Growing and Care for Myrtillocactus Geometrizans (Blue Myrtle) cactus.
Myrtillocactus Geometrizans is a shrubby cactus that can grow as high as 13 to 16 feet (4 to 5 meters) tall. The mature plants have branches like a candelabra shape. Each stem has lengths between 3 and 4 inches (6 and 10 centimeters) in diameter, and five or six ribs. It also has areoles with spaces of about 3 centimeters between them.
You can also call the plant the Blue Myrtle cactus, probably because of its fruits and it is easy to grow. People usually use it indoors as houseplants, mainly because of its unique, developing form. The cactus would start as a single cactus, growing up and shaped like a column. Once it’s mature, you have a whole candelabra of branches.
Cultivation and History
Carl Friedrich Philipp von Martius initially discovered Myrtillocactus Geometrizans in 1837, and he called it the Cereus Geometrizans instead. But by 1897, Michelangelo Console, an Italian botanist, changed the name to Myrtillocactus Geometrizans as it was when people discovered it belongs to the Myrtillocactus genus.
The plant is native to Central and Northern Mexico, and you can find it in dry and hot conditions.
The Greek word, ‘myrtillus,’ which means myrtle—an evergreen shrub—birthed the name ‘Myrtillocactus.’ We owe the geometric patterns produced by the ribs of the plant for the second part of the name, Geometrizans.
The color of the cactus is primarily green, but you would also see alluring tonal hues of blue and gray, making the plant an attractive one and perfect as a houseplant. Because of its unique blend of colors, the plant has other names apart from Blue Myrtle cactus, including Whortleberry cactus, Blue candle, and Bilberry cactus.
The plant is easy to care for, and it is usually the first choice for many beginners and cacti enthusiasts. In addition, you can easily find the fruits from the Myrtillocactus Geometrizans in Mexican markets as a popular snack. Still, in 2003, plant communities restricted cacti sales because they endangered the survival of other plant species.
To ensure growth, you must cultivate Myrtillocactus Geometrizans cacti under the full sun, where plants receive light shade. They must especially be kept under the sun when they’re young. It would be best to water the cacti regularly during the summer months, but the soil should dry up before you water it again.
You also have to protect the cacti from frost when winter comes and add only a little water. If you’re using it as a potted plant, you should re-pot it once a year so that it grows properly. The cactus grows fast and high, too, so ensure that there’s enough room for growth.
Propagation & Varieties of Oak.
Usually, we propagate Myrtillocactus Geometrizans from seed, but you can also use softwood or woody cuttings during the summer. If you’re growing the plant from cuttings, softwood, and wood, then you need to ensure the surface is entirely calloused before planting it in soil. It also has to be dry if you want to ensure it takes root.
Propagating with Seeds.
Propagation should take place after cutting and during summer. If you’re propagating from a plant, collect the seeds from the ripe fruits, clean and dry them thoroughly. Once you have drained the soil and all frost has passed, you can plant the seeds.
It would be best to place seedlings in direct sunlight but well-ventilated and warm environments. Of course, you can give it a partial shade if the weather is scorching, but still, make sure it gets a lot of light.
Propagating with Cuttings.
Propagating with a cutting involves removing a stem starting from the closest part to the stem junction. Then, leave it out for about three weeks so that it completely dries or callouses.
You should ensure you drain the soil before planting the stem in it. Then, water it once and again when the soil is dried. Like with seedlings, you shouldn’t place cuttings under direct sunlight, and you should protect them with a partial shade.
How to Grow/Soil Type.
Myrtillocactus Geometrizans will only grow with well-drained soil, so you should note this when planting; This is because the roots won’t thrive or receive oxygen if there is too much moisture in the ground. You can avoid disease or root rotting with the correct soil type and ensure your cactus grows well.
You can use peat-free soil or mix coconut coir with sand, grit, or perlite. To make well-drained soil at home, you can mix sand, grit, or perlite and organic matter in a two-thirds to one-third proportion, respectively. You can also purchase cactus soil directly.
The next thing to look at is watering, and it’s important to note that the Myrtillocactus Geometrizans are pretty sensitive to water. Therefore, water the plant thoroughly and regularly, although not frequently, and you have to make sure the soil is dry before watering it again.
When the winter months come, further reduce the amount of water that you are giving the plant. The plant is dormant during winter, so it doesn’t require much water and nutrients because it grows slowly.
Since you have to wait for the soil to dry before watering the plant again, you need to poke your finger into the earth. If it feels dry, you can water it again. You will see signs like soggy stems and stagnant growth if you’re over-watering your plant.
But, if you’re under-watering Myrtillocactus Geometrizans, it would feel brittle and fragile. The branches and stem would also feel soft and look old.
Grow the Myrtillocactus Geometrizans plant indoors, except if your climate is scorching; then you can grow it outside. The position of a young plant should be under a partial shade but with a lot of sunlight. But, more mature plants would do better when there is a lot of sunshine.
