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CLEISTOCACTUS winteri

Image of Cleistocactus winteri

Maureen Gilmer

Family

Cactaceae

Botanical Name

CLEISTOCACTUS winteri

Plant Common Name

Golden Rat Tail

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

Among the easiest cacti to grow, the golden rat tail's yellowish spines are visually interesting, but when the salmon-orange and coral flowers appear, this cactus is a conversation-piece. It is a mountain-dwelling species found in the rocky, well-drained foothills of Uruguay and nearby Argentina. Because it exists at relatively high elevations it’s somewhat frost hardy, but must have very dry winter conditions.

This succulent cactus' coloring results from a dense cloak of tiny tan-gold hairs that cover its surface of the stiff, leathery stems. Each cactus produces a column that rises from the base, occasionally branching, but always leaning, sprawling or spreading. Waxy, many-petaled flowers arise right from the stems atop the spines from spring to summer. The long-lasting flowers range in color from salmon-pink to coral-orange. They are produced anywhere on the column, usually alone, but multiple blooms can appear on different areas of the plant. Blossoms are naturally pollinated by hummingbirds, and later form green fruits.

Cleistocactus winteri grows well in the ground where climates are frost-free, cool and dry dry during the winter months. From spring to fall, more heat and soil moisture promotes relatively fast growth. It grows best in very porous soils and rock garden conditions. Avoid excessive organic matter in the soil mix. It makes a superior specimen plant for a large clay pot or hanging basket. Potting allows it to be moved under cover for protection from winter rains or freezes (its greatest weakness is rot at the soil line). Grow this ornate cactus in full sun except in the desert where it will benefit from light shade in the afternoon. It also adapts well to indoor houseplant status if light is abundant.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 7

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    9 - 12

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Cactus or Succulent

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    1'-3' / 0.3m - 0.9m

  • Width

    2'-5' / 0.6m - 1.5m

  • Bloom Time

    Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer

  • Native To

    South America, Argentina

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Xeric/Desert, Drought Tolerant

  • Habit

    Prostrate/Trailing

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Orange, Salmon, Coral

  • Fruit Color

    Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Hanging Basket, Houseplant, Rock Garden / Wall

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Hummingbirds

  • Self-Sowing

    No