How to cultivate Oreocereus
To the genus Oreocereus belong succulent plants of the Cactaceae family. These are plants originating from the areas of Bolivia and Peru, with a columnar shape.
These plants in their original habitat can reach and exceed even a meter in height (they can reach a maximum height of 2 meters but much depends on the individual species, some of which do not exceed 30-40 cm in height).
The stem generally has a columnar habit and is divided into 10-15 vertical ribs, as in the other cereus. It grows straight and with few branches, or solitary or grouped in clumps.
In general the main feature that unites all the species of this genus are the thick white bristles that cover them, protecting them from both cold and too intense sun rays. The spines are generally yellowish or brown in color.
The flowers are generally red or other bright colors, large and bell-shaped. They grow on the top of the stem.
The species belonging to this genus, which is sometimes named with synonyms: Morawetzia, Borzicactus, Pilocereus, are:
– Oreocereus celsianus (Lem. Ex Salm-Dyck) Riccob .;
– Oreocereus doelzianus (Backeb.) Borg;
– Oreocereus fossulatus (Labor.) Backeb .;
– Oreocereus hempelianus (Gürke) D.R. Hunt;
– Oreocereus hendriksenianus Backeb .;
– Oreocereus leucotrichus (Phil.) Wagenkn .;
– Oreocereus piscoensis (Rauh & Backeb.) F. Ritter;
– Oreocereus ritteri Cullman;
– Oreocereus tacnaensis F. Ritter;
– Oreocereus trollii Kupper;
– Oreocereus varicolor Backeb.
In this card we will see how to grow Oreocereus taking into account their characteristics of their original habitats.
Let us say immediately that Orocereus are long-lived and resistant cacti, characterized by very slow growth.
For their cultivation it is advisable to choose, especially for younger plants, a very bright position but possibly sheltered from the direct sun, especially during the hottest hours of the day.
To orientate yourself in the areas where it is possible to grow them, since they are plants that come from mountain areas, they bear minimum temperatures up to 4 ° C and can withstand even brief frosts, as long as the soil is well dry.
The substratum to cultivate them must be the typical one for succulent plants and that is very draining, loose, with coarse grain size.
For the water supply it is necessary to proceed with regular watering, generally every 3-4 days in spring and summer, and then to progressively decrease in autumn until it is completely suspended in winter.
As far as fertilization is concerned, this changes if the plants are grown in the ground or in pots.
In the open ground a light organic fertilization should be carried out, to be mixed in the first layers of soil, at the beginning of spring. For those grown in pots, during the growing season, it can be fertilized once a month with specific products for cacti.
The reproduction of Oreocereus occurs mainly by seed; these will be deposited on a bed of damp sand and stored at a temperature of 21 ° C.
In the case of species that produce lateral suckers, these can be used as cuttings that will be buried in the period between late June and August.
For the repotting technique, as Oreocereus have slow growth, they usually do not need frequent repotting and in any case during this operation special care must be taken not to damage the roots.
One last mention of the adversity of this plant. as with other succulents, special care must be taken not to irrigate frequently to avoid root rot. In addition, the fertilizations must not be carried out with fertilizers based on nitric nitrogen in order not to make the plants more susceptible to attacks, above all of scale insects.