Home / Cereus Peruvianus / Cereus Peruvianus: Care & Cultivation of This Very Tasty Cactus

Cereus Peruvianus: Care & Cultivation of This Very Tasty Cactus

Cereus Cactus

(Cereus peruvianus)

(AKA Cereus hildmannianus)

Cereus Peruvianus Overview:

Cereus Peruvianus  is an under appreciated fast growing cactus with delicious fruit.

Peruvian Apple Cactus

Its easy to see how it got its other name “Peruvian Apple Cactus”

Cereus fruit appearance:   

  • The cereus fruit is definitely not as sexy looking as its cousin the Dragon Fruit.  However, it is just as tasty (if not more so).
  • The Cereus Peruvianus is an ovoid smooth skinned (thornless) fruit with orange-red colored skin. The skin of the fruit will turn from blue-purple to orange-red when ripe.
  • The fruit will also often split when fully ripe.
  • Some varieties will have pink or yellow colored fruit.
  • The size varies significantly even on the same branch, but most will fit in your hand.
Cereus Peruvianus Fruit often split when ripe

Cereus Peruvianus Fruit often split when ripe

Cereus fruit taste:  

  • The taste of the Cereus Peruvianus is a big surprise. The flesh is crunchy and melting like shaved ice. Yes, it is deliciously hard to believe.  The melting crunchiness is like some kind of delightful candy.
  • The fruit is also refreshingly juicy.
  • Inside the flesh is white and somewhat crystalline in texture.  The white flesh is speckled with small pleasantly crunchy black seeds.The crunch-of the seeds is similar to a kiwi fruit.
  • The sweetness is similar to sugarcane.
  • The flavors are very subtle fruity/floral and very very subtly tart.
  • The outer skin is easy to peel, and sometimes the skin just falls off.  The peel is not eaten.


Cereus Peruvianus Fruit cut

Cereus Peruvianus cut in half to show the inside flesh

Cut Cereus fruit

A larger fruit where the peel just falls away


Video taste test:

  • Here is a video of one of my friends trying this tasty fruit for the first time (see below):


More tasting references: 

Here is a link to an article I wrote about the taste of Dragon Fruit compared to Peruvian Apple Cactus. There is a cool taste testing video in that article too.


Cereus fruit season:  

  • This plant has fruited at multiple different times for me.  So far there are at least two seasons that I have tracked: (August-October) and (December-January).
Cereus Peruvianus texture

One half of Cereus Peruvianus pushed outward to show the texture of the flesh


Cereus pollination: 

  • Cereus pollination is likely from bats or moths given the nocturnal blooming of the flowers.
  • I haven’t tried hand pollination, but I suspect that it may help the overall crop number and size.

Cross pollination:

  • Various reports state that some of these cacti are self-infertile aka “self-incompatible” and others are not.  Sorry, I know this is lame.  Here is a link to a research paper out of the Negev Desert of Israel suggests Cereus cactus are self-incompatible.  https://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/proceedings1993/V2-486.html
  •  In all likelihood the plants will not be labeled as a particular strain when you go looking to buy one.  As a result, you may want to consider getting more than one genetic strain for cross-pollination (just to be sure).  The different strains may be distinguished by slightly different branch rib pattern or thorn pattern.  The color of the cactus may help.. but it may not-could just indicate different amounts of fertilization or water.  Some varieties have yellow skinned fruit.
  • Again, I am not totally sure about this idea of them being self-incompatible, bc I have had fruit set on my cactus when I only had one cereus cactus in the yard.  So perhaps I happen to have a self-fertile variety, or one of my neighbors has a cereus cactus that acted as a pollen donor… or that perhaps (maybe) my dragon fruit cactus did the cross pollination.


Here’s a time-lapsed YouTube video I recently made of the cactus flowering over 3 days.


I also recently caught a natural pollinator in the act. Check out the spooky video below.


Cereus landscaping use:

  • This is a very fast growing columnar cactus. In the right conditions it will grow 2-4 feet a year. Mature cactus are often over 20 feet high with many branching arms.  However, the cactus is easily trimmed with a machete.
  • There are only a few spines/needles on the cacti.
  • The flowers are big and bold but they only open for one day; primarily at night.  The large flowers look a lot like Dragon Fruit cactus flowers and I strongly suspect this flower similarity is a clue to the very close genetic relationship between the two cacti;  (which is yet to be determined).
  • Many people have reported that the Cereus cacti also grow well in containers.
Flower buds on night blooming cactus

Numerous flower buds on the Cereus Cactus.

Cereus propagation:

  • These cacti are very easy to grow from cuttings.
  • I recently trimmed (ok, I chopped) one of the branches of one of the Cereus cactus because it was growing in the way of a path. I felt terrible about throwing the branch away so I dug a hole in some sandy soil, added some grow mulch and stuck the cut end of the cactus in there.  I didn’t even wait for the cut end of the cactus branch to harden off.
  • Its been about 8 months now since I did that and the new cactus cutting is about 3x the size of the original cutting and it is currently flowering!  Below are some photos taken 8/26/13 of the healing cut branch from the mother plant and the vigorously growing cutting that is also currently flowering.  In the photo of the mother plant you can also see that new branches are growing from both the edge of the cutting from the mother plant and from the base of the transplanted cutting.
  • I am thinking of trying to grow from seed next.  Ill keep you posted on the results.
Cereus propagation

Cereus propagation: (Photos taken on the same day):  On the left is the healing 8 month old scar from the mother plant and on the right is the growing-flowering cutting. Photo taken 8/26/15.


So many freeking buds on this cereus cactus. This is also an Aug 2015 follow up image of the same cactus above

So many freeking buds on this cereus cactus. This is a later pic of the same cactus you see on the photo above (to the right). Under the right conditions, they grow fast.  Picture taken 8/28/15


Cereus soil: 

  • Cereus should have well draining soil.  I planted most of the ones that I have on a slope to help with drainage.
  • I have not found a lot of specific information about soil preference.  Some sources have said that these particular cacti are tolerant of a wide variety of soil types.  That being said, I have noticed that they appreciate organic material in the soil.  For example, I planted one cutting in just sand/DG and the poor thing is yellow and has hardly grown while the other ones planted with augmented soil are doing amazing well.  I have had success with a sandy loam, which is basically sand/DG like soil mixed with about 30% grow mulch.
  • For my basic planting philosophy/technique check out this post.
  • For almost all of my cacti(except the dragon fruit), I have avoided using soils with sphagnum moss.  Sphagnum moss will help the soil to retain moisture which is good for most plants but will predispose typical cacti to deadly root rot.
Tiny cereus cactus buds

Tiny early buds arising from the Cereus Cactus

 Cereus water:

  • Although this is clearly a cactus, it seems to need more water than the other cacti that I have planted nearby.  The first time I noticed this, I was surprised to see the branches of this cacti actually go limp when I neglected to water it for a few weeks.
  • Depending on where you are and where you plant your cereus, it will likely need at least every other week watering during the dry summer months.



  • Full sun is best for fruiting.
  • However the Cereus will also grow in the shade or even inside by a window as a houseplant.


Cereus fertilization:

  • I have not seen anything specific about fertilization for cereus cacti.
  • I have experimented with different soil planting preparations and this has seemed to make a big difference for growth and fruiting.  For example, I have planted one cutting without any soil augmentation and that poor thing is very yellow compared to the other cuttings that I planted with augmented soil.  So they need at least some fertilizer.
  • Adding grow mulch to the planting soil is a great way to get the cacti started.  However, if your cactus is already planted, I would think that a top dressing of rich grow mulch around the root zone in the spring should be a safe start for regular fertilization.  I would just be sure to keep the organic material a safe distance from the plant itself so not to induce any rotting problems.


Cereus temp:

  • We had a cold snap in San Diego with temperatures down to about 28F and this cactus didn’t seem to notice.
  • I have read that the Cereus cacti are hardy down to about 20°F.

3/11/14 update:

Doug Schulz, a contributing reader from Gilbert, AZ has just added more insight on the cold tolerance of Cereus cacti. He states that “When we have very cold winters, down to maybe 18 degrees F, the tips will freeze and yellow and deform, so I take styrofoam cups and put on the tips. Protects it well.”

(see comments section below this post for more)



  • The only pests I have seen are some aphids on some of the Cereus flowers.
  • Those bugs go away easily with a quick blast of water from the garden hose.


Cereus Cacti Diseases:

  • There are several important diseases to be aware of.  Unfortunately there is not a lot written about this topic. However, there is a bit more info about Dragon Fruit (Hylocereus) Disease. Since both Cereus Cacti and Dragon Fruit cacti can get the same diseases, the information is somewhat transferable. Since I have had a lot of difficulty finding a complete source of information on the subject, I decided to create a disease guide myself.  For more information, please check out that article titled Dragon Fruit Diseases.
Cacti disease Hylocereus

This is dunburn on a Cereus Cactus branch. This injury can look very similar to the fungal infection  Botryosphaeria dothidea. Please check out my article mentioned in the paragraph above for ways to delineate between the two different issues.


Food Use:

  • I like to just eat cereus fresh out of hand or spoon it out.  It’s really a tasty treat.
  • It is additionally refreshing after it is chilled in the frig a bit.  However, prolonged refrigeration (more than a day or so), seems to make the fruit kindof sticky.
Juicy Cereus Peruvianus


  • There seems to be a lot of misinformation out there about this cacti.
  • The name would suggest that it is native of Peru.  However, most reports state that it is actually native to Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina.
  • There also seems to be a lot of debate and confusion about the nomenclature of this cacti.  I have chosen one of the most common names to title this blog but it has also been named:  Cereus repandus, Peruvian Apple Cactus, Giant Club Cactus, Hedge Cactus, cadushi, pitaya, kayush and Night Blooming Cereus.
  • A great contributing reader (Constantinos Shouftas from Cyprus) has also provided additional insight about the different scientific names for this cactus. According to the USDA, this cactus is also known as Cereus hildmannianusCereus uruguayanus, and Piptanthocereus peruvianus.  Now that is really confusing.  From personal experience, when the scientific community cant even agree on what to name something, it usually means that there is limited organized information about the topic.  Perhaps together we can change that as we all add to this shared source of information.

About Thomas Osborne, MD

Dr. Osborne is a Harvard trained Radiologist and Neuroradiologist who loves to share his insight about medicine and gardening.


  1. Very good site. M learning a lot!

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Thanks Emily!
      Let me know if I can help with any specific questions you might have.

      • Hi! I am into dragon fruits, no fruits yet since they are less than a year old. But i am surprise thatthis cereus can also give edible fruit. I seem to so much of it here in the Philippines but i have not seen them fruit. Well, I will try to grow a few soon. I guess it is the organic and compost fertilizing that will work. I will keep visiting your site. I am a plant lover too.

        • These night bloomers require pollination at night, which is often done by moths or bats. If these flying nocturnal species are not present in your area, this would explain why you don’t see any fruit. You can however, pollinate the flowers yourself. they only stay open one night and die off the next day. Timing is crucial for this event to take place and have a positive outcome bearing fruit.

      • How big do the roots get from cutting and from seeds?

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Hey Arron.
          Good question… Why do you ask?

          In general:
          When I start a new Cereus from a cutting, I just pull off a branch from the joint and put it in the ground (use rich-well draining soil).
          I never bother putting the cutting in a pot first.
          Therefore, I haven’t really needed to check out the roots.
          I have planted 5 Cereus trees this way and they all have grown very well with little effort.

          I have recently tried growing some cereus cactus from the seeds I extracted from the last fruit of the season.
          I have some Cereus sprouts that are about 1 cm tall. However, its too early to see their root system yet.
          However, if they survive, ill write a post about my experience and take some pics of the roots too.



      • I had a really nice C. Peruvianus and lost it last year to the freezing weather and my own inattention. I would love to find a replacement and haven’t been able to so far. What I’m looking for is a large potted Cp
        something with several arms. Any idea where I might find one? I’ve checked with my local nursery people (and the one I bought this one from in 1990) and no one has been able to locate one or point me in the right direction. Got an idea? I live in Oregon but would be willing to travel to pick one up if necessary.


        john in oregon

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Hey John

          What a bummer, sorry to hear about your C. Peruvianus.
          I personally am not sure who would have one for sale in Oregon.
          Perhaps another reader has an idea for you.


        • Jason Garroutte

          Ebay has several reputable sellers of this particular type.

        • try ebay!

        • Take a trip to az. We have them growing all over the place I’m sure you could pick one up here

        • I just bought one at wal mart. I live in Florida, so I don’t know if they have them by you. Hope this helps

          • I just came home from a plant sale at a local (Walnut Creek, CA) cactus garden. There were a number of large specimen plants for sale. Look for plant sales in your area. Of course, there’s always ebay…

      • What’s eating my fruit …big holes… don’t see bugs. There is web maybe spider. I got bit by red ants while picking fruit. Lots this year…why? We live in Goodyear AZ

      • Can we prune this cactus at any time of year? We have a branch growing right in a pathway, but didn’t want to kill the cactus! Ours is Huge, well over 8′ (well, that may be small, according to your article!)

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Hey Donna
          Thanks for the question.
          I dont know if there is an optimal time to trim these plants.
          I basically do it whenever it is needed and have not had any issues.

          Few suggestions:
          I would do your best to make a clean cut with clean tools.
          If you can cut at the joint, that would likely be better, but not necessary.
          However, if you cut the middle of a branch, try to make the cut so the remaining branch wound is not parallel with the ground… doing so will encourage water to collect in the scar that forms.


