The Peanut cactus, Echinopsis chamaecereus, is native to South America and Argentina. Peanut Cacti earns its name from the finger-shaped stems that resemble a cluster of peanuts. The plant has a trailing growth habit, making it an excellent choice for hanging baskets.
Peanut Cactus Appearance
The stems of the Peanut cactus grow up to 6 inches in length with a diameter of a half inch each. The stems are covered in small, white bristles which feel soft but will prick the skin and cause irritation. Peanut cacti bloom in late spring to early summer, producing red or orange flowers. The blooms are on full display during the day, but close up each night.
Peanut Cactus Light Requirements
Give the Peanut cactus bright sun exposure from a south or west-facing window. The cactus does not thrive in low lighting so avoid full shade or dark corners. Filtered light is acceptable if the plant receives several hours of exposure per day.
Allow the soil to become dry between waterings to avoid root rot. The fleshy stems store water making the Peanut cactus a drought-tolerant plant. Water until the soil is soaked and moisture runs out the pot’s drainage holes. Dispose of any excess water collected in the drip tray immediately to protect the roots. Regular waterings are required during the spring and summer. Reduce water in the winter to once per month at most.
Temperature and Humidity
Peanut cacti do well in average household temperatures of around 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit ( 15.5 to 21 degrees Celsius). During the winter, proper Peanut cactus care requires moving the plant to a location with less sun and temperatures of around 50 degrees Fahrenheit ( 10 degrees Celsius). The cooler temperatures allow the plant to become dormant. This resting period encourages more blooming next spring. Peanut cacti do not require additional humidity. Avoid placing the cactus near heat vents, air conditioners, or in rooms with high humidity.
Soil and Fertilizer
The Peanut cactus prefers a well-draining soil such as a cactus or succulent mixture. Potting soil is acceptable provided it is amended with coarse sand and perlite to improve drainage. A layer of fine gravel placed at the bottom of the pot, before being filled with soil, also aids in root health and drainage. Peanut cacti are not heavy feeders. Fertilize once in the spring with a cactus fertilizer or a houseplant fertilizer diluted to half strength.
Peanut Cactus Propagation
Propagate your Peanut cactus in the fall once all blooming is finished. Wear protective gloves when handling the cactus. Use a sharp and sterilized knife to remove a stem from the main plant. Allow the stem to sit for 12 to 24 hours. A callus will form on the cut end of the cutting. Fill a small pot with a succulent or cacti soil mixture and insert the cut end into the soil. Withhold water for two to three weeks until roots begin to form. After root formation occurs, water the cutting when the soil dries out.
Peanut Cactus Pests and Diseases
Mealybugs are a common pest of Peanut cacti. In the case of small infestations, remove the insects with a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol. For larger infestations, quarantine the cactus and treat the entire plant with an insecticidal soap or neem oil. Keep the plant isolated until all traces of the infestation are gone to avoid the spreading to other plants.
Root rot occurs when the plant is overwatered. Peanut cactus care recommends removing the plant from its pot and trimming away any dark or mushy roots. If significant rot is present, repot the plant in fresh soil. Treat the new soil by pouring a mixture of one part 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and two parts water into the dry soil. This will kill off any remaining bacteria.
The Peanut cactus is a low-maintenance cactus, making it a great choice for beginner growers. The plant has a slow growth rate which means less repotting to accommodate its size. Hang this trailing cactus in a sunny window and enjoy its unique shape for years to come.
Peanut Cactus FAQ
Peanut cacti will grow outdoors in USDA zones 10a to 11b. In climates which remain warm all year round, they will require a cooler spot in the winter for dormancy.
Repot your Peanut Cactus once every two to three years, or when it has outgrown its pot. Always wear gloves to protect your hands and handle the cactus carefully to avoid breaking its stems.
No, the plant is not considered toxic to pets or humans but it does have spines that will prick the skin if touched. Like most cacti, it should be kept away from pets and small children.
Peanut cacti may turn pink or red if it is in distress. Causes for the color change can be environmental changes, too much sunlight, or too little water. It may also be a sign of disease. Ensure your plant is receiving the recommended temperatures, light, and water. Also check for root health or pest infestations.
No, the blooms of Peanut cacti do not have a fragrance. On average, each bloom will last approximately one week.