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Plants that fill a similar niche:
Echinopsis oxygona Echinopsis Oxygona
Austrocylindropuntia subulata 'Cristata' Form
Salvia rosmarinus Rosmarinus officinalis
Cephalocereus senilis has some common insect problems:
Mealybugs

Cephalocereus senilis

Phonetic Spelling
sef-uh-low-SAIR-ee-us SEE-nil-is
Description

Old Man Cactus is a tall, columnar succulent in the cactus family with spines that form fine white hairs reminiscent of an old man.  It is native to Northeastern Mexico but becoming more challenging to find in its natural habitat, but widespread propagation and popularity in cultivation may reduce the demand on wild populations. Old Man Cactus has clusters of stems that may grow to16 to 50 feet tall. However, the most striking feature is the shaggy coat of long, white hairs, hence the common name old man cactus. The coat is particularly striking on the young cactus, but, as the plant ages, the stem loses its covering. The hairs are modified spines and serve to protect the plant from frost and sun by reflecting the rays of the sun and insulating the cactus from heat and cold.  The hairs are only the radial spines of the cactus; beneath them are sharp yellow central spines. The solitary, nocturnal flowers are red, yellow, or white, though the plant may not flower for 10 or 20 years.  

Old Man Cactus is a popular houseplant, grown for its woolly appearance. It prefers a fertile, well-drained soil mix and bright sunlight, which encourages growth of the hair. Water the plants well and allow them to dry before watering again. Using an unglazed pot for your indoor planting, which will allow excess moisture to evaporate. During the growing season, fertilize it monthly with a balanced fertilizer. If kept well-fed and watered throughout the warmest months, and acclimated to full sun, it can produce 7 inches of growth every year. If grown outside, place it in full sun; if inside provide bright light and some direct sun. During the winter, withhold water and fertilizer.

When moving a houseplant from the house to the outdoors, too much light too soon can cause the plant to become sunburned.  Place outdoors for a brief period of time, gradually increasing the sun exposure over a period of several weeks.  This will allow the plant to adjust to the increased sunlight.

Growing to heights of 50 feet in the wild, when grown as a houseplant it will typically reach a maximum height of 3-4 feet tall.  It can take upwards of 200 years for this plant to reach it full height when situated in its natural habitat.  

Diseases, Insect Pests, and Other Plant Problems:  Mealybugs, scale and other flying insects can be an issue as they are difficult to view due to the hairs present on the plant.

Susceptible to fungal diseases if overwatered. If kept damp through cold periods, they will suffer.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#heat tolerant#houseplant#drought tolerant#succulent#frost tender#interiorscape#winter interest#fall interest#rabbit resistant#disease resistant#deer resistant#spines#long lifespan#summer interest#spring interest#cactus#rocky soils tolerant#dry soils tolerant#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats#wet soils intolerant#showy#dry air tolerant#insect resistant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#heat tolerant#houseplant#drought tolerant#succulent#frost tender#interiorscape#winter interest#fall interest#rabbit resistant#disease resistant#deer resistant#spines#long lifespan#summer interest#spring interest#cactus#rocky soils tolerant#dry soils tolerant#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#non-toxic for cats#wet soils intolerant#showy#dry air tolerant#insect resistant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Cephalocereus
    Species:
    senilis
    Family:
    Cactaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Typically used as a houseplant/container plant.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    North Eastern Mexico
    Distribution:
    To Veracruz
    Play Value:
    Easy to Grow
    Dimensions:
    Height: 16 ft. 0 in. - 50 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 6 in. - 1 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Houseplant
    Succulent
    Habit/Form:
    Columnar
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Coarse
    Appendage:
    Spines
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    9b, 9a, 10b, 10a, 11b, 11a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Pink
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    The fruit, which are rare to form when grown as a houseplant, are usually obovoid. They will form 3-4 weeks after flowering.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Red/Burgundy
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Solitary
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Funnel
    Flower Petals:
    7 - 20 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    Flowers are nocturnal and may not appear until the cactus has reached 10 to 20 years old. solitary and grow one by one. Funnel shaped, including the ovary, 2 to 3 1/2 inches long, 3 inches in diameter, yellowish pink to rose-coloured.
  • Leaves:
    Hairs Present:
    No
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    Cylindrical, columnar, light to bright green, becoming gray, sometime branched from the base, top rounded. The individual stems are usually unbranched.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Houseplants
    Patio
    Landscape Theme:
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Rock Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Border
    Foundation Planting
    Specimen
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Diseases
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Insect Pests
    Rabbits