      • Thank you for your information. We live in Titusville, Florida; we have several of these Peruvian Apple Cactus growing up against our house. I planted them when they about 2 inches, now, they are at least 18 feet, 5 years old. When they flower we have several bees on each flower early morning-noon; the flowers last for at least 3-5 days. We have seen Argentina beetles devour our “Mexican Flat Cactus” (as told to us by our roofers) and was told due to the shape of the Peruvian the Argentina beetles will not destroy it. Argentina beetles start out as orange and black striped caterpillars, nasty. The worst!!! Hurricane Matthew knocked our 20 ft down to half size; we left it on the ground and it still blooms and is growing. Love them!

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Hey Tina
          Thanks for the note and great info.
          Those Argentina beetles sound awful.
          Hopefully they stay away from your Cereus cactus.

    • Bees – that is what I find at dusk and dawn on our Apple Cactus here in Southern Calif. They love the flowers as soon as they can get in on thru closing.
      Occasionally certain large moths come by to feast on fully opened flowers during the night.
      Thanks for great info!

  2. Found your site and now feel very knowledgeable. Thank you. Neighbor gave me a five foot cactus yesterday with one fruit on already split! He didnt know what it was which led to my search. I cant wait to taste the fruit. Thanks for the wonderful info!

  3. There has been a large Cereus Peruvianus in my yard for the 23 years I have lived in Soith Florida. It blooms often but I didn’t know you could eat the fruit. My question is about the root system of the cactus. I have just removed a old large bush that was planted adjacent to the cactus. Now there is a large root still in the ground. I don’t know if it’s from the bush or if it’s from the cactus. If it’s from the bush I’d like to get rid of it. As the cactus is so old it certainly could have a root one and a half to 2 inch wide , but the bush was old and had big roots too. Any input would be appreciated.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Jane
      Thanks for the question.
      I am not sure how I would safely tell the difference between a Cereus Peruvianus root and the root of an adjacent plant… Clearly, following the root back to the plant would be a definitive way, but that could potentially do lot of damage to the plant. If it was me, I guess I would cover the root in question-wait and see. Perhaps another reader has an idea for you.

      • This response is nearly a year late, but just in case someone is still interested. I live in mid-florida, and have one of these cactus trees on the bank of a canal, about 15 feet high and many branches. I did some clearing under the cactus, and found roots from both a nearby Norway Pine and the cactus growing together. After tracing a few to their origin, I discovered the cactus roots were quite light, similar to ginger root in color. Unfortunately, we used round up to kill the weeds nearby, thinking that it would not effect anything underground. That was two years ago. The cactus started yellowing, and gotten progressive more yellow ever since. today I cut three or four large “buds” off and set them aside to scab over before planting. I never tried planting these before, and not sure I’m doing it right, but want to save what I can of a majestic old plant that bore absolutely fabulous fruit.

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Hey Gary
          Thanks for the follow up.

          Thank you for also sharing your experience and hard earned insight about round up.
          That stuff is much more damaging to ‘non-weeds’ than they would ever lead you to believe.
          As a side, I like to use vinegar and soap to kill weeds (for more details, see my article on the subject)

          Nice idea to salvage your plant from cuttings.
          They are fairly easy to propagate this way.

          Best of luck Gary!

  4. Hi Dr. Osborne! Thank you for teaching me about the Cereus cactus! What a pleasant surprise to stumble upon your website! I’m reading the biography of Lewis Carroll, (author of Alice in wonderland.) His father was a reverend, and the rectory where he grew up had many gardens and greenhouses. The author mentioned that a large number of parishioners would gather to see “that fantastic cactus, the night-blooming Cereus,” when in bloom. I love flowers, so I just had to do a Google image search. I clicked on your image and I am so glad I did! The book said nothing about the fruit, it sounds delicious! After reading your site, i plan on owning a Cereus asap! I live in Delaware… do you have any suggestions on where I could find one? I wouldn’t know where to begin looking, are they commonly sold or would I need to order seeds online? I’m also curious- how might they do growing outdoors here in DE? I would probably need to buy more than one plant to harvest fruit, right? Well… I have to thank you again for your very informative website! — Samantha West, RN

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Samantha

      Alice In Wonderland:
      Thank you for sharing that wonderful story about Alice in Wonderland.
      The vision of parishioners gathering to admire the evening show of the blooming Cereus is beautiful.

      Overall, there is a limited amount of information out there about Cereus Peruvianus.
      Therefore, I am using this website as a platform to share what I am discovering with others so more can enjoy and learn about this wonderful cactus.

      Here are some thoughts about your great questions:

      Growing in Delaware:
      I suspect that the winters might be a bit chilly for Cereus… But I am just guessing.
      One option would be growing in a pot so you can take outside in the warmer months and bring inside by a sunny window for the cooler months.
      I know that this cactus can be grown in a pot (at least for a while), however, I have not tried prolonged container growing myself.
      That being said, other cactus do really well in containers.

      Were to get them:

      Good question. I have found them hidden in the corners of small local nurseries.
      At one small nursery, I saw some growing at the edge of the property but not for sale. I asked the owner if I could buy a branch and she basically gave me a bunch for free.

      I looked up on amazon and I see that someone is selling cuttings that they say is Cereus. However, the flower in the picture and the cactus in the background are not the Cereus that we have been talking about. Therefore, I have not added the link here.

      I also see on amazon that you can buy Cereus seeds and the plants in the pictures do look like Cereus.
      20 x PERUVIAN APPLE CACTUS – Cereus repandus SEEDS – Fig Cactus – EDIBLE FRUITS High In Vitamins and Antioxidants – Night Blooming


      They are very easy to grow from cuttings… like crazy easy.
      I am also growing some little guys from seed. However, the germination rate was rather low.
      I will be experimenting again this season with some different germination techniques to see if I can get a better percentage growing.
      Ill update this post if I have any luck.

  5. I live in Gilbert, AZ and the Cereus I have came from a branch lopped off my dad’s plant and stuck in a pot. I transplanted it in the hard, clay caliche soil here with just a few shovels of mulch and the plant now is higher than our roof (15 feet) and has maybe 20 branches/stalks. Birds love the fruit and I get a few they miss and they are so tasty. I water it a lot, but don’t feed it much except for a little granular plant food maybe once a year. When we have very cold winters, down to maybe 18 degrees F, the tips will freeze and yellow and deform grow, so I take styrofoam cups and put on the tips. Protects it well.

  6. Hi there.

    Just bought home in Sacramento that has what turns out to be a very tall and lovely Cereus cacti, fortunately recognized as such by friend. Just wanted to let you know this site has been extremely helpful to me as a newbie to – looking forward to all the fruit just as much as those amazing flowers! Think will trim a few branches to start more along fence it seems so happy with… What a joy!! The bumblebees at dawn see most interested in, like that – maybe have bats too.

    Thanks again!

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Congrats, on your new cacti…
      And thanks for the positive feedback; you are very welcome.

  7. Hello, I’ve been an interior landscaper for 30 years now, it’s my livelihood. Wanted to let people know that cereus cactus do pretty good inside. If east coast people want to keep it outside most of the year, then move it indoors with good light during the winter.

    Currently, I have a ten foot cereus in a large landscape ceramic pot and it loves it! Right now it has nearly 100 flower buds, in different stages of course.

    Enjoyed reading your insights, and will certainly be eating the fruit as they ripen.
    Thank you

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Thanks for the insight Patrick!

    • I have 2 7FT. cerous cactuses in pots. They are hell bent on branching out near the base. Can I prevent or minimize that by duct taping or taring the cut limbs?

      • Thomas Osborne, MD

        Hey David
        Good question.
        However, I dont have a good answer for you.

        They seem to want to branch where ever there is a cut to a limb… like when you pull off a fruit and leave a mark on the branch or cut a limb. So the best I can say is be careful if you dont want branching. I know, not to helpful.

  8. Oh my goodness! Thank you so much for this site! It has been extremely helpful! My family just moved to a home in La Quinta that has two of the Cereus growing in our yard. We had noticed that the taller one has skin like bark on the bottom but it blooms constantly and is now rapidly growing fruit. The other has only bloomed a few times and is quite small in comparison, so I am guessing it is younger. But my only concern would be the bark-like trunk on the lower portion. Other than that it seems perfectly healthy!

    Thanks again!

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Awesome Vicki
      Thanks for the great feedback.
      Although it is hard to tell without pictures, sometimes the oldest parts of cacti will develop a bark like appearance.

  9. Hi Tom,

    I recently bought a house in central Florida that had a little more than 1/2 dozen of these (varying from 6-12 feet tall) growing around the well house. All summer long I found them to simply be an annoyance. I finally decided yesterday to cut them all down … Don’t panic … After getting the first one down I noticed the ripe fruit on it. Being an avid outdoorsman I ran the standard tests for edibility and was pleasantly surprised. Needless to say, I chopped the falling cactus at its joints and replanted each piece, then harvested the ripe fruit from the remaining ones. Lots of good info on your site. Thanks! I’ll keeping my eye on them for more fruit soon!

  10. Thanks Thomas. Your article is very informative. I live in Brisbane Queensland Australia which is sub-tropical I guess. Have ordered a Peruvian Apple plant and expect delivery soon possibly tomorrow. Have had fair bit of luck with Red Dragon Fruit (Pitaya) and now also have a Yellow DF plant which is coming along well.
    Regards John

  11. there is a hole in one of my cactus otherwise its growing beautifully and flowering……should i patch this hole

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Todd

      Thanks for the interesting question.

      It is kindof hard to say exactly whats going on without seeing your cactus.
      I hole in your cactus could be caused by a lot of things, and the treatment may depend on the specific cause.

      For example, possibilities include (but are not limited to) a hungry bug, animal or an infection (such as fungus).
      Clearly, if a bug or animal is eating at your poor cactus, I would take care of that issue first.

      Once that offending agent is taken care of, I would do my best to make sure the area is clean and then dry.
      If your cactus is in a pot/container, you might want to angle things so the hole faces down and water doesn’t collect inside after a rainstorm.

      If all goes well, once the offending agent is taken care of and your cactus is allowed to heal, should just scar over.

      Hope this helps.




    Just had a bit of our fruit off the Apple Cactus Cereus repandus in front of our house. Tastes great. Thanks for guidance & info.

  13. Hello! I just received my first cutting of this fascinating cactus and wanted to ask a question about potting it. About how long should I let the cut end callous over before trying to root it? It is a nice big piece at 20″ and very thick….I would hate to make an error and lose it!
    Thanks, Jason in Dallas

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Jason in Dallas

      Great question.
      So, yea… Most people say you need to give succulents about a week to harden off before you plant them.
      However, I have not been doing this.

      I have been just cutting the cactus off at the joints and putting them in the soil the same day.
      Some might call this blasphemy, but for this particular cactus it has worked for me.
      Perhaps my success is related to the fact that cutting the branch off at the joint does not expose a lot of bare cut surface area for problems.
      Or perhaps, this cactus just doesnt need the hardening off time.

      All of that being said, if you only have one branch to plant, you might want to play it safe.
      Waiting a week or so before planting is unlikely to do any harm.
      However, I would keep the un-planted cut branch out of direct sunlight in this initial time to reduce the dehydration stress.


      • Tom,
        Thanks for the reply. I am a plant fanatic who grows lots of plumeria,adenium,epiphyllum, some bromeliads,etc. Never really been a “cactus person” but if this works out I plan on trying dragon fruit next spring. Thanks again for the advice. Have a good one!

  14. Gary, thanks for your input. I have just left it alone, it’s fine. Sorry about yours. I don’t usually catch the fruit before the birds get it, but it is interesting.

  15. Very interesting thread! Recently bought a 6 foot Cereus at a greenhouse while visiting my son in Columbus, Ohio (drove it home laying down in the back of our Prius wrapped in a paper gauze-like material–good thing we didn’t get stopped as it looked like a body!) Anyway, it had 3 nascent buds on it which grew to about six inches and we eagerly awaited the flowers when suddenly, after a cold snap (outside 40 degrees; inside maybe 45-50) we awoke to blackened, dead flower buds!!!Since the cactus was indoors and I’m sure the temperature go nowhere near freezing, I’m trying to understand what would have killed them so quickly. I understand the cactus itself can survive freezing weather, but it would seem that the blooms are extremely sensitive to low temperatures of even 45-50 degrees. Does anyone have experience with this, and do I need to buy a space heateer for the flowering stage?!

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Funny story:
      lol, that’s a funny transportation story Luca.

      Dead flower buds:
      In my experience, the flowers are rather sensitive to extreme environmental conditions (too hot, cold, dry, etc).
      For most plants, general sensitivity is exaggerated by being in containers/pots. This is because the roots experience a greater-rapid flux in environmental changes when they are in a container vs if they were in the ground.

      A few things to consider:
      Cold air sinks. Therefore, the coldest part of your home is on the floor, where cold air collects. This is esp true at night when there is decreased air movement. Placing the container on an elevated surface will raise the temp of the soil a bit compared to the temp at the ground level. A larger container will also help reduce the rapid shift in environmental conditions.

      Space heater:
      A space heater is not a bad idea. However, beyond the cost of heating, a space heater will definitely dry out the surrounding area… and these cactus prefer not to be bone dry between waterings. These plants are not like your average cactus. They seem to do the best when treated more like a subtropical tree.

      Potential plan:
      If it was me, I would let the flowers go at this time of year.
      Let the plant rest and keep it healthy in the winter the best you can within reason.
      In the spring-summer it will flower and in the summer-fall you should get fruit.

