Cereus peruvianus "Monstrosus," commonly known as the monstrose apple cactus, is a cactus with a branching, treelike form. This cactus, which grows across U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11, features irregularly ribbed gray-green stems that grow up to 15 feet tall, large night-blooming white flowers and edible orange fruits with white flesh. Light and Temperature Requirements The monstrose apple cactus grows best in a hot, sunny site with no shade. Recently transplanted or moved cacti can suffer from sunburn if they are not gradually introduced to the higher light intensity or oriented in the same direction that they were previously grown at. In USDA zone 9, the cactus may require protection during cold weather events. Typically, a fabric cloth draped over the cactus provides adequate protection. Soil and Site Considerations Cacti grow best in a well-drained sandy or gravelly loam soil. Where soil does not offer excellent drainage, working an amendment like fine gravel or crushed granite into the planting site and slightly mounding the planting area encourages water to drain away from the plant's roots efficiently. This cactus offers a moderate salt tolerance. Monstrose apple cacti grown indoors or as container specimens require a container with ample drain holes and a well-drained potting medium. Potting medium formulated specifically for cacti and succulents is commercially available. Water and Fertilizer The monstrose apple cactus, like other members of the cactus family, has very low water and fertilizer needs. A deep watering about four to six weeks following planting and supplemental water about every two weeks during the first hot summer following planting encourages establishment. Before providing supplemental irrigation, it is a good idea to feel the soil an inch below the soil surface to make sure it is completely dry to the touch. During hot, dry summer weather, established cacti generally need watering only once or twice per month. A light application of a balanced fertilizer in early spring encourages monstrose apple cactus growth but is not necessary. No irrigation or fertilizer applications are necessary from late fall through spring when conditions are cool and wet. Potential Problems or Pests In poorly drained soils or when this cactus is subjected to excessive irrigation it is prone to root rot. Select a site with good drainage or improve site drainage to avoid this and only water the cactus when it is warranted. Occasional pruning is only necessary to control plant width as desired and thin out crossing or unsightly branches. Occasional pests include scales and mealybugs, which are best addressed by providing the cactus with proper cultural care and allowing natural predators or parasites of the pests to achieve control. On young or very visible specimens, knocking mealybugs off the cactus with a forceful stream of water or applying insecticidal soap or horticultural oil is warranted.
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