Trichocereus pachanoi f. variegata
T. pachanoi is native to the high mountains in Ecuador and Peru, it grows in the rainy regions of the Andes where it can withstand temperatures under 0° C and altitudes up to 2700 m. The variegated form is a plant that has the stem with patches or stripes with two or more different colours, even distinct shades of green.
T. pachanoi is a fast growing cactus with columnar stem. The stem is blue-green with some spots yellowish when young and dark green when ripe, it can reach up to 6 m in height thanks to its rapid growth (up to 30 cm a year). The plant forms several branches that start from the base, the stems are wider at the base and tapered at the apex and they consist of 4-7 ribs. Areoles are whitish and can form up to 7 pale brown spines. Flowering is in July and it is a night flowering that lasts 24 hours; the large white flowers that form above the areoles, can reach up to 22 cm in diameter. Flowers have stamen filaments greenish and flower buds are produced from spines; fruits are oblong, dark green in colour and covered by black scales and hairs.
This is a fast and easy growing cactus because is used to resist to the extreme conditions of the Andes. Soil should be a well-drained mixture of clay, sand and loam. Watering is very important for this species and should be done well: during the vegetative period you can water regularly the plant (every 10 days), checking that the soil is completely dry before watering again; in winter you should stop the watering to allow to the plant to enter dormancy. The cactus can withstand temperatures below -12 °C, but not if the soil is wet, so it is important to withholding water. The sun exposure recommended for this plant is the direct sun light, but on hot summer days, a light shade is advisable. In the winter, if you place the plant indoors you risk to etiolating the stem, due to the low level of light. The cactus is prone to fungal attacks, so you should be careful and not to keep the soil wet for too long. If you want a very fast and lush growth you can fertilize the plant during the growing season with the specifics fertilizers for cacti; stop fertilizing throughout the winter.
Propagation can be done by cutting or grafting. If you want to propagate the plant by cutting, you can cut the main stem in smaller pieces that can be rooted, otherwise grafting is also possible. To root the plant, it is recommended to keep the soil moist and to apply a little rooting hormone to the base of the cut.
The variegated form is a rare form of the more common Trichocereus Pachanoi and is highly valued because this particular form is a sporadic variation that occurs among a few individuals in the population. The variegation is due to the loss of the ability to produce chlorophyll in some tissues of the plant, so that this tissue is no longer green. Chlorophyll-free tissues are usually white or pale yellow coloured (due to carotenoid pigments) in contrast to the normal green tissue.
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