      Best of luck,

    • I’d like to offer a couple of things that I’ve learned already from my limited experience with my Cereus Peruvianus that affect pollination and fruiting. First, I learned that the blooms cannot open without darkness. Of course, I knew that it was night-blooming, but I didn’t realize that my back porch light would prevent the flowers opening. It does. Now I am careful when I have flowers about ready to open to keep the porch light off. Second, I have never been successful trying to pollinate with flowers from the same plant. However, when I was lucky enough to borrow a blossom from a neighbor’s cactus, unrelated to mine, it worked perfectly.
      Thank you for the site, Tom. Very informative.

      • Thomas Osborne, MD

        Thanks Joy!
        Thats awesome information.

        I didnt expect that the cereus flowers would be so sensitive to a porch light. That could be helpful for a lot of people.

        That makes sense about the cereus peruvianus need for cross pollination too.


  16. Hi Thomas,
    Will the fruit of the Cereus Peruvianus fully ripen once taken “off” the plant? I just grabbed a few that were starting to ripen as they were falling off and the others were/are always eaten by the birds before I can get to them once they do fully ripen on the plant. Out hear in AZ the birds and Javelina get to everything first. I’ve got several of these (we call them Monstrose cactus) on my property, many of which are cuttings from a single original plant that we had here.
    Thanks for the additional info on your site.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Allan
      Great question.

      Greedy animals:
      Animals do a number on my fruit trees here in California as well.
      Fortunately, they haven’t figured out the cactus fruit yet.

      Ripe fruit:
      I dont know if the fruit will ripen off the cactus.
      However, I suspect they will not ripen off the plant very well.

      To keep the birds off the fruit:
      To keep the birds away from the fruit, I use things like 100 ft Holographic Bird Scare Ribbon, Double Side Laser Bird Scare Tape 2 Inch x 100 FeetBird Scare Flash Tape

      In the Breeze 8-Piece Pinwheels, Silver SparkleMylar Pinwheels also work well, but more difficult to attach to a cactus.

      • I pick my fruit before it gets bright red with no problem. I put them out like an avocado and they ripen sitting on the counter.

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Thanks Lawana!

          • We tried a fruit and thought it rather bland. Could we have picked it when it was Too ripe? The skin was split open, exposing some of the fruit. What about fruit that is half red and half green? Can an unripe fruit make us ill?

          • Thomas Osborne, MD

            Hey Dee
            Thanks for the note.
            If the fruit had split and was bright orange-or-red then I would think it was fully ripe.
            Like anything, this fruit is not for everyone.
            And the flavor may vary from plant-plant and growing conditions.
            For me, the flavor is subtle with a great crunchy texture.
            If it is not fully ripe it has less flavor and tastes “green.”
            Not sure if it is poisonous at the unripe stage (like the Inca Berry), but I dont recommend trying to find out.


  17. I was given a Peruvian Apple cactus from a friend and it has just been growing wild over the past few years. Many friends had asked me for cuttings but since I feel it is the perfect shape I didn’t want to ruin it’s looks by chopping off branches, therefore, I had decided to propagate it from seeds. The best method for this, that I have found, is to take a ripe fruit, cut it in half, eat half and propagate the other half. I scoop the flesh out with the seeds, spread it on a paper towel and let it dry out over night. I then prepare a small pot with soil, place the napkin on top of the soil then spray it with water to moisten. I then put a Zip top bag over the pot and mist it every few days. You will get about an inch of growth in a couple of weeks but then it grows fairly slowly for a couple of months. When it reaches about six inches it can be planted in a bigger pot or outdoors protected from wind.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Thanks Debra!
      I have tried just planting seeds in the soil, and nothing happened… for a while.
      Then I forgot about them, and then much later a few little cacti started popping up.
      They are about 1 cm to 1/2 CM in height now. Cute little guys.

    • Hi Debra, wonderful advice. However, I cant visualize how the root moves down into the soil if you have the paper towel as a barrier? Normally, the purpose of using peat or soft soil or even tilling of the soil in all kinds of seed based propagation such as wheat and barley crops is that the soil is soft enough that a new root can easily penetrate it. A paper towel is generally a dense mass of bonded cellulose fibers which are quite hard as compared to a soft root tissue. They also have very small openings that are often invisible to a human eye. I am completely at loss to see if you laid down the paper towel on the soil, how the root manage to get into the soil. If you put the seed side of the towel on the soil, then the issue is of the shoot ie how it manage to get out of the paper towel with its cotelydens or leaves. Very kindly, You may be able to either improve your description, add a photo or a sketch. In addition, please advise what kind of soils have you used and if it was sterilized. I have the seeds on a paper towel and I am waiting desperately for your advice and if you want, I can provide an email – before they lose their viability.

      • Are you okay? Maybe take a chill pill brother. This is a cool plant and procedure, but keep it simple. You could rinse the seeds off the paper into a pot so you won’t have to deal with the “cellulose fibers “

  18. Thanks for the informative article! I finally know what type of cactus is growing in the back yard of a mobile home we recently purchased! Are all cactus fruits edible?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Your welcome Dee
      Great question,

      Many cactus fruits are edible, but not all.
      Note: euphorbia species include plants that can look very similar to cactus because they occupy a similar ecological niche.
      As a result, euphorbia are sometimes called “New world cactus”
      However, euphorbia plants and their fruit are very toxic.

      Overall, it is best to evaluate fruit on a case by case basis.


  19. I just planted a Peruvian Apple Cactus in Henderson NV about 1 month ago. It is watered through a slow drip every day. It is in full sun. I noticed some yellowing on the side which gets the most sun. Can it get too much sun? Could there be another cause for the yellowing? It is about 18 inches tall.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Julie
      Good question.

      Although these are cactus, they are not exactly like the average cactus most of us are familiar with.
      These guys seem to like soil conditions that are more like a dry-er forest… not quite parched desert.

      Desert sun:
      Yellowing on the South side of your cactus does make you think it is sunlight related. So it is possible that the more extreme UV of the NV desert is a bit intense for them… But I am just guessing b/c I have not personally tried to grow cereus peruvianus in NV. I have not seen this yellowing problem in SD… But I live about 10 miles in from the ocean, so we have a bit of marine effect in the air here that might shield some VU rays.

      Have you noticed anyone in your area growing these cactus?.. that might answer your question.

      Another thing to think about:
      When plants are grown in a shady place and then brought into direct sun too fast, they will often burn. This is b/c they havent had a chance to build up their pigments to protect them from the more intense sunlight conditions (much like us getting a tan to help us avoid a burn). This can happen even if a plant species is perfectly adapted to direct sunlight and will eventually be ok in that sunny setting.

      For the same reason, some species cactus need to be dug up and replanted in the same compass orientation (so the South side remains the South side before and after transplantation). I have heard that the Saguaro cactus are this way and can die if you dont keep this same orientation. However, I have not heard that the Cereus Peruvianus cactus is that directionaly sensitive.

      Finally, when I have seen plants negatively impacted by too much sun, they usually burn; turning brown-then sometimes black. However, just to confuse things, I have seen some euphorbia species turn yellow on their sunny side if moved into direct sunlight too fast.

      Too much water will definitely make just about any plant turn yellow.
      This can happen if the soil does not drain enough or if there is water running all the time.
      In your case, watering your cactus every day is too much.
      It is good to love, but too much of this kind of love can kill… esp for a cactus (even if it is not your average cactus).

      Look into who is successfully growing Cereus Peruvianus in your area… ck out the growing conditions and see if they are growing in an area that gets shade in the sunniest part of the day.
      If you cant find anyone in your area, then ask the person you got the cactus from what their experience in your area is.

      Also cut back on your watering to 2 to 3 times a week. A deep infrequent watering is better than frequent shallow watering.
      Make sure your soil is rich but very well draining.

      Please let us know how it goes.


  20. Cereus Peruvianus is the same name I learned when I first started in the landscape business. I was lucky to work in Miami, Fl with a specialist in tropical fruits, before I started my own landscape and irrigation company. His relatively small yard had numerous fruiting trees and shrubs, giving me a chance to experience a lot of different types of fruits that I would have never known about or known they were edible. Now 25 years later, and living in the Tampabay area, I’ve been enjoying my cactus fruits yearly. Well almost yearly. Some few years have been erratic pollenation years. Manually pollenating was a bit successful the one year I tried it. What I found out is that bats nested individually in the barrel tiles on the roofs of the houses. After major storms, and with old tile rooves disappearing, being redone without tile, the bat’s homes were disappearing faster than they would resettle in our area. The past few years have been good.

    When I moved into this house, the cactus was about 5-6 ft and very old. It had probably been cut down. It barely grew for some years and I never frequented that side of the house. When I rediscovered it there were many ftuits, which highly motivated my then continuing attention. Some years it grows up to 4-6 ft branches in a the year. With it being planted under the eaves, at least at near the highest part of the roof, I have spent years coaxing it away, to grow past, whih means cutting branches that hit the eaves. Butin order to keep it stable, I am careful to let it gain bottom strength yearly. It seems to love where it is, although they do well in the Florida sun, I know because there are a fair number of them around, mine is on the east side of my house, with the neighbor being just 16-18 feet away. The robust width, quick growth every year now, and how much water she holds during dry times, shows she’s very happy there.

    Every so often I go searching for a site online, but have never found even a decent one, yours is an overwhelmingly a joy for me. I have some photos to share if you would like me to send them. Having been a photographer I have a few creative shots, and one with a special visitor. I have yet to wangle some lighting for a proper night shot. BTW, my blooms always open 2 nights, the 2nd either weaker or stonger depending on first night. Some open a 3rd night, but weakly.

    Thanks so much for this opportunity to share about something so special to me, have never been able to do more than post pics to show friends on Facebook.

    Dennis (Seminole Fl 1 mile off the gulf, for anyone who might benefit from knowing what might be best in this zone)

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Thank you so much for your story and your kind words.

      Plant info online:
      I also had (and still have) difficulty finding reliable fruit-growing information online.
      That is what motivated me to create this site… because I suspected I was not alone.
      I made TastyLandscape.com in hopes that it would be a shared resource for all who interested in the plant stuff that I am (we are) passionate about.

      Your pics:
      I would be happy to post some of your pics.
      I will reference that they are yours.
      Try to narrow it down to a few of your favorite ones and provide a compelling story to go with them.
      Just let me know where I can find them and which ones you would like to profile.


    • Dennis, we live in Volusia county and there are tons of this beautiful cactus around. I was fortunate that our neighbor gave us a good small one that fruited once last year. This year no fruit. Your post let me know we need bats! I found this site right away when the cactus was given to us and Dr. Osborne, although he lives in California, gives good advice all year round about many different plants.

  21. Hola hoy la planta de cactus que esta casi enfrente de casa dio frutas y era una fruta rosada con naranja con un poco de amarillo en el extremo de la fruta ovalada y estaba como abierta la fruta lo probe por casualidad y es como que pincha la lengua !!eso es normal ?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi there

      My Spanish is not that good, so I will use “Google translator” to attempt to answer your question. Please confirm this text with a bilingual friend. Thank you.
      (Mi español no es muy bueno , así que voy a usar ” Google Traductor ” para tratar de responder a su pregunta . Por favor, confirme este texto con un amigo bilingüe. Gracias.)

      Let me translate your question in English; below.
      (Permítanme traducir tu pregunta en Inglés ; a continuación.)

      Your question:
      (Tu pregunta:)
      “Hello today cactus plant that is almost opposite house gave fruit and was a pink fruit with orange with a little yellow at the end of the oval fruit was as open fruit I tried it by chance and it’s like pricking the tongue !! that’s normal?”
      (Hola hoy la planta de cactus que esta casi enfrente de casa dio frutas y era una fruta rosada con naranja con un poco de amarillo en el extremo de la fruta ovalada y estaba como abierta la fruta lo probe por casualidad y es como que pincha la lengua !!eso es normal ?)


      My answer to your question:
      (Mi respuesta a su pregunta:)

      I am not sure what type of cactus you have eaten, but I have not tried anything that sounds like the one that you have described. The “prickling of the tongue” does not sound normal to me. I would not eat anymore of that fruit. If your symptoms do not go away or get worse, I would have someone take you to the hospital as soon as possible. There are many poisonous fruits that may look good. Eating fruits without knowing the plant can be very dangerous. Some fruits and plants may also look similar even tough one is poisonous and the other is ok. This can be very dangerous if the plant is not well known as a particular type of fruiting plant. Only eat fruits from plants that you know and purchased that from a trustworthy source.

      (No estoy seguro de qué tipo de cactus que ha comido , pero yo no lo he probado todo lo que suena como el que usted ha descrito . El ” hormigueo de la lengua” no suena normal para mí . Yo no comer más de esa fruta . Si sus síntomas no desaparecen o empeoran , me gustaría que alguien lo lleve al hospital lo antes posible . Hay muchos frutos venenosos que pueden parecer bueno. Comer frutas sin saber que la planta puede ser muy peligroso. Algunas frutas y las plantas también pueden parecer similares , incluso una dura es venenoso y el otro está bien. Esto puede ser muy peligroso si la planta no es bien conocido como un tipo particular de planta de la fructificación. Sólo coma frutas de las plantas que usted conoce y que compró a partir de una fuente de confianza.)

