Cereus peruvianus f. monster


No synonyms are recorded for this cultivar name.


Cereus peruvianus f. monster is a nursery cultivar and, thus, can’t be found in nature. The geographical origin of this plant species is South America, where it is commonly cultivated for use as a living fence and ornamental purposes. Its natural distribution is difficult to determine, but it is believed to be indigenous to the western Caribbean and Venezuela, or possibly Brazil. This plant species is a frequent inhabitant of gardens in tropical and subtropical countries worldwide and has been commercially grown as a fruit crop on a small scale in several locations, including the Netherlands Antilles, other Caribbean countries, Mexico, Israel, and the United States. Abandoned cultivations have also led to its subspontaneous occurrence. In South Africa, this species is classified as a weed. Despite the fact that the flowers of this plant open at night, honey bees can act as pollinators during the limited hours of their evening or early morning bloom.


Cereus peruvianus f. monster is a cactus that resembles a tree, growing in a shape resembling a multi-branched candelabrum. Its individual stems are deeply ribbed, ranging in color from gray-blue to gray-green. The ‘Monstrose’ variety features a twisted and undulating pattern to its stem ribs, giving it a unique appearance that is highly sought after by collectors. While it is slower growing than the standard species, it is also more compact. “Monster” varieties are similar to Crested ones, but with a more significant loss of symmetry in cellular growth. In this form, there is no unique apical meristem, and instead, multiple cellular growth centers produce cells in various directions. This results in the growth of abnormal organs or giants, as well as crested or fan-shaped structures. Monstrosity leads to the random development of differentiated organs in non-normal areas of the plant, causing it to lose its typical growth habit. Examples of monstrosity include abnormal leaf growth, spiral twists in stem rib growth, double flowers, and the abnormal absence or reduction of spines.

In the summer months, it produces large, exotic white to pinkish white flowers measuring 6 to 7 inches in diameter. These beautiful flowers open in the evening and remain open through the next day, attracting hummingbirds, bats, or insects for pollination. The fruit that follows is similar in structure and flavor to dragon fruit and contains small, edible seeds known as pitaya. These fruits mature on the plant for an extended period and are red to pinkish red when ripe. They must be consumed quickly after harvest, or they will begin to ferment. While the growing tips of the branches are vulnerable to frost, they can easily be protected with a Styrofoam cup. Slow-growing cacti are sometimes grafted onto the species’ rootstock to speed their growth. Additionally, the species is often grown as a living fence by taking stem cuttings and planting them in a row. This beautiful cactus is perfect for large gardens, where it can serve as a centerpiece, or as an interesting plant in a large container. However, care should be taken in its location, as it has a few spines.


The Cereus peruvianus f. monster is a plant species that displays an impressive cold tolerance range of 20 to 25°F, equivalent to -6.7 to -3.9°C. It exhibits very high heat tolerance, making it an ideal candidate for cultivation in warm climates. This species requires full sun to part day sun, and if propagated from lower light levels, the plant should be allowed to acclimate to full sun to avoid sunburn. Furthermore, the Cereus peruvianus f. monster is a drought-tolerant species that prefers deep irrigation every two weeks, although it can withstand more frequent watering in quick draining soils in warm weather. If grown in a container, it may require more frequent watering. For maintenance purposes, the fruit can be harvested if desired, and the application of a diluted fertilizer in spring is beneficial. The Cereus peruvianus f. monster is a stunning specimen cactus that can add beauty to any large cactus or succulent garden. It can also be cultivated in a large container and serve as a nice centerpiece for a warm, sunny courtyard. However, care should be taken in its placement, as the plant has a few spines. Propagation of this species is easily achieved through stem cuttings or seed planting. Stem cuttings should be allowed to callus over before planting in well-draining soil. For the first few years, the plant should be protected from frost until it is well established. However, poor draining soils in wet cool weather may result in root and stem rot problems. Additionally, the Cereus peruvianus f. monster may experience occasional problems with scale and mealybugs, which can be easily controlled with a water spray or horticultural oils.


The process of propagating this plant is straightforward and involves taking cuttings during the spring season and allowing sufficient time for the wound to heal. Once the cuttings have healed, they can be replanted in fresh cactus soil that is slightly moist and kept that way until they have fully rooted. This method of propagation typically yields rooted cuttings within one to two months. Additionally, this plant species can also be propagated via grafting.


Cereus peruvianus is an exceptional choice for landscaping or patio planting, and is well-suited for “desert” gardens, where it can be paired with other xerophytic plants. In areas where outdoor cultivation is not feasible due to climate conditions, the plant can be grown in pots to protect it during winter months. It also thrives in cold greenhouses and frames. To expedite growth, slow-growing and delicate cactus species can be grafted onto Cereus peruvianus root stocks.
Apart from its garden uses, this plant has a range of other uses. Its fruits and stems are edible, and it is cultivated as a living fence. Its wood has been utilized for furniture making and as firewood. Sliced stems can also serve as a substitute for soap. The fruits are the size of goose-eggs, with a sweet white pulp that has delightfully crunchy black seeds. Moreover, the fruit husks are free of spines, adding to its appeal. Due to its rapid growth and fruit production, this plant is highly valued throughout the tropics.

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