When winter comes, place your cactus plant in an environment that is cool but still in a place where it gets natural sunlight.
Fertilizers & Flowering
You don’t have to add fertilizers to your Myrtillocactus Geometrizans plant during the winter months, but they would benefit from balanced cactus fertilizers during the summer. It’s best to add the fertilizer once a month to ensure the plant has a robust root system. Then, it can undergo fertilization during spring.
Place your plant in an environment that is cool during the winter and give it a little water. Only this way, you can get flowers from the Myrtillocactus Geometrizans when spring comes. The flowers have a greenish-white color and only last for a day.
After the day, dark purple berries, which are oblong, replace the flowers. The berries are also edible and sweet.
- You should keep the Myrtillocactus Geometrizans plant in temperatures down to 25 degrees Fahrenheit, and at night, it shouldn’t be left at temperatures
- below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The best time to re-pot this cactus plant is early spring.
- Cut down on water when the stems feel mushy or are brown.
- You should dilute the cactus fertilizer you’re applying at half-strength.
- It’s safe to stop watering your Myrtillocactus Geometrizans plant entirely during winter.
- You can encourage the plant to bloom if you take proper care of it during the dormant months.
- If you’re putting your cactus plant indoors, it should be at the window side facing south.
- Please don’t touch the plant’s tissues with your bare hands because it would get your fingerprints. Instead, you can wear gardening gloves when taking care of it.
- To check whether the soil is dry, you can check the earth at the bottom of the pot in the drainage holes.
- Don’t use spray bottles or misters to water your Myrtillocactus Geometrizans because this would only dampen the stems and branches and make them wilt. Instead, use a watering can directly to the soil.
Pruning and Maintenance.
Myrtillocactus Geometrizans cacti rarely need to be pruned, which is probably another feature that makes it perfect as a home plant and for those new to cacti. It is usual for the plant to continue growing and for the candelabra-style branches to continue extending, and is even the selling point of this plant.
Although you might not have to prune this plant, this doesn’t throw maintenance right out of the window. One way to maintain this plant is regular re-potting, which you should do every spring. Re-potting this plant is essential because it would need more space as it grows, but since the plant is low-maintenance, you don’t have to re-pot it all the time.
When re-potting Myrtillocactus Geometrizans, you should first check it for rotting roots and any wilted stems. You also have to have dry, well-drained soil ready to place the plant in. Once you have carefully planted it in the new pot, leave it for about a week to adjust to the new soil and pot. Then, you can start watering the plant usually and taking care of it.
The process of re-potting your Myrtillocactus Geometrizans is like what you do when propagating it with a cutting. However, it would be best to get a bigger pot because the plant would have become more prominent, allowing the roots to expand.
Here are some other tips to help you in maintaining your Myrtillocactus Geometrizans plant:
Cultivars to Select.
Under Myrtillocactus, we recognize four other species globally. What differentiates this cactus genera from the many others is that we accepted its taxonomy universally. All species are similar in their tree-like, multiple branches shape.
The two similar plants to the Myrtillocactus Geometrizans are the Crested Myrtillocactus Geometrizans and the Myrtillocactus Geometrizans Forma Cristata.
While the former is the crested form of the cactus plant, the latter is a slow-growing plant that reaches up to 4 meters but takes several years to do so and even bloom. Thus, the Myrtillocactus Geometrizans Forma Cristata is also called the Dinosaur Back plant.
Managing Pests and Diseases.
The Myrtillocactus Geometrizans plant is pretty decent for pests and diseases because the only problem you can have is the development of root rot. If you leave the plant in poorly drained or damp soil for too long, the roots will rot, causing damage to the entire plant.
Don’t be surprised if you see butterflies, moths, birds, and bees around your cactus plant because it is attractive to them.
Root rot in your Myrtillocactus Geometrizans plant results from poor soil, over-watering, and allowing the ground to remain wet without drying up. Although it’s not always straightforward to identify that the roots of your cactus plant are rotting, you can determine some symptoms.
If you’re dealing with root rot, you might also see it when you want to re-pot your Myrtillocactus Geometrizans during spring.
To deal with root rot, you only have to re-pot the plant. But ensure that you brush off any leftover soil from the plant’s roots and trim off all the rotten roots. You can identify them as the ones that are soft, mushy, brown, and black. Next, allow the cactus to dry, re-pot it, and water it less frequently but thoroughly.
Best Uses of Myrtillocactus Geometrizans.
The primary use of the Myrtillocactus Geometrizans plant is as a houseplant. However, since the plants are not toxic to people or pets and are very easy to take care of, they can be grown indoors as part of the decor.
The cactus plant is also usually added to landscapes or as grafting stock for other cacti. The fruits are also sold and eaten as a snack in Mexico, so they are cultivated for this purpose.