  22. Great site. I’m identifying the cacti in my yard right now and this was very helpful.


  23. I am so excited to find your site! I have several of these cati in my central florida yard. They grow like crazy and the blooms are amazing. I didn’t realize that they fruited. I used to cut the bloom off when it closed because it wasn’t pretty and detracted from the new blooms, but then I found out that they produced fruit and I let them stay. However, nothing came of them but an ugly black stem. As I said, I have several. I have used a saw and trimmed them, rooting the pieces in different places in the yard and giving them to friends. They grow, they bloom, but no fruit. Your thoughts?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Leslie
      Thanks for the note and happy you have found the site.

      There are a lot of reasons why a plant may not fruit.
      Some plants need everything to be perfect to give back (the right soil, fertilization, water, temp, sun etc).

      However, if your plant is growing well and otherwise looks healthy… then pollination may be the issue.
      Since these cactus are designed to be pollinated by nighttime critters (bats and sometime large moths), that may be a big factor.
      Therefore, if you dont have the right pollinators, you may have to do the pollination yourself.

      Let me know if you need some tips on pollination and ill get you some more info.


      • Thank you for your reply. I am watching 3 of 22 buds open on my cactus tonight! So beautiful! So, bats – check, large moths – check, still no fruit. I would love to try and pollinate these myself. This would be the week to do it. Anything you suggest, I’ll give it a try.

        Thank you,

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Awesome Leslie

          One of my articles on the dragon fruit cactus talks about cactus flower anatomy and details for pollination.
          The information in that video is directly applicable to the Cereus Peruvianus cactus.
          When you go to the article (link below) just skip to the video in the paragraph labeled:
          “Pollination Update #2 (July 29, 2014):”

          • OK – done! I used a q-tip and did all the ones I could reach. 16 are blooming tonight! I dope “a little dab will do ya” because it didn’t seem to want to stick! I’ll do it again tomorrow morning for good measure.

            Thank you again!

          • Thomas Osborne, MD

            Your very welcome Leslie

            Another idea for you:
            Some people like to use a soft small paint brush for pollination… It might possibly help you move more pollen.

            Good luck!

          • Well, that didn’t work. All blooms turned black and shriveled up. I have 20 more coming so I’ll try again. Pollen just has to be from another flower on the same stalk, right? I have multiple cacti from same starter, but none of the others are blooming yet.

          • Thomas Osborne, MD

            Hi Leslie
            Sorry to hear that it didn’t work on your first attempt.
            Since there are many factors that play into successful fruiting, it is possible that you did everything perfectly with your pollination.
            For example, sometimes a young plant will put out flowers but will drop them because the plant is not mature enough to support the growing demands of the fruit. Variations in growing conditions often play a major part as well. In addition, sometimes, warm weather will trick a plant into flowering early in the spring before the amount of daily sunlight or prolonged warm weather conditions is enough for fruit.
            Good luck,

  24. Did a google search about the cactus we planted in our yard in south central Fl and found your site. What a great site. Here is the history of my cactus I call Gloria. While living in NW PA in 2010 a friend gave us a cutting from his cactus he has growing in a pot. It grew straight up and he was told to always cut off the shoots. We wintered in Fla so we planted the cutting he gave us and pretty much left it alone. It grew well and finally gave us an off shoot which after it got several inches long we cut it off and planted it that was in the fall of 2013. I named it Barb. Well Barb is now flowering and has several blossoms on her she’s about 2 feet tall and three of them have bloomed and have now turned black. Do we remove the black ones? However Gloria continues to grow taller she has not had any more off shoots. We put a stake beside both plants to support them and keep them growing straight. We do see a cotton like substance on Gloria almost looks like a cocoon of some kind. Should we remove that? Both plants are planted near our pond in their own little garden. We have white landscaping stones over the soil. We now live in Fla permanently and are very intrigued by our cactus. Unfortunately our friend who moved his cactus outside in the summer left it out to long and the frost got it and it died. He told us his bloomed once a year in Nov and only for one night. I was completely surprised to find out it bears fruit. Would appreciate any info you can give or suggest about the care. I don’t have a green thumb so I am so excited these have survived.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Ginny

      Finding us:
      Great you found the site.
      I havent done any SEO tricks (like other websites) so the readership is pretty organic and often via word of mouth.

      Personalized plant names:
      Awesome that you name your plants.
      We have done that for some of ours too.

      Black flowers:
      Good question.
      When the flowers die, they will turn black and look a bit strange.
      Its no problem for the plant though, you can just let them fall off on their own.

      Cotton substance:
      Interesting question.
      White cotton substance on a plant could mean a few things.

      If it is a small focal localized area, it could potentially represent a cocoon for something like a pupating insect or baby spiders. These are not doing direct harm to your plant. In fact most spiders will be a big benefit to your garden.

      Funnel spider webs are sometimes harder to recognize because they are built as flat sheets. You can leave these guys alone.

      Mealy Bugs:
      Sometimes a white cottony substance can be the result of a sap-sucking insect such as Mealy Bugs. Mealy Bugs like to live in plant crevasse and if you look closely (perhaps with the aid of a magnifying glass) you can often see the small flat bugs. A blast of water with a light brushing with a soft tooth brush is my first step (but be careful not to blast them so hard that you injure the plant). For smaller or indoor infestations q-tip dipped in alcohol is another first line treatment.

      A colony of the related insect known as Scale can also result in a white covering. I would treat these guys the same way as the Mealy Bugs.

      Spider Mites:
      These small arachnids are also unwanted parasites. They seem to like hot dry conditions. They are even smaller than Mealy Bugs and look like many red/brown dots surrounded by a matted web. I would recommend a blast of water as the first step. However, these guys can be a big problem and difficult to control in a greenhouse. Commercially available predatory mites are a great organic alternative (see below link). Neem oil spray is often recommended for tougher infections (see below link).

      Dyna-Gro Pure Neem Oil Natural Leaf Polish, 8 OuncesNeem oil:

      2,000 Live Adult Predatory Mites – A Mix of Predatory Mite Species for Spider Mite Control – Ships Next Day!lPredatory mites:

      I happened to find this cactus site that has more information and pictures (see link below).
      Their treatment suggestions are more aggressive with the pesticides but I am adding it here to provide an alternative perspective.

      • Thank you Dr Osborne for your reply and suggestions. It appears these white cocoon looking things are spiders. But will keep an eye on them to make sure nothing else invades their space.

        Do you think Gloria, our original cactus will eventually produce more off shoots. In our part of Fla we see this type of cactus all over. Some are kept up nicely and others are let go wild. They sure are interesting.


        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Hey Ginny
          Thanks for the followup note.
          Glad to hear that the white stuff was not any parasites on your cactus.

          So if Gloria is like most of these cactus, then she will put out branches.
          Hard to know where or when, but this is their nature.

          I agree, they are interesting and wonderful cactus.

          • Thanks again Dr Osborne,
            I never really paid any attention to my cactus till Barb started blooming and I came across your site. Now these two have become like my babies.

            I’ve noticed that Gloria now has what looks like yellow scabs on her, they are liked embedded right into her. I tried googling this and it took me right to your site. LOL

            I don’t water them, I pretty much leave them on their own.

          • Thomas Osborne, MD

            Hey Ginny
            Funny that they have become your babies.
            I know some people (including myself) that will occasionally dress up a cactus.

            As far as the “scabs”… Oftentimes older cactus will get woody pn places.
            Usually in the older parts of the plant.
            Is this what you are seeing?

            If they are living in well draining rich soil then regular deep watering will optimize your chances of fruit.
            In my experience, their soil and watering needs are more like a citrus and less like a typical cactus.

  25. Hi ! You mentioned using grow mulch, can you describe what that is? Is it available at the big box stores. Second question is how do I create sandy loam soil?

    I’m a beginner here. Thank you for your site.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Jim
      Thanks for the great question.

      Basically “Grow Mulch” is type of partially composted organic material that is used to augment your native soil.
      This stuff typically has natural fertilizer and nutrients mixed in.
      There are all kinds you can get. I am not sure if one brand is better than another, but I use a lot of http://www.kellogggarden.com/products/kellogg/soils/?s=gromulch

      They so sell his stuff at the big box stores.

      Sandy loam is created by mixing sand/tiny rocks with composted organic material.
      The optimal mix for each plant can be different, but there is also overlap in requirements depending on the type of plants.
      For a lot of fruiting plants you want to try and strike the balance between good drainage while also having an ample amount of organic rich nutrients in the soil. If you do it right, this will reduce the fertilization and watering needs for your plants…. This also promotes a healthy soil micro-ecosystem that guards against plant disease.

  26. Hi, cool article! I’m interested in planting this. I’m in West Palm, FL, do you think pollination will be ok? But my main question is, besides for growing as a novelty, what kind of yield of fruits do these produce? Do they produce lots of fruits per plant/per acre/etc as compared to fruit trees? I don’t know anything about cactus, so I’m really curious about that, and whether this could also be worth growing commercially at some point (yield wise).

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey thanks Dmitri

      Thanks for the questions:

      Cereus Peruvianus Pollination:
      I know of a lot of people growing the Cereus Peruvianus in FL and natural pollination has been no problem.

      Cereus Peruvianus Yield:
      Of course, the yield for any plant depends on the growing conditions.
      I get about 10 -15 fruits per year from a Cereus Peruvianus cactus that is about 8f tall. My smaller cacti produce proportionally smaller amounts of fruit.
      So.. that is not a lot pf fruit if you are looking to go commercial with this plant.
      Perhaps you could get more fruit in different growing conditions, but I suspect the Cereus Peruvianus will always produce a modest amount of fruit compared to other fruit trees.
      None the less, Cereus Peruvianus produce delicious fruit and well worth growing for me.


  27. Hello, great article and comments. I have been looking for cuttings but could not find any around so far. Would you supply me cuttings? Your price will me mine. Thank you in advance. Vincent,

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Vincent
      Hopefully a fellow reader can help you.
      In what part of the world are you located?

  28. Hi Dr. Osborne,

    I am happy to have found your site on Cereus peruvianus monstrose with all your helpful information and comments from Cereus admirers. Twenty years ago I bought a five-inch cactus in the fruit and veggie store. He grew and grew and now he is almost four feet tall and quite wide and very branched. It wasn’t until today that I identified him from a web search. I was hoping to find some info on the root system as I am considering re-potting him again only because I thought he might need a deeper pot. The only reference I have found on roots says that the plant has “…a tap root system with several lateral roots spreading several feet in diameter” (austinbotany.wordpress.com, accessed July 17, 2015). He has been in a terra cotta pot 16″ in diameter and 16″ deep for a couple of years and I think it is wide enough (the root ball is about 13″). But do you think I need to get a “tall” pot to accommodate the “tap” root, or is he likely to be OK in a pot with similar height and diameter? Most photos I have seen online have the cacti in pots with nearly equal diameter and height dimensions.

    I live in South Eastern, Canada so he is an indoor plant with summers on the west-facing balcony. And he too is a cactus with a name – George.



    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi D

      Wow, 20 years with your cactus George! That is a major long term relationship.

      I have a lot of succulents and cacti in containers…
      However, I have not grown these specific cacti in containers myself.
      My Cereus are all in the ground.
      So I dont have direct experience for your specific question.
      None the less, I have a few thoughts for you (below).

      If George has been in the same container for several years, then there is a very good chance he is root bound.
      As a result, the taproot-(or any roots) would be all coiled up inside the container.

      Tap roots are typically fairly long for any plant (especially for cacti)… A tap root is often much longer that the cactus is tall.

      Therefore, if you really wanted to accommodate for the entire length of the taproot, your container would be very very tall.
      Since I have not seen any 5 -10 foot tall containers just for cacti, I am guessing it is not a big deal to have the tap root adjust to the cramped environment of a shorter container.

      Hope this helps.

  29. Hello Dr. Osborne- great site and appreciate you being a resource for information. We recently bought a house in west LA last year- the house is about 100 years old and it has what appears to be three very old Cereus peruvianus that, over the years, has been cut back to stump and allowed to regrow. When we bought the house a year ago, the cactus looked jaundiced, but was still flowering and producing fruit. There were many dead branches and sections that I removed, hoping that would help revitalize it.

    Now, one of the cacti appear to be dying, with the others producing a few new shoots, but struggling as well… we referred photos to a local arborist that assumes a fungus in the soil causing the problem. I’ve not watered much, so excessive moisture can’t be a reason (especially in our climate!!!)

    Do you have any advice to share? Would you like to see the photos? I’m trying to save this relic! Thanks in advance…

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Interesting story.
      I would be honored to help you save this old sentinel.
      Would be happy to take a look at your plant pics.
      Do you have a place you can post the images (pinterest, instagram, twitter, etc)?


      • Wonderful. Here is a link to my photbucket album with a few pics of our sad specimens. Any advice you can offer would be really appreciated.



        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Hey Milt
          Thanks for the pics.
          Any yea, your cactus looks pretty sick.
          And it looks like it could be an infection.
          Just like us humans, the major causes of systemic infections are viral, bacterial, fungal.
          Each addressed differently.

          The areas on the surface of your cactus with brown and grey marks may be the best bet to get a more specific answer (without a microscope or lab tests). Are you able to get a closer pic or two?
          If I cant help perhaps getting it out there on the net will allow someone else to weigh in.


          • Thank you- if you go back to the link I added six more photos- trying to show more of the diseased area. Thanks to your site, I took note that I haven’t been watering, thinking they were happy in drought conditions. Last night I gave them a good soaking. So sad- I hope I can treat them!

          • Thomas Osborne, MD

            Thanks Milt
            Great close up picks, this definitely helps.

            Looks like there are a few things going on, some issues worse than others;
            Most importantly, you definitely have all the signs of a systemic infection on your poor old cactus.

