How to Grow and Care for Myrtillocactus
Myrtillocactus is a genus of cacti found from Mexico to Guatemala. The genus is best known with Myrtillocactus geometrizans. The largest plants in this genus can grow up to 16.5 feet (5 m) tall. Myrtillocactus tends to flower in the summer. After the greenish-white flowers, this cactus will produce blue berries, hence the nickname Blueberry Cactus, that are eaten as a snack in Mexico.
Growing Conditions and General Care
In the summer place Myrtillocactus in the sunshine (indoors or outdoors). In the winter, find a cooler, light spot. That will allow it to go into next spring well-rested, which will make it more likely to flower.
This easy-care plant doesn't want a lot of water. Allow the soil to dry out before you give it another drink. Keep the soil completely dry in winter. Need a well-drained soil mix with small gravel added to ensure drainage.
They are semi-hardy, make sure that your Myrtillocactus are not exposed to temperatures below 25°F (-4°C), or they may die. Nevertheless, it is good advice never to let the nighttime's temperatures fall below 50°F (10°C).
Treat it to special cactus food once a month in the spring and summer.
Since they are big-sized plants that need plenty of space for their roots, repotting should be done every other year or when the plant has outgrown its pot. If the plant needs repotting, use a fairly impoverished soil specially designed for cacti.
By seed or cutting (allow the cut surface to dry out for 2-3 weeks before placing in an open rooting media). The cuttings, which will grow quickly, from this cactus must be taken when the temperature is high enough, or the cuttings won't root.
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Plant Care Guide
This sturdy cacti species needs exceptionally well-drained soil. They do not tolerate wet to moist soil for being a drought-resistant plant. To help ensure well drainage, add some gravel into the soil mix.
Gravel is a loose mix of rock fragments that aid in water filtration. In other words, gravel helps to let water seep through without making the soil retain water that could potentially lead to the plant’s decay.
You should be going for a sandy, porous and pebbly mix that not only allows great soil drainage, but also allows for great aeration.
If you want to create your own home remedy to ensure properly drained soil, check out this page by Gardening Know How where they teach you how to make your own soil for such plants like Myrtillocactus geometrizans.
In the summer months, place Myrtillocactus geometrizans directly under the sunlight. On the contrary, in the winter months, place them in a cooler lit spot.
If you think about this placement, it is like these geometrizans species go into hibernation in the winter time, as do some animal species.
Come spring, they will be able to successfully flower having been well-rested.
Keep in mind that when these plants start young, they require some light shade before growing to a mature size where full-on sunlight is needed.
Myrtillocactus geometrizans are quite robust plants that don’t need a whole lot of watering. In the summer months, you should water these plants regularly however, let them dry out completely before their next watering.
This could be done over a span of several days. In the winter months, watering becomes less than you would imagine.
You can keep this cacti dry throughout these cooler months, however, do monitor when the stems and branches start to shrivel up. When they do, you should then water them.
For Myrtillocactus geometrizans to thrive, never let temperatures drop below -4 degrees Celcius, which translates to 24.8 degrees Fahrenheit.
Though ideally, try not to let temperatures drop below 10 degrees Celsius, which is 50 degrees Fahrenheit especially in the winter.
This would help maintain consistent temperature levels with this in mind.
If you have to go below 10 degrees Celsius, then the plant must be completely dry. It is less worrisome in the warmer months as Myrtillocactus geometrizans can survive the heat so long as proper ventilation is given.
Myrtillocactus geometrizans can withstand drought, therefore, humidity may pose a slight issue for them.
You would want to keep humidity levels at a low as to protect the stems and branches from wilting and allow for the soil to dry up before its next drink.
Because the plant is thick and fleshy, as are all cacti, they are already able to store enough water to sustain in prolonged parched conditions. Hence, a relatively ideal humidity level would be roughly 30%.
In the spring and summer months, fertilize Myrtillocactus geometrizans once every three weeks, but even once a month would be okay. While these plants are hibernating in the winter time, do not feed them at all.
As with watering the plants, over-fertilizing is more detrimental than underfertilizing. When going for a specific fertilizer, anything that has a higher phosphorus level than nitrogen level is better.
A 5-10-5 nutrient balance would be ideal. For your general knowledge, fertilizers contain nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. When purchasing fertilizers, you may notice a three digit number ‘#-#-#.’
This shows how many pounds of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium there are in the mix, respectively.
To propagate Myrtillocactus geometrizans, you can either do so via seeds or stem cuttings.
Propagation generally speaking would occur during the growing season of spring and summer. If propagating through seeds, you can take the seeds from the ripe fruits of this plant, clean and dry them, and then plant them in the ground.
On the other hand, if you choose to propagate using stem cuttings, allow the cut surfaces to completely dry out, which would normally take two to three weeks, before planting them into the soil.
Propagation of Myrtillocactus geometrizans is explained in further detail below.
Myrtillocactus geometrizans are quick to grow to their mature levels being four to five meters as previously mentioned. You will know that they are quite mature when you see a dense population of closely grown stems.
In terms of how long they take to grow to maturity, you won’t need to wait too long. Growth rates are quite steady and within a few months, you can already see noticeable development.
To pot Myrtillocactus geometrizans, have a roomy pot on hand and add the soil in. It is best to make sure the pot used has holes at the bottom to guarantee well drainage of water from the soil and sufficient aeration throughout the lifecycle of the plant.
This will also help leave space for more stems to grow over time.
How to Propagate Myrtillocactus Geometrizans
Blue myrtle cactus are either grown from seeds or multiplied through stem cuttings in summer.
Collect seeds from ripe fruits, clean and dry them and then sow directly into the ground, after the end of the frost season.
When propagating from cuttings, let their cut surfaces dry out (callous) for 2 to 3 weeks before planting them into the soil.
Water once and then let the soil dry out before watering again.
Cuttings only root in warm/hot weather.