A prime member of the family of Cactaceae, the Totem pole cactus belongs to the lophocereus genus which in Greek refers to a torch or crest cactus.
The totem pole cactus botanical name is Pachycereus Schottii Monstrosus, where the term Schotti refers to Arthur Carl Victor Schott, a German naturalist from the 19th Century.
The Totem pole cactus has a strange growing style and the term Monstrosus indicates the plant’s size, which is huge.
Baja, California is the Mexican state which finds home to the Totem pole cactus. The plant is somewhat different in comparison to usual cacti plants in consideration of its spikes.
With occasional pink blooms which appear during the summer season mainly, the Totem pole cactus is one of its kind. This is also known as the Tall Cactus. In this article, we will know some strange and amazing facts about the Totem pole cactus. Let us begin our voyage now!
Identification of the cactus
A cactus that is perfect for your indoor garden and tends to become more attractive when kept in the indoor shelter. The Totem pole cactus usually looks thrashed when kept outside and exposed to the elements of nature.
The growth is generally columnar and the height of the cactus is as long as 4m. Some of their species grow even taller. The plant features light green-colored smooth stems branching from the base of the short trunk.
A very unique feature, you can find numerous growths on the body of the cactus, something like bumps that are spineless. These are thought to be the result of mutation of the Totem pole cactus.
On maturity, you might be able to see some spikes, you will have to wait.
The bumps on the Totem pole cactus are actually areoles through which the plants exchange gasses with the environment. There are 59 wide-spaced ribs in the cactus and at the tip of the stems, you will be able to spot bristles that are grey in color. A noticeable feature of the Totem pole cactus!
Is Pachycereus Schottii Monstrosus an Indoor or Outdoor Plant?
The lophocereus schottii is usually found outside beside poolside or ponds. One of the natural growing outdoor plants can also grow well if planted in cactus nurseries.
The plant requires well-draining soil with very less watering needed. The plant can be grown outdoors in cooler places as well as in clay pots but needs to be brought inside the house when the temperature drops severely.
If you wish to grow the Totem cactus indoors, you can also do the necessary arrangements. A bright spot needs to be chosen for the succulent where it can receive ample sunlight and the potting mix should be a good one.
Caring for the Totem Cactus plant
The one thing that is a must and also a key to your Totem pole cactus growing fast and healthy is the oriental totem pole plant care.
Before we learn more about the caring routine let us know how fast do totem pole cacti grow. The totem pole cactus growth rate is quite slow. Sometimes it takes several years to attain full height.
Now let us once again focus on the caring routine. So, here we go.
The Totem pole cactus requires a full day of sun exposure. No shade is required for this cactus as it is very fond of the sun rays and therefore needs to be allowed adequate lighting.
If you are planting it indoors, you can put it in the South-West corner of your house, probably a windowpane where it can receive an ample amount of sunlight.
There have been so such reports of sunburn for this cactus and you are safe to grow it on your terrace as well.
As you already know, the cactus is a lover of the sun’s rays. But the question is can it also survive frost? Well, not really, if you keep it outside in an extremely freezing temperature for many days it will actually die.
The plant can notably withstand around 24ºF of temperature and can still survive. But certainly, the growth rate will be highly impacted by such conditions. Try covering the tips of the stem with some frost cloth to avoid cold injury.
This cloth will certainly help the plant prevail in harsh winter conditions.
You can use artificial grow lights too if the plant is indoors.
A sandy or gravelly soil is what best suits the lophocereus schottii monstrose as it prefers to grow n rocky hills. However, when planting in your garden you need to be extra waterful.
How to plant totem pole cactus? To do this, you need to use a mixture of sandy and porous soils with the right amount of fertilizers. You can prepare the potting mix by compiling a mixture of the above-mentioned soils along with coarse sand pumice in 1:1:1 proportion.
The soil must have a well-draining property and needs to be changed every 2 years. You can buy these from a nursery store near you or you can look into online sites.
You can also use readymade succulent mixtures like Miracle-Gro for better results.
I prefer sticking to old ways for nourishing my succulent where Organic fertilizers play a bigger role. This plant does not require much of the commercial ones and can do well with worm-cast and compost manures.
However, you still decide to fertilize your Totem pole cactus. In that case, I would recommend you always opt for the best fertilizers for succulents.
Always remember to dilute the fertilizer to half its strength by adding water before applying it.
The cactus actually behaves as a desert plant and has a minimal watering need. The plant can be left without notice for a long time and it would still do well without water.
Large plants like this do not require being watered at all. The requirement of watering changes as per the weather and the size of the succulent.
You can choose to water it 4-5 times in 2 weeks while the plant is in its youth. Once it grows water it only once in 3 weeks.
