Old Man Cactus

Old man cactus has fine, downy hairs that conceal some nasty spines. See more pictures of cacti.

Old man cactus obviously got its common name from its striking appearance. Like an old man, it has white hair and a rather slow-paced growth.

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This Mexican cactus is so thickly covered with soft-looking white hairs that its columnar stem is often entirely obscured. Don’t give in to the temptation of stroking its soft fur, though, as the dense fleece conceals some rather wicked spines. Very slow-growing, it can reach ceiling height, but only after many decades. Flowering is unlikely indoors.

To clean its fur, dip an old toothbrush in soapy water and give it a good shampoo.

Old Man Cactus Quick Facts

Scientific Name: Cephalocereus senilis

Common Name: Old Man Cactus

Light Requirement for Old Man Cactus: Full Sun

Water Requirement for Old Man Cactus: Drench, Let Dry

Humidity for Old Man Cactus: Average Home

Temperature for Old Man Cactus: Cool to Cold

Fertilizer for Old Man Cactus: High Phosphorus

Potting Mix for Old Man Cactus: Cactus

Propagation of Old Man Cactus: Seed, Stem Cuttings

Decorative Use for Old Man Cactus: Table

Care Rating for Old Man Cactus: Easy

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Larry Hodgson is a full time garden writer out of Quebec City in the heart of French Canada where he grows well over 3,000 species and varieties. His book credits include Making the Most of Shade, The Garden Lovers Guide to Canada, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, Houseplants for Dummies, and Ortho's Complete Guide to Houseplants, as well as other titles in English and French. He's the winner of the Perennial Plant Association's 2006 Garden Media Award.