            There are hundreds of potential infections any plant could have. However, based on the appearance, I would narrow it down a bit to the ones mentioned below.

            It is very possible I could be missing other potential infectious options (all of this info is hard to find). As a side, a good source of info is based on Dragon Fruit cacti because there seems to be a bit more info/research on Dragon Fruit diseases. Since a lot of these cactus diseases can also be transmitted from one type of cactus to another, this Dragon fruit info has a high likelihood of also being applicable to other cacti such as your Cereus cacti.

            Specific diseases:
            I have seen similar symptoms from the specific viral infection known as “Cactus virus X” and from the fungal infection “Botryosphaeria dothidea” (Pics and details available via this article below).

            Dragon Fruit Diseases

            I wouldn’t be surprised if there was also a bacterial infection that could have similar symptoms as well.

            There is not much you can currently do for a viral infection. However, in some cases there is a possibility that antifungals may help with the fungal infections. Here is a link to a research paper on the topic of treating Botryosphaeria dothidea http://www.fabinet.up.ac.za/publication/pdfs/146-2004_denman_crous_sadie_wingfield_austr_pl_path.pdf

            However, I would be reluctant to do any treating till you had laboratory confirmation of what exactly you are dealing with. For example, you could sterilize your area of both good and bad fungi with the anti fungals… and if it then turned that all of this was from a bacterial or viral infection, then you would not have done anything for your plant disease other than waste a lot of money and kill a lot of good fungi.

            Disease transmission:
            Interestingly, both of these diseases mentioned are thought to be mainly transmitted by trimming tools. This is therefore a good lesion on the importance of sterilizing your tools between trimming different plants. I wrote a bit about the importance of sterilizing your trimming tools in one of my Dragon Fruit cacti articles.

            In addition to the above, there also looks like there are a few other things going on on your Cactus:

            Corking is a normal part of cacti aging. In this process, lower parts of the plant often change to a grey bark-like appearance. However, if this type of thing is seen in patches all over… well then other more ominous things are going on.

            Areas of corking like scabbing and sometimes pealing can be seen on the most sun exposed sides of the plant which can be the result of phototoxixcity. Some spray chemicals like horticulture oils, fungicides, insecticides, etc can predispose to sun damage. This results in a long term scar from a short term chemical exposure + sun. Some of this might be going on too. It is possible that some of this is going on from another persons attempt to treat this cactus.

            Hope this helps.

  30. Hello, I have a seedling that looks like it’s growing upside down. It shot up 2 inches out of the soil in 2 days and the top looks like it has roots and there’s clumps of dirt stuck to them. Will it continue growing? Do you think it wise to turn it over? I don’t want to damage it. I can send a picture of need be.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Interesting Jimbo
      I would be happy to take a look at a picture of your seedling.
      Do you have a place to post it to (twitter, pinterest, instagram, etc)?

  31. Hello – I have been growing a cereus for several years in a container (we live in Maryland). We take the plant outside each summer – and I placed it in a sheltered area in our yard – each year it has grown taller. Each year it produced ONE bud and the bloom dropped off without blooming (at least I think it did).
    Last summer I placed it in a larger pot (because it had outgrown the pot) – My son objected to having to move such a large pot outside again this summer. So, we left the cactus outside our front door. It has received direct sunlight since May and about 1/2 gallon of water each week (more when we experienced real heat – ) – we’ve had almost constant 90 degree weather here since early July. The plant has produced FIVE blooms – -and I’ve been able to experience the night blooms – and photograph. Haven’t noticed that the porch light affects it at all. All blooms closed by dawn or shortly thereafter – except one bloom which I plucked and put in a glass. It was very showy (almost 8 inches across) – and it was exciting to watch it slowly close after a few hours. One last bloom to go (will probably bloom within the next week or so). I didn’t realize that the cactus would produce fruit. We have many moths and some bats around our yard (dipping down to drink from our pool). My question is next summer – -should I place the cactus in a more open area of my yard in order to be attractive to more pollinators? Thanks!

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Denise
      Thanks for the note and question.

      Regarding your son:
      Lol. Yea, moving large containers/pots can be a pain.
      A plant caddy may help move the pot around, just want to make sure you get one that is strong enough. For example, the ones I have seen from ikea are only good for small plants and dont last outside.

      The Cereus cactus does produce awesome flowers.
      I am not a bat expert, but I believe the bats in your area are insect eaters and will not visit the flowers.
      Therefore, for pollination, you are focusing on moths or hand pollination.

      However, a research paper I just looked at suggests that the cereus cactus are “self-incompatible”… meaning that you need another cereus plant (that is not a clone) to pollinate them. https://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/proceedings1993/V2-486.html

      I am not totally sure about this idea of them being self-incompatible, bc I have had fruit set on my cactus when I only had one cereus cactus in the yard.
      That being said, it is possible that one of my neighbors had a cereus cactus that acted as a pollen donor… or that perhaps (maybe) my dragon fruit cactus did the cross pollination.

      Cereus Location:
      More sunlight from the open location may help to make a healthier cactus.
      You just want to be sure that you acclimatize the plant slowly so it does not burn from a rapid transition to intense sunlight.
      With this open location you may need to water more, but may also get more flowers.
      Big moths may be more likely to visit in a more open location… hard to tell.

      Hope this helps.


      • Thanks! You’re right about the bats – they love to dip down into our pool at night while catching mosquitos. We do have some large moths (even some hummingbird moths that like our perennials but they’re not nocturnal – but are interesting critters). I do have another cereus – which grows alongside this one in another container – however, no flowers on it. It’s a midget at only about five feet tall, compared to the blooming plant. Thanks again for the interesting information about this plant. I love plants of all kinds. And yes, we use a hand truck actually to move this thing around when we have to move it. Last night it dipped down into the high forties here – which is cool for this time of year – so, I’m making ready the indoor spot for my plants – –hoping we don’t have frost for awhile. Thanks again.

        • Your welcome and thank you Denise
          Hopefully you can get the little cereus up to speed and flowering so we can get come cross-pollination going.
          Looking forward to hearing about your success.

  32. I was given a cutting from a woman named Shirley. Of course, my cactus will be called Shirley now and forever more.

    Shirley has flower bud that aren’t the deep purple that I’ve seen here – light green and a beautiful white flower is about to open even though she’s still hardening off in the garage. She also has 1-inch needle clusters. Is she a cereus peruvianus or is she perhaps a jamacaru?

  33. I was given a cutting from a woman named Shirley, so for now and forever more, my cactus shall be named Shirley.

    Shirley has five ribs, long light-brown spikes and even though she’s a cutting hardening off in the garage, she has a light green flower bud that should open today or tomorrow. It’s not the darker violet color that your page shows. Is she a Cereus jamacaru or a peruvianus???

    Thanks for any help!


  34. I have a cereus in my yard . it,s about 15 years old and around 6′ tall.. Last year I didn’t notice any flowers but I managed to get one fruit .. This year I have had a number of flowers and so far 12 very nice fruits.. I thought that was it, but here we go, More flowers are forming.. I bought this plant from a local store in a very small pot with no idea what it was ..Very happy now and a great addition to my yard in San Diego CA.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Awesome Peter
      I am also in San Diego and my Cereus is on the same fruiting/re-flowering schedule that you described this year.

  35. I have been growing Dragon Fruit as in the Red Yellow and White variety that are probably one of the easiest fruiting plants I have ever had as here in Brisbane, Qld, Australia they don’t seem to have any pests and so far all the birds we have don ‘t seem to know it’s good to eat. My main problem seems to be my Cereus doesn’t want to follow it’s cousins example of flowering and then fruiting :(. My dragons fruit at least 5 times a year so get around 10 to 26 fruit each flush with various stages of flowers and fruit.
    My two Cereus are about a year younger than my Dragons and not one flower in so far 3 years. I have two Cereus in two different positions and are cuttings from two different plants, one is growing very fast and has 6 x 4 to 5 feet off shoots from the base and is now nearly 12 feet tall my other is about 4 feet tall with 5 x 3 feet tall shoots that grew after the top was cut to give a friend a cutting 2 years ago. The one that is 12 feet tall started getting what I first thought were flower buds but ended up being new growth and seems all these new buds will be growth rather than flowers :(. Now from reading all the previous posts it seems my plants should be old enough to flower and they are nice and thick as I found by watching the stem you can actually see if they get sufficient water or not as they will start to thin and not feel as firm with insufficient watering as we have been in a drought or close to drought conditions for quite some years and is why I went to Cacti for fruiting plants :). So finally my question is this ? What could I be doing wrong as I give all organic home grown mulch as I don’t waste any garden waste 🙂 it all gets mulched or put into the compost heap or worm farm. No artificial chemicals are used and scale is the only thing that came to my Cereus and only once so far in 3 years and a home made white oil solution got rid of them quick smart :). My Cereus look as healthy if not healthier than most of the pictures I see online from plants that are flowering so could they be to healthy as in the ground has to much nitrogen or similar that lets them grow so well but insufficient in what ever they need to flower. I am hoping either you (Thomas) or one of the other readers may have a hint or two that I haven’t tried to convince them to flower :). Great thread by the way very helpful as most have said getting any info on these plants is not very easy, although plenty on how to eat the fruit :). Keep up the great work, Cheers

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Tom
      Thanks for the note.

      I have also noticed the same branch branch-thinning phenomenon that you mentioned during drought conditions.
      If it is really dry the whole branch may go limp and bend due to decreased turgor.
      New branches seem to be most susceptible to this bending issue.
      I also discovered the hard way that bent branches may never straightened back up even after you refortify their soil with water.

      Anyhow.. to your question.

      Sorry to hear about your Cereus fruiting dilemma.
      From what you have described, it is very possible that the rich soil is stimulating vegetative growth at the expense of flowering/fruiting.
      This is actually a problem with a lot of different plants but I had not been aware of this being an issue for the Cereus… well until now.
      Do you happen to have pics somewhere to share?


  36. Hi Thomas and thanks for your info. By reading some scientific journal articles, I was informed that for pollination to take place we need at least 2 different clones from cereus peruvianus in close proximity and NOT two different varieties. For example, the second plant should not be propagated from cuttings of the plant in proximity that is used for pollination. Yours, are probably pollinated from different clones planted near by. Cereus peruvianus is not self-fertile. It needs cross-pollination by another plant of the same variety, but of different clone.

    Constantinos from Cyprus

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Thanks Constantinos.

      • Hi again Thomas. I may have a mistake in my previous post. Cross-pollination according to Purdue University is “when the female flower part receives pollen from a different CULTIVAR”. In the journal article it was mentioned that “it is necessary to plant two or more different clones in close proximity and which flower over the same time period”. Does by saying “clones” mean 2 different varieties? Or does it mean that the two plants which are cross-pollintated come from different plants of the same variety? I am not a horticulturist, and may one give as an answer. If we need 2 cultivars perhaps we may use cereus peruvianus “monstrosus” as a pollenizer. REFERENCE: Development of Cereus peruvianus (Apple Cactus) as a New Crop for the Negev Desert of Israel

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Hi Constantinos
          Thanks for the note and for the article reference. I have seen that article before and there is some rather good research there.

          The cultivar clone issue with pollination can be a bit confusing.
          Anyhow, ill do my best to explain with some background.

          Clonal propagation:
          Cutting off a branch and starting a new plant from that branch is a type of asexual reproduction known as clonal propagation.

          Since all of the branches of an individual plant (that is not grafted) are genetically identical… this process gives you two genetically identical plants.

          Likewise, since the two different plants are genetically identical, the flowers and pollen will also be genetically identical.

          Therefore, pollination between different flowers of cloned plants will give you the same results as pollinating between flowers of the same plant.

          Therefore, by definition, a clone will be the exact same variety and/or cultivar as its mother plant from which it was taken.

          What they are talking about in the article is that they used different clones from different mother plants… mother plants that were initially grown from different seeds and therefore genetically different.

          Another words… what they are saying here is that you need to pollinate between two different Cereus Peruvianus plants (or clones of the different plants) that were grown from different seeds.

          Basically, plants grown from different seeds will be genetically different with different pollen and therefore overcoming the self-incompatibility pollination issue.

          Plants grown from different seeds may look the same (true to type) or result in plants with a variable amount of different traits.
          Plants from the same species with distinct differences may be classified as different varieties.
          Varieties that have been selected by humans for their favorable traits are called cultivar (“cultivated variety).”

          Hope this helps,

          • Hi Thomas and thanks for your answer.

            I have contacted the professor (Prof. Mizrahi) who wrote the article and here was his answer:
            “The species Cereus peruvianus is self-incompatible species, namely, each clone (more accurate name for variety) cannot pollinate itself. Even more complicated- not every different clone can pollinate all other different clones. You should know which clone can pollinate the other, namely to know the compatible clones. You should grow compatible clones together, but not necessarily close to each other. Our farmers collect pollen from different clones which are open the same day, mix all this pollen and pollinate with a brush all open flowers which are open all night and early morning up to 8. Am”.

            The interesting thing is that not all clones are compatible and, you have right, the best practice is to plant seeds, so in this way we can overcome the self-incompatibility pollination issue.

          • Thomas Osborne, MD

            Hey Constantinos
            Excellent work!
            Great job going to the source and getting the info directly from the researchers.

            Professor Mizrahi is basically saying the same thing… plus an additional feature that can sometimes happen.
            The fact that some types of plants grown from seed may still be incompatible is an important factor that can sometimes happen with self-incompatable species that I neglected to mention.
            This may be because the types of plants grown from different seeds do not always produce pollen that is genetically different enough for the flower to accept them for fruit production. Their strategy of mixing up the pollen from many different clones would nicely overcome this problem.

