What Is the Penis Cactus and How to Care for It?

The Penis Cactus, scientifically known as Trichocereus bridgesii monstrose, is a unique and visually intriguing cactus. It is a nursery-produced cultivar characterized by its distinctive phallic shape and blue-green hue.
A cactus penis in a pot.

The term “Penis Cactus” is a colloquial name that refers to a specific type of cactus known scientifically as Trichocereus bridgesii. It is also commonly called the “Bolivian Torch” due to its origin in Bolivia and its elongated columnar shape. The nickname is due to the cactus’s appearance, resembling a phallic shape. The cactus grows upright, reaching heights of up to ten feet in its natural habitat. The Bolivian torch cactus features bright yellow spines as long as eight inches. The cactus thrives in relatively warm climates with plenty of sun exposure.

So, how do you take care of a penis cactus? The Bolivian torch cactus prefers full sun exposure making it an ideal option for your outdoor garden. Being a drought-resistant plant, it doesn’t need frequent watering. You should only water it when the potting mix is completely dry. Fertilize your Bolivian torch cactus once a month during the active growing seasons (spring, summer, and fall). Be sure to use a small amount of slow-release fertilizer. The cactus thrives in temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Prune it regularly to prevent it from toppling over if you’re growing it indoors. Watch out for common pests such as aphids and mealybugs, and consider repotting your cactus every two or three years.

This blog post discusses everything you need to know about the Bolivian torch cactus and how to take care of it. Read on to learn more.

Penis Cactus: An Overview

The penis cactus, scientifically known as Trichocereus bridgesii but commonly referred to as the Bolivian torch cactus, is a fascinating and striking member of the cactus family.

Native to the high altitudes of Bolivia, this unique cactus has captured the attention of plant enthusiasts and curious minds alike.

The Bolivian torch cactus boasts an impressive columnar growth habit, often reaching heights of 10 to 20 feet (3 to 6 meters). Its elongated, ribbed stems exhibit a distinctive bluish-green hue adorned with prominent areoles and spines.

A cactus eccentric shape like penis.
It is a fascinating and striking member of the cactus family.

One of its most notable features is its uncanny resemblance to a phallic shape, earning it the humorous nickname “penis cactus.”

Indigenous to the high-altitude regions of Bolivia, specifically the Andean Mountain ranges, the penis cactus thrives in arid and rocky landscapes. It is a hardy species, adapted to withstand extreme temperatures and water scarcity.

Known for its psychoactive properties, the cactus has played a significant role in religious and healing rituals for centuries.

With increasing interest in the Bolivian torch cactus for ornamental and ceremonial purposes, the species faces potential threats from overharvesting and habitat destruction.

That is why many plant conservationists worldwide have started conservation efforts to protect this unique cactus and its natural habitat, encouraging responsible cultivation and ethical practices.

Taking Care of the Penis Cactus

Now that you know a bit more about the penis cactus, let’s take a look at how to care for it. The tips and tricks highlighted below will help you achieve great success cultivating this cactus at home.

1. Watering

The Bolivian torch cactus is a drought-resistant succulent that doesn’t require frequent watering to thrive. In fact, the cactus has a relatively thick stem to store as much water as possible in its natural habitat.

Therefore, only water the cactus when the potting mix is completely dry. You can check for the dryness level by sticking your finger in the soil up to the first knuckle.

If the soil feels dry, go ahead and water your cactus deeply. Otherwise, give it a couple of days before you check again.

When potted, consider watering the cactus slowly and wait for the water to flow out of the bottom of the growing container. Empty all the excess water from the tray to avoid waterlogging your plant.

A water droplet in a cactus.
You can check for the dryness level by sticking your finger in the soil up to the first knuckle.

The watering frequency varies significantly with the season. The cactus is actively growing during spring, summer, and fall. Consider watering your cactus once per week to keep the potting mix slightly wet during this time.

Cut back on watering frequency during winter when the plant is dormant. Only water the cactus slightly during this time to keep the soil wet. Consider light watering once a week or every two weeks.

Water your Bolivian cactus with rainwater or distilled water. Avoid tap water since it contains a lot of magnesium, calcium, and other mineral salts that may cause soil compaction. Avoid splashing water on the stem during watering to prevent stem rot issues.

