How to care for and propagate Cephalocereus senilis Old Man CactusCephalocereus senilis Old Man Cactus care and propagation informationPin

Cephalocereus senilis

Old Man Cactus

A popular potted cacti, “Old Man Cactus” is tall and cylindrical, covered from top to bottom in modified spines that resemble hair. These spines grow long, looking like the shaggy hair of an old man. Under the right conditions in the wild, “Old Man Cactus” can live to be 200 years old.

Quick Look:

  • Full sun

  • Typical water needs for a succulent

  • Plant grows up to 50′ (15 m) tall
    Plant grows up to 18″ (46 cm) wide

  • Zone 10a (Minimum 30° F | -1.1° C)

  • Not cold hardy

  • Propagation by seeds

  • Generally non-toxic to humans and animals

  • Actively grows in Spring and Fall

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Care and Propagation Information

General Care for Cephalocereus senilis “Old Man Cactus”

Cephalocereus senilis “Old Man Cactus” has been at risk of endangerment in the wild, however due to this cacti's popularity and ability to be propagated easily, it is no longer at threat of extinction.

The long, white spines or “hairs” of “Old Man Cactus” provide shade from harsh sun, as well as keeping the plant cool. It grows slowly, especially when planted in a pot.

Watering

“Old Man Cactus” has typical water needs for a succulent. It's best to use the “soak and dry” method, and allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings.

Where to Plant

Cephalocereus senilis is not cold hardy, so if you live in a zone that gets colder than 30° F (-1.1° C), it's best to plant this succulent in a container that can be brought indoors. Plant in an area of your garden that gets 6 hours of sunlight a day.

How to Propagate Cephalocereus senilis “Old Man Cactus”

Cephalocereus senilis “Old Man Cactus” is easily propagated from seeds. “Old Man Cactus” is slow growing, and has red or yellow flowers that bloom at night. Seeds can be collected from the fruit. However, it can take 10 to 20 years for this cactus to bloom, so it is best to purchase seeds from a reputable source to propagate.

Sow your seeds in a well-draining soil. You can grow Cephalocereus seeds outdoors if you live in an zone above 9a. If you live in a cooler area, you can begin sowing indoors under a grow light or on a seed mat.