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Espostoa Lanata

Espostoa Lanata transplanted into pots


The Espostoa lanata, is a cactus of American origin, more exactly from the desert areas of Ecuador, Peru and even Bolivia. It is a columnar cactus that can reach several meters in height.Its common names are:  cotton ball cactus, snowball cactus, snowball old man, Peruvian Old Man

It is also known as Viejo de Perú, Woolly Cactus, Cactus from the Peruvian elder. It can grow between 800 and 2,000 meters of altitude.Adult columnar  espostoa lanata

Adult columnar  espostoa lanata

It is a cactus of arboricola form, of slow growth that branches in the part superior with the passage of the years. It reaches from 2 to 5 meters in height in adult specimens.

Its name derives from its general aspect, hairy or shaggy, being covered by long bristles that wrap it and give it that woolly appearance.


Description of the Cactus Espostoa lanata.



The plant has green, columnar and erect stem, between 2 and 4m high and up to about 12cm in diameter, and branched at the top.

It has between 20 and 30 rounded ribs, on which the areolas are arranged, white and rounded, separated from each other by 5mm.

Each areola has about 12 acicular spines, between 4 and 7mm in length and of variable color between yellow, reddish or yellowish white.

In the highest areas, 1 or 2 central spines of up to 8 cm may be present.

The stem is completely covered by soft hairs 1 or 2 cm long, white or pale yellow.

The flower

  espostoa lanata flower

Flower : white and small, measuring 3.5-5 cm long, immersed in a prominent pseudocephalium on one side of the highest part of the stems, squamous pericarp and villous tube.

– Flowering: in summer or even in early autumn , depending on the temperature.

The fruit

The fruits are edible, they are sweet , juicy berries. They are spherical in shape, about 2.5 cm in diameter and of a violet-red color.

The seeds are very small, black and bright.

Lighting and temperature.

The temperatures that best suit our Espostoa lanata, is that in winter it does not suffer temperatures below 7ºC, especially if the humidity is high.

If our climate is dry, it will be better able to withstand something more cold, above 5ºC minimum.

It needs exposure to full sun or direct sun, although it also goes well with semi-shade. It supports the high temperatures well.

Irrigation, fertilization and substrate

The Espostoa lanata cactus should be irrigated regularly during summer / autumn and during flowering.

They are of little irrigation in general, since it can easily rot the base of the cactus. Do not wet the body or stem of the plant.


espostoa lanata root rotThey do not tolerate excessive humidity, reduce irrigation progressively in the autumn, do not water in winter. In warm areas, you have to water something in winter observe the soil first .

Fertilize weekly  during the irrigation season, with a mineral fertilizer, especially in flowering. It does not need a lot of fertilizer, since it has medium nutritious needs.

He likes soil substrates , for cactus. It must be very porous, with little organic matter, like humus or black peat.

You need a lot of room to grow, use a large pot full of very porous compost. Use pot with good drainage.

Reproduction and Grafting.

The Espostoa lanata, multiply easily, by means of buds. If our area of ??residence is warm climate, they could multiply almost all year round.

They can also be reproduced by dividing the plants, when we do the pot transplant.

They are also reproduced by cuttings.

The multiplication by seeds, gives the option of obtaining many plants.

As for the graft , this plant is often grafted with Trichocereus spachianus and with Opuntia bergeriana.

Plagues and diseases.

The Espostoa lanata, is susceptible to diseases caused by fungi if they are watered in excess, but they are not as sensitive as many other cacti, especially in hot climates.


Young   espostoa lanataIf they stay wet during cold periods, they will suffer invariably.

They can be attacked by the fungus Pythium debaryanum, which develops rapidly, causing rot, blackening and mildewing the stem and killing the plant.

If this happens, we can resort to treatment of the disease with a copper-based fungicide or similar. Follow the instructions of the product manufacturer.


Mammillaria crucigera.

Mammillaria crucigera – Owl Eye Cactus

Espostoa blossfeldiorum

Espostoa blossfeldiorum