Stenocereus Eruca, otherwise known as Creeping Devil Cactus or Caterpillar Cactus, is a distinctive species of flowering cacti in the Cactaceae family. This cactus can be found growing only in massive colonies on coastal dunes and sandy plains. It is native to the central Pacific coast of Baja California Sur, but you can see it quite often grown as an ornamental houseplant in several regions around the world.
Creeping Devil cacti are considered the most extreme case of clonal propagation. These plants can clone themselves by detaching little pieces from the main stem as it dies and rots. Isn’t that fascinating? Wait to see how awesome they look when they spread and cover desert gardens! With their impressive dimensions and plethora of white spines, these cacti resemble a festive snowy blanket in your garden and they can live for decades.
Creeping Devil cacti contain mescaline and sterols. Mescaline is well-known worldwide for its hallucinogenic effects but it is also used in medicine as an alternative treatment for depression and alcoholism. In the past, Native Americans traditionally used mescaline in religious ceremonies for the past 5700 years.
About Creeping Devil Cactus
- When these cacti are cultivated in temperate and moist environments, they can grow at a pretty fast pace with about 24 inches (60 cm) per year. In hot and dry climates, they will grow rather slowly.
- Stenocereus Eruca is an easy-going ornamental houseplant that can get along quite well with other species of cacti and succulents, even next to colorful flowering plants.
- Due to their spiny stems, sharp edges, and hallucinogenic component, Stenocereus Eruca plants are highly resistant to livestock attacks.
- They enjoy long days under full sun exposure. When they are exposed to proper light conditions, these cacti grow healthier and bloom sporadically.
- Like all cacti, Stenocereus Eruca is a succulent that can store large amounts of water in its stems. It only requires watering once the soil is completely dry.
- Creeping Devil cacti do well in soil with excellent drainage properties, such as a cactus and succulent potting mix. For better results, feed them with a liquid fertilizer regularly in summer.
- It is suggested you grow these cacti in a location where curious pets and children cannot reach them. Wear protective gloves when caring for them to avoid damage.
- They are susceptible to root rot and can be occasionally visited by pests like aphids and scale insects. You can treat the infected parts with neem oil and insecticides.
Creeping Devil Cactus Features: An Overview
- Stenocereus eruca is usually native to low elevations from sea level to high altitudes of 4823 feet (1470 m) above sea level.
- These impressive cacti belong to the Stenocereus genus that contains about 24 species of columnar or tree-like cacti. The most important and popular species include S. Stellatus, S. Griseus, S. Fricii, S. Eruca, and S. Queretaroensis.
- Stenocereus Eruca is a creeping cactus that grows horizontally and can reach up to 9.84 feet (3 m) in length and 1.6 to 3.1 inches (4-8 cm) in diameter.
- These cacti appear in colonies that can cover a huge area when left to their own devices. They form their roots while creeping and ramify as much as their surroundings allow.
- The stems of Creeping Devil cacti are columnar, tinged creamy green, and come almost entirely covered in many spines. They have about 12 ribs with large areoles placed at 0.7 inches (2 cm) apart.
- New stems separate from the parent one and leave it to slowly die off. Their younger stems grow at one end and develop other roots in the process.
- During their blooming season, Stenocereus Eruca plants produce large and nocturnal flowers that measure between 4 and 5.5 inches (10-14 cm) in length.
- These cacti bloom sparingly as a response to rain. Their blooms are exhibited in various shades of yellow, pink, or white.
- Once the flowering period has ended, Creeping Devil cacti bear curious-looking fruits. They are pretty spiny, 1.2 to 1.6 inches (3-4 cm) long, and contain black seeds.
Growing Creeping Devil Cactus
Even if we are experienced gardeners, we are always a bit nervous when adding another houseplant to our collection. But this should not be the case with Stenocereus eruca! As long as it is well-taken care of, your Stenocereus Eruca will grow healthy and happy without much effort on your part.
