Cacti

Silver Torch Cactus Guide: How to Grow & Care for “Cleistocactus Strausii”

Guide to the Silver Torch Cactus - everything you will ever need to know! Tips for growing and caring for "Cleistocactus Strausii"
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Are you thinking about adding a new cactus to your cacti collection? We recommend getting a Silver Torch Cactus!

Cleistocactus Strausii, commonly known as Silver Torch Cactus, is a unique-looking perennial cactus, thanks to its wooly white appearance given by the fine needles and bristles covering its stem. It can be an amazing houseplant and a great addition to your cacti collection.

This plant is really easy to grow, and the only thing you need to avoid when caring for it is overwatering. Other than this, Cleistocactus strausii is really forgiving and has the typically needs most succulents have.

Silver Torch Cactus is one of the two most popular species from the Cleistocactus genus. The name comes from the Greek “kleistos,” which means “closed,” representing the fact that the red/burgundy flowers that the plant produces hardly open.

Want to find out more about how to grow and care for your Silver Torch Cactus? Keep reading below!

About Silver Torch Cactus

  • Silver Torch cacti belong to the Cactaceae family of succulents.
  • These unique-looking plants are native to the high mountain regions of Argentina and Bolivia.
  • The botanical name of this plant is Cleistocactus Strausii. Besides Silver Torch Cactus, it has plenty of other names, including Wooly Torch, Snow Pole, and Silver Torch.
  • Silver Torch Cacti make attractive landscape plants but they can also be grown in containers especially if you want some diversity and height.
  • If you grow Silver Torch cacti outdoors, expect them to attract hummingbirds and other pollinators with the red/burgundy flowers they produce.
  • Like all desert cacti and succulents, the Silver Torch Cactus loves sunny spots and thrives in as much full sunlight as it can get. In fact, if the plant doesn’t get enough sunlight for several hours every day, it will not bloom. So whether you grow your Cleistocactus indoors or outdoors, make sure you place it in a very sunny spot.
  • When it comes to watering, Silver Torch Cactus has pretty much the same needs as most succulents. It doesn’t like wet feet, can die if overwatered, and needs well-draining soil that allows excess water to get through it.
  • Silver Torch Cacti are drought-tolerant and will forgive you if you forget to water them for short periods of time. Yet, they can die if you provide them with more water than they need.
  • Cleistocactus prefers normal room temperatures during its active growth period. Yet, when it stops growing during the winter, it prefers lower temperatures at around 50-59°F (10-15°C). If during its resting period, the temperatures are too high, it will try to continue growing, but without enough light, chances are it will become laggy and unhealthy.
  • Silver Torch Cacti can benefit from moderate feeding at the start of the growth period as the nutrients will help them grow happy and healthy and produce lots of beautiful flowers. You can put some long-term slow fertilizer onto the surface soil in the pot.
  • Silver Torch Cactus plants are most susceptible to mealybugs and spider mites, the most common pests of cacti and succulents. To get rid of these pests, you can simply use medical alcohol. Use a moistened cotton wool to carefully wipe the stems of your Cleistocactus and to remove all the unwanted guests.
  • Silver Torch Cacti are not toxic to humans or pets. Yet, their spines may be irritating to the skin. We recommend using gloves when handling or planting a Silver Torch Cactus. If you accidentally touch the cactus without gloves, you can easily remove the spines with a band-aid or with other types of sticky tape.
Silver Torch Cacti
Silver Torch Cacti

Silver Torch Cactus Features: An Overview

  • Silver Torch Cacti feature green stems that have a silvery-grey appearance given by the short, whitish spines that completely cover the stem.
  • The main stem of a Silver Torch Cactus often branches at the base, featuring several upright-growing stems attached to the parent stem just above the surface of the soil.
  • A mature Silver Torch Cactus can reach up to 10 feet (3m) and about 2.5 inches (6 cm) in diameter.
  • Silver Torch Cacti produce narrow, tubular flowers. The flowers ate typically 3-4 inches (8-10cm) long, and they have a red/burgundy color.
  • When the blooms appear, they never fully open, and each flower only lasts for four or five days.
  • Cleistocatus strausii will not flower until it is ten to fifteen years old.

Growing Silver Torch Cactus

Growing Silver Torch Cactus is really easy, especially if you already have a few cacti in your collection of succulents. Yet, even if you are a novice grower, caring for a Silver Torch Cactus shouldn’t give you a hard time as this plant has pretty normal and minimal needs.

What should you pay attention to when growing a Silver Torch Cactus? For your plant to thrive and grow happy and healthy, there are a few aspects you need to consider, including lighting requirements, feeding, and pruning.

