When I visited a hospital records office this week, I saw this cactus, which has a serious case of etiolation. The office was windowless, with florescent lighting on only nine hours a day. When I asked about the cactus, the proud owner told me that many folks commented about her unusual cactus, and wondered where they could find one like it. She was happy to let me snap a photo with my cell phone.
This cactus is an Echinopsis hybrid, and it is normally globular. Since it is severely lacking adequate light, it is elongating, trying to reach the light source. By moving the cactus into stronger light, etiolation will stop, but the abnormal growth will always remain and the cactus will retain the elongated portion for the rest of its life. It will probably never bloom. The little offshoot, barely visible in the photo and peeking over the top of the pot rim, looks like a long skinny caterpillar as it seeks light.
I mentioned to the owner that the cactus really could use some more light to be healthy, but she really didn’t want to hear it. She likes its shape, and the comments it generates. I wanted to tell her that the only plant that would be happy in that office would be a species of Sansevieria, but I held my tongue. Tough job when it comes to cactus care!