Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
White haired cacti are among the most attractive plants you can find. Of course, we all know that this isnít like the real hair seen on animals, but it does have a hair-like appearance.
With their woolly forms, these hairy cacti are a pleasure to grow and have around. Here are some of the more commonly grown ones. Words like old man or old lady often appear in the names.
Old man cactus
Native to Mexico, old man cactus can eventually reach over 20 feet in height. This much ribbed, columnar plant has a greenish-gray body. It has many shiny white spines. These are pretty much covered by the long flowing silver hairs, which mat together.
The red blooms open during the night.
Commonly grown, this is one of the most popular cacti.
Old man of the Andes
Native to the Andes region of South America, this clump forming species has spreading stems that can reach over three feet in height. The new growth becomes more upright as it matures.
This plant is noted for the long, soft white hairs that emerge from the areoles. It also has slender, long, reddish spines.
The red blooms open during the day.
Old lady cactus
Native to Mexico, this lovely plant is named for the long, flowing, curly white hair. This pin cushion is particularly gorgeous. A miniature globular-shaped species, it grows to about four inches in diameter. The hair is accented with colorful, red-tipped spines.
Old lady cactus produces beautiful reddish-violet blooms.
Peruvian old man
Also known as cotton ball, this is native to Peru and other parts of South America. This columnar plant can eventually grow to be over 15 feet in height. The body has lots and lots of ribs. It is covered with long, pure white, woolly hair. The spines are tan or yellow.
Other Hairy Cacti
Austrocephalocereus dybowskii is native to Brazil. This columnar plant is covered with short, matted, white hairs. When mature, it can reach over a foot in height. Sticking through the hairs are long, slender, straw-colored spines. The whitish-yellow blooms open during the night.
Pilosocereus palmeri is also native to Brazil. This columnar cactus is clothed with soft, fluffy, white hairs. Growing to 18 feet or so in maturity, this has rounded ribs. There are long, sharp gray spines that emerge among the hairs.
The rounded, shell pink blooms have yellow centers. This needs a well drained potting mix. It rests during the winter when it prefers to be kept on the dry side.