Cleistocactus strausii f. crested
Denmoza strausii var. luteispina
Pilocereus strausii f. cristatus
C. strausii is native to southern Bolivia in the district of Tarija and the plant it is particularly widespread in mountainous regions. The forma crestata has garden origin.
C. strausii is a very robust and adaptable cactus belonging to the Cactaceae botanical family. The plant has an erect habit and can reach up to 3 m in height in only 6 cm of diameter. The stem is erect, columnar, grey-green in color, arranged in 25 ribs. The areoles are white and woolly and are so closely that the plant is completely hidden by them. On each areola are inserted four yellow central spines and 20-40 shorter, bristly, radial spines. Blooming occurs from the late spring to the late summer but cultivated plants flower freely. The flowers protrude horizontally from the apex of the plant and are tubular, purple red, cigar-shaped, fully hairs covered. The fruits are pear shaped and red. The crested form usually grows in the shape of a fan or forming large silvery mounds and can branches at the base.
This is a slow growing plant, easy to cultivate. The plant needs a full light sun exposure but is recommended to avoid direct sun-light in the hottest periods. The plant does not like temperatures below 10°C so it needs to be placed indoors in the coldest periods. The soil should be mixed with pumice, clay and loam to allow the drainage and prevent the root rot, the plant is prone to it indeed. Using a perforating pot, you can drain excess water. Watering is very important for this species and should be done well: during the vegetative period you can water the plant (every 7 days), checking that the soil is completely dry before watering again; in winter you should stop the watering to allow the plant to enter dormancy. About fertilization, for this plant is sufficient to fertilize moderately during the growing season with the specific fertilizers for succulents and stop fertilizing during the winter. You should repot the plant every 2 years in a pot 2 cm wider. Repotting should be done early in the growing season with fresh new potting soil. Be careful to red spiders and mealy bugs.
Propagation can be done by cutting, by seed or by grafting. By cutting you can make the cut during the spring and then let the cutting dry; after a few days the cut surface will dry and a callus will form, then place the cutting in a mixture of sand, soil and pumice. To increase the success of propagation you can make two or more cuttings at the same time. For cuttings it is recommended temperatures around 20 °C. By seed it is very simple to propagate the plant, it is enough to sow the seed in a sandy loam soil and keep it with a high level of humidity and at temperature of 14 C°. By grafting you can make the cut as close to the growing tip as possible, then chose a stock with a diameter similar to that of the scion. After the cut, wash away the latex until it no longer remains. Bring the scion closer to the stock and held together with elastic bands. The plants should be left in an airy and shady place for 7-10 days before the bands are removed.
The name comes from the greek kleistòs, that means close, and it refers to this cactus flower corolla, which does not open completely.
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