Growing Mexican Giant: How To Care For Pachycereus Pringlei

Pachycereus pringlei, otherwise known as the cardon cactus, is a type of cactus native to the deserts of Mexico, specifically the states of Sonora, Baja California, and Baja California, Sur.

It is also found in the Mojave Desert of California in the United States. The cardon cactus is the largest cactus in Mexico and can grow up to 66′ feet tall!

Growing Pachycereus PringleiPin

The pachycereus pringlei has been used for centuries by indigenous people for its purported medicinal properties.

It’s said to be effective in treating various ailments, including colds, flu, stomach aches, and even diabetes.

Some of the common household names for the pachycereus pringlei include:

  • Prickly cereus
  • Mexican giant cardon
  • Elephant cactus
  • Night-blooming cereus
  • Moon cactus
  • Queen of the night

In reference to its scientific name, this cactus is also known as the cardon or cardinal. It’s a member of the cactus family and is closely related to the saguaro.

The Pachycereus pringlei is called prickly cereus because of the sharp spines that cover its body.

These spines can easily prick and injure someone who isn’t careful around the cactus.

Moreover, Pachycereus pringlei is also called night-blooming cereus, moon cactus, and queen of the night because it only blooms at night.

The flowers are large and colorful, and they can be very fragrant. However, they only bloom for a few hours, so it’s important to see them if you’re in the area.

Quick Facts On Pachycereus Pringlei

  • Family: Cactaceae
  • Light: Bright, direct sunlight
  • Temperature: 50° to 90° degrees Fahrenheit
  • Water: Allow to dry out completely between watering
  • Fertilizer: Cactus fertilizer or a diluted half-strength balanced all-purpose fertilizer
  • Propagation: Seeds or offsets
  • Common Problems: Root rot, mealybugs

Pachycereus Pringlei Care

In general, the pachycereus pringlei is a good houseplant. It is easy to care for and has a long lifespan.

Let’s examine everything you need to know to care for your Mexican giant cardon.

What Does The Mexican Giant Cardon Look Like, And How Big Does It Grow?

Pachycereus pringlei, or the “true” moon cactus, is a small cactus that typically grows about 2″ to 3″ inches tall.

The plant has a green body with red, yellow, or orange spines sticking out of it.

The cardon cactus has a columnar growth habit and grows very slowly, only adding about 2″ inches to its height each year.

The cactus has a thick, fibrous bark that protects it from the hot desert sun and helps it retain water during long periods of drought.

The cactus is covered in sharp spines ranging from 1″ inch to 4″ inches long. The spines are arranged in clusters of up to 15 spines each and are white or yellow.

Since it’s a fast-growing plant, it can reach up to 20″ feet. 

When Does Mexican Giant Cardon Flower? Are The Flowers Fragrant?

The Mexican Giant Cardon plants flowers from May to June in the springtime.

The flowers are small and not very fragrant, each flower measuring up to 4″ inches in diameter.

The flowers are white or pale pink and have a sweet fragrance that attracts bees and other pollinators.

The cactus fruit is green and fleshy, measuring up to 2 inches) in diameter. The fruit is edible and has a sweet taste.

What Are The Lighting Needs, And Temperature Requirements?

Pachycereus pringlei grows in arid, desert conditions and is accustomed to high heat and intense sunlight.

Therefore, when growing pachycereus pringlei indoors, you must provide bright light. 

The easiest way to do this is to place the cactus near a south-facing window.

If you do not have a south-facing window, you can supplement the light with a grow light.

The Mexican giant cardon is also used to high temperatures.

During the day, the temperature should be between 70° and 90° degrees Fahrenheit. At night, the temperature can drop to 50° degrees Fahrenheit.

If you live in an area with hot summers, you can place the cactus outdoors. Just bring it back inside before the temperature drops below 50° degrees Fahrenheit.

How And When To Water And Fertilize Mexican Giant Cardon?

Pachycereus pringlei is a drought-tolerant plant that does not need a lot of water to survive.

In nature, it only receives water during the occasional rainstorm.

When growing pachycereus pringlei indoors, you should mimic this natural watering schedule.

Water the Mexican giant cactus when the top inch of soil is dry. During the winter, you can reduce the watering frequency to once every two weeks.

Fertilize pachycereus pringlei once a month during the growing season. Use a cactus fertilizer or a balanced all-purpose fertilizer diluted to half strength.

Do not fertilize during the winter when the plant is dormant.

What Is The Best Soil For Pachycereus Pringlei, And When Should You Transplant?

Pachycereus pringlei grows in sandy, well-drained soil.

When growing pachycereus pringlei indoors, use a cactus potting mix or make your own by mixing equal parts sand and potting soil.

Transplant Mexican giant cardon every 2 to 3 years in the springtime. Use a pot that is one size larger than the current pot.

Does Pachycereus Pringlei Need Special Grooming Or Maintenance?

Pachycereus pringlei does not need special grooming or maintenance. You can remove any dead leaves or flowers as they occur.

If the plant becomes too large for its pot, you can trim it back.

How To Overwinter Elephant Cactus?

Pachycereus pringlei is a tropical plant that cannot tolerate cold temperatures.

If you live in an area with cold winters, you must bring the plant indoors. Place the cactus in a south-facing window where it will receive bright light.

Reduce watering to once every 2 weeks, and do not fertilize during the winter.

How To Propagate The Night-Blooming Cereus?

Pachycereus pringlei, or the night-blooming cereus, is a cactus native to Mexico.

It is also known as the queen of the night because of its large, beautiful white flowers that open at night and close in the morning. 

To propagate the night-blooming cereus, you will need:

  • A cutting from a healthy plant
  • Potting soil
  • A pot or container
  • Water

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Start by taking a cutting from a healthy plant. The cutting should be about 6″ inches long and have at least 2 to 3 nodes (joints).
  • Next, fill a pot or container with potting soil and make a hole for the cutting.
  • Insert the cutting into the hole and firm the soil around it.
  • Water the cutting well and place it in a warm, sunny location.
  • Keep the soil moist but not wet.

Within a few weeks, you should see new growth. Once the plant has rooted, you can transplant it into a larger pot or container.

Pachycereus Pringlei Pests And Diseases

Pachycereus pringlei is generally a healthy plant that does not succumb to many pests or disease problems.

However, mealybugs can be a problem, especially if the plant is kept too wet. 

Mealybugs are small, white insects that feed on the sap of plants. They can cause yellowing of the leaves and stunted growth.

If you see mealybugs on your plant, treat them with insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Pachycereus pringlei is also susceptible to root rot if the soil is too wet.

Root rot is a fungal disease that can kill the roots of a plant and cause the stem to collapse.

If you think your plant has root rot, remove it from the pot and check the roots. If they are brown and mushy, the plant has root rot and should be discarded.

To prevent root rot, plant pachycereus pringlei in well-drained soil and do not overwater it.

Suggested Uses For The Moon Cactus

Pachycereus pringlei is a beautiful plant that makes a great addition to any home. It can be used as a houseplant, patio plant, or landscape.

It is relatively easy to care for and does not require much attention.

For example, you can place it in a bright spot in your home and water it when the soil is dry.

It can also tolerate some neglect and is a good plant for those who travel often or do not have much time to care for their plants.

Pachycereus pringlei is also a popular plant for bonsai. Bonsai is the art of growing miniature trees in pots or containers.

Pachycereus pringlei makes a good bonsai plant because of its slow growth rate and interesting shape.

If you are looking for a beautiful, easy-to-care-for plant, then pachycereus pringlei is a good choice.

The night-blooming cereus is also a great plant for beginners.

With a little care, it will thrive and provide beautiful flowers.