Disease & Pests
Quite hardy in nature, the totem pole cactus psychedelic will never worry you about the danger of falling seriously ill. However, it will still have the chance of root rot if you carelessly keep on overwatering it.
Check the moisture levels by touching the soil where the plant is rooted. If it seems too wet, immediately stop watering as it might cause fungal infections. In such cases, you might witness some black spots on totem pole cactus.
Some of the common pests that usually attack this plant are aphids and mealybugs, something which is common with almost every succulent.
A case of overwatering the succulent can cause the totem pole cactus to split its stems. This happens as the nature of cacti plants is to absorb as much water as possible. When it becomes excessive, you witness such a condition.
If you find your totem pole cactus turning yellow, then it’s probably due to proper lighting as there can be no chance of underwatering with this plant.
Here is a list of all common disease with cacti and succulents.
Potting & Re-potting
Choosing a pot for your cactus is a very exciting job. Some plants fit in hanging pots while some are a good choice for bonsai. But with the Totem pole cactus, you are required to use pots with a depth of 5-6 inches to allow the roots to grow.
There should be an adequate hole underneath the pot to allow the excess water to move out. Your pot should also be an aerated one with a lot of space.
What about re-potting? Have you given it a thought? Transplanting totem pole cactus is very important and you need to re-pot every 2-3 years, the reason being the lack of space for the plant to expand as it has outgrown.
How to Propagate a Totem Pole Cactus?
Do you want to learn about totem pole cactus propagation? This article will thoroughly take care of your wish as we are soon going to discover how to do it.
Propagating this cactus is not a tough job if you follow the below-listed steps. So, here we go.
Locate a healthy stem and cut with some appropriate bumps. You can use a sharp knife, but make sure you sterilize it before using it. The cut needs to be angular to prevent the accumulation of water in the existing plant
Now, remove the cactus cutting to a place away from sunlight and let it dry for a few weeks.
Once the cut piece is dry, it is time for you to plant it in the soil. Choose a good potting will with well-draining properties.
Allow the rooted part to settle down and do not water during this phase. Leave it alone for 1-2 weeks.
After this, you can start watering the plant as per a distinct routine for the same. Remember, the plant does not require much water, so avoid overwatering.
You will be able to witness the roots within 4-6 weeks and to check if your plant has rooted you can give it a gentle push.
If you are sure that it has rooted it’s now time for you to gradually expose your new cactus to the sunlight.
Read more on cactus propagation methods here.
Blooms of the Schottii Monstrosus
Sometimes there is a feeling of disappointment that finds the gardeners with the totem pole cactus blooming. The reason is that the plant rarely blooms and at times even fails to flower.
Do totem pole cactus bloom at all? Yes, they do bloom during the nighttime. The totem pole flower is pink in color and not as impressive as the blooms of the cactus of san Pedro, totem pole flowers are often of a faded hue.
If you are lucky enough to find a totem cactus flower, you will find 68 flowers coming out of a single areole.
The totem pole cactus fruit is like an egg and is red in color.
Is the Totem Pole Cactus Toxic or Poisonous?
The cactus is non-toxic in nature and you can feel free to have children about a totem pole cactus due to the young plant having no spines.
However, your pets might try to play with it by taking advantage of its non-toxicity. Therefore, I would recommend you to use strong pest-repellent sprays and also keep them away from the reach of your pets.
Although they are totally safe, chewing their stems anyhow can make your cat suffer from stomach ailments like indigestion.
You can use pet repellant sprays for the safety of your cats or dogs.
Where can I buy the cactus?
Before you opt for buying your first pole cactus, let me share with you the totem pole cactus price. The cactus is priced at $20 – $80 depending on the size you opt for. You can get a 1ft cactus at nearly $25 or so.
Now, the most important question is, where to buy totem pole from? Your search can be helped if you look to buy it online. I would suggest you visit the below website listing the best cacti plants.
These websites also provide free shipping and offer the totem pole cactus for sale. Australia can even be your destination but the product will always reach the door without a hustle.
People also search for the fairy castle cactus and the Mexican fence post cactus while buying this succulent.
You can also go check in a local plant boutique or nursery and you may also find some varieties of the pole cactus like the spiral totem pole cactus. You can also choose to buy some totem pole cactus seeds to grow the plant.
Very specific weather is suited for the growth of the Totem pole cactus, which cannot be considered invasive at all. If you live in a warmer place, this plant can suit you the best.
The succulents have a low maintenance cost and the unique look makes them a must-have.
As you already know, the plant requires minimal attention in terms of caring even, especially watering, you can also choose to opt for the totem pole cactus. It will allow you to stay busy and still own a cactus for your garden.
So, if you are looking for a cactus plant that thrives with minimal care, the Totem Pole Cactus is a good choice for you.