            Just a point of clarification:
            The terms clone and variety are not synonymous. A different clone is not necessary a different variety.

            My personal experience:
            When I started growing this plant I had 4 clones of the same exact plant (all genetically identical) and only one other plant that was a different clone.
            I never hand pollinated them… I just let nature do its thing.
            And with that situation, I always have gotten lots and lots of fruit from all of the plants.
            I am sure the yield would be greater/larger if I had multiple varieties and hand pollinated them, but it is not necessary required.

            Anyhow, thank you very much for sharing your research, insight and knowledge Constantinos.
            This information will be useful for many people.

            All the best,

          • Hi Thomas.

            Do you know if the variety Monstrosus is a compatible pollinator for the ordinary Cereus peruvianus?

            And, I am happy to find an MD that is a simple human. Simplicity is power. Usually MDs are overly pride.


          • Thomas Osborne, MD

            Hey Constantinos

            Thank you and agree:
            Thank you very much for the great feedback.
            I was often frustrated in my training how some senior doctors and professors would do exactly what you described.
            I strive to break down these unnecessary artificial barriers.

            Great question and cool plant.
            The answer to your question is in the taxonomy

            What is taxonomy?
            Taxonomy is basically a way to classify something (in this case plants).
            Organisms are classified by categories of rank (kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species, variety).
            As you go from left-to-right in that classification (from Kingdom to -> variety) the categories become more specific and smaller.

            Scientific Names:
            The scientific names of organisms include the genus and species in that order but may sometimes include variety at the end of the name if appropriate.

            So for example, if you look at the name “Cereus Peruvianus”
            You know that Cereus is the Geneus and Peruvianus is the species.

            Define species:
            The cool thing about this naming convention is that it can tell you a lot about any plant.
            For example, “species” is often defined as the largest group of organisms where two hybrids are capable of reproducing fertile offspring
            Another words, if two different plants are both classified as being in the same species, then they can cross and produce seeds/fruit.

            Long story short:
            Since “Cereus Peruvianus” and “Cereus Peruvianus var monstrosus” both have the same species name (Peruvianus) then we know that they can pollinate each other and produce fruit.


          • Thanks again Thomas. I hope that those two (“Cereus Peruvianus” and “Cereus Peruvianus var monstrosus”) are compatible pollinating varieties, since Prof. Mizrahi said that even different varieties of cereus peruvianus have to be compatible to pollinate each other. Maybe he means that they have the same flowering period? I asked some horticulurists and they dont know if those two varieties are compatible.

            I will give it a try and inform you.

            I ‘ve read somewhere that Monstrosus is a natural mutation, it was not a genetically modified variety.


  37. My son has a very large one he wants to get rid of because he is worried about the kids. I personally would keep it, but there is no way I could dig out something that big. If there is someone who wants a very large mature one, let me know. You want it, you dig it out. (San Diego)

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Barb.

      That sounds great, what a generous offer.

      For yourself:
      I would consider taking some branch cuttings for yourself before you give the rest of the plant away.
      With a few steps, I have found that cereus are very easy to grow from cuttings.

      The huge cactus:
      That sounds like a great opportunity for someone.
      Do you happen to have some pictures of the big cactus that you are willing to give away?
      Would be great to see the plant if you were able to post a pics somewhere (like twitter, pinterest, instagram, etc).


  38. Hi, I live in Australia, and have a very large night blooming cactus, so I went looking for pictures and I think mine is similar to these but more spiny….. It gets fruit but they are small, and rarely stay on til ripe….. but I have never tried eating one as I did not know you could…. but as mine is spinier could it still be the same, as in, edible… or is the C. peruvianus the only edible one….. Thank you for having such an informative site!

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Ian
      Great question and thanks for asking.
      As you know, there are a lot of cacti out there and many can look pretty similar.
      Furthermore, sometimes the same plant can grow differently and look like a different plant in different conditions.
      There can also be some genetic variation within a species that can confuse things.
      Bottom line, taxonomy (accurate naming of organisms) can be real tricky.

      Therefore, as a rule:
      If you are not sure about the origin/name of the plant I would play it safe and I would not eat the fruit.

      However, it might be interesting to optimize the growing conditions for your cactus to see if grows bigger fruit that look more like the ones in the article.


      • Constantinos Shouftas from Cyprus

        Hi Thomas and Ian.

        One way to distinguish if it is possibly cereus peruvianus it is to see its cross section. The cross section of the plant (not the fruit) has the shape of a star. I saw a photo in a journal article of Prof. Mizrahi. According to the University of Florida cereus peruvianus is now a discarded name and the new name is Cereus


        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Thanks Constantinos
          Do you happen to have a link to that article, sounds like it would be interesting to read.
          I am most curious because I have collected hundreds of cactus and many of them… (including dangerous but similar appearing non-cactus such as Euphorbia) will have a star shape when cut in cross-section.

          • Constantinos Shouftas from Cyprus

            Hi again Thomas.

            Here is the link which is from Purdue University:

            And here is the link from the University of Florida that clarifies that cereus peruvianus is now a discarded name and the new name is Cereus hildmannianus

            Have a good day.

          • Thomas Osborne, MD

            Thanks Constantinos
            It is wonderful to get additional information from another avid grower.

            Purdue University article:
            Thanks for the Purdue link. I have also seen that paper from Purdue before. Overall, the article does have some good info. Although, I dont agree with many of the details of that article…

            For example.
            * I often have cuttings produce fruit in one year, and the article says it takes 2-3 years.

            * The article also states that pollination is performed by the honey bee. While the honey bee likely plays an accidental part in pollination, I have also seen many other insects pollinating the plant. And more importantly, based on the nocturnal nature, size and huge shape of the flower, this flower is specifically designed (evolved) to be pollinated by large night dwelling creatures such as a bat or large moth. On that note, I have also seen large Symphx Moths (Humming Bird Moth) pollinating my Cereus flowers in California.

            * The article also said that “Water use is low, being 150 mm/year, as expected from cacti” I absolutely disagree with this statement as well. I originally had this inaccurate belief and as a result I planted my Cereus with multiple other cacti in the same area and I had them all on the same drip-line watering system. All the cactus did great except for the Cereus that actually wilted in those same conditions. Cereus cacti definitely need more water than your average cacti or they will never flower and fruit successfully.

            I could go on but ill stop there for now.

            Regarding the earlier question from Ian… Looking at the drawing on figure 8, it is possible that a thorny columnar cactus may fit the description of Cereus jamacaru and not Cereus peruvianus. However, I must emphasize, there are a lot of different species of thorny columnar cactus out there.
            In addition, I know from personal experience that Cereus peruvianus grown from seed can be more thorny than the mother plant from which the fruit/seeds came from. There is also phenotypic variability in the expression of different morphologic traits based on the growing environment and the choice of clone-cutting used for propagation.

            Thanks for the info about the nomenclature change.
            However, for some reason I dont see the link to that U of Florida article you mentioned. Would you be willing to try and send that article again?


          • Constantinos Shouftas from Cyprus

            Thanks Thomas for your answer.

            From the Fruitipedia website I read that the annual water needs of this cactus is 200-500mm (8-20 inches) (only precipitation, or precipitation + watering). As for the Purdue paper, in their experiments they have used seeds instead of cuttings. Plants from seeds develop different, more extensive root systems, and they are usually more drought tolerant. Especially the dicots, but I think cacti are monocots. I planted fig trees and pomegranate trees from seeds instead of cuttings and they are more drought tolerant.

            I agree with you that bees are not the only pollinator for cereus Hildmannianus, but maybe other creatures were not present in the Israeli desert that the above experiments were done. They also used hand pollination.

            The link for the nomeclature change is here:

            All the best.

          • Thomas Osborne, MD

            Thanks Constantinos

            Thank you:
            Thanks for sharing that reference.
            It is the first that I have seen that states Cereus hildmannianus is the new name for Cereus peruvianus.
            Now I am really curious to know more about the change in nomenclature backstory.

            Reference problems:
            I do have some issues with that reference though.
            (I know, big surprise).
            Please forgive me if I may seem overly skeptical or critical.
            I know it can be off putting but I dont mean any ill by it.
            It is just my nature based on my scientific field of work and training.

            As you know, there is a lot of inaccurate info out there and I feel compelled to correct it when I can… at least when it comes to the info on this site.
            For example, I only discuss topics that I have significant experience with.
            I focus on proven fact based results.
            When things are speculation I make that clear.
            When something is controversial or new, I do my best to get to the bottom of it with the strongest evidence before changing/updating the text.
            I found it difficult to find a practical garden site that had that level of writing discipline and that is a lot of what this site was created for.

            Glaring issues with that reference:
            Few things to consider about the credibility of that reference from the University of Florida Extension.
            * This 2 page handout from one author is not a peer reviewed journal article. Therefore, as it stands, it has not undergone any academic scrutiny and only has one reference citation.
            * Of the 2 pages on this reference, there is only one short paragraph of text.
            * Although there is a minimal amount of data available on this handout, I see several glaring errors. For example,

            1. The handout states, “Growth Rate: Slow” This is absolutely not my experience or the experience of any of the growers in my area. This plant grows exceptionally fast and is one of the fastest growers in my eclectic test garden.
            2. The handout also states that, “Nutritional Requirements: Low” This is also not my experience. This cactus can grow in poor soil but it will not be happy when it does. Providing a free draining but rich growing medium results in a happier, healthier plant that flowers and fruits abundantly.
            3. The handout states, “branches freely from the base to form a large clump.” Although this does typically happen, it is by no means the only definitive growing pattern as implied in that handout. Branches frequently grow from the middle of branches as well. This limited view of the plants growing habit may reflect the authors focused experience with one cultivar that they are growing in their yard… and not the cumulative representation of the species as a whole.
            4. The author of that handout also wrote, “The spines are about 2 to 3 inches long and increase in numbers as the plant ages.” This is also not the phenotypic expression of the majority of the cultivars that I have growing in my yard and that I have seen growing elsewhere. In contrast, most of the cultivars I have growing are totally spineless or have tiny spines (on the order of 1/2 inch long). The spines may actually decrease or disappear as the branches grow… or sometimes develop where they were absent. Again, this is a variable trait based on the particular plant.

  39. Constantinos Shouftas from Cyprus

    Thank you Thomas for the corrections to this reference. It is unacceptable for a University to publish unreliable data. I will grow this cactus in a rainfed system in a region with 350-400mm annual rainfall, with clay loam soil. It is well accepted that generally if you water more frequently than needed then the plants need to be watered frequently. They somehow lose their drought tolerance ability, I believe they actually lose their drought tolerance mechanisms. In my country 40% of olive trees are rainfed (400mm) but some growers water their olive trees in the summer and their olive trees lose their drought tolerance mechanisms (olive tree is a Mediterranean tree, adapted to dry summers and it has many drought tolerant mechanisms). But they made their olive trees less drought tolerant and the trees NEED watering in the summer. I have the opinion that they adversely affected the physiology of the tree. So I believe that if we water cereus peruvianus more often than it needs then probably it loses its drought tolerance mechanisms (for example the roots are shallower) and the plant needs more frequent waterings. Also, the dicot plants such as Cereus peruvianus have tap roots if grown from seeds and generally a more extensive root system. It is very interesting point that the root system of cuttings is different from plants that grow from seeds.
    In the following link of the US Department of Agriculture you can see that Cereus Hildmannianus is the primary name and cereus peruvianus is a synonym, but not a discarded name

    Good day.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Thanks for your insight Constantinos

      Mediterranean climate:
      Southern California (where I am living) is basically a Mediterranean climate.
      I have 3 olive trees growing in the back yard that I barely water and they are thriving.

      Watering and roots:
      I absolutely agree about the importance of how you water your plants.
      Infrequent deep watering is much better than frequent superficial watering.
      As you say, it impacts the root growth… the roots go where the moisture is.

      Thanks for the info from the USDA.
      I feel much better about that reference source.
      I will add that info to the article and reference you as a contributor.


  40. Hi Thomas,
    Great to find some info on these fabulous cacti. I’m lucky enough to have 6 of these in my back garden in Perth, Australia. The largest has many branches and is around three metres. My question is about transplanting them.. is it possible with a large specimen? I have one that is around 2 metres but is on a lean and I’m worried it will end up either snapping or just toppling into the pool! I know propagation is straightforward but am loathe to take an axe to it.

    Can you advise?
    Many thanks

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Fiona.. (what a lovely name)

      These are awesome cacti.
      These cacti can be transplanted but as you mentioned, it can be challenging when they are large.
      The biggest issue is that they can be awkward to handle and jolting motions can definitely damage limbs.
      This is especially true if the cacti are optimally healthy and the branches are full of water.
      This also makes the transplant top-heavy after planted and susceptible to toppling over later on.

      So now we have some conflicting factors:
      A well watered-turgid state is the situation that is the most optimal for overall transplanting health. Therefore, ideally before you transplant any plant, you water heavy a few days before so the plant can “tank-up” and be able to adapt to the inevitable loss of root volume as a result of the transplantation.

      So, it it was me:
      I would water heavy days before planned transplantation.
      I would trim back the branches as much as you can (emotionally).
      Prep the new location (dig hole, get soil ready etc).
      Get some strong arms to help you dig out and move the plant.
      Use some sort of moving wheeled device to help move the cactus with minimal jostling.
      After transplanting with good soil, stake the cactus so it doesnt fall over.

      Hope this helps.


