Habitat: Mountainous areas of Bolivia, Argentina.
Cultivation: Oreocereus are long-lived, tough cacti with a very slow growth rate. It is recommended to choose a bright but sheltered position from direct sun during the hottest hours of the day and to water regularly every 3-4 days in spring and summer.
Curiosity: Oreocereus could be translated as “Mountain Cereus”: from the Greek “òros” (mountain). It is common in the wild only at high altitudes.
The Oreocactus genus includes a series of cacti native to the Andes Mountains in South America and found in the wild only at high altitudes.
Their stem is generally columnar and divided into 10-15 vertical ribs, as in other cereus. It grows straight and with few branches, either solitary or grouped in clumps. It can thus reach a maximum height of 2 metres, but much depends on the individual species (some are no taller than 30-40 cm).
The main feature they have in common is the thick white bristles that cover them, protecting them from both cold and intense sunlight. This hair is frequently so dense that the stems reamins barely visible, so that these plants have common names such as “Old men Cactus” or “Old Woman Cactus”.
Thorns, rigid, acuminated, soiltary in the areoles, emerge from the white wool and are generally yellowish or brown in colour.
Flowers are usually red or of other bright colours, large and bell-shaped. They grow at the top of the stem and, in their natural habitats, are pollinated by hummingbirds.
VARIETY AND TYPES
The genus Oreocereus includes about ten species, plus a few varieties. Some of them can also have a crested form.
It is sometimes named with its synonyms: Morawetzia, Borzicactus, Pilocereus.
Below is a list of the species according to the latest classifications: look for them in our online shop!
- O. trollii
- O. celsianus
- O. celsianus v. fossulatus
- O. doelzianus
- O. doelzianus v. sericatus
- O. hempelianus
- O. hendriksenianus
- O. leucotrichus
- O. piscoensis
- O. ritteri
- O. tacnaensis
- O. trollii
- O. varicolor
TIPS FOR GROWING
Orocereus are long-lived, tough cacti with a very slow growth rate.
Here are our cultivation tips:
- Choose a very bright location, as long as it’s sheltered from direct sunlight during the hottest hours of the day. Youngest plants are rather delicate and suffer more the effects of intense sunlight, so pay particular attention to them!
- Being native from mountain areas, they can bear a temperature up to 4 °C and can resist even to short frosts, provided the soil is well dry.
- Water regularly every 3-4 days in spring and summer; gradually reduce the irrigation frequency in autumn and stop watering completely in winter.
- Use a standard soil for cacti.
- During the vegetative period, fertilize once a month with a specific product for cacti.
- Oreocactus has a slow growth and doesn’t need frequent repotting. When repotting, however, take particular care not to damage the roots.
Propagation is mainly carried out by seed. Place the seeds on a sandy bed at a temperature of 21°C to encourage germination. If the plant produces lateral shoots, you can try to use them as cuttings (to be buried in the summer).