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Help on 'bending' cactus please.


Hi, had my cactus 10 years or so now and allways looked after the guy he was about 6" wen I first got him now he's standing over a metre tall. Re potted him two years ago into a nice large pot and he's shot up About a foot in that time, never had a problem at all and I water once at the start of the month every month just to moisten the soil slightly, which always seemed fine to me but not sure weather that's too often or wat!? Two weeks ago he dropped like this onto the table asif for support!? and stayed there since, do I leave him to take his natural course or try to straighten him out with cains!? Etc, he once bent over to a 90* angle wen was about 17" tall and the next few days straightened Out again. Never moved again other that upwards till now lol!?! ..... any ideas? Thanks for any advice in advance 



  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 3,120

    Hello Ken89

    Your cactus is an Austrocylindropuntia species ; they are naturally 'shrubby' in habit .

    I think yours looks like it's suffering from a problem known as 'etiolation' ; that is , a lack of direct sunlight leading to 'overstretched' and weak growth . These species originate from the high Andes in S.America ; tolerating extremely high sunshine levels , wind , dramatic temperature fluctuations and inconsistent rainfall . All of these factors in their native habitat lead to a very short , stubby and tough growth adaptation which enables them to tolerate such extremes .

    If you have access to a greenhouse , and you are brave enough to do this ; cut it off cleanly about 6" from the base , keep dry for the winter , and from spring give it full sunshine during the growing season ; moist and fed with a low nitrogen feed . If done correctly , it WILL generate side shoots and reform to a more natural shrubby growth . image

  • Hi Ken

    I don't have this particular cactus you have, but I keep mine on a south facing widowsill all year round, and turn it round, so each side of it faces direct light, every single week without fail.  The room where it's kept, is not heated at all in winter.  From March to October I don't give it a single drop of water but the rest of the time I water it thoroughly when it gets really dry.  From time to time I also feed it with highly diluted tomato feed..  It appears to enjoy its life and even flowers every year.

    I'm not an expert in any way imaginable, of course, so perhaps it's just luck!

  • No, sorry, FROM OCTOBER TO MARCH I don't give it any water!

  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 3,120


    Just out of interest , what species of cactus do you have ?image

  • Hi Paul, I can't remember what it's called.  It looks like the central one in this picture with the really horrible spines.

  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 3,120

    Looks like a species of Oreocereus ; from the Peruvian Andes . Very tough , can tolerate hard frost if dry !

  • Thank you, Paul, but I won't risk leaving it outside as I wouldn't be able to keep it dry.

  • Ok thank you, i don't fancy cutting it down to be honest I like how he's grown, he is sat in the corner next to some double patio doors and does receive sun light majority of the day especially from dinner to sun set, so I will move him directly in front of the doors and see if this helps his shape any. I may start cutting down his feeding in the winter months also. Thank you for your replies. 

  • I don't think you should give it any water at all from October to March, let alone feed it! image

  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 3,120


    I didn't mean to stand your cactus outdoors ; I meant in an unheated greenhouse !!

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