      • Hi Tom,
        Many thanks for the advice. In the end I decided to sacrifice the main plant for two healthy 1.4m limbs that I took a saw to. We had just had some heavy Winter rain so perfect timing, but wow, they are so heavy! With three mature cacti in fairly close proximity it proved too difficult to separate the root systems. One arm has taken an hour and a half drive to my parents house and the other is sitting in some specialist cacti compost to root while I decide where to put it!

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          He Fiona.
          Awesome, thanks for the follow up.
          Sometimes it is a good idea to let the fresh cut branches “harden off” before planting.
          I have not always do this but letting the fresh cut end scar off for a few days-week may help prevent rot when you put it in the ground.
          Good luck.

  41. I am so happy to hear about the fast growing cactus I have in my yard in the Mojave Desert in Southern California. we probably had 60 blooms this year. I currently have what looks like the fruit in your picture which is still purple looking. Is there something special I have to do to keep the fruit growing. Fertilize? or just water more?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey LaVonne
      Good questions.
      However, the answer to your questions depends.

      If for example you cactus is already well hydrated then there is probably no need to provide extra water. However, if it is looking kindof limp and rubbery then it might need some water… or in this situation it is also possible that the plant has been over watered and has root rot.

      In general, I try to fertilize just before the start of the growing season (Very late winter-spring-very early summer). This seems to do it for me. I would only add additional doses of fertilizer outside of that range if the plant was looking like it needed it (yellow), but fortunately, I have not seen that.

      The amount of fertilizer that you need will depend on the size of your plant and the baseline nutrient levels in the soil.
      I personally dont tend to fertilize during flowering and fruiting time. However, I probably would if the plant was looking sickly and yellow.

      As a side; some plants like being fertilized in the fruiting time and others will abort the fruit if you do. I havent experimented enough in this regard to know a definitive answer for this palnt… other than what I am doing seems to work.

      For this cactus, you need to cross pollinate with another cereus cactus flower (from a plant that is not an identical clone).

      Good luck!

      • How can we tell when the fruit is ripe?

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          This is a bit tricky, and depends a bit on personal preference.
          However, the fruit usually gets bright… and for me the best time is just before of immediately after the fruit splits.

      • Do yoi know how long it will take for the fruit to go from small purple to the ripe stage

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Good question.
          The timing it takes for fruit to ripen seems to be a bit variable depending on environmental factors such as temperature and sunlight. In this case, size doesnt matter… Once a fruit starts to ripen it will probably not get much bigger.

  42. I recently purchased some seed from an eBay source (Claremont, CA) and the planting instructions said to go on the Internet and do your research. Your site is the most informative that I have found, but most of the discussion seems to be about taking cuttings, rather than planting from seed. When reading about the “spreading 1/2 of the fruit on a paper towel and putting that on top of soil I a pot” method, I, too, had some doubts. Do you or your readers have other suggestions?

    Here is a Cereus story for you: My mother loved plants and wanted her own home desperately. Living in an apartment in LA, she purchased a tiny cactus from Woolworth’s Five and Dime sometime during the late 1930’s. The cactus lived in its little pot in that apartment windowsill. Sometime later, I was born and then my father went off to fight in the South Pacific. The plant continued to grow. After the war, as many families did, we moved to a new subdivision in the Valley (Burbank) and the young cactus was planted in the backyard, sectioned off from the new rose garden by a boxwood hedge and relegated to the back part of the lot, along with my swing set. By and by, some friends of theirs from the desert east of LA gave me a tortoise, who sized up his new surroundings and promptly excavated his burrow under that Cereus. The big event of the year was that night when the night blooms put on their brief but glorious show… Over time I grew, the tortoise grew, and the cactus really grew! My parents, the tortoise and the cactus lived there for another 55 years. That old Cereus is still there today, taller than the house, and still providing its annual magic. You can see why the Cereus is special to me.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Nancy
      What a wonderful story.
      Thank you for sharing it with us.
      Sounds like an outline for a children’s book.

      I am still dubious of the paper towel method for growing from seed.
      However, I do have 2 new baby cereus cacti that I have growing from seed that I didnt use the paper towel method for.
      I just put the seeds in some soil, kept it moist and they grew. Sure some died, but I have a few who made it through.

      If I was you, I would also try growing some from cuttings. I have taken lots of cuttings and all of them have grown very well. Super easy.


      • Actually, some years ago, my parents cut off a 3 foot section and drove it up to me in Oakland, wrapped in a blanket. We planted it in my backyard, but my soil is very heavy (lots of clay), and it didn’t survive. Perhaps I should try it again (I still own the property in Burbank), but with amended soil conditions.

        About the story: I guess the many years of teaching children has taken its toll…

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Well, if you have the property, then your set.
          And I agree, it could have been the soil; these plants prefer, rich well draining soil.
          If you have time, I encourage you to write that story. For your family if nothing else.
          I would be happy to help if you like.

        • Nancy, I, too, enjoyed the wonderful story. I want to encourage you to try cuttings again. My Cereus is growing in heavy clay here in Houston. I just harvested half a dozen fruits this week and have rooted cuttings with no trouble. I think you just had bad luck the first time. Don’t give up.

  43. Dear Thomas,

    I have just purchased a 4inch high plant with approximately 12 small spikes plant. It is in its original pot 2 inches.

    What size pot would you recommend potting on to and with what media?

    I live in England so it is an indoor plant only!!

    Thank you

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey James.
      That sounds like a really tiny Cereus Peruvianus plant.
      (The only ones that I have seen that small are the ones that I have grown from seed).
      I bring this up b/c I would be wondering if the plant could potentially be something other than a C. Peruvianus.

      Anyhow, for your question, lets assume you have a C. Peruvianus.
      Most cactus have deep extensive root systems.
      However, many of them do well in containers.
      I have only grown Cereus Peruvianus plants in containers for a short time as I get the cuttings ready to plant out in the yard (or give away). Therefore, I dont have direct long term experience for you.

      When grown in the ground, these cacti can get really big.
      Which could be an issue for you growing inside.
      However, it is possible that being in a container will dwarf the growth a bit.

      In general, most will try to match the container size of a plant to the expected size of its root system.
      The root system is usually proportionally sized to the size of the plant above ground.
      So the taller and fatter the plant, the more root-room it will need.
      I am sure there is some general volume calculation that could help but this would be dependent on a specific plant type and I would be surprised if there was one for cereus.

      So if it was me…
      I would plant it in a container that it looked good in.. that it fit in, and didnt topple over from the weight of the plant.
      Bigger is usually better.
      As the plant grows it will need to be re-potted to avoid getting root bound.
      A sure sign that it is time to get a bigger container is when you see the roots creeping out of the drainage holes.
      Digin in the soil and feeling for the roots on the side of the container is another way.
      Another sign that a plant is root bound is when it starts to look sickly and decline even though there is no obvious cause.

      Sorry I couldnt be more specific for you.
      Perhaps another reader can add some insight.


  44. Where can i buy seed or the trunk for propagation, philipines

  45. They say that this is sweeter than the dragonfruit….can you send me some cuttings here in the Philippines? Thanks.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Mr. Red
      I dont know if they are sweeter than dragon fruit but they are great to eat.
      Very refreshing.

      I dont know about the agricultural import laws in the Philippines.
      Perhaps another reader could help out.


      • What is the difference between Cereus peruvianus and Cereus peruvianus monstrose? Regarding their height, who grows more taller? Is there any difference in sizes, textures and tastes of their fruits?

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Good question Mr. Red

          In botany the word “monstrose” means that a plant has an abnormal, distorted and disfigured growth of the body and it usually used for abnormal shaped cultivars of cactus.

          Therefore the “monstrose” name can be added to the end to a lot of different cactus (not just C.Peruvianus).

          It is a genetic mutation, (or in some cases a group of mutations) that cause the cacti to look deformed. Therefore not all monstrose cultivars are the same.

          I suspect that a monstrose cactus could be taller or shorter… depending on the specific mutation that caused the abnormal growth appearance/pattern.

          Hope this helps


          • Constantinos Shouftas

            Hi Tom, how are you?

            I have read somewhere that monstrose mutation is usually a natural mutation, not an artificial manmade mutation. Also, the monstrose growth rate is slower than the non-monstrose counterparts.


            Constantinos Shouftas

          • Thomas Osborne, MD

            Hey Constantinos


            My understanding about the origin of the mutation is the same; these are naturally occurring.
            I also suspect that monstrose variants are more likely among cuttings (compared to seed grown plants) because cuttings can be propagated over and over again for years- and therefore the tissues have more time to acquire mutations. I havent read that anywhere, just my suspicion.

            Your statement about the slower growth also makes sense… based on the idea that abnormal tissue may not be functioning as optimally. However, I suppose (just guessing) it could go the other way in some situations based on what we see with tumors. Tumors being comprised of cells with mutations that have impaired growth regulation mechanisms.


  46. In case there’s no cactus mix soil available, can we used a combination of sandy soil or any types + garden soil as an alternative? Is it safe to use vermicast and with some wood chips? Does a fresh cutting can be planted directly to the ground and how many distance away from the other plants? Is it okey to be planted in the middle of 2 dragonfruits which are 2 meters apart?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Mr. Red
      Great questions.
      Personally, I have not used soil that is specifically marketed as “cactus soil.”
      Not that you cant, I just havent… for my growing area and for these cacti, that soil is just too efficient at not holding on to moisture. These cacti (both cerus and dragons) seem to prefer more of an organic mix and a bit more moisture than most cacti. Now they def need well draining soil, just not as extreme. I usually mix my own soil with native sandy soil and something such as Kellogg’s Growmulch.

      Some people say you need to let the cutting harden off before planting and thats probably a good idea. However, I have planted cuttings from joints without a hardening off period and they have done great too. Dragon fruits and cersus have slightly different requirements so planting them close together might be a bit of a maintenance issue. Planting any two plants close together can also lead to competition issues. Not that it can’t be done successfully, just a bit more of a challenge.

      Good luck!

  47. It’s me again sir! What is the maximum numbers of fruits does a single Cereus peruvianus bears? How many in terms of kilos? Today is a rainy season here in the Philippines, too much rain fall… isn’t okay for the plant to survive?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Mr. Red. I have never tried to weigh my crop, I just eat them. lol.
      Some of my branches are currently packed with ripening fruit.
      The production can vary a lot and has a lot to do with the health and the presence of a cross-pollinator.
      If the soil is well draining, then they should be ok. If they get waterlogged with dense damp soil or with standing water then you will have problems.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      I just took a pic for you:
      Its a pic of one of my C. peruvianus branches with ripening fruit.
      Perhaps this will give you an idea of what a crop could be.
      Pic on instagram.

  48. Are there health benefits to these fruits? My cactus really does well here in California 🙂

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Linda
      Good question.

      I am sure there are health benefits.
      Organic fruits are awesome.

      However, I cant say that this fruit will cure anything.
      Some people out there will say that one fruit or another is a “super fruit” and will do amazing things… however, in my survey of whats out there on the internet, a lot of those assertions are based more on hope and hype than sound clinical research.
      I hate to be the cold scientific voice, but it is difficult to definitively say how much good these and other tasty fruits bring.

      My advice;
      Enjoy fruit and everything else in your life that is good.
      Strive for balance in what you eat and what you do.


  49. Hi there. My husband and I planted 1500 cuttings of the Apple Cactus on our Hobby farm 6 years ago. after doing a lot of research (not much on line) and reading an Australian magazine called ‘Grass Roots’ we went ahead and managed to get our cuttings. We did wait 1 week for the cutting edge to dry out and reduce its volume of water before planting. We planted them on a sloping hill with g for the first good drainage. We watered them well once planted, then watered then every morning for the next month, then reduced the watering to every 3rd day and so on until we only needed to water then once a week. We fertilized then whilst they were growing, and within the first 6months we saw our first midnight flower buds growing. We have 52 Mango tree near the Apple Cactus plants and the bees and other insects help to cross pollinate he cactus. Once you have a red fruit and it is ready to split, pick the fruit. Late in the afternoon (cool of the day) cut the fruit in half leaving the skin intact and squeeze a little lemon juice on the white flesh and place in the freezer. The next morning you will be surprised to taste a delicious fruit that now tastes like vanilla cream if eaten frozen. As for propagating the seeds, this can easily be done just by wetting a cotton ball and let the seed sit on this for about 7 days (keeping the cotton ball damp, but not saturated) and it will then produce roots, enough to plant in soil.
    We have since sold our hobby farm in Queensland, Australia, but will be doing it all again in the next few years.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Thanks for the great info Karen!
      Ill have to try your cotton ball trick.
      Your lemon-cactus fruit recipe also sounds awesome.
      Great suggestions!

    • Hello , I would also like to start this farming in India as I learnt so many things from this website ,thanks to you , I would also like to have more information about cultivating it and also that if i can sell or export it to international markets.

  50. I’m back Sir! Is this the real Cereus peruvianus or not? Here is the picture………


    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Mr Red.
      I suppose that could be a Cereus in the pic… A bit thorny though.
      The best way for me to tell is by looking at the fruit/flowers.

  51. I have another question for you Sir, is it okay or safe to use old tires to act as permanent container to avoid soil erosion in planting Cereus peruvianus in the ground?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Mr Red.
      Interesting tire question.

      Old tires may have a bunch of undesirable chemicals in them that can leach into the soil.
      From there they can be pulled into a plant and then your fruit.
      Hard to know exactly what chemicals or how much would make it through to the fruit, but I tend to err on the side of caution and avoid those situations.

