Cryptocereus anthonyanus, or St. Anthony's Rick-Rack, is an epiphytic cactus native to Mexico. The stems are flattened and deeply lobed, with joints that are up to 3 feet (0.9 m) long and 3-6 inches (7.5-15 cm) wide. They are bright green in color and climb by aerial roots. Spines are translucent, usually 3 to each lobe and about 1/8 inch (3.17 mm) long. Morphologically, the spines are leaf homologues, but the lobed emergences are expanded stems that correspond to leaf bases. Plants are easy to grow and very showy when in bloom.
Blooming: In the greenhouse, this cactus blooms in early to mid spring. The very showy red and yellow-cream blooms are nocturnal. Individual blooms reach up to 6 inches (15 cm) long and 3-5 inches (7.5-13 cm) wide. They are very fragrant.
Culture: Cryptocereus anthonyanus need partial shade to very high interior lighting, with a well drained soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 1 part sand, with small pine bark added to ensure good drainage. The plants are well watered and allowed to dry slightly before watering again. We fertilize them monthly with a balanced fertilizer. When the soil mix breaks down, these plant often have a problem with the roots not getting enough air. To remedy this problem, we repot the plant every other year. During the winter months, we let the nighttime temperatures drop to around 50°F (10°C). Water is restricted during this period and fertilizer is withheld.
Propagation: Cryptocereus anthonyanus is very easily propagated from cuttings and seed when available.
Cryptocereus anthonyanus was featured as Plant of the Week July 20-26, 2007.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.