Botanical Name — Polaskia chichipe
Common Name — chichipe
Plant Family — Cactaceae
Polaskia chichipe is a columnar, densely branched cactus. Where it is endemic in central Mexico, it grows in sparsely vegetated areas on rocky cliff sides, and in shallow soils at elevations of up to 2,300 meters. It is slow growing, but, with maturity, can reach tree-like stature, achieving up to five meters or more in height.
- Polaskia chichipe cacti prefer plenty of sun. At least five hours of direct sun is ideal.
- If growing this plant outdoors, place it in an area where it will get light shade to protect it from intense, mid-day sun.
- These plants do best in high temperatures and low humidity. Ideal temperatures are above 70 ºF. These plants should be brought indoors when nighttime temperatures fall below 50 ºF.
- Polaskia chichipe prefer to stay on the dry side. In the summer water them only when the soil has dried out entirely. Always err on the side of under watering. They are built to withstand drought, and overwatering is one of the quickest ways to kill them.
- During the winter it’s safe to cut back on watering entirely. This will encourage flowering during the spring!
- These plants require a gritty, sharply draining soil mix. Amend regular potting soil with sand or fine pumice up to 50% to improve drainage and soil texture.
- In ideal conditions, this plant will produce small pink or yellow-green colored flowers. Flowers will typically bloom during late spring, early summer, though indoor-grown plants rarely receive the conditions needed to flower.
- To encourage flowering, reduce watering during the fall and suspend watering entirely during the winter. Be sure to give this plant plenty of sun as this is required for flowering to occur.
- Fertilization is generally not necessary for this plant. If your plant is container grown, and you want to refresh the soil or give it a nutrient boost, fertilize it once in early spring, the start of the growing season. Be sure to use a fertilizer formulated specifically for cacti.
- These plants can be easily propagated by stem cuttings. Cleanly cut off a piece of a stem or remove an entire branched segment. Place the piece in a shaded spot allowing the would to callous over for a few days before potting it into soil.
- These plants can also be reliably propagated from seed.
- These hardy plants are not especially susceptible to pests or diseases. Keep an eye out for pests that commonly affect houseplants, such as scale and mealybugs. Also look out for any unusual spotting that may be a sign of an infection.
- Treat pest-infested plants with diluted neem oil. If plants are infected with a bacterial or fungal disease, prune away any affected parts of the plant.
Maintenance (pruning, legginess, repotting)
- Little maintenance is required to keep these plants happy. They are slow growing and should need to be transplanted only once every two to three years. Be sure to pot into a container that is about two to three inches wider in diameter to give the plant plenty of room to grow.
- This plant has no toxic effects reported. Still it is sharp and can be dangerous. It is advisable to keep out of reach of pets and small children.