Cylindropuntia imbricata, also known as the Tree Cholla or Walking Stick Cholla, is a cactus native to the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. With its distinctive branching habit and striking appearance, this cactus has become a popular choice for landscaping and gardening in arid regions.
This article will explore the Tree Cholla, including its physical characteristics, habitat, and cultural significance. We will also discuss the plant’s potential uses and some of the challenges it poses for those who live near it. Whether you are a gardener, hiker, or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of the natural world, this Cholla is sure to pique your interest.
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About Cylindropuntia imbricata
The Cylindropuntia imbricata is a spectacular cactus popular in cultivation. It can be a low to densely branched shrub to a large tree-like cactus with a strong central trunk. Depending on where in the growth phase your Tree Cholla is, it may appear vastly different.
Its distinctive appearance, with branching stems and clusters of spiny, cylindrical segments, makes it a popular choice for use in landscaping and xeriscaping. In its natural habitat, it is found in a variety of arid environments, including desert scrub, chaparral, and grassland. Despite its intimidating appearance, this cactus has fascinating biology and plays an important role in its ecosystem.
|Botanical Name||Cylindropuntia Imbricata|
|Common Name||Tree Cholla|
|Plant Type||Cactus – Succulents|
|Origin||Southwestern United States, Northwestern Mexico|
|Bloom season||Spring, Summer|
|Tolerant||Drought, Dry soil|
Tree Cholla Care
The Tree Cholla is generally considered easy to care for as a cactus, especially compared to other plants. It has a low water requirement and can tolerate a wide range of temperatures, making it a good choice for beginners. However, there are a few things to remember when caring for this plant.
The Tree Cholla is a sun-loving plant that requires plenty of bright light to thrive. In its natural habitat, it can be found growing in open, sunny areas, such as on rocky slopes and in desert scrublands. When grown in cultivation, it is best to provide the plant with as much direct sunlight as feasible, at least six hours per day.
A commercial cactus mix or a mixture of regular potting soil and sand or perlite can be used to provide this cactus with the well-draining soil it needs. It is important to avoid using heavy, clay-based soils, as these can hold too much moisture and cause the plant to rot. To ensure good drainage, it is also a good idea to mix in some coarse sand or gravel to the soil or to plant the cactus in a raised bed or on a slope.
The Tree Cholla is a low-water plant that does not require frequent watering. In its natural habitat, it is adapted to hot, dry conditions and can survive on very little moisture. When grown in cultivation, it is important to provide the plant with enough water to keep it healthy but not so much that it becomes waterlogged.
Also, remember to reduce watering in the winter.
A great factor of why the Tree Cholla is so loved is because of its ability to survive harsh colds with ease. It can survive as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit (-28 C) with ease. The same holds for the other extreme of temperature.
Tree Cholla does not appreciate high humidity. It may be damaged by excessively moist conditions, as this can cause the plant to rot or develop other problems. Instead, it is best to provide the plant with low to moderate humidity, similar to what it would experience in its natural habitat.
The Tree Cholla is a cactus that does not require much fertilizer to thrive. It is adapted to growing in nutrient-poor soils and can easily extract the nutrients it needs from even poor soils. When grown in cultivation, it is important to provide the plant with a balanced, slow-release fertilizer to ensure it receives the nutrients it needs to grow properly.
If you do need to prune the Tree Cholla, it is important to use clean, sharp pruning tools to avoid damaging the plant. Avoid removing more than one-third of the plant’s branches at a time, as this can stress the plant and reduce its ability to grow.
Potting and Repotting Tree Cholla
When potting Tree Cholla, choosing a container with drainage holes is important to prevent the plant from becoming waterlogged. A well-draining cactus potting mix is also essential, as Tree Cholla is sensitive to excess moisture. When repotting, it’s best to do so in the spring or early summer, when the cactus is actively growing.
How to Repot (Step-by-Step)
- Water the cactus thoroughly the day before repotting to make removing it from its old pot easier.
- Carefully remove the cactus from its old pot, not damaging the roots.
- Place the cactus in the new pot, making sure that the base of the cactus is flush with the soil surface.
- Add more potting mix, tamping it gently to secure the plant in place.
- Water the plant well, allowing the excess water to drain out of the bottom of the pot.
Propagating Cylindropuntia imbricata (Step-by-Step)
Propagating Tree Cholla by stem division is a relatively simple process.
- Choose a healthy, mature plant that has multiple stems.
- Carefully cut one of the stems from the plant using a sharp, sterilized knife or pruning shears.
- Cut the stem into smaller segments.
- Plant the stem segments in a well-draining cactus potting mix, placing them in the soil, so the segments are half-buried.
- Water the soil gently, careful not to disturb the newly planted segments.
- Place the container in a location with plenty of light.
- Monitor the planted segments for new growth, and adjust watering as needed.
Cylindropuntia imbricata produces bright pink and purple flowers in the spring and summer. These flowers are small and inconspicuous, but they are attractive to pollinators, including bees and hummingbirds.
Tree Cholla is not known to be toxic to humans or animals. However, the plant’s spiny, cylindrical segments can cause irritation or injury if they come into contact with the skin. In addition, the plant’s spines can easily become embedded in the skin or fur of animals, which can cause discomfort and potentially lead to infection.
NOTE: This page is not intended as a substitute for veterinary advice. The toxicity of an ingested substance varies depending on the amount ingested, the animal’s weight, and its sensitivity to specific allergens. Contact your veterinarian or local animal poison control center immediately if you think your pet may have ingested a toxic substance.
Common pests that may affect Tree Cholla include scale insects and mealybugs. These pests feed on the plant’s sap, causing yellowing and wilting of the leaves and reduced flowering. To treat an infestation of scale insects or mealybugs, it’s important to carefully inspect the plant and remove any visible pests by hand. Alternatively, you can use a gentle insecticidal soap or horticultural oil to kill the pests.
To prevent pests from infesting your plant, it’s important to provide the plant with proper care, including adequate light, water, and nutrients. In addition, regularly inspecting the plant for signs of pests and taking action as needed can help to prevent infestations from becoming severe.
- Placing under harsh sunlight
- Using poorly drained potting mediums
- Fertilizing during dormancy