Tall, bulky, and good-looking – we’re not talking about a man model. We’re talking about the Peruvian apple cactus.
As a magnificent specimen, this plant can boost the beauty of any landscape without even trying. And what’s even better, like most succulents, it requires little care.
But there’s a lot more to enjoy about this gorgeous yet low-maintenance plant.
Below, we’ll go over all its details so you can find out whether it’s an excellent addition to your garden or not.
What is the Peruvian Apple Cactus?
The original scientific name is Cereus peruvianus. But you can also call it Cereus repandus. Regardless of how you call it, the plant is one of the largest cacti species and probably within the five most popular.
What sets it apart is the Peruvian “apple.” A small fruit the plant produces, also known as the Cereus fruit. While other cacti may also produce yields, they’re not safe for human consumption. The Peruvian Apple? This one is.
Because it produces fruits, it also blooms at specific times of the year. These flowers, like in other cacti species, blooms at night. It is gorgeous to look at nonetheless. But it depends on animals like moths and bats to pollinate.
Another significant feature worth mentioning is how tall it is, compared to other similar cacti. It can grow to several feet tall without problems.
In any way, the Peruvian Apple Cactus is one of the most attractive of its kind. Below, we go a little more in-depth about it.
Peruvian Apple Cactus Facts
So let’s go into the details. What makes the Peruvian Apple Peruvian? How tall does it grow? How does it bloom, and when does the fruit appear? We answer all these questions and more below:
As the name says, the plant comes from South America. But unlike the nationality it’s given, the plan actually comes from Brazil, Venezuela, and Colombia. While there’s a portion of Peru and Chile’s with this cactus, it actually originated in more tropical areas far from the Andes.
Depending on where it’s located, the Cereus Peruvianus can grow as tall as 30 feet. Grown inside terrariums and artificial environments, the plant can grow as high as 110 feet.
As for the stem, you can expect it to achieve anywhere from 4 to 10 inches in diameter. That may seem like little considering how tall it can grow. But as you can guess, the cactus grows vertically like bamboo.
Regardless of how tall it is, the cactus boasts a gray-to-green tone, sometimes with blue hues. When it’s young, the plant tends to be lighter in tone.
Every Peruvian Apple from this cactus grows directly from the stem. There’s no branch or stick coming off the plant.
These fruits have a violet color, yet they can also achieve a yellow or pink tone. The edible part of the fruit is white. Interestingly, the seeds are also edible, and they’re crunchy.
As for the flowers, you can only see them at night. That’s why the cactus achieved the name of the night-blooming cereus. Regardless, the flowers often have a pink-to-cream color, sometimes with a few green hues.
The Peruvian apple cactus fruit health benefits are pretty interesting. Being a slightly acidic fruit, it contains high amounts of Vitamin C and beta-carotene. The interior contains a lot of fiber that makes it surprisingly nutritious and excellent to add to any diet.
Peruvian Apple Cactus Care & Needs
Now that you’re aware of this plant’s basics let’s give you a heads-up about what you need to plant it and grow it.
Space & Potting
Like most cacti, the Cereus repandus grows pretty much anywhere. This includes pots and other containers. It also grows well in gardens.
As for space, it doesn’t need much either. Considering it is a cactus, it requires little space in the first few years. After a decade or so, it will probably grow large enough to need over 8 inches of diameter. As long as it has a sufficiently deep base, the plant can grow relatively small pots for decades.
This is only possible when it’s not trimmed consistently. Otherwise, it will probably propagate to the sites quickly and demand over 10 to 15 inches of space in diameter to thrive.
Soil & Fertilizer
Like a cactus, it only thrives on well-draining soil. The closes the soil can be to a natural desertic environment, the better the plant will grow.
An excellent option for the soil would be any cactus mix. With some extra sand, the soil will drain even quicker, augmenting the chances of fewer diseases and more nutrient absorption.
Having said that, it still requires proper fertilization. But because it is a desertic plant, you shouldn’t use it too much. A mild slow-release granular fertilizer will get the job done.
With fertilizer, however, the cactus may grow too quickly and need some repotting. It will also produce offsets quicker.
Water & Humidity
Considering it prefers well-draining soil, you may guess it doesn’t fancy humidity too much. And you wouldn’t be wrong.
This plant can thrive with as little watering as once per week. In humid areas, it may not need any watering at all.
As a rule of thumb, you should only water the plant the soil is dry. Otherwise, let it keep growing without drowning it. Most cacti are pretty fragile when it comes to humidity.
