S. eruca is native to Mexico Northwest where the plant grows on sandy plains.
S. eruca is a wonderful cactus belonging to the Cactaceae botanical family. The plant can reach up to 3 m in height and 8 cm in diameter. The cactus has an erect habit when young and a creeping habit in age and it can root and cover huge area. The stem is green-grey to blue-green made of 12 ribs and covered with areoles. The areoles are large, 2 cm apart and bear 1 long, flat, pointed central spine and 20 shorter white radial spines. Blooming occurs in the summer and blossom are borne at the apex of the stem. The flowering takes place during the night after heavy rains. The flowers are large, white and can turn from the pink to the yellow.
The plant has a slow growth rate but it easy to cultivate. The best sun-exposure is in bright place but is recommended to avoid direct sun-light in the hottest periods. The minimum temperatures that the plant can withstand are 8° C, below this temperature it begins to suffer so it needs to be placed indoors in the coldest periods. The perfect soil is a well-drained soil that let the water to drain away and avoid root rot. To achieve this feature, you can mix the pumice soil, clay and soil. 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 or by seed. 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°.
Cereus, as seen already in the names of other Cactaceae, comes from the Latin “candle”, and refers to the columnar poise of these cacti. Steno comes from Greek and means “narrow”, and refers to the diameter of the stems, closer than that of classical cereus.
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