Arming Your Cactus

Cacti have the right to bear arms. No second amendment needed. But how does one go about getting that “classic” cactus silhouette from your columnar cultivar that likes to put out just one main section? The one in these photos is an Echinopsis lageniformis (aka Trichocereus bridgesii) and when you cut it back it usually just puts out new pups right at the top. Sometimes only one pup but have seen up to four on this variety which was taken from a Kohres seed grown specimen.

E. langenformis T. Bridgesii
E. langenformis TBK002, armed and dangerous

The way I got it to put out side arms was to wait until it was about 4.5′ tall then chop off the top couple feet during the middle of the growing season. Then give it lots of water, lots of sunlight, some fertilizer, and let mother nature do her thing. Hopefully you’ll then see some pups emerging lower down on the column. About two years later these arms are over a foot each.

E. langenformis T. Bridgesii
TBK002 reaching for the sky

One thing you have to watch out for when growing this variety and related varieties in containers outside their native habitat is they tend to get “wasp waisted” and the lower base section stays relatively thin while the upper sections get fatter and fatter making for a plant that eventually will get too top heavy for the thin lower column to support. To get around this you need to chop the main column and replant the whole thing lower down in the soil so the thinnest part is below ground.

Base just doesn’t get any thicker while the rest of the plant puts on the pounds…. Container Cactus Syndrome?
E. langenformis T. bridgesii TBK002
We are the arms of the world! TBK002. 2021