger particles, like small rocks, to ensure the airflow in the root area. This cactus doesn`t like “wet feet” and it will show you that pretty quickly. With the right soil mix, you will be rewarded with a truly ornamental shape.
Propagation of Totem Pole Cactus
The best way to propagate Totem Pole Cactus is from the cuttings. Since the stem is strong, you won’t have a problem with getting one. To ensure the best result, cut the stem with few healthy bumps, a few inches from the stem tip. The important part is to store the cutting away and allow it to callus somewhere without direct sunlight. The callus process takes up a few weeks since the stem is full of water. After this phase is done, plant the cutting in a fresh soil mix and leave it a few days before you start watering it as you would with the mature plant.