The Peruvian Apple Cactus, botanical name Cereus repandus, is a cactus native to regions of South America. Wild specimens are commonly found in Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina. This cactus has cylindrical stems that are green to blue-green in color.
The columnar growth can get quite tall, up to 50 feet. Interestingly, there is even a specimen as tall as 110 feet in India- but it has been cultivated in special conditions, so replicating this feat isn’t realistic.
The flowers are particularly colorful, but they bloom at night and fade by the morning. The cactus is often cultivated for its edible fruit, called pitahaya, dragon fruit, or Peruvian Apple. This sweet fruit has crunchy seeds dotted throughout the white flesh.
Cereus repandus Main Characteristics
|Peruvian Apple Cactus, Apple Cactus, Peruvian Cactus, Queen of the Night, Night Blooming Cereus
|Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina
|USDA Hardiness Zones
|9 to 11
|Height: 20-50 feet; Spread: 11-15 feet
|by cuttings, by offsets, by seeds
Peruvian Apple Cactus Care
Peruvian apple cactus requires little maintenance aside from occasional watering and an application of fertilizer once or twice a year. Therefore, they are the perfect option if you’re one to plant and forget. Remember to occasionally prune the overgrowing stems to maintain the pillar-like nature of the growth; it looks better that way.
Check out our guide on large cactus varieties here.
Light and Location
To grow Peruvian Apple Cactus, you’ll need a bright spot with plenty of direct sunlight. Sometimes, if the sun is scorching hot, you might want to move your plant someplace slightly shadier; even cacti can get sunburn.
Its columnar growth won’t crowd out other plants despite its impressive size, making it a perfect accentuating plant. As a houseplant, bottom-heavy containers are your best friend, but it also has some uses in landscaping.
This plant is succulent and needs very little water to survive. In fact, overwatering is the most common mistake made when caring for this cactus. The best way to water your cactus is to allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again.
Typically, one watering session every two weeks is recommended in the summer months, but each specimen’s needs vary slightly. Figure out where your plant stands through trial and error. Reduce watering in the winter as the cactus needs even less of it in the colder season.
Indicative of its succulent nature, Cereus Repandus prefers a warm temperature. The optimum temperature for flowering and fruiting is between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. But this is a hardy plant, particularly when it comes to temperature; tolerating temperatures as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit is well within its capability.
This cactus doesn’t care about humidity too much. Average room humidity levels are acceptable, and even if the moisture levels dip, it’s nothing to be concerned about. This makes it an ideal plant for homes and offices with dry air.
Unless the soil quality is exceedingly poor, there is little need for fertilizer. But if you want the best for your plant, you can fertilize the soil with slow-release liquid fertilizer in the growing season—space out the feeding sessions by a month or so to prevent overfeeding.
Propagating Cereus repandus
Cereus repandus can be propagated by seeds, cuttings, or offsets. Stem cuttings are the easiest to obtain and root readily, making them the go-to method.
Cuttings can be taken from the topmost parts of the stem and should be allowed to callus over before planting. Once the cutting is ready, plant in moist, rich organic compost, preferably peat-based. The plant can take a few weeks to become established.
Seeds should be sown in a well-drained medium, such as sand or gravel, and should be kept moist and warm until germination. Seeds are notoriously tricky to germinate, so keep that in mind.
You can also opt to plant the offsets produced in the growing season (spring to summer). Simply twist these off the parent plant and plant in fresh compost. They should take root in a couple of weeks.
Potting and Repotting Peruvian Apple Cactus
Peruvian apple cactus requires well-drained soil and full sun to thrive. It can be potted in a standard potting mix, but make sure to add plenty of grit or sand to the mix to help with drainage. Repotting should only be necessary every few years when the plant becomes root-bound. Wait until the threat of frost has passed in spring to repot, as it can be tender at this time.
Peruvian Apple Cactus is a major host to cactus mealybugs. Luckily, there is almost no place for these pests to hide on this plant, making identifying them relatively easy. Rub horticultural oil on the surface to deal with early-stage infestations.
The Best Way to Take Care of a Peruvian Apple Cactus (Video)
How to propagate Peruvian Apple Cactus?
Peruvian Apple Cacti are propagated from cuttings taken from the stem. First, pick the top part of a healthy stem and make a clean cut. Allow the cutting to callus over and then plant it in moist potting mix. Keep the soil moist and warm until the cutting has rooted. You can also propagate this cactus by seeds and offsets, but cuttings are easier.
How long does the Peruvian Apple Cactus bloom last?
Blooms of this cactus only last for a night. They flower at night and fade away by the morning. This is also why this cactus is commonly known as Night-Blooming Cereus.
How to plant Peruvian Apple Cactus cutting?
Once you’ve made a cutting, it needs to callus over before planting. This can take upwards of a month, depending on the specimen. Once the cut portion has completely healed, plant it in a pot of well-draining potting mix. Keep the soil warm to allow the cutting to take root.