      Another issue with old tires….
      If they are exposed they can hold water, and therefore be a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
      Best to avoid that situation for many reasons.

  52. I have a brief story for you Doc, last week I went to my friend’s house a few meters away from us and I saw she had many collections of various cacti. The most that got my attention is that I saw this kind of columnar cactus in her mini garden. She told me that it is the rare Peruvian apple cactus but I’ve doubt if it is really the one I’m looking for. I noticed that there are some small black spots in the stem. What are these? Are these fungus or just insect bites? Does the cactus recover soon after treatment?


  53. She had also like this but she kept it indoors. Is this the true Cereus Peruvian us?

    Here’s the picture…..

  54. Hi! We just recently bought a house in Central Florida that has one of these in the back yard. It took us a long time to figure out what kind of cactus it was until stumbling upon this page! The cactus is very tall (about 10-12 ft) and when it is done flowering the white flowers turn to black and fall off the tree and it produces fruit so high up that they fall to the ground since we are unable to reach so high up. The biggest problem we have with this is that my dog LOVES to eat the dried up black flowers and fruit that has fallen from the cactus. We try to keep them away from him by keeping the ground around the cactus cleaned up as much as possible but sometime he still finds them to eat. I am afraid that these might be toxic to him and have had little luck with researching the fruits toxicity to dogs. Do you happen to know?? We also though about trimming it down a bit and giving away the cuttings to friends. Would this stunt the growth of the existing limbs?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Tiffany
      Thanks for the great questions.

      I know that some people eat the flowers of dragon fruit cactus, which look very similar. However, I am not aware of anyone eating cereus flowers. So while I suspect that they are harmless, I really dont know for sure.

      In my experience a small amount of trimming does not seem to significantly stunt growth.


    • Tiffany we feed the spent flowers to our tortoise and he loves them!

  55. Hi my friend cut off some of these cactus and I planted them in a ditch line that also gets water from my irrigation system and I believe it is causing the cactus to turn yellow and die. What do you suggest moving them?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Theresa
      There are a bunch of potential causes for yellowing, but over watering is definitely one of the more common ones.
      Is there any pattern or specific look to the yellowing?
      How does the plant look at the interface with the soil?


  56. Hi Dr. Tom,
    What amazing info. I just bought 3 pots of six foot Peruvians(three in each) at Florida Cactus in Apopka. They currently in 14×14 inch pots. How big of pots do you recommend putting thee in to? There are gorgeous planters on planters etc but don’t know the best dimensions for outside and room to grow. I want them to be show stoppers.
    Thanks in advance.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Elizabeth
      Thanks for the note and great feedback.
      They do pretty well in containers.
      However, in this case… The bigger the better.
      They are great plants.

      • Hey Tom!
        Thanks for your speedy reply. Like 24×4 or bigger?
        Best Regards,

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Hey Elizabeth
          I dont know if there is an exact number.
          From a growing perspective, I tend to think of this plant as a tree.
          Small trees can do ok in a small container for a while… however, eventually they will grow out of it.
          If they grow out of it, they will get root bound, stunted and/or start to decline.

          Small containers will also have less moisture capacity.. they will dry out faster and the temp will flux more.
          This can stress most plants although cactus seem to care less about this flux.. except the cereus which is more like a tree.

          Anyhow, the bigger the container the better because it will provide more room… for longer.
          Planting in the ground is ideal, but in the absence of that option, go big.


  57. I have a huge bunch of them in Tampa Bay area of Florida, about 15 ft wide and 10 ft. tall. Whenever we have a big storm, some break off and I simply stick them in the sand and they sprout. Have them surrounded by large crown of thorns and Kalanchoe’s as undergrowth. Don’t have a lot of blooms, but never fertilize and rarely water, but they are as healthy as could be otherwise. Any tips on increasing the blooming?

    The roots tend to to go many feet away from them, though in Florida, many smaller ones seem to have knots…I suspect nematodes, but as I said, seems to have no effect on the vitality of the cactus.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Mark
      Thanks for the question.

      I have lots growing in my yard as well.. same process you mentioned (vegetative propagation from cuttings).
      I have some of the cuttings planted in sandy soil and some in well draining clay soil and they look fine but only produce a few flowers and rarely fruit. However, ones that I have planted in soil mixed with rich organic material (rich soil) produce a lot. So I think that could be the main issue.

      And as far as the knots…
      Yea, I dug up around the edge of one of mine a while back and there were a bunch of big knots. I thought for sure this was root knot nematode and I sent samples to agriculture department for testing, but they said no nematodes. Was very surprised and not sure what to make of that. Perhaps they are not picking it up, or perhaps these cactus make knots for other reasons. Still a bit perplexed by this at the moment.


  58. Hi Thomas, I found your article really good. I have a question for you. We have a Apple Cactus which is fruiting now. It’s easly two stories high in Wollongong NSW Australia and has for the first time started to fruit which is incredible because it’s easly twenty tears old. It has lots of beautiful flower but now has decided to give us three fruits. I would be sad to move it but am wondering how invasive the roots are? It’s about 10 inches around the base. It would be great to keep it.

  59. I have been giving my Cereus attention and water as I’ve picked up gardening recently and what do you know..it actually bloomed a tiny bit in spring,, a bunch in Summer and it’s going on again. How do I make it get fruit though? I hand pollinated at night during the first summer bloom but it was within the same plant clones..just hope that it gives me some fruit I have not had them in such a long time. Is there a perfect time to remove and plant cuttings?
    Photo: http://imgur.com/a/KEOvr

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Sancho
      Congratulations on getting your Cereus to flower after all of these years!
      Awesome news.

      However, to get fruit from these plants you do need to cross pollinate with another cereus that is not a clone.
      If you have a nice/understanding neighbor with a cereus, it might be a good time to make a friendship with them…. and trade some pollen… lol, sounds dirty.
      Get another cereus.

      Congrats and good luck.
      Please keep us posted.

      • That answers our questions. Our first cactus named Gloria gave us an offshoot, we cut it off from what we had been told,(wish we wouldn’t of done it) the offshoot named Barb, flowered and gave us a piece of fruit, but it hasn’t grown an inch in 2 years. Gloria kept growing taller but never flowered. Several weeks ago a friend gave us two from his yard. Gloria has flowered several times and is now producing fruit. Hopefully she will grow some more off shoots. Parker one the the new plants is full blossoms as well. We were really surprised that Parker is producing blossoms after only been transplanted for about a month.

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Awesome to hear Ginny
          Sometimes cuttings will preform fast, I have had a cutting fruit in less than a year after being put in a container.
          However, I did give it really great soil and all the water it needed. I think that is the key.

  60. I live near Orlando, FL and have three of the Peruvianus cacti. Two are cuttings from the first one and one grew big quickly and the second has been slow and is spindley. I only get flowers on them after a long period of rain and during the rainy season. The little cactus is about 5 years old and has blossomed for the first time this year. When I dug the original up to reposition it, there was one big root going about straight down and about a foot and a half long with a few hairs on it. I assume it is to get down to water. When I replanted it I coiled it some, but it didn’t seem to mind.

  61. I just read a previous post about pollinating and wanted to tell you that my plants give fruite when only one plant flowers, as long as there are two flowers on it at the same time.

  62. Hello. I live in Corpus Christi, Texas. 3-4 months ago I got 3-5 over ripe Cereus fruits that had fallen in a neighborhood nearby. Fruit was 3-4inchs long by 2-3inches wide. Long story short I read online that some gardeners are trying to breed better fruit producing Cereus strains. I am trying too. I garden and am a beekeeper. I have over 100 seedlings from fruit. Several seedlings look like Cereus monstrose. My questions are 1. how far apart should cereus be spaced? 2. Have you encountered sour varities or varities of different internal color? Mine have not set fruit, yet. I am aware this will project will take years and several cactus generations. Thank you for all your online information

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Justin. Great to hear you are also a bee keeper… Cool!

      If it was me, I would try to keep them in a container for a while so I can keep close tabs on them before I plant them into the yard.

      Question 1
      Great question regarding spacing, these plants basically become the size of trees. So space would be an issue if all 100 seedlings were planted. If you dont plan to prune/trim them, then I would think that at least a meter/yard circumference between full grown plants would be good… but even that is likely a bit close.

      Question 2
      Good questions about the varieties. However, I am not aware of any sour varieties. All of the ones I have had are white fleshed with crunchy black seeds.

      Best of luck and please keep us updated on your progress and what you have learned.


  63. Hello! Just a quick question… Have you heard of anyone attempting to make a jelly or a jam out of the night blooming fruit? Thanks!

  64. Elizabeth Trattner

    Hi Dr. Tom,
    My peruvuanas are growing up a storm.They are in small pots and now are close to ten feet high. They are in groups of three. Can I separate them or keep the 3 together? Their roots must be so tangled but they are doing so well, even during the hurricane not a mark on them. I want to put them in pots as I am concerned about the earth here where I live. There is so much development that all our plants in ground are dying.

    Many Thanks,

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Elizabeth

      Awesome, sounds like they are growing great.
      I am not sure what the right answer is, but I think you would be ok either way.
      However, if it was me, I think I would leave them growing together, just put them in a really big container/pot.


  65. Dr. Tom,
    I’m happy I found your site; very informative. I have six Cereus hildmannianus growing in my garden here in New Orleans. I put them in the ground about 6 years ago when they were 1 ft tall. Now the tallest is close to 30 ft tall! Most flower annually each summer and produce some enormous fruit. They are pollinated at least in part by some large sphinx moths we have here at night. The cacti have had no disease problems to speak of, though early on something ate a large portion of a young cactus.
    Keep up the good work,

  66. hello Dr. Osborne,

    I have been researching about how to grow peruvian from the seeds. one of my friend gave me seeds and we planted them, luckily it germinated and grew now. however, i wanted to know if how long should we wait until the spines will disappear. The babies now are 12 inches long..and still have spines. have you tried propagating from the seeds and how lond did it take for the spikes to go away? i hope you can answer me with full details as you have mentioned that you will update this blog when younare succesful in doing so..Thank you so much! Kind regards-Rain

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Rain
      Yea, I have grown some from seed.
      They grow pretty well.. if you can keep the snails from mowing them down.

      I think each plant might have their own schedule for their spines.
      For example, I have seen some full grown plants that still have spines, some with small spines and many with no spines.
      Of course, as you noted, the spines are more robust when they are small… And I wonder if this is part of a protective mechanism from pests like snails.

      Anyhow, The ones I have grown fro seed are about a half foot tall and they still have spines. Thought they are noticeably smaller (proportionally) compared to when they were younger.


  67. Hi Dr. Tom! I just wanna ask if you tried grafting the cactus? Btw, your site is a blessing!! It’s very detailed and well documented. I’ve been looking everywhere for any info about this cactus and finally I came across yours. :DD

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Alpaca
      Thank you for your kind words about the website. very much appreciated.

      Thanks for the question.
      I have not grafted them myself. However, Cereus Peruvianus is commonly used as a “root stock” to graft other cactus onto. Other fruit bearing cactus such as Hylocereus (dragon fruit genus) are often used as well.

      A related note:
      Those cactus with a colorful top that you sometimes see in the checkout isle of home improvement stores…
      Those are grafted plants. The colorful tops of red, orange or yellow, are often pups of other cactus that have a spontaneous genetic mutation impairing their ability to make chlorophyll. Without this green pigment, we are left to see the other bright pigments. These bright cacti wouldn’t survive on their own because they can convert sunlight into energy without chlorophyll. However, with grafting, they can live off the grafted root stock they sit on-top of.


  68. Hi Dr Tom

    I inherited a cactus from a very dear friend whose life was taken from her in Feb. 2016. (That’s another story) Anyway she brought this cactus in a pot, I believe, from New Mexico or Arizona to Asheville, NC. I’m not even certain what kind of cactus it is, but it’s columnar with distinct ribs and spines. The columns had been cut and regrowth was fast and healthy! There are no flowers and I don’t remember her ever having any. My question is about the weather tolerance. It’s lived most of its life indoors. This winter due to the size I’ve had to leave it out on my covered deck. I put a sheet over it to protect it from freezing temps. Do you think it will be okay? Or should I just bring it indoors. Thanks

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Anne
      Thanks for your note and sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you… it has been a crazy time lately.

      Great cactus question.
      In general, there is quite a range of adaptability for different cactus species. As many would expect, some do great with minimal water and intense heat… However, other species surprisingly prefer a warm humid jungle and will get sunburned with direct sunlight.

      Another word, it really depends on the species of the cactus. The growing conditions of a particular cactus also matters and it may take some time for an individual cactus to acclimatize to a new environment.

      Many desert cactus have adapted to endure extreme daily temperature swings (it gets rally hot and cold in most deserts). So these cactus can usually tolerate a brief frost. However, long freezing temps are typically too much even for desert cacti.

      Not sure where you are living or how cold it gets. However, if you are not sure, then some frost protection wont hurt. (Heres an article about frost protection) The major risk of moving a potted plant around is the risk of root damage from bumping the container around and the rapid change in lighting/temps that could stress it out.

      If you happen to have additional info about your plant, climate, etc, ill try my best to provide more specific info.

      Happy New Year!

  69. Dr Tom
    An edit to my previous question. The cactus did spend this past summer and the previous summer on my covered deck. My friend, who was the original owner had it in her home year round. Which shows you how easily they adapt. It’s my belief this cactus it very healthy and I’d like to keep it that way. Thanks again,. Anne S

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Anne.
      Thats great news.
      If your adopted cactus did great outside in the same area, then you should be in good shape to continue the trend.

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