How to Grow Cleistocactus – Torch Cactus

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Cleistocactus–commonly called torch cactus–is a slender, multi-ribbed cactus that grows to 10 feet (3m) tall. The spines are very colorful.

Cleistocactus is a profuse bloomer, even indoors or in the greenhouse. Flowers are tubular, orange-red. Cleistocactus is popular with growers because the flowers are striking and abundant. The plant is undemanding and easy to care for.

The stems of Cleistocactus are narrow, no more than 3 inches thick. The stem narrows near the growing point and is often leaning. Cleistocactus is so thickly covered with spines that the stem surface is hardly visible.

Get to know Cleistocactus

  • Plant type: Ceranae, slender torch cactus
  • Hardiness temperature: 35℉ (1.7℃)
  • Shape and size: Grows to 10 feet (3m) tall
  • Flowers: Tubular orange-red flowers; the slightly hairy blossoms stick out of the plant in rows.
  • Bloom time: Spring and summer
  • Common name: Torch cactus
  • Genus name: Cleistocactus
  • Family name: Cactaceae
  • Origin: Mountains of Peru, Uruguay, Bolivia and Argentina
Cleistocactus strausii, commonly known as the silver torch or wooly torch cactus
Cleistocactus strausii, commonly known as the silver torch or wooly torch cactus

Planting Cleistocactus

  • Light: Plant in full sun or grow in a bright sunny room
  • Soil:

How to water and feed Cleistocactus

  • Water: Keep the soil just moist with relative high air humidity. Spray or mist the plant regularly in the evening during the growth period. During the winter, do not let the soil dry out completely.
  • Feeding: Feed Cleistocactus with a cactus fertilizer regularly during the growth period.

Cleistocactus care

  • Keep Cleistocactus at 50℉ (10℃) during the winter.

Cleistocactus species to grow

  • Cleistocactus baumannii (scarlet bugler). Has an erect, stiff, dark green stem and grows to about 5 feet tall. The stem is topped with yellowish spines. Bright orange to scarlet flowers are s-shaped and have a long blooming period.
  • C. jujuyensis. Attractive scarlet, tubular flowers appear in spring and summer. Colorful supination—brown to yellow—contrasts with light woolly hair.
  • C. smaragdiflorus. Small, partially recumbent plant with thick branches. Blooms after it reaches 10 inches tall; blossoms are red with an emeralnd green border.
  • C. strausii (silver torch). One of the most beautiful species. Fast-growing upright plant of clustering columns that branch just above ground. Bears ruby red 4-inch flowers, usually in late spring. Shoots carry long, hair-fine, white bristle needles with light yellow middle spines.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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