Cleistocactus strausii care infographicCleistocactus strausii is a perennial flowering cactus that is also known as silver or wooly torch cactus. This succulent has a unique appearance because of its wooly, white, fine spines and bristles that cover the stem. Cleistocactus strausii is mostly found in deserts and semi-arid climates but you can grow it anywhere, even as an indoor plant or a cacti collection in your garden.

This article gives you all the care tips that you should know for you to become an expert in maintaining the Cleistocactus strausii.

What Is Cleistocactus Strausii?

Cleistocactus strausii is a perennial flowering cactus that is preferably grown outdoors when you’re aiming to achieve a certain height and diversity. The succulent is native to the high mountainous regions of Argentina and Bolivia that are 9,843 feet above sea level and it belongs to the Cactaceae family.

group of Cleistocactus strausiiThe Cleistocactus strausii has slender, erect, green stems that are covered with areoles and short, white spines. The plant develops other stems at its base, just above the surface of the potting soil.

The stems of Cleistocactus strausii can grow up to 10 feet tall and 2.5 inches wide when they reach maturity, but they can grow less up to five feet tall if the plant is grown in a pot.

Being grown in a pot can also limit the number of stems the Cleistocactus strausii can have.

The succulent has 25 narrow ribs and the areoles that are 0.8 inches develop along these ribs. The Cleistocactus strausii has a minimum of 30 white spines that are 0.8 inches long and four yellow-brownish, stouter central spines that are two inches long.

Cleistocactus strausii will start to blossom when it reaches 10 to 15 years of age when it will be around 3 feet tall. The four-inch burgundy cylindrical flowers will develop from the areoles at the top of the stem in the summer. Surprisingly, the flowers will not be fully open but just produce a style and stamens that last up to four to five days. The Cleistocactus strausii will produce green fruits.

Quick Overview

Here is a handy table of this plant’s requirements.

Requirements Clesitocactus Strausii
Light Full sunlight for five to eight hours every day
Water Water frequently during summer
Soil Porous soil that has less nitrogen
Temperature Prefers temperatures that are above 70 F
Fertilizer Apply a long-term, slow fertilizer with low nitrogen

Cleistocactus Strausii Care

Clesitocactus strausii is not expensive to care for, but you should be cautious as the plant can die easily if proper care is not exercised accordingly. 

– Light Requirements

The Cleistocactus strausii plant grows well in sunny climates. The sliver torch cactus should be placed in full sunlight for five to eight hours every day; otherwise, it will not flower. If you grow your Cleistocactus strausii as an indoor plant, make sure you move it outside during the day in the summer months so that it will get enough sunlight.

A south-facing window is also ideal. The south-facing window receives mostly afternoon sunlight that is needed by the Cleistocactus strausii succulent. This way, your plant will not grow leggy and unhealthy.

– Temperature Requirements

Like all other cacti plants, Cleistocactus strausii does not tolerate extremely hot temperatures. The wooly cactus prefers temperatures that are above 70 F, coupled with low humidity. The Cleistocactus strausii can survive low-temperature ranges of 50 F to 59 F. If temperatures fall below 50 F, consider taking your succulent indoors.

The Cleistocactus strausii can withstand low temperatures up to 14 F, but anything below that and the plant will die as it is not cold hardy.

– Water Requirements

Cleistocactus strausii is a drought-resistant succulent that should be watered frequently during the summer but only after checking the topsoil moisture. The soak and dry method is the best. You should water your Cleistocactus strausii until the soil is saturated.

Avoid the risk of overwatering by allowing at least one inch of the topsoil to dry before watering again. The Cleistocactus strausii can tolerate underwatering more than overwatering, so irrigate the wooly cactus according to the recommendations that are given in this article. 

During winter, water your Cleistocactus strausii once every two months or when it shows signs of wilting. You can also leave the plant dry throughout the winter season as long as it is plump. During this period, the Cleistocactus strausii will be in its dormancy stage and the cool temperatures around will contribute to the retention of ground moisture for a time. Your silver torch cactus will survive healthily without additional water.

– Soil

Cleistocactus strausii thrives well in porous soil that has less nitrogen. If you grow your snow pole cactus in clay soil, make sure you add 50 percent sand to mix with the clay. Doing this improves the structure of the soil.

A well-draining potting mix is also necessary if you are growing your Cleistocactus strausii as an indoor plant. Add peat moss, sand and perlite to improve the drainage and moisture retention of the potting mixture. You also reduce the risk of root rot by doing this.

– Fertilizer

If you want to add fertilizer to Cleistocactus strausii, apply a long-term, slow fertilizer with low nitrogen. Fertilizers supplement nutrients that are essential for the blooming and healthy growth of your succulent. The fertilizer should be applied on top of the Cleistocactus strausii potting mix or mixed with the potting soil when repotting. 

You should apply your fertilizer once during the spring and summer months. That would be enough for the whole year. Your Cleistocactus strausii is active during the summer and spring so the fertilizer will aid in accomplishing vigorous growth and producing a vibrant torch cactus flower.

