Pilosocereus: everything you need to know about this cactus

Cactus fan? So I’m sure you’re familiar with the genus Pilosocereus. These shrub-type cacti are very eye-catching in pots as well as planted in the garden.

But what do you know about them? Below we have prepared an article to tell you about the characteristics they have as well as the general care that you should give them in case you are going to buy one (or already have it).

What are the Pilosocereus like?

cactus spines

As we have told you before, the Pilosocereus are shrubby or arboreal cacti. They usually branch from the base and you know that they can reach 10 meters in height (although it is normal that, if you have it in a pot, they do not exceed two meters). The stems have a diameter of between 8 and 12 cm, but can be much thicker. In addition, they will be composed of between three and thirty ribs. These will have circular (or elliptical) areolas that will be covered with long white, red or even black hairs. And from them will emerge between 6 and 31 spines, more or less long, some between 10-15 and 40mm. They are golden (yellow), but there will also be brown, black…

Regarding the flowers, you know that these are tubular or bell-shaped. They will grow directly from the stems and their size is between 12 and 15cm long. (its diameter will be between 5 and 12 cm). You can find them pink or white, although you will only see them at night.

If it manages to pollinate, after the flowers you will have the fruits, spherical in shape, and quite large. They can be around 20-45mm long and 30-50mm in diameter. These at a given moment will burst, letting out a white, red, magenta or pink pulp. That is where you will find the seeds.

In the plant kingdom, and specifically within this family, you can find some 38 recognized species of Pilosocereus.

Pilosocereus Care

cactus details

Now that you know the genus Pilosocereus a little better, What do you think about knowing the general care that you should provide? Keep in mind that we leave them to you in a general way, but then each species that is part of them will have its peculiarities.

location and temperature

The best place to place the Pilosocereus is in semi-shade. They are cacti that grow on average (not too slow, not too fast). These are going to need a few hours of sun, but they don’t like it too much, hence, when it hits too much, they should be in semi-shade. Of course, indirect light the more you provide it, the better.

You can place it both in a pot and in the planted garden. Some could even be kept as indoor plants, always near a very sunny window.

One of the signs that can help you know if it is okay where you place it or not is to touch its trunk. If you notice that it is very soft, or that it even seems to be twisting, It can indicate that there are problems with irrigation, but also a lack of lighting. So if you move it (if you caught it in time), you could save the plant.

As for the temperature, as a cactus that will tolerate high temperatures quite well. But as for the cold, if they are accompanied by high humidity they will be deadly for these plants. That is why it is convenient to protect them in these cases.


Although the Pilosocereus can adapt to any type of soil, if you really want it to feel good it is best to make a mixture so that it has a light substrate.

Our recommendation is that you use cactus substrate and add a little extra drainage to get the perfect base. You can use this both in a pot and in the garden.


The watering of the Pilosocereus is focused above all in spring and summer, where you will have to water moderately, and always allowing it to dry between waterings. Otherwiseyou can find that the roots rot easily.

And what happens in autumn and winter? From autumn it is preferable to lengthen the risks until they disappear completely. During the winter it is not convenient that you water the cacti since with the environmental humidity they will have enough. In addition, it is a time when it is easier for it to rot, hence keeping the soil dry will help the cacti have a better chance of resisting low temperatures and environmental humidity.


cactus detail

Although you don’t need to fertilize them, a little fertilizer now and then won’t hurt. Of course, choose one that is ideal for cacti and above all do not apply the entire dose that the manufacturer tells you, but it is better that it be half the dose.

Besides, if you have transplanted it that year it is better not to give it any fertilizer because it already has the necessary nutrients and does not need more.

Plagues and diseases

In general, Pilosocereus are not cacti that are usually affected by them, but you should be careful with some common pests such as snails and slugs. Also, and one that does particularly affect it, is the cottony mealybug.

However, if it happens to you, adding a little diatomaceous earth to it will be enough to keep them at bay and keep them away from these plants.


Depending on the type of Pilosocereus you have, the multiplication will be done in one way or another. But in general, propagating it will be really easy.

For this you can do it using sprouts, or dividing the plant when transplanting it.

It goes without saying that you will have to wear gloves to prevent you from sticking the thorns in.

Another way to reproduce Pilosocereus is through seeds. However, this is slower and there is not much chance that the seeds will germinate. That is why not many use it.

Among all the Pilosocereus that you can find, the Pilosocereus pachucladus as well as the Pilosocereus azureus and the Pilosocereus minensis are the easiest to find (and cheap).. Do you have any in your collection?

Pilosocereus: everything you need to know about this cactus

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