arequipa

Propagated Arequipa Plants

Arequipa was once it's own genus name, but these plants are now given to the genus Oreocereus. Their native habitat is southern Peru and northern Chili and they are high altitude cacti.

This group tends to be low growing columnar that get from a few feet to, depending on species, as much as 7 feet tall. Some species grow multiple stems and spread out into a cluster formation, but as house plants they tend to remain single stem plants. The blooms are tube like flowers in a variety of colors in the dark warm spectrum in purples, reds through orange. It may be challenging under most conditions as a house plant for them to bloom, but it is their white hair that makes them so interesting to grow.

People who frequent greenhouses are likely familiar with these cacti for the novel beauty of their white hairs which accompany their splintery spines. On some plants the white hair gives them an anthropomorphic appearance, and perhaps they can be imagined as elderly humans. They are sometimes sold with plastic eyes on them as a play on their human like appearance, but this treatment has no benefit for these plants. Silly treatments of plants aside, it is their hairy appearance that gives them a lot of appeal as an interesting plant to grow. Even though they are a common kind of cactus in propagation, it is also common for plant lovers to water these plants to death. These kinds of cacti need special care because their growing conditions in nature are different from the watering practices we humans are use to giving most house plants.

Arequipa grow at very high altitudes in excess of 10,000 feet, and their name; Oreocereus, means mountain cereus. In general hight altitude cacti need special care in the winter, because they tend to get fungal infections easily. A dry winter rest means keeping the soil completely dry, and this should be at least a 3 month period. In cool conditions they will be healthy in dry soil for as long as 6 months, but instead of wetting their soil it's better to give these cacti water with a spray bottle. Sprit-zing them a little a few times a week is the most water they should ever have while in their state of winter rest. Cold nights in mountain regions often causes condensation, and these plants will benefit from being misted as long as the soil stays dry. It can not be overstated that keeping the soil dry for the entire winter is very important to avoid having these kinds of cacti die from rot.

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Arequipa species
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Oreocereus Photos:

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Oreocereus narrow stem

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Oreocereus pseudofossulatus

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Oreocereus ritteri

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Oreocereus split stem

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Oreocereus thick hair

 

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