Growing Stenocereus Eruca is easy as this cactus has similar needs to most species of cacti. So, all it needs is plenty of bright and direct light. This cactus is best grown outdoors, planted in a location where it can receive at least 6 hours of full sunlight daily. Indoors, place it in the brightest spot from your home, such as near south, west, or east-facing windows.
Creeping Devil cacti will benefit from warm to extremely hot temperatures similar to those from their natural habitat. They are not very tolerant of frost and need temperatures above 55 °F (13 °C) to thrive and to grow at a normal rate. If you grow these cacti outdoors, try to protect them from any freezing conditions or move them inside once the temperatures tend to get cooler.
Planting Creeping Devil Cactus
When planting Stenocereus Eruca, look for a well-draining commercial potting mix designed for cacti and succulents. For optimal drainage, add some perlite in the substrate and a layer of sand above it. If you grow Stenocereus eruca indoors, choose a rectangular or oblong container to provide them with enough space to grow as they please.
Thanks to their fast-growing habit, Creeping Devil cacti do not require repotting very often. When they start to outgrow their growing medium, transplant them carefully in a pot that is slightly larger than the current one. Refrain from watering for a week or two after repotting.
Watering Creeping Devil Cacti
Like most cacti species, Stenocereus Eruca is a low-maintenance plant that is very tolerant of drought. Thanks to its succulent stems, this beauty can survive long periods without water no matter what environmental conditions they experience.
The secret when watering Stenocereus eruca is to provide more water only when the soil is completely dried out to avoid over-watering it. During hot and dry summers, your plants may need watering more frequently than usual. On the other hand, once the temperatures start dropping, you must decrease the frequency of watering and even refrain from it until early spring.
To understand your cacti’s watering demands, watch out for several signals that these plants show when they are in distress. When Stenocereus Eruca plants receive more water than needed, their stems will get leggier and feel soft to the touch. An under-watered cactus will show several brown spots on its stems and also produce dry and yellow spines.
Propagating Creeping Devil Cacti
Although Stenocereus Eruca is a species of cacti that can propagate by itself, it is your duty as a cacti-loving gardener to know how it is done! Luckily, Creeping Devil cacti are very easy to propagate through cuttings and seeds. No matter what method you are using, we guarantee that you will have no problem along the way. And if you decide to make the effort, you can rest assured that it won’t be in vain. You can always give some baby cacti to your family and friends.
If you want to propagate Stenocereus Eruca by cuttings, you can use both softwood and woody stems. Look for healthy young stems and remove them carefully from the mother plant. Make sure you wear garden gloves to protect your skin from their numerous sharp spines. The cuttings must be taken with a sharp and sterilized knife to avoid any future damage. For optimal results, place the Stenocereus cuttings in a warm and shaded spot to allow it to callous over a bit.
Once the cuttings have calloused, after a week or so, fill a pot with fresh cactus mix and plant them. Move the pot to a bright location and begin the watering after one week. To form a strong and healthy root system, the cuttings must be provided with water regularly. When new roots have developed, your Stenocereus Eruca babies are ready to be transplanted in their individual pots that contain a suitable potting mix and a touch of sand above the substrate.
Your Stenocereus Eruca plant can be also propagated through seeds, but this method may take more time to show some results. It is recommended you use fresh seeds collected from over-ripen fruits, as they respond better to propagation. Fill a container with a potting mix and sow the seeds just above the substrate. You can cover the growing medium with plastic wrap for extra humidity, but this is not mandatory. If placed in a warm location and provided with regular watering, the seedlings will appear in several months.
With all the mysteries about growing Stenocereus cacti now completely elucidated, you have no reason not to add these peculiar cacti to your garden collection! Stenocereus Eruca plants are very easy to grow and care for, making them suitable for any type of gardener. They come with a superb appearance and exhibit adorable flowers as a sign of gratitude and love for their owner’s efforts. With these cacti, you will feel truly appreciated!
Are you growing Stenocereus cacti? Share your experience in the comments!