Cephalocereus senilis Care Guide (Old Man Cactus)

The first things that come to mind when we hear or read the word cactus are the needles or thorns. However, not all cacti have these long and very sharp spines. Cephalocereus senilis, also known as the Old Man Cactus is different than any other cactus. In this article,lLearn all about Cephalocereus senilis care (Old Man Cactus).

This Cephalocereus senilis, also known as the Old Man Cactus earned its name because among its spines it develops very flexible and elongated ones that give the appearance of being “white hairs”.

cephalocereus senilis old man cactus
Cephalocereus senilis Old Man Cactus wild specimens have been diminished and endangered. If you want to acquire it, just be careful to buy it from a nursery that can prove the legal origin of its specimens.

It is also known by popular names, such as Old Man Cactus and Old Man’s Beard. It is a very beautiful cactus that has become very popular for its beauty and unique appearance.

Unfortunately, Old Man Cactus’ popularity has caused wild specimens have been diminished and endangered. If you want to acquire it, just be careful to buy it from a nursery that can prove the legal origin of its specimens.

cephalocereus senilis old man cactus
Potted Cephalocereus senilis will not bloom or rarely blooms. It needs to be adult specimens over 10-20 years of age. At home, the Old Man Cactus propagation is not by seeds. Propagation is successful by leaf cuttings.

Characteristics of Cephalocereus senilis

The Old Man Cactus is a columnar cactus native to Mexico, particularly in the states of Hidalgo and Guanajuato. Like most cacti, the Old Man Cactus is slow-growing. In the wild, it is possible to find Old Man Cactus specimens which grow up to 39 ft (12 meters) high and are estimated age of over 200 years.

As this cactus grows, it loses the “hairs” of the lower part, exposing areolas of small thorns and leaving hairy only the highest and youngest part of the cactus, it belongs to the Cactaceae family.

Cephalocereus senilis - Old Man Cactus 2" Pot Cacti Succulent Real Live Plant -e32
  • Cephalocereus senilis Old Man Cactus Cacti 2" pot Succulent Real Live Plant.

Cephalocereus senilis Care

In the following paragraphs, let’s find out all about Cephalocereus senilis Care.

Cephalocereus senilis Care – Lighting

Cephalocereus senilis Care – Lighting. This cactus tolerates direct sun exposure perfectly.

If your little old cactus is small or you have just acquired it, the adaptation you do it little by little. Since being cultivated in a nursery they are not used to direct sun exposure and if we expose them immediately to the intensity of the sun’s rays can suffer burns and turn it yellow.

We do not recommend having Cephalocereus senilis indoors. A good sun exposure will promote a greater growth of your Cephalocereus senilis.

old man cactus care Cephalocereus senilis Care
In the wild, it is possible to find Old Man Cactus specimens which grow up to 39 ft (12 meters) high and are estimated age of over 200 years.

Old Man Cactus CareWatering

Old Man Cactus Care – Watering. Cephalocereus senilis is very sensitive to excess moisture and watering, it tends to rot easily.

Therefore, the Old Man Cactus should be watered sporadically, of course, with enough water, and you will not have problems. In winter watering it at the beginning of that season will be more than enough.

Cephalocereus senilis Care – Temperature

Cephalocereus senilis Care – Temperature. Cephalocereus senilis does not tolerate frost, nor temperatures close to 46 °F (8°C) if it is a very young specimen.

If it is already an adult cactus with some years, it can withstand up to 32 °F (0°C).

Cephalocereus senilis Care. The best temperature for Cephalocereus senilis Care is between 59 °F to 82 °F (15°C to 28°C).

Substrate for Old Man Cactus Care

Substrate for Old Man Cactus Care. This particular cactus requires a very draining substrate, it is necessary to avoid the minimum waterlogging. Therefore, a common cactus substrate will not be enough.

The best substrate for the Cephalocereus senilis is a soil with a mixture of a little more draining 40% soil and 60% sand.

You can also use a substrate of 20 to 30% organic and the rest mineral (avoid tezontle), you can add a little lime, this will be more than enough to prevent rotting problems, at the top try to leave a layer of gravel so that moisture does not accumulate.

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Old Man Cactus Care and Fertilization

It can be fertilized during spring and summer once every two months with special fertilizer for cacti or with a mineral fertilizer rich in lime.

How to Propagate Cephalocereus senilis

Now that we know about Cephalocereus senilis Care, let’s start reviewing Cephalocereus senilis propagation.

Cephalocereus senilis Propagation. Cephalocereus senilis Old Man Cactus can be multiplied through their seeds. However, there is a low rate of success.

Cephalocereus senilis that are not found in nature will hardly give us seeds. It is easier to propagate the Old Man Cactus by cuttings.

The treatment for your cuttings will be the same that we give to most of the cactus, you have to let the cuttings dry and once dry plant them in the special substrate for Cephalocereus senilis.

Propagate cactus by seeds (recommended article)

how to propagate old man cactus Cephalocereus senilis Care
Cephalocereus senilis Care. The best substrate for the Cephalocereus senilis is a soil with a mixture of a little more draining 40% soil and 60% sand. The ideal temperature for Cephalocereus senilis Care is between 59 °F to 82 °F (15°C to 28°C).

Cephalocereus senilis Flower

Cephalocereus senilis Flower. The flowering time of Cephalocereus senilis is in summer.

The Old Man Cactus blooms in summer. Cephalocereus senilis Flower are large, white, and open at dusk or night.

When Cephalocereus senilis is growing in pots is rare that they bloom. If they do this occurs in adult specimens over 10-20 years of age. That’s why we explained only the propagation in the nature is by seeds.

cephalocereus senilis flower
Unfortunately, Old Man Cactus’ popularity has caused wild specimens have been diminished and endangered. If you want to acquire it, just be careful to buy it from a nursery that can prove the legal origin of its specimens. The Old Man Cactus blooms in summer

Frequent Problems in Cephalocereus senilis

How many of the succulents the biggest problem that occurs in old cacti is rotting due to overwatering, rarely do pests attack healthy specimens, but if they are not they can be attacked by mealybug.

It is necessary to be attentive to the appearance of fungi especially when transplanting.

Apart from these two observations, your old cactus will not present any major problem, it is a very healthy cactus.

We hope you found this article on Cephalocereus senilis Care useful. Check out our recommended article Why Is My Cactus Turning Yellow?.

About Henry Morgan

We are the Morgan family, Henry, and Julia, both agronomists from the University of Michigan, where we met. We are experts in putting our hands in the soil and developing organic foods and improving production processes for decades. Likewise, we have worked for companies such as Mondelez International, BASF, Monsanto, etc. currently in our role as science writers for TheGardenStyle.com as well as advisors in promoting large scale food growing in urbanized areas. In this website, we share what we are most passionate about, gardening and farming. Enjoy and see real photos on our website.