Tephrocactus strobiliformis

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Tephrocactus strobiliformis

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Tephrocactus articulatus var. strobiliformis is a small succulent which grows in segmented stems that resemble pine cones. It suckers profusely and is very easy to grow by just knocking off one of the “cones” and replanting it in the ground.

A mature plant resembles a vertical stack of pine cones. Tephrocactus articulatus var. strobiliformis is an interesting container plant that can be grown outside in Southern California. Tephrocactus articulatus var. strobiliformis is also appropriate for sheltered cactus, succulent, rock and xeriscape gardens where it will not be bumped into.

A medium green color in light shade, Tephrocactus articulatus var. strobiliformis  gets a pinkish cast in full sun. The 2-inch long white flowers are a nice contrast to the color of the plant.

Use care when handling this plant as the little glochids at the areoles are quite a nuisance. When handling plants with glochids (tiny little spines) you can use disposable gloves. Regular gloves work will work at the beginning, but once glochids get inside them you won’t want to put them on again. Tephrocactus articulatus var. strobiliformis looks best when slightly distressed when the rich browns and reds come out. A great trick we have discovered here at the nursery is placing a 1gal inside a slightly larger can like a two gallon pot. That way the sides of the interior can are shaded from the sun and the larger can helps hold up the 1gallon container very well. We tried this out after noticing that can temps can reach 180 on the surface and sides!

This little cactus looks great in a container. The small pieces sort of get lost in a larger landscape. Try not to let the plant get too dry as its sections will begin to dislodge and fall. You can just pick them up and place them elsewhere if you would like some more. Be sure and control weeds before planting them in a bed, weeds become very difficult to remove without breaking apart the plant.

Horticultural Data

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Names and Synonyms: Tephrocactus articulatus f. strobiliformis, Opuntia strobiliformis
Common Names: Pine Cone Optunia, Pine Cone Cactus
Family: Cactaceae
Origin: Northwestern Argentina
Size Label: 1 Gallon
Height: 6″ to 12″?
Width: 12″
Cold Tolerance: 25 to 30°F; -3.9 to -1.1°C
Heat Tolerance: Extreme heat tolerance
Light Requirement: Full sun to light shade
Water needs: Drought tolerant, but likes more water in summer and to be dryer in winter.
Maintenance: Use care when handling this plant as the little glochids at the areoles are quite a nuisance; gloves work best for handling this plant. When handling plants with glochids (tiny little spines) you can use disposable gloves. Regular gloves work will work at the beginning, but once glochids get inside them you won’t want to put them on again. This little cactus looks great in a container. The small pieces sort of get lost in a larger landscape. Try not to let the plant get too dry as its sections will begin to dislodge and fall. You can just pick them up and place them elsewhere if you would like some more. Be sure and control weeds before planting them in a bed, weeds become very difficult to remove without breaking apart the plant. Tephrocactus strobiliformis looks best when slightly distressed when the rich browns and reds come out. A great trick we have discovered here at the nursery is placing a 1gal inside a slightly larger can like a two gallon pot. That way the sides of the interior can are get shaded from the sun and the larger can helps hold up the 1 gallon container very well. We tried this out after noticing that can temps can reach 180 on the surface and sides! This little cactus looks great in a container. The small pieces sort of get lost in a larger landscape. Try not to let the plant get too dry as its sections will begin to dislodge and fall. You can just pick them up and place them elsewhere if you would like some more. Be sure and control weeds before planting them in a bed weeds become very difficult to remove without breaking apart the plant.
Uses: This is an interesting container plant that can be grown outside in Southern California. It is also appropriate for sheltered cactus, succulent, rock and xeriscape gardens where it will not be bumped into.
Propagation: Propagate by segment cuttings or occasionally seeds. It suckers profusely and is very easy to grow by just knocking off one of the “cones” and replanting it in the ground.
Problems: Root and fungal rot in poor draining, wet soils.
Special notes: Tephrocactus strobiliformis is a small succulent which grows in segmented stems that resemble pine cones. It is a medium green color in light shade, and gets a pinkish cast in full sun. The 2-inch long white flowers are a nice contrast to the color of the plant. A mature plant resembles a vertical stack of pine cones.
Research Links:

http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/71450/
http://www.llifle.com/Encyclopedia/CACTI/Family/Cactaceae/16060/Tephrocactus_articulatus_var._strobiliformis
http://plantlust.com/plants/tephrocactus-articulatus-var-strobiliformis/

Shipping & Availability

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There is a minimum purchase of any 4 plants for online orders. All plants shipped bare root. Other sizes may be available for pick up from our growing grounds in Fallbrook, CA. For more information, give us a call at 760-990-4762.
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