Friday, February 29, 2008

Silver Torch Cactus


Cleistocactus flowers grow from the sides of the cactus stem. They are odd little protrusions that hardly open. The name, Cleistocactus, originates from the Greek word for closed cactus, referring to the closed flower. The flowers of this genus are predominantly red, but the flower color varies by species.

There are over 100 species of Cleistocactus, mostly from Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The cactus in the photo is C. strausii, or Silver Torch Cactus. I got this cactus when it was about four inches tall. Once it reached one foot, I planted it in my garden in the dappled shade of a Palo Verde tree, and it has now grown to two feet. This columnar cactus can grow to eight feet tall.

C. strausii starts blooming when the column reaches 18 inches. This cactus bloomed last year for the first time when it was 19 inches tall. This year, the flowers are about two months early.

16 comments:

GardenJoy4Me said...

Hi Aiyana
It must be so gratifying to see a cactus grow and flourish like that. I am absolutely fascinated with a garden like you have .. I must have had one similar in a previous life time ? .. LOL
Great photo with the light values .. and the shadows !
Joy

Stuart said...

This is by far my favourite cactus and this one's a beauty. Kudos for showing it off Aiyanna.

WiseAcre said...

Interestng flowers. They do look more like some odd growth than a flower. (those aren't warts - theyr'e unopened flowers on my face)

How long did that catcus take to grow from 4 inches to 2 feet? I wonder if the growth rate is fast enought for you to be able to see the full 8 feet in your lifetime.

nikkipolani said...

Those flowers look more like strawberries :-)

gardenpath said...

Your photos look so warm! I love the colors of your blog, and your photography. 82ยบ there, sounds wonderful!

How long would it take this cactus to get to eight feet?
Sandy

No Rain said...

GardenJoy4Me,
I like to take photos in late afternoon because of the play of light and shadow. It's not the ideal time, but it works for me.

Stuart,
Silver Torch cactus is a very popular species of Cleostocactus, but even more popular here is Cleistocactus baumannii, or Scarlet Bugler. C. baumannii is also called Firecracker Cactus.

WiseAcre,
It took the cactu about 5 years to get from 4" to 12". This is considered a fast growing cactus, and now that it has matured to two feet, it will grow about eight inches a year. Since I'm kinda old, seeing eight feet will be a stretch, especially since I know I won't be able to take care of this 3/4 acre that long.

nikkipolani,
I thought so too. The flower has scales so it doesn't resemble strawberry close up. But it does have "hair" on the scales. Strawberry has some of that!

Sandy,
Thanks. As I mentioned above, I like to take photos in the late afternoon, which produces warm colors. This cactus may get to eight feet in about 12 years.

Curtis said...

Such a neat plant. The flowers do sorta look like strawberries.

kate said...

I like the way the flowers pop out of the sides ... it must look wonderful in the garden.

The Coral Aloe is beautiful. I hope all's well with you!

Julie said...

This really is a nice looking cactus! Hope you get to see it at 8ft. in your old age!!! LOL

Tracy said...

Even though I love the flowers of most cacti, they are just too slow growing for me. I have a couple grown from seed, and they have only grown to an inch tall. How long do the flowers last?

No Rain said...

Tracy,
The flowers last quite a while--about three weeks. After the flowers come little fruits, and they hang on for a couple of months.

quu said...

Hi from land of snow!

Cactus blooming, wow :)I am big fan of Cactus and years ago had large collection.. but now I got only 4.

You've noticed my brownish sunflower - it's from Thompson&Morgan seeds and called 'Red Sun'. I liked that colour too :)

-quu-

Sue Swift said...

I've never been a cactus fan, but when I see photos like that I'm almost converted.

Anonymous said...

We have a silver torch cactus in the Dallas area, about 7 feet tall. We covered it when we had snow and 20 degree weather. Now about 2 feet of the top is hanging over (droopy). Any ideas on how to get it back to life...leave it and hope it comes back or clip it off? Would appreciate any help.

Aiyana said...

It sounds like your silver torch cactus is probably a goner. This cactus can sometimes stand temperatures as low as 10 degrees, but not usually. You could try cutting it off above the bend, making sure to get rid of any of the soft part, and then letting it dry out and callus for a week or so, then planting. However, this type of columnar cactus usually does not root, so it may be an exercise in futility. The bottom half will not grow without a growing tip, but there is a possibility that it will produce a pup or two, so I would leave it in the ground unless it starts to rot. Make sure all the soft area is cut off so that it will have less chance to rot. If rot starts, you'll just have to get rid of it.
Aiyana

Anonymous said...

I have a Silver Torch that is 27 years old. I'm in Canada so it grows indoors only. It is now 5 1/2 feet tall and it was quite small when I got it. It has grown 5 extensions over the years and for the first time ever is now flowering. I think the flowering shows that it is doing well and is happy where it is.