2. Light Requirements

The penis cactus is a sun-loving species and will thrive in bright, direct sunlight. When grown indoors, providing your cactus with the best possible light source is crucial. Typically, the cactus requires at least six hours of direct sunlight every day to thrive.

Choose an ideal spot that receives plenty of direct sunlight most times of the day. A south or east-facing windowsill is a good spot for your cactus.

A lady finger cactus exposed to light.
When grown indoors, providing your cactus with the best possible light source is crucial.

Feel free to supplement direct sunlight with artificial grow light if need be. Grow lights are great for providing additional light to your cactus during winter or if you live in an area that receives less sunshine.

Keep in mind that if you grow your penis cactus outdoors, it will require a few weeks of exposure to sunlight before it can tolerate full sun conditions.

Start by exposing your plant to dappled sunlight for several hours daily and gradually increase the exposure time.

3. Temperature and Humidity

The penis cactus enjoys a warm climate. It prefers temperatures between 65 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, although it can tolerate slightly cooler temperatures if necessary.

Avoid exposing your cactus to temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit for extended periods because it may cause irreversible rot to the plant.

The cactus thrives in dry air conditions, typically found in arid habitats. Low humidity levels will help keep the stems and spines healthy.

Consider increasing the humidity level of your home slightly if it is too dry for the cactus.

A simple way is to place a humidifier near the plant or use a shallow water tray filled with pebbles. Ensure the water level is below the pebbles, so your cactus won’t be sitting in water.

4. Soil Requirements

The penis cactus thrives in relatively fertile, gravel-rich, and highly draining succulent soil. The soil pH should be maintained at around 6-7.5.

You can buy a commercial succulent soil mix or make your own by combining perlite, pumice, vermiculite, potting soil, and sand in equal parts.

You should also add some organic matter, like well-rotted compost, to the soil mix to provide additional nutrition for the cactus.

Some gardeners prefer using a culture soil formula that is about 60% vermiculite, 20% sandy soil, and 20% coconut coir or peat moss for nutrients. Some prefer adding a small amount of organic potting soil to the mix.

A golden barrel cactus on hand being repot.
The soil pH should be maintained at around 6-7.5.

You must remember that the roots of the Bolivian torch cactus are quite sensitive to oxygen deficiency. Therefore, root rot can easily set in if the soil is poorly permeable to water and air.

It is pretty easy to determine the permeability of your soil. Pay attention to how fast the water flows through the potting mix when watering. If it takes too long, amend the soil with more perlite or pumice.

5. Fertilizing

The Bolivian torch cactus doesn’t require frequent fertilization to remain healthy and vigorous. You can provide your cactus with a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted in water three times per year.

During spring and summer, you can replace one of the regular watering sessions with a liquid fertilizer solution. Use half the recommended dose listed on the package to avoid salt buildup in the soil.

Avoid fertilizing your cactus during fall and winter when it is dormant, as this may lead to root burn.

You should also avoid using fertilizer if your penis cactus is in a container that has not been repotted for more than two years.

6. Repotting

With time your cactus will outgrow its pot. At this point, you must repot it into a larger one. This will give the root system enough space to spread and the plant to grow bigger.

Repot your Bolivian torch cactus once every two to three years during spring or early summer. Use a pot slightly bigger than the previous one and fill it with fresh succulent soil.

Water heavily after repotting to help the roots establish in the new container. Reserve fertilizing for the next season when the cactus starts showing signs of active growth.

7. Pests and Diseases

Finally, it is essential to keep an eye on your cactus for any signs of diseases or pests. If left untreated, these can cause severe damage to the plant, so treat them immediately.

Common diseases and pests include root rot, fungal infections, mealybugs, aphids, and spider mites. These can be treated with chemical sprays or organic solutions like neem oil and insecticidal soaps.

A san pedro cactus top view.
it is essential to keep an eye on your cactus for any signs of diseases or pests.

Be sure to observe the safety instructions listed on the packaging of chemical sprays. When using organic solutions, ensure you use 100% pure essential oils, not diluted ones.

Keep your cactus healthy by wiping off any dusty layers that may accumulate on its spines or stem from time to time. This will keep the plant clean and free from any pests.


The penis cactus is a beautiful and unique species that is easy to care for as long as you provide it with the right growing conditions.

With proper watering, light, humidity, soil, fertilizing, and pest management techniques, your Bolivian torch cactus can thrive indoors or outdoors for many years.

Last update on 2023-08-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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