Peruvian Apple Cactus Info – Learn About Peruvian Cactus Care

Peruvian Apple Cactus
cereus peruvianus cactus
(Image credit: Gennaro Leonardi)

Growing Peruvian apple cactus (Cereus peruvianus) is a simple way to add a beautiful form to the landscape, given the plant has appropriate conditions. It is attractive, adding a hint of color to a monochromatic bed. Dry and sunny conditions are necessary for column cacti to grow happily in USDA zones 9 through 11.

What is a Column Cactus?

This is a long lived, thorny cactus that grows vertically in a single column. The column cactus may reach 30 feet (9 m.) in height. It is among the favorites of both indoor and outdoor growers. Columns are a bluish gray/green, growing upright in a single column with three to five blades.

Large flowers produce edible fruit (Note: it is suggested in Peruvian apple cactus info that you consult with your health care provider before ingesting the fruit). The fruit, of course, is called Peruvian apple. It is about the size of a small apple, with similar coloring. It is locally known as “pitaya” when growing in its native areas of South America. Fruit is thornless and sweet when fully developed. The longer it is left, the sweeter it becomes.

Peruvian Cactus Care

Outdoors, the cactus can be acclimated to medium or even full sunlight, while avoiding the hottest midday and afternoon sun. The large flowers bloom at night or in the early morning with each bloom lasting just a few hours.

When growing Peruvian apple cacti, plant them in large groupings when possible to have more flowers providing more fruit. Flowers must be pollinated to produce fruit.

To expand your plantings, you may take cuttings from your tall plant or purchase them at several locations. Peruvian cacti also grow from seeds.

Watering, an important part of Peruvian cactus care, is an exacting monthly task to keep the plant happy. Make sure the water reaches the root zone. Begin with 10 ounces (296 ml.) once a month, checking first to make sure stems and blades are spongy, which indicates the need for water. Check the soil as well.

Keep an eye on details to determine how often and how much water is needed for your plant in its location. Poke holes lightly above the root zone to ensure the water is reaching it. Rainwater is appropriate for watering cacti.

Peruvian Apple Cactus Care Indoors

Plants grow well indoors and are often sold in various lengths for replanting. Place the Peruvian apple cactus in bright but indirect light when growing it as a houseplant. Turn the container if you notice the tall cactus leaning into the light.

Water thoroughly during periods of growth and allow the soil to dry out before watering again. Grow the cacti in a fast-draining succulent blend with amendments. These plants may flower indoors if happily located.

Also known as Queen of the Night, the column cactus is botanically named Cereus peruvianus, or it was until several reclassifications renamed it Cereus uruguayanus. This is only necessary information if you want to double check that you’re purchasing the exact plant, as most information is still found under peruvianus.

Becca Badgett

Becca Badgett was a regular contributor to Gardening Know How for ten years. Co-author of the book How to Grow an EMERGENCY Garden, Becca specializes in succulent and cactus gardening.