– Repotting

Repotting Cleistocactus strausii should be done once after every two years. Remember to use a new pot and virgin potting mix that has all the required nutrients for the growth of your Cleistocactus strausii plant. Ensure that the new potting soil drains water properly to allow proper air circulation and avoid soggy soils.

The new pot for your Cleistocactus strausii should be two inches greater in diameter than the old one. This allows the roots to have more growing space that allows the development of new stems. You can disinfect the potting mix prior to planting your Cleistocactus strausii. This helps to reduce the risk of pathogen proliferation. 

– Pruning 

The Cleistocactus strausii plant does not necessarily need pruning. You can only prune it if you are growing it indoors or maybe in your garden. You can remove those developing stems and leave a reasonable number that you feel can make your plant look beautiful. Pruning the Cleistocactus strausii contributes to its fast, upright growth. If you prune your plant, there will be limited competition on nutrients, water, air and light.

Pruning Cleistocactus strausii can be done as many times as you can throughout the year. Doing it more often will reduce the need to frequently change the pot.

Make sure you wear protective clothing like gloves when touching the Cleistocactus strausii plant. If you touch the succulent with your bare hands, you may experience irritation on your skin. Moreover, using gloves will reduce microbial contamination. When accidentally touched, you should use a band-aid to remove the spines on your skin.

 

Propagation

Cleistocactus strausii can be propagated in two ways, which are seeds and offsets. Using seeds may take longer for you to have an established silver torch cactus.

– Using Offsets

This method is fast and effective when multiplying the Cleistocactus strausii plant. You should cut the young stem from the mother stem and allow it to dry for seven or more days before planting it. This allows the scar on the offset to heal and prevent rotting.

Use clean, sharp and disinfected tools to cut the Cleistocactus strausii offset. Check for pests and diseases before cutting the stem of the Cleistocactus strausii to ensure that you are taking an offset that is free from problems that may hinder the growth of the new plant.

Your offsets will develop roots within three to eight weeks, counting from the day you planted them. Once your Cleistocactus strausii offset has grown some roots, start parenting it the way you do the mother plant.

– Using Seeds 

Seeds can also be used to propagate the Cleistocactus strausii, but we do not recommend this method as it takes time for you to enjoy the beauty of your succulent. The seeds can take up to 180 days to germinate. After germination, you can transplant the Cleistocactus strausii seedlings to a permanent pot after a year so that you can start to treat them as mature plants. Make sure to water the plant frequently to keep the soil moist.

When transplanting your seedlings, handle the roots gently to make sure you are not damaging them.

Problems

Mealybugs and spider mites are the most common pests for Cleistocactus strausii. This plant is also susceptible to root rot.

– Fungal Diseases

Water is key to plant growth and survival, but it can be dangerous if the plant gets more than what it needs. Do not overwater the Cleistocactus strausii as this might cause root rot. One way of avoiding overwatering is by ensuring that the pot has enough draining holes. You should also use well-draining soil that will not retain water for a long period of time.

When your Cleistocactus strausii is infected by fungal diseases, the plant roots become brown and soft while the stems turn black. Once you notice these signs, remove the affected area from the plant as soon as possible.

If you see that the damage is deep, remove the whole Cleistocactus strausii plant and destroy it by incineration. You can also cut the healthy part of your Cleistocactus strausii and propagate it to get a new wooly cactus that is free from diseases.

If you decide to destroy the plant, remember to disinfect where it was. This helps to avoid the spread of the disease to other plants. You can use fungicides to control fungal infections, but sometimes they may fail to work if the Cleistocactus strausii is heavily infected. The best way to deal with fungal infections is to follow the recommended patterns for watering your plants. 

– Pests

Cleistocactus strausii plants prefer warm climatic conditions, and this makes them susceptible to mealybugs and spider mites as they are also active in these temperatures. The spider mites and mealybugs feed on the sap that they suck from the succulent. Your Cleistocactus strausii can turn yellow when attacked by these pests.

You can use Neem oil and insecticidal soap to get rid of mealybugs and spider mites. Read the instructions on the packaging carefully so that you use the pesticides properly. Neem oil can be used even if the plant is indoors as it is not harmful to human beings.

– Toxicity

The Cleistocactus strausii plant should be placed away from the reach of children and pets. This plant is harmful if consumed.

Conclusion

Cleistocactus strausii - perennial flowering cactusThe information that you received from this article is necessary for minimizing failure in growing your plant. Below is a quick summary of points that you may need to go through before you start caring for your Cleistocactus strausii.

  • Cleistocactus strausii is a slow-growing plant with many green stems that grow at the base of the main stem. The plant has spines and areoles that cover the whole stem.
  • The silver torch cactus prefers temperatures that are above 70 F but not too hot.
  • The plant grows well in low humidity conditions.
  • Cleistocactus strausii requires low-nitrogen fertilizer to help them bloom and become healthy plants.
  • Repotting the Cleistocactus strausii should be done once after every two years.
  • Propagating your Cleistocactus strausii can be done through seeds and offsets.
  • Some of the common pests and diseases for this plant are spider mites, mealybugs and root rot.
  • Cleistocactus strausii is toxic to pets and people.

Now it’s time to get your own Cleistocactus strausii plant and enjoy the journey of maintaining it while it keeps your garden looking fabulous.

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