Peruvian Apple Cactus (Cereus repandus) is a large, erect, thorny columnar cactus. It often forms a tree-like appearance and the stems are cylindrical, somewhat slender, segmented, grey-green to blue, can reach 10 meters in height and 10 – 20 cm in diameter.
The flowers are large and white to 6 inches across borne on an elongated tube, somewhat fragrant, tube short often ridged, stigma often exerted before the flower opens, flowers at night. This spectacular flower display in late spring sometimes will flower during early fall.
The fruits are globose to elongate up to 4 cm long, thornless usually red with white pulp, but skin color varies from yellow to deep violet-red. Fruits tend to crack during ripening and flesh sweetens as the fruit opens out fully. The optimum harvest stage is when the fruits are close to or at full ripeness. Once harvested, the ripe fruits must be eaten within twenty-four hours, or they begin to ferment. Fruit takes about 40-50 days to swell and ripen, so there are often flowers and fruits on the plant at the same time. A single large plant may produce hundreds of fruits every year.
Fruits and stems of Cereus repandus are edible. The goose-egg-size fruits contain a delicately sweet white pulp with delightfully crunchy black seeds.
Cereus repandus wood has been used in making furniture and for firewood, and sliced stems have been used as a soap substitute.
Species: C. repandus
Scientific Name: Cereus repandus
Synonyms: Cereus peruvianus
Common Names: Peruvian Apple Cactus, Hedge cactus, Queen of the night, Night blooming cereus.
How to grow and maintain Peruvian Apple Cactus (Cereus repandus):
It thrives best in bright sunlight, but is tolerant and do well with light shade during the hot Summer months, indoor it needs bright light, and some direct sun.
It grows well in a well-drained, cactus potting mix.
Water thoroughly during the growing season and always keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy. You can allow the topsoil to become slightly dry between each watering. During the winter months, reduce watering.
It prefers average room temperatures between 60°F – 75°F / 15.5°C – 23.8°C from spring to fall and a cooler 50°F – 55°F / 10°C – 13°C, after this period.
Fertilize every ten days during the growing season with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted by half.
It can be easily propagated by cuttings. Take softwood stem cuttings of almost any length. Will develop roots after directly planting stem cuttings into the soil. Make sure to first allow the cut surfaces of the stems to harden for several weeks before planting directly into the soil. Also can be propagated by seed.
Pests and Diseases:
It has no serious pest or disease problems. Watch for aphids, scale, mealybugs. Susceptible to root rot in damp poorly drained soils.
Re-potting should be done every other year, or when the plant has outgrown its pot. Use a pot with good drainage.