There are over 1,300 species of cacti with many forms and textures. Today I am highlighting one of my favorites called The Old Man Cactus, Cephalocereus senilis. This hairy column cactus gets its name from the white strands that grow long side the yellowish spikes.
With all this white hair The Old Man Cactus is fittingly named. There is a purpose to the hair on this popular cactus. First of all it conceals the sharp thorns and second it gives shade from the Arizona desert sun.
This old man is sitting comfortably in the xeriscape area of our AZ yard. Cacti are the best drought & heat tolerant plants. Caring for this white haired cactus is easy as long as it receives plenty of sun and is not over watered. I placed the Old Man Cactus in soil that is well drained.
If your Old Man Cactus is not growing hair it may need more sun. The sunlight stimulates the hair growth on these desert plants.
Keep an eye out for mealy bugs. If your cactus is infested you will see a white cottony area. There is a species of mealy bug that attacks the roots of cacti. If your cactus is sick and not growing take it out of its container and check the roots. Insecticides work fine to eliminate the mealy bugs and white patches they create.
Another hairy cactus species we have is the Old Man of the Andes, Cleistocactus trollii above. The Old Man of the Andes or Old Man of the Mountain is doing nicely in a pot with direct sunlight.
The above photo is The Old Lady Cactus, Mammillaria haniana, that is gracing the area by our mailbox.
The Old Man Cactus is native to central Mexico and is a columnar species of the family Cactaceae.
It may take 10-18 years for the Old Man Cactus to bloom with white, red, or yellow flowers. This white haired cactus has personality and is a very popular potted plant. If you have your old man cactus indoors place it in a area of good sunlight.