Trichocereus Chilensis is an ornamental columnar cactus from, as the name indicates, Chile. It was originally spelled "Chiloensis," although it was later pointed out that this spelling was technically incorrect if the cactus was to be named after Chile. At that point, Chilensis was adopted, but there have been controversies over whether the original named should still be used. Chilensis is capable of forming large treelike plants up to 25 feet in height and 5 inches in thickness. It has yellow spines that turn grey with age. In its youth it closely resembles the kk242 variety of T. peruvianus, although it typically has 10-17 notched ribs. This species is also valued for large, white nocturnal blooms that can extend as much as six inches. This species does well in the ground or in medium-sized pots in locations where it has to be moved indoors for the winter. In zones 10-12 it can be left outdoors all year round. It handles full sun well and is drought tolerant once established. Waterings should be deep and infrequent. During the dormant period plants should be kept cool and completely dry.
Seeds should be germinated in a fine sandy soil at about 70-75 degrees. A commercial potting mix with the larger material strained out is ideal. Flatten out the soil and then put a thin layer of loose soil above it. Sow the seeds on the surface and press in very lightly. They need light to germinate. Mist the soil to keep it moist and cover with clear plastic. Ideally, the covering should not be flat across the top because it will cause the water to drip back on the young seedlings, which sometimes causes rot. Something like a sandwich bag often makes a better “tent” because the water will run down the sides more easily. The soil should not be allowed to dry out while the plants are seedlings. Use a mister if the soil does get dry. Place the seedlings on a heat mat (ideally) and in bright light. Placing the seeds just a few inches from fluorescent lights is ideal for starting seedlings, although natural light will work too. Note that using a heat mat will cause more evaporation, which may require more attention. Be sure to air out the seedlings once a day for best results.
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