Espostoa is a genus of columnar cactus that can take 10 to 18 years to bloom. For this reason, taller and more mature plants can be quite expensive. As a street plant, they can reach 13 m in height but usually grow slowly in pots. Its shaggy coat hides many tiny sharp yellow spines. In spring, it produces whitish-pink flowers 5 cm long that open at night. Flowers appear on the side of the stem, sprout from light brown to dark brown cephalia.

During ripening, after flowering, the plant has pinkish-red fruits covered with yellowish hairs. Espostoa cacti are mainly grown as houseplants, they remain small and easy to store in a container throughout life.


Espostoa melanostele
Espostoa melanostele

Espostoa melanostele is a dark-colored columnar cactus from northern Peru. Adult plants in the wild can reach 10 m in height, but when grown indoors they will be much shorter. The stem remains less than 15 cm in diameter and is covered with 18-25 spiny ribs. It blooms with thin yellow flowers that smell of carrion to attract pollinator flies. Adult plants can branch and grow “beards” of fluffy white hair (pseudo cephalia) that drain from one side of their stems.

Espostoa nana (espostoa nana) is the fluffiest species, resembling a ball of threads, it is small in size and from the side it seems to be a snow-white lump.

Espostoa calva ( Espostoa calva) – this species forms a branched tree of large size. The shoots are greenish-blue with lots of ribs and golden spines. The pubescence is yellow-white. Cephalia consists of brown hair in a groove on one side of the stem, and small white flowers appear at night.

Espostoa mirabilis is a column-shaped cactus found only in the Ecuadorian Andes. On its side, it has small flowers that open at night, attracting bats that fly from flower to flower in search of nectar.

Espostoa lanata is a spiny, shrubby or tree-like cactus plant that grows to a height of 4-7 meters. The stems are about 10 cm in diameter. The diameter of the trunk is from 5 to 12 cm, with 20-25 flattened ribs covered with woolen cloth. The central sharp goatees sometimes cross the coat up to 5 cm long.

Espostoa superba ( Espostoa superba) – this tall species grows among dense bushes and trees, where the tops of the stems protrude above the mass of tree branches. The stems are noticeably fixed and closer together than those of E. lanata, and the fruits are white. Its distribution is limited near the city of Jaén, west of the confluence of the Marañón and Chamaya rivers.

How to care for espostoa cactus


The cactus gets its name “Old Man Cactus” from the long white hair that stands out from the thorn column covering the entire plant. Like most cacti, the old man’s cactus is one of the easiest cacti to care for. It is easy to grow, and it is frost-resistant at a temperature of minus 1-2 C. A fertile, well-drained soil mixture is needed.

Water the plants well and let them dry before re-watering. This species copes better with a small amount of water than most cacti. During the growing season, fertilize them monthly with a balanced fertilizer.

Where to place espostoa cactus

Start by looking for a place in your home where there will be as much light as possible. It is better to place your plant on a window facing south. If you manage to give the plant enough light, the thicker and longer its hairs will be.


Espostoa cactus requires better drainage than most cactus species, so add some perlite to the standard cactus mix consisting of three parts potted soil and one part sharp sand. An alternative mixture for cacti includes one part peat moss, one part sand and one part perlite. Of course, the easiest way is to simply buy a package of customized soil mixture for cacti, available at most nurseries and home repair centers.


Encourage the espostoa to overwinter so that it develops better. The reason for this is that there is less light in the winter, which can promote growth, which means your plant may become weak. When a cactus is in a colder climate, it won’t be able to reach its full potential. The ideal temperature should be between 10 and 15 C for your plant to grow better.

How to water espostoa cactus

When watering a cactus, be sure to wait at least a few days when it’s time to water before watering again. A good rule of thumb is to wait for the soil to dry completely. One of the most common reasons espostoa dies is that people tend to overwater their plants. You can not water the cactus if the soil is still wet. A great idea would be to plant espostoa in well-drained succulent soil.

How to transplant espostoa

When it’s time to transplant the cactus, make sure the next pot is only one size larger. Espostoa is a slow-growing cactus, so it can take several years to grow to the size of a pot. When you finally transplant it, don’t forget to replace the soil as well.

Espostoa Hair Care

When caring for the hair of this cactus, wait until the cactus’ hair turns slightly brown or dirty. Next, you should clean your hair with water and detergent. Be sure to mix the solution thoroughly before applying the mixture to the hair, then brush and rinse with clean water. Be sure to cover the soil with a thin sheet of plastic so that the detergent does not leak into the soil. The other is to accept that your cactus has changed its appearance and will no longer turn white.

How to propagate espostoa

Espostoa is easily propagated by seeds and cuttings. The cactus grows slowly and has red or yellow flowers that bloom at night. Seeds can be collected from the fruit. However, the flowering of this cactus can take from 10 to 20 years, so for reproduction it is better to buy seeds from reliable sources.

Sow the seeds in well-drained soil. You can grow espostoa seeds outdoors if you live in warm climates. If you live in a cooler place, you can start sowing indoors with lighting or on a seed mat.

Cuttings should be placed in a dry place for a couple of days before the formation of calluses. Then place the cut end in a soilless medium such as sand or perlite. For better rooting, store the cuttings in moderate, but not scorching light, at a temperature not lower than 21 C.

Do not water until the small cuttings have taken root. Then treat the room espostoa as an adult specimen.

Pests or diseases

Because of its thick coat, the espostoa cactus can be a habitat for pests such as scales and mealybugs.

The best way to avoid problems is to keep the cactus healthy by avoiding excessive watering.

Periodically inspect the plant to make sure there are no insects under its lush coat.


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