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24 May 2019

Tips For Growing The Peruvian Old Man Cactus


Espostoa lanata [es-POS-toh-uh la-NA-tuh] is a columnar type cactus belonging to the genus Espostoa and the family Cactaceae.

The genus name honors Peruvian botanist Nicolas E. Esposto. The specific epithet, lanata, means woolly.

This cactus hails from Peru and Ecuador and is also known as:

  • Peruvian Old Man Cactus
  • Cotton Ball Cactus
  • Snowball Old Man
  • Woolish Espostoa
  • Snowball Cactus

Peruvian Old Man Cactus is quite similar to another columnar cactus known as the Old Man Cactus (Cephalocereus senilis), and care instructions for these two types of cactus are interchangeable.

The main difference between these two cacti is that Peruvian Old Man has spiny thorns and the Old Man of Mexico does not.

Espostoa – garden plants


Espostoa Lanata Care

Size & Growth

When young, this cactus grows very rapidly. When it reaches two years of age, growth slows quite a bit.

While it is still young, Woolish Espostoa grows as a strictly columnar plant. As it matures, it may begin to branch out.

Outdoors, Peruvian Old Man Cactus grows to be about 8” inches in diameter and as high as 23’ feet tall.

If kept indoors, growth will naturally be somewhat controlled.

Even so, if you get one of these cacti to keep as a houseplant you may want to have a backup plan in place in case it outgrows your setting.

Flowering & Fragrance

Mature plants (at least two years old) produce nocturnal flowers in shades of white, lavender and purple in the late spring and early summer.

The flowers are large and showy and can be a couple of inches across.

When the plant becomes very mature, it may stop producing flowers if kept indoors.

Outdoor plants will continue to grow vigorously and bloom even in maturity.

Foliage

Peruvian old man cactus is covered by a thick, woolly coat of white hair.

This outer covering is so soft that people in Peru have actually used it as a filling for pillows.

Underneath its soft, fluffy coat, this cactus has between 18 and 25 ribs, each bearing sharp thorns.

Light & Temperature

Lighting should be bright in the wintertime and quite sunny throughout the summer. As a desert dweller, this cactus does well in full sun.

These cacti can tolerate temperatures as low as 10° degrees Fahrenheit. However, they will do better if protected from freezing.

Watering & Feeding

The plant should be watered well during the hot months of the summer, but leave plenty of time for the soil to dry out thoroughly between waterings. A cactus fertilizer used monthly is appreciated. During the wintertime, your cactus should be kept dry.

Soil & Transplanting

Cotton ball cactus does best when kept in well-draining, fertile soil. It can do well with a pH level ranging from 6.1 to 7.8.

If you’re keeping your Peruvian Old Man as a houseplant, use a combination of perlite and peat moss as your potting medium, here is another cactus soil recipe.

Alternately, you can use a packaged cactus mix.

Be sure to use an unglazed pot with ample drainage to prevent problems with root rot.

Grooming & Maintenance

Pruning is not necessary, but you may wish to carefully comb the Old Man’s furry coat from time-to-time.


How To Propagate Espostoa Lanata

This cactus may be grown from seed direct sown into the soil immediately following the last frost.

Alternately, it can easily be grown from cuttings.

As with all cacti, remember to allow the cut surface to dry for a few days before planting it in perlite or sand.

Avoid exposing the cutting to soil until it has begun to develop roots.

Keep your cutting in a warm, airy location with bright, indirect lighting until it has rooted.

Once you begin to see new growth, repot the plant into the cactus mix and treat it as a mature plant.


Peruvian Old Man Cactus Pests or Diseases

Because of its thick coat, Old Man Cactus may tend to harbor pests such as scale and mealybugs.

The best way to avoid problems with this is to keep the cactus healthy by avoiding overwatering.

Examine the plant periodically to be sure there are no problems lurking under its luxuriant coat.

Is Snowball Cactus Considered Toxic or Poisonous to People, Kids, Pets?

