Lophocereus schottii is a slow-growing, usually trunkless cactus
that forms numerous tall,
ascending, columnar stems which branch at the base in a candelabra-like
arrangement. Stems have a waxy bloom on the surface and reach a height
of 3-4 metres (but can grow up to 7m high), and are 10 to 12cm in
diameter. They have five to nine widely-spaced ribs. This
monstrous mutation has variable, irregularly shaped rib-less
stems. Stems are ascending, slim, lightly
and also branch just from the base and
occasionally at higher levels, reverting
sometimes to normal species' growths. Some stems reach 6m,
but they usually remain smaller (from 2 to 3m
tall). These smooth plants are virtually unknown. The stems mark quite badly
with age, due to
weathering and old age.
Cultivation: This species presents no problems
in cultivation, and will do well in a sunny spot in a cactus house. These
plants will tolerate extreme sun and heat, but not extended periods of
frost. They can survive to a minimum temperature
of -4, but the growing tips need protection. The monstrous form is more frost-sensitive, and should not be
kept at less than -0°C. They will tolerate severe drought if
they have a large colony of stems. Grow them in rich, porous, sandy soil,
and let their soil dry out between waterings. If potted, repot in the
spring, if the roots become cramped. Generally,
they should be repotted every other year, in order to provide fresh soil.
However, this doesn't necessarily mean they'll need larger containers.
Fill about a quarter of the pot with broken crocks, gravel, etc. to
promote good drainage. After repotting, do not water for a week or more.
The monstrous plants enjoy a warm sunny environment, and for more speedy
growth a light position on a high shelf with light feeding and
rainwater given to the bottom of the plant will ensure success,
especially with rooted detached branches, which do well in these
conditions. Often plants can be seen with a root or two projecting from
a lower stem. Plants in cultivation will begin to get a bit tatty after
several years, and if you wrap an offset in
newspaper and send it to your friend through the post, it will probably
get marked anyway.
Propagation: L. schottii "BIG PENIS"
does not apparently flower or seed. All
specimens also in cultivation must at one time have
been propagated vegetatively. It can be
increased by cuttings, which will take root in a minimum temperature of
20° C. Cuttings of healthy shoots can be taken in the spring and summer,
Cut the stem with a sharp, sterile knife just above a bud or shoot (a
10-30cm long tip or branch is most suitable for propagation).
Leave the cutting in a warm, dry place for a week or weeks
(depending on how thick the cutting is) until a callus forms over the
wound. Once the callus forms, the cutting may be inserted in a container
filled with firmed cactus potting mix topped with a surface layer of
coarse grit. They should be placed in the coarse grit only; this
prevents the cut end from becoming too wet, and allows the roots to
penetrate the rich compost underneath. The cuttings should root in 2 to