Cephalocereus senilis, Cephalocereus, hairy cacti, hairy cactus, woolly cacti, cacti that have hair, hairy cactus plants,

Why do some Cacti have Hair ?

Hi Guys ๐Ÿ˜€ 

In todays article I am going to be talking about the hairy cacti and why do some Cacti have Hair ?

I have also made a very special video for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on ‘Why do some Cacti have Hair ?’ and you can watch this video below or by clicking HERE:

We have all seen those hairy cacti that are often seen in Cactus growers collections and often sold for sale at most Cactus nurseries and garden shops, these hairy and wacky looking cactus plants are often called ‘old Man’ or ‘old Lady Cactus’ and you have one or two or more of these hairy cactus plants already in your collection, but have you ever wondered why these cactus plants have hair ? and why do only some cacti have hair and not the others ? 

Well in this article I will be explaining the reasons why, but first I am going to mention the most common types of Cacti that you often see that are ‘Hairy’.


Espostoa with lots of woven woolly hair
Espostoa with lots of woven woolly hair

Espostoa are a genus of columnar cacti and there is 16 different types if species that in their natural habitats come from the Andes of southern Ecuador and Peru. Espostoa grows at an altitude of between 800m and 2500m. The genus is named after Nicolas E. Esposto, a renowned botanist from Lim.



Cephalocereus senilis
Cephalocereus senilis with lots of wild and wacky white hair.

Cephalocereus are a genus of columnar cacti of which there is said to be over 100 different species but only 5 are accepted. Cephalocereus are native to central and southern Mexico, in its natural habitat it is threatened by extinction but is a very common cactus in cultivation. The genus  comes from the Greek word “kephale” meaning “head”and the Latin word”cereus”meaning “wax taper (a candle) or torch


Oreocereus produce white woolly hair
Oreocereus produce white woolly hair

Oreocereus are a genus of columnar cacti from high altitudes of the Andes in south America. This cactus is most commonly known as ‘The Old Man of the Andes’. The name Oreocereus means “mountain cereus”, formed from the Greek prefix oreo- and the New Latin ‘cereus’ meaning wax taper ( a candle) or torch.


Cleistocactus colademononis Cactus,Cleistocactus colademononis flowers, Cleistocactus colademononis blooms,
Cleistocactus colademononis in flower, this wacky Cactus produces lots of trailing stems full of white fluffy hair.
Cleistocactus Seedlings with woolly hair
Cleistocactus Seedlings with woolly hair.

Cleistocactus are mostly columnar Cacti native to the mountainous regions of South America. Although most Cleistocactus are columnar growers some Cleistocactus will be ‘hairy’ such as Cleistocactus colademononsis and Cleistocactus winterii these Cleistocacti are trailing cacti. Clesitocactus are found in Uruguay, Bolivia, Argentina, and Peru. The name Cleistocactus comes from the Greek ‘kleistos’ meaning closed due to the tubular flowers that do not open up like other cactus flowers and instead remain thin and tubular to attract small humming birds as well as bees to pollinate the flowers. 

5, MAMMILLARIA ( some but not all ) 

Mammillaria bocasana Cactus, Mammillaria bocasana flowers, hairy cacti, hairy cactus hairy Mammillarias,
The Mammillaria bocasana cactus produces white fluffy hair.
Mammillaria glassii with white fluffy hair in stunning pink bloom
Mammillaria glassii with white fluffy hair in stunning pink bloom, 

Mammillarias are small cacti often globular or short with cylindrical stems growing either soliatory or in clumps ( pups ) Some Mammillaria will be ‘hairy’ like the Mammillaria bocasana and Mammillaria glassii and Mammillaria Senilis. Mammillaria are the largest genus of the Cactus family, there are around 250 different species of Mammillarias that come from Mexico and in southwest USA.  The name Mammillaria comes from Latin mammilla meaning “nipple”, referring to the tubercles that are a very distinctive feature of the genus. 

So then Why Do Some Cacti have Hair ? 

Cacti produce hair to protect themselves from the elements in their natural habitats, including the harsh intense suns rays and also to protect themselves from the cold nights that can sometimes drop to below freezing, the difference in cultivation is that these Cacti would not be exposed to such extreme temperature drops from over 100F during the day to below zero at night, well hopefully not in our homes and greenhouses anyway haha.

Cactus Plants that don’t produce hair or only produce very little hair are Cactus plants that can tolerate the harsh sunshine levels or they may grow naturally in their habitats surrounded and sheltered by vegetation that protect them.

Some cacti also produce hair to capture what little moisture and dew may be in the air especially in the early mornings, some Cacti can actually absorb water from the hair-like wool and needles.

There are some species of Cacti that don’t have hair on their plant bodies will produce hair when they are producing flower buds, Cactus varieties such as Echinopsis and Trichocereus will do this, they produce the hair on their buds to protect the developing bud from excess sun.

Other Cacti like Pilosocereus and other types of columnar Cacti from all over South America, develop the woolly/ hairy, โ€œcephaliumโ€ when they have reached maturity to flower, they produce this woolly hair at the area where the Cactus is going to bloom, the ‘hairy’ cephalium helps to protect the developing buds from harsh intense sunshine.

There are also some other Genus of Cacti that produce white hair too such as some of the Opuntia ‘Prickly Pear Cacti like Opuntia Polyacantha erinacea  

Some Cacti produce 'Hairy' buds
Some Cacti like Echinopsis produce ‘hairy’ buds, this hair helps to protect the developing buds from strong sunshine.
Pilosocereus produce white hair when they are mature enough to flower
Pilosocereus columnar Cacti produce a Cephalium with white hair when they are mature enough to flower, this woolly Cephalium helps to protect future buds from the strong intense sunshine.

Is Cactus Hair really Hair ?

Cactus hair may look like hair and even feel like hair but is Cactus hair really hair ? well the answer to this is no, and that is because real hair as in Human and animal hair is made up of a protein called ‘Keratin’ and Cactus hair is actually modified spines that develