Cactus woolyOne of the most appealing cacti, Peruvian Old Lady comes from the subtropical mountain valleys of western Peru. In its natural habitat it slowly grows up to seven feet tall but raised in a pot it will reach about ten inches in ten years. Even at a very young age, the cactus displays an abundance of long wooly spines that cover and hide the body of the plant including sharp white, yellow or red spines of variable length from .2 – 1.5 inches long. As the cactus matures all the spines become darker. The stems are erect and columnar and branch at the base to form a clumps. Flowers are rare but are white, about two inches wide, and nocturnal. Berry-like fruits are produced with edible dull black seeds inside. Peruvian old lady is very sensitive to over-watering and likes completely dry conditions in winter.

Type: Herbaceous perennial cactus

Bloom: White, nocturnal flowers about 2” wide

Size: 7’ H x 3’ W

Light: Full sun

Soil: Very well-drained; specially prepared cactus soil

Care: Repot every three years

Hardiness: Zones 9b-11

Pests and Diseases: Fungal and bacterial wilt, basal rot, fire blight, louse

Propagation: Seed.

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By Karen