When you are an innate cacti lover, it is pretty difficult to resist tiny and spiny plants with colorful flowers! And we all know that once you are the happy owner of one or more species of cacti, there is always room for more adorable specimens. Sometimes, you only need to see one Instagram post to instantly fall in love with a plant. And looking at these lovely cacti, we cannot stop thinking about those exotic and delicious churros which they resemble so much! Only they are spiny and not so tasty.
Myrtillocactus Cochal, commonly referred to as the Candelabra Cactus or Cochal, is a species of flowering cacti in the Cactaceae family. This lovely cactus is native to Mexico and can be found growing on the hillsides and mesas of the Baja California peninsula.
Besides the ornamental purposes, Candelabra cacti play a major role in the overall well-being of the environment. Their tiny and mesmerizing flowers attract many pollinators, such as insects or birds, especially hummingbirds.
Candelabra cacti are also very popular and prized for their tasty fruits. The spent flowers are followed by juicy fruits that are edible for both humans and animals. These fruits look very similar to blueberries, taste like strawberries, and are used in many recipes. More specifically, they are added quite often to drinks, desserts, candies, and empañadas.
Read on to learn more about growing and caring for Candelabra Cacti.
About Candelabra Cactus
- They are chandelier-shaped ornamental houseplants that have several interesting utilities. In the past, their woody stems were burned and used as fuel.
- Their genus name Myrtillocactus is the Latin for “blueberry cactus”. It is an obvious reference to their edible fruits that resemble blueberries.
- Younger cacti do well in partial shade but will tolerate and thrive better in full sunlight once they reach maturity.
- Candelabra cacti prefer warm and dry environments that resemble their natural habitat. They are not so frost hardy and must be placed indoors in winter.
- They are best grown in a succulent and cacti soil mix that has excellent drainage. For optimal results, you can feed these cacti once a month during their active growing season.
- Protection gloves are mandatory when caring for Candelabra cacti.
- They are pest-free but can be infested occasionally by mealybugs, spider mites, and scale insects.
- Thanks to their easy-to-grow nature, these cacti can be paired with other desert species of cacti and even succulents with similar requirements.
- Although there are no toxic effects known, it is better to grow Candelabra cacti in a place where their spines cannot hurt curious pets and children.
Candelabra Cactus Features: An Overview
- They belong to the Myrtillocactus genus that contains exactly four species of flowering cacti. These species are known as M. Cochal, M. Eichlamii, M. Geometrizans, and M. Schenckii.
- Cochal cacti are large, sprawling trees or shrubs that can reach between 3.3 and 13.1 feet (1-4 m) in height and from 4.9 to 13.1 feet (1.5-4 m) in diameter.
- These cacti appear with many compact branches that grow from a short and woody stem. Overall, they look similar to a candelabra composed of several ribs and almost fully covered by black spines.
- The wood-like trunk usually measures about 11.8 to 15.7 inches (30-40 cm) in diameter. It offers support to many slender, nearly uniform in size, recurved inward or erect branches.
- Their graceful branches come in a beautiful blue to green color and have 6 to 8 ribs separated by shallow spaces. They have areoles that appear at an interval of 0.4 to 1.2 inches (1-3 cm), presenting both central and radial spines.
- In their natural habitat, Candelabra cacti bloom anytime throughout the year. However, specimens cultivated in temperate climates will produce flowers only in early summer.
- During their flowering period, they exhibit nocturnal and diurnal bloomings which close themselves late in the morning. They have oblong tepals and grow up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) long and wide.
- Their flowers are pretty fragrant and come in various shades of creamy yellow to light green with white filaments. Some cacti can be seen with flowers tinged purple.
- Candelabra cacti are one of the few species that produce edible fruits. They are tiny, spineless, juicy, slightly acidic, and often colored in yellow, red, or brown.
Growing Candelabra Cactus
What can be more exciting than to grow and care for cacti? They are among the most easy-going plants to have around and Myrtillocactus Cochal is no different! As long as you manage to simulate a desert-like environment, your baby cactus will have no reason to suffer. Also, with good care and lots of love, this cactus will be your best friend for decades!
