Possibly a Prickly Peruvian
October 26, 2012 11:36 AM   Subscribe

What kind of cactus did I just adopt? A Replanting Challenge

A coworker just gave me a cactus he has had for 3 years, which he kept outside sitting on his south-facing deck except during the winter. What kind of cactus is this? Cactus and succulent identification can be difficult. I've turned up possibilities including Echinopsis peruviana, Cereus peruvianus, and Trichocereus peruvianus. (The last two links refer to some of the taxonomic controversy regarding peruvian cacti.)

Whatever the name, please look at how thin the base is, and how bulbous the rest of the plant. The plant seems very healthy, even though it has been growing in plain dark garden soil, not a cactus mix. A few questions at this point:

- Is this growth pattern normal? Is it common?

- Is this going to be a problem for the cactus, causing it to fall over without support?

- Should one artificially support a cactus like this, propping it up with rocks or something? Will that weaken it over time?

- Can one ever replant a cactus deeper than it was before? I've read recommendations against that.
posted by General Tonic to Home & Garden (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Looks like a San Pedro or Peruvian Torch. I've not seen any that look quite like yours, but their shape can vary based on environmental conditions. I once adopted a neglected San Pedro. With some care, it started growing again from the top, but the new growth was narrower and richer in color than the rest of the body. I see some color variation in yours as well (at the top and middle), which I would guess corresponds to periods of higher nutrient availability and growth.

Mine didn't have much in the way of roots when I got it, so it tended to fall over occasionally, but it never seemed to be affected much by this. If the roots are already settled, you probably shouldn't disturb them, but you could add some additional soil around the base to provide more support.

I will note that my horticultural knowledge is extremely limited, so if anyone with more experience has different advice, you should probably take theirs over mine.
posted by dephlogisticated at 12:32 PM on October 26, 2012

I'm not able to view the photos without downloading them. Most people (including me) don't like downloading unknown files.

If you'd like more feedback beyond dephlogisticated's answer, you might want to post the photos online at a site like Flickr.
posted by vegartanipla at 2:46 PM on October 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

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