Light & Air
In every stage of its growth, the plant requires no less than 6 hours of sunlight. If you can give it more than that, the plant will appreciate it. But if you give it less, the plant will struggle.
It’s worth knowing that it tends to grow towards lights when it grows on shaded areas. If planted indoors, it will do the same. So try to give it as much natural sun as possible to prevent it from getting a weird shape.
Because it is not a heavy-drinker or blooms too much, it doesn’t need much air. But it still prefers well-ventilated areas with less humidity.
Temperature & Environment
What is the minimum temperature a Peruvian Apple cactus can handle? That would be about 20 degrees Fahrenheit for a bit of time. The maximum? It can take over 85 degrees without problems.
To ensure the best growth, keep it at temperatures between 55 and 75 degrees.
Regardless, you can grow it either inside or outside. Growing indoors, however, depends heavily on sunlight. It’s common to find its growth stunted when grown this way.
That’s why it’s recommended to keep it outdoors instead. As a large species, it prefers environments where it can get as much sunlight as possible.
How To Propagate Peruvian Apple Cactus
Let’s say you started growing your Peruvian Apple at home using our advice above. What next?
Well, you will enjoy the blooms as well as the fruits over time. But the most exciting part is when the offsets start to appear. These pups can be separated from the main plant and planted for propagation in other pots.
A second way to propagate the plant is to use cuttings. Believe it or not, cutting the stem at the top and planting the cutting can eventually grow into a full-fledge Cereus peruvianus. To be successful, it is vital to maintain a high temperature of no less than 70 degrees. The cutting should be dried up beforehand.
And finally, you can also propagate the cactus using seeds. This is the most common way, as the seeds tend to germinate relatively quick. It requires the most resources, as the seeds tend to germinate fast, the plant starts to consume a lot more nutrients earlier too.
Common Issues with the Peruvian Apple Cactus
While cacti are decently sturdy species that rarely have problems growing, they can still have a problem or two. Here are some of the most common:
A usual problem with the cactus is overwatering. Most succulents, including the Peruvian Apple, grow well when they aren’t growing in excessive humidity. When they are, they tend to rot starting from the roots. This could eventually kill the cactus.
To avoid that, obviously, try to ensure a drought environment. That means only water once a week or less.
In some cases, overwatering doesn’t happen. But the soil may stay moist after rains. This could also cause damage over time. Like overwatering, the roots start to rot and may cause stunted growth or worse.
As a solution, nothing beats adding more sand to the soil mix. Perlite and other soil-loosening materials also help keep the soil draining correctly to prevent moisture damage.
Even though Agave plants and cacti rarely suffer from pests, the Cereus peruvianus is often attacked by bugs like slugs and snails. Mealybugs may also cause some problems.
Luckily, the cactus is a resilient tree that can withstand insecticides without receiving damage. Otherwise, you can always spray with alcohol or any other homemade solution to get rid of them.
Lack of Pollination
Finally, the Peruvian cactus tends to struggle because it doesn’t pollinate. While this doesn’t affect its growth directly, it affects its propagation by preventing it from creating fruits (that carry seeds).
This happens mainly because the cactus blooms at night where most pollinators are sleeping. If there aren’t too many bats or moths in the area, the only solution would be to pollinate it manually. For this, you only need to transfer the pollen from male blooms to female blooms.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
We may not have answered all your doubts about this plant above. For that reason, we brought a few extra questions with their respective answers:
Can the Peruvian apple cactus self-pollinate?
No. The cactus requires pollination from other Peruvian cactuses or similar species, like the Mandacaru cactus (Cereus Jamacaru) and Hedge Cactus (Cereus Hildmannianus).
Is Peruvian apple cactus fruit edible?
Yes. You can totally eat the fruit without any side effects.
How fast do Peruvian apple cactus grow?
A Cereus Repandus can grow as quick as 2 feet per year. That’s enough to reach over 20 feet in just 10 years.
Why is my Peruvian apple cactus turning yellow?
When any plant turns yellow, whether it is a cactus, another succulent, herbs, or even flowers, that’s a sign of lack of water. Even though cacti are drought-tolerant, they still need to be watered at least once a month. Otherwise, they will turn yellow, then brown, and ultimately wrinkle and die.
The Peruvian apple cactus can change your garden’s appeal without trying too hard. It is a long-lasting and easy-to-grow plant. More importantly, it grows tall and adds a touch of magnificence to any place.
If you’re looking to grow it on your succulent garden, on a hillside, or any desertic area, don’t hesitate. It is a plant ready to become your favorite wherever you place it.