Espostoa lanata is not toxic, but it can be rather dangerous due to its hidden thorns.

Is Espostoa Cactus Considered Invasive?

Espostoa lanata is not considered invasive.


Uses For Peruvian Snowball Old Man

This drought-tolerant cactus is an excellent choice for xeriscaping. With its unusual looks and impressive height, it makes a very fine specimen plant.

Be sure to give it a spot off the beaten path to avoid injuries caused by accidental contact.

Peruvian Old Man Cactus grows especially well outdoors in the southwestern United States.

It can also be kept as a houseplant and makes an especially good addition to a solarium or greenhouse.

Be sure to provide good air circulation indoors to prevent problems with fungal diseases.





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09 May 2019

History Of Sedums: Learn About Sedum Stonecrop Plants


Some of my favorite low maintenance plants are sedums. I like to tuck them in amongst a rockery, along paths, in containers and even have a few as houseplants. Once established, these are the type of plant you don’t have to worry about when you go on extended holiday. They are succulents and not only useful as beautiful carefree specimens, but the history of sedums includes use as food and medicine.

Sedums can be found wild in most parts of the world. They are especially adapted to poor soils and can be very drought tolerant. They may be deciduous or evergreen, depending upon type. Additional characteristics vary by plant, with some low growing ground covers, others trailing, hanging specimens and still other varieties are taller vertical spectacles. The most common in the group have leaves that are plump and waxy with starry flower clusters that rise above the foliage – such as Autumn Joy sedum.

Sedum Plant History

The Sedum genus name comes from the Latin ‘sedo,’ meaning “to sit.” They are found in Europe, Asia, North Africa, Mexico and a few are even native to North America. Recognized species go by very colorful names such as Burro’s Tail, Gold Chain, Bird’s Bread, and Creeping Tom. The versatile plants are also in a bit of a tug-of-war surrounding their genus name. Some in the family are now classed as members of Hylotelephium, while others retain their Sedum status.

Such changes continue to occur in the botanical world as scientists unravel the genes of plants and reposition them to reflect more accurate family groups. As garden and greenhouse specimens, sedums have become popular since the early 1900s but were used by collectors as early as the 1800s.

History of Sedums as Food and Medicine

Anything you ingest should be carefully researched. This goes for the edible and medicinal varieties of sedum stonecrop plants. There are over 400 species in the family, some of which could cause illness if ingested. The juice in the succulent leaves and stems can be used topically to quell burn symptoms and on small scrapes and scratches.

One variety, Sedum sarmentosum, was reportedly used in Asia to treat inflammatory conditions. Several species of Sedum are undergoing trials as treatments for pain and swelling, with promising early results. As a food, sedums are used in salads and soups. S. sarmentosum and S. reflexum are the two most notable varieties that have a history of food use.

Fun Types of Sedum Stonecrop Plants

There are many unique forms of sedum plants. Here is a sampling of fun types to grow in your garden:

Groundcovers

  • Two-Row sedum (S. spurium) – An evergreen, mat forming species with numerous colorful cultivars
  • Broadleaf stonecrop (S. spathulifolium) – Silver to lime green leaves, branching, low, spreading plant.
  • Spanish stonecrop (S. hispanicum) – Close set, finely textured leaves that blend seamlessly into each other with blue-gray color.

Upright

  • Ice Plant stonecrop (Hylotelephium spectabile) – A vertical classic with a huge umbel of tiny starry flowers.
  • Coppertone sedum (S. nussbaumerianum) – Bronze foliage and orange-gold flowers.
  • Orpine (S. telephium syn. Hylotelephium telephium) – Bluish purple leaves and deeply hued stems.

Trailing

  • Burro’s Tail (S. morganianum) – Classic chubby, bluish green leaves reminiscent of a burro’s tail
  • Carpet sedum (S. lineare) – Tiny buttercup yellow foliage with dense growth and cascading habit.



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