Like all desert species, Candelabra cacti prefer daily exposure under strong full sun for at least 6 hours. When planting these cacti outdoors, in a garden, look for a spot where they can receive plenty of bright and direct light, especially in the morning. If you live in a region with extreme temperatures and harsh sun, it is suggested you provide your cacti with full to partial sunlight. Indoors, place them in the brightest location you can find, such as near east, west, or south-facing windows.
Whether you grow them outdoors or inside, Candelabra cacti do well in warm to hot temperatures all-year-round. For proper growth, make sure that your plants are not exposed to temperatures that drop below 25 °F (-4 °C). They are somehow tolerant of freezing conditions, but not for longer periods. If the temperatures start to get cooler than 50 °F (10 °C), especially at night, bring your cacti indoors in a warmer place.
Planting Candelabra Cactus
Candelabra cacti will have a nice time if they are planted in well-draining soil that is properly aerated. Look for a pot that has drainage holes at the bottom and fill it with a commercial potting mix that is designed for cacti and succulents. Outdoors, plant these cacti in poor or slightly fertile soil. You can add some perlite, pebbles, or coarse sand to improve drainage.
If you decide to grow Myrtillocactus Cochal, you’ll surely notice that it is an independent cactus that can grow just fine without any extra nutrients or organic matter. However, you can give your plant a little growing boost by feeding it with a non-nitrogen liquid fertilizer once a month in spring.
Candelabra cacti usually grow at a pretty slow pace, so they do not need repotting very often. You can repot your cactus when it starts to outgrow its current pot or simply for a soil refreshment. Look for a pot that is slightly larger than the one it is planted in and transplant your cactus carefully in a cactus mix. This process should be repeated once every other year.
In general, Candelabra cacti are pest-free, but they can be sometimes bothered by spider mites, scale insects, or mealybugs. If you notice any suspect sign of infestation, treat the infected parts with neem oil or suitable insecticides and pesticides.
Watering Candelabra Cactus
People love growing candelabra cacti because they are low-maintenance plants that do not require watering too often. Their succulent stems and branches can store large amounts of water, making these cacti very tolerant of drought. Remember that is better to under-water your cacti than giving them too much moisture in a short period.
To make sure you water these cacti properly, always check the soil in-between waterings to avoid soggy conditions or waterlogging. When the soil has dried out completely, this is the perfect time to provide your Candelabra cacti with a nice and deep soaking. During cooler temperatures, you must water these plants less frequently than usual. Moreover, skip watering once the winter has settled in.
Humidity-wise, these plants grow best in conditions that mimic deserts. Candelabra cacti prefer dry locations, so you should place them in a room with air vents or near a dehumidifier.
Propagating Candelabra Cactus
No matter how much experience you have in the gardening world, propagating Candelabra cacti is not as troublesome as you may think. They can be propagated through both seeds or cuttings without much effort on your part. We have faith in you! And just imagine what a wonderful gift these babies would be for your beloved ones!
If your Candelabra cacti produce their well-known fruits, you are among the luckiest of gardeners! Their fruits contain several seeds that can be removed from the pulp and used in propagation. Germination usually occurs when the seeds are planted in a fresh cactus mix and kept in a warm and shaded environment.
Fill a pot or bed with suitable potting soil and sow the Candelabra cactus seeds just above the substrate. You can cover the propagating container with plastic wrap to maintain the humidity high in the medium. The seedlings usually appear after a few months and can be watered regularly once this period passes. When you notice some new growth you can remove the plastic wrap and move the container to a brighter location.
Candelabra cacti can also be propagated through offsets, but you must wear protective gloves to avoid hurting yourself with their spines. They will respond best to this process only if the cuttings are taken in summer and grown in hot weather.
The Candelabra cactus pups can be removed from the mother plant with bare hands or using a sharp and sterilized knife. Once the cuttings have been collected, let them dry well in a shaded location for one week or so. Transplant the Candelabra cactus offsets in a mix and begin the watering after a week.
Maybe they are not so popular as their close relatives M. Geometrizans, but these cacti deserve all the attention they can get. Candelabra cacti are superb specimens that are also very easy to grow and care for. And if you are satisfied with your current collection, no worries! You will never have enough cacti around as your companions!
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