First, make sure you consider this plant’s lighting requirements. If you are a succulent and cacti enthusiast, you already know that these plants love sunny spots where they receive full sunlight for at least 6 hours every day. Silver Torch Cactus has the same lighting preferences. In fact, if a Cleistocactus doesn’t get enough sunlight every day, it will not bloom and you won’t get to see those red/burgundy beautiful flowers. So, whether you grow your plant indoors in a container or outdoors in your garden, make sure that you find a sunny spot to place it.

Silver Torch Cactus Seeds, From Amazon

Some cacti can do well without fertilizing but the Silver Torch Cactus needs feeding to grow healthy and bloom. We recommend fertilizing your plant with a dressing of long-term slow fertilizer during the active growth period in the spring and summer months. You can apply a slow-release fertilizer in the spring, and that should be a sufficient source of nutrients for the entire year.

While it is not 100% necessary, pruning and trimming your Silver Torch Cactus will help it grow faster and stay upright. Typically, pruning can be done all year round.

Planting Silver Torch Cactus

When it comes to planting a Cleistocactus strausii, there are a few important requirements to keep in mind, including lighting, temperatures, and soil. Before planting or repotting your Silver Torch Cactus, make sure you carefully read the information below.

First of all, keep in mind that this plant needs plenty of natural light to grow and bloom. So, whether you are planning to plant it in your garden or in a container, make sure you find a spot where it will get at least 6 hours of full light daily.

Next, you need to consider your plant’s preferences in terms of temperatures. Silver Torch Cactus prefers a warm climate. During its active growth period, it thrives in moderate room temperatures. Yet, during the winter, when the cactus is resting, the temperatures shouldn’t be higher than 50-59°F (10-15°C). If the temperatures are too high, the Cactus will try to grow but will not have enough light to grow normally so new growth is bound to be unusually thin and laggy. Also, the lowest temperature the plant can survive is around -6.7 °C (20 °F). So, if you live in an area with a cold climate, it’s best to plant your Silver Torch Cactus in a container that you can bring inside during the cold months.

Besides strong light and relatively warm temperatures, your plant will also need well-draining soil. Since it hates wet feet, it is prone to root rot and might die if you overwater it. Make sure that you plant your Cleistocactus in soil that provides good drainage, such as a cactus and succulent soil mix, and a container that has draining holes. To prepare well-draining soil for your Silver Torch Cactus, use at least 50% sand in the mix, peat moss or compost, and pea gravel.

Watering Silver Torch Cactus

Like most cacti and succulents, Silver Torch Cactus can die because of root rot if you overwater it. This plant has the typical watering needs of most succulents. So, if you already grow some succulents, you likely know that it is important to avoid overwatering at all costs.

Young plants will need more water than adult plants. To make sure that you don’t provide your Silver Torch Cactus with too much water, use the “dry and soak” method, meaning that you need to allow the top inches of the potting mixture to dry out completely between waterings. During the dormancy period (autumn and winter), cut back on water almost completely, and provide your plant with just enough water to keep it from drying out completely.

As a general rule, do not leave any excess water in the container if, by mistake, you pour too much. Wait for a few minutes for your plant to absorb as much water as it needs, and then pour off excess water.

Cleistocactus Strausii
Cleistocactus Strausii

Propagating Silver Torch Cactus

Silver Torch Cactus can be propagated by cutting a small branch from the mature plant, planting it in a separate container, and waiting for it to develop its root system. Yet, this will inevitably leave a disfiguring scar near the base of the main steam of your mature plant. If you remove a cutting for propagation, allow it to dry for about a week so that the wound heals.

You can also propagate Silver Torch Cactus from seed, but make sure to get the seeds from a reputable source.

In Conclusion

Silver Torch Cacti are unique-looking perennials that make very attractive accent plants in any indoor or outdoor environment. Whether you are an experienced or a novice grower, caring for a Silver Torch Cactus is really easy as long as you pay attention to its basic requirements.

When growing Cleistocactus strausii make sure it gets a lot of sunlight and the right amount of water!

Are you growing Cleistocactus? Share your experience with us in the comments!

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Miruna is an experienced content writer with a passion for gardening. She is the proud owner of an outdoor rose garden and an indoor collection of tiny succulents. She bought her first succulent 10 years ago - an adorable Echeveria Setosa. Now she owns more than 100 succulents and cacti of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Miruna is a versatile writer and, as you might have guessed, her favorite topic is gardening. Contact miruna@gardenbeast.com

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