Information About Organ Pipe Cactus

Information About Organ Pipe Cactus

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What Is A Stenocereus Cactus – Learn About Stenocereus Plants

By Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Of all the varieties of cacti, Stenocereus is one of the broadest in terms of form. Stenocereus cactus plants are usually quite large and considered outdoor specimens when used in the landscape. Learn more about these cacti in this article.

Tips On How To Grow Organ Pipe Cactus

By Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

The organ pipe cactus is so named because of its multi-limbed growth habit, which resembles the pipes of the grand organs found in churches. Get more information on organ pipe cactus care in this article.

Life Abounds in the Sonoran Desert

Look closely. Look again. The sights and sounds of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, an International Biosphere Reserve, reveal a thriving community of plants and animals. Human stories echo throughout this desert preserve, chronicling thousands of years of desert living. A scenic drive, wilderness hike or a night of camping will expose you to a living desert that thrives.

Explore the Wonders of the Desert

The Sonoran Desert is full of unique plants and animals.


Organ Pipe offers a variety of camping including developed, primitive, and backcountry.

Hike the Desert

Organ Pipe Cactus has dozens of miles of hiking trails.

Ranger Programs

In the winter months, join a park ranger for a variety of fun and educational programs.

International Biosphere Reserve

Learn about this important international designation and what it means for Organ Pipe Cactus.

Stenocereus Species, Gray Ghost Organ Pipe, Pitayo, Pitaya of October

Family: Cactaceae (kak-TAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Stenocereus (sten-oh-KER-ee-us) (Info)
Species: pruinosus (proo-in-NO-sus) (Info)
Synonym:Cereus pruinosis
Synonym:Lemaireocereus pruinosus
Synonym:Rathbunia pruinosa
Synonym:Ritterocereus pruinosus
Synonym:Echinocactus pruinosus


Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:


Foliage Color:




USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Where to Grow:

Can be grown as an annual


Plant has spines or sharp edges use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

Bloom Size:

Bloom Time:

Other details:

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

From herbaceous stem cuttings

Seed Collecting:

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen clean and dry seeds

Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed clean and dry seeds


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Gardeners' Notes:

On Dec 18, 2010, smurfwv from Cabin Creek, WV (Zone 6a) wrote:

I have a bluish cactus thats supposed to be this, but mine is twisting, its not got the straight ribs, its growing in a corkscrew way.

On Aug 25, 2005, Xenomorf from Phoenix, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

The fruit of this plant are harvested for food.
Additional synonyms are Cactus pruinosus & Cereus edulis.

On Nov 16, 2004, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Grey green columnar cactus that forms some branches low, but then all columns pretty much solitary up to 20'. RElatively sparsely spined as young plant. Mexican species with only mild cold tolerance. Small white to pinkish flowers bloom at night.

Q. How to transplant cacti away from Boojum/Cirio and not damage roots?

I have been offered 2 Organ Pipe cacti (each about 8-10' with multiple limbs) and a 6-7' tall Totem, as the owner doesn't want them anymore, plus he wants to give the Boojum/Cirio tree (within 2 feet of the Organ Pipes and Totem) more room to grow. (He's had the Boojum for almost 45 years. Now over 15' tall, It was a 3" high gift in 1975.) My concern is how to best remove the 3 large cacti from around the Boojum without damaging the Boojum (I believe the cacti will be more resilient). I cannot find any information about their root structure online. Any suggestions are welcome, and thank you!

I did find a reference that said Boojum was easily dug and transplanted so it must not have a very extensive root system. But this one is very tall and old and you sure don't want to injure it. I would say it was a job for an arborist.

How to Treat a Cactus with Black Spots

Let’s say your cactus has been afflicted with either a fungal disease or an injury from freezing temperatures. Either way, it’s not looking so good.

If you see large black spots, especially covering whole swathes of your plant, then its disease is already quite advanced. While that might mean saving your houseplant is likely going to take time and be difficult, you can still do all you can to keep your cactus alive.

Here are some steps I recommend you take.

Isolate the Cactus

First thing’s first you should move your cactus. Whether your indoor garden consists of only two or three other plants or dozens, fungal and bacterial diseases can easily spread to other unsuspecting plants.

Remember, with phyllosticta pad spotting, the disease can transfer via the wind or water, so it’s not worth risking your other healthy plants.

Take your infected cactus and put it far away from the rest of your indoor garden until its condition begins turning around.

Remove Damaged Arms

Since the cactus’ disease will keep going and going without intervention, you have to stop it in its tracks. This means getting rid of the infected bits of cactus.

With pruning shears or even a gardening knife, begin to cut where the cactus is black. You want to triple-check that you sterilize your pruning tool both before and after you’re done with the cutting.

Unclean tools will easily spread bacteria or fungus to other houseplants, possibly killing them.

Cut in a layer-like way so you can get far into the cactus arms. Fungal diseases can reach surprisingly deep, so keep cutting until no more rotten parts remain. Remember that rot and infection will affect not only the outside of the plant, but internally as well.

Your cactus may look brown inside when you cut it open, and this is to be expected.

You must keep cutting until you see no more brownness/blackness left, either on the inside or outside of the cactus. Only then can you confidently say the plant is in the best possible condition it can be in right now.

Yes, this may mean there’s not much left of your cactus, but what remains has a much higher chance of survival. By leaving even any rotting bits on your plant, your cactus might not make it.

Change the Soil

If you recall from earlier in this article, diseases like crown rot start and remain in the soil. You could treat a case of crown rot by cutting away at your cactus, but if you leave the soil intact, the plant is likely to get crown rot again.

Even if you don’t think your cactus is suffering from a case of crown rot, it’s still not a bad idea to replace their soil & consider adding additional nutrients to the new potting soil or potting mix after the development of a fungal or bacterial disease.

Cut Again if Necessary

You’re finished for now, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your duties are done. You want to watch your cactus carefully over the days and weeks to come. It’s possible that even though you thought you cut away all the black and rotted areas that you potentially missed a few.

Unfortunately, if that’s the case, then what is left of your cactus will probably begin rotting out again.

If that’s the case, then prune yet a second time. Please remember to disinfect your shears both before and after cutting to limit the spread of plant diseases just like you did last time.

If your cactus did not rot after a few days or weeks, then the parts where you cut before should begin to harden and form a callus.

Then, the cactus should begin regrowing from the cut spot.

Should you find yourself really unhappy with your barely-there cactus, you can always graft various cacti species together into one type of super-cactus. Just be sure that all the cacti your grafting together are healthy to avoid spreading rot or diseases to the other arms and parts.

Related Questions

Why is my cactus turning gray?

You have a different issue with your cactus than it becoming black or brown. Instead, it’s gone gray. For some cacti, this gray color has a metallic sheen, almost like a silver, and for others, it doesn’t.

Either way, it can be very confusing if your cactus didn’t look like this when you first brought it home.

It could be that your cactus has matured, as some species of cactus are supposed to be gray. Since a gray cactus isn’t a sign of a fungal disease or rot like a brown or black one is, just keep taking care of it and appreciate its unique color!

Also, there’s the possibility you could have mistaken your cactus for another plant species.

Many times people think they’re buying or adopting a new cacti when in fact the plant is really a Euphorbia or something like it. Euphorbia is a genus of flowering plants that are also commonly called spurge.

While Euphorbia can look a lot like some cacti, it’s important to point out that a Euphorbia is not a cactus.

I'm a lover of plants, animals, photography, & people, not necessarily in that order. Currently, I'm focused on photographing indoor plants & chachkies. I write & rewrite articles about creating an environment where indoor plants can thrive. I'm good at listening to music but bad at shopping to muzak.

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