How to Grow Lemaireocereus – Organ Pipe Cactus

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Lemaireocereus belongs to a group of cacti called organ pipe. They are tall, columnar plants that branch just above ground into many ribbed stems.

Tropical species are difficult to grow outdoors because they require relatively warm winter temperatures. The North American natives listed below are fairly hardy, requiring a sunny location and minimum winter temperatures above 35°F (1.7℃).

Lemaireocereus will remain small in containers. They must be kept warm at room temperature when grown indoors.

Organ pipe cactus, Lemaireocereus
Organ pipe cactus, Lemaireocereus

Get to know Lemaireocereus

  • Plant type: Organ pipe cactus
  • Hardiness temperature: 35℉ (1.7℃)
  • Shape and size: Can grow to 15 feet (4.5m) outdoors; will remain small in container.
  • Flowers: Ivory-whilte blossoms rarely appear in cultivation.
  • Bloom time: Late spring
  • Common name: Organ pipe cactus
  • Genus name: Lemairocereus
  • Family name: Cactaceae
  • Origin: Mexico

Planting Lemaireocereus

  • Lemaireocereus can be grown outdoors in the garden or in a container where temperatures do not fall below 35℉ (1.7℃) in winter.
  • Lemaireocereus can be grown indoors in a bright sunny window or in a greenhouse with bright light. Pachycereus requires more light than other houseplants.
  • Light: Sunny location with minimum winter temperatures of 35℉ (1.7℃), warmer is better.
  • Soil: Mineral porous and slightly acidic soil.

How to water and feed Lemaireocereus

  • Water: Keep well-watered in summer. Keep Lemaireicereys dry in winter.
  • Feeding: Feed with a cacutus fertilizer during the summer growing season.

Lemaireocereus care

  • Keep Lemairocerus warmer than 50℉ (10℃) in winter.
  • Propagation by cuttings or seed.

Lemaireocereus species to grow

  • Lemaireocereus gummosus (dagger cactus) shrubby growth to 15 feet with either erect or sprawling branches. Gray radial and central spines. Both 6-inch flowers and flesh of edible fruit are purple. (Also offered as Machaerocereus gummosus.)
  • L. marginatus (organ pipe cactus). Fast growing to 20 feet or more; branches at base just above ground. Dark green, erect stems are white margined and prominently ribbed with small, stiff spines. Flowers are tubular and grow from tops of stems; they are sometimes paired. Often used in hedges as avbarrier plant.
  • L. thurberi (organ pipe cactus–sshares the common name organpipe cactus with l. marginatus). Ribbed, columnar cactus, sometimes branching from base, can grow 15 to 20 feet over time. Dark, gray green stems, usually with 12 to 17 ribs, produce short, black spines. White-edged, purplish flowers bloom at night in late spring followed by edible red fruit. Attractive seedlings make suitable potted plants for indoors or out. Native to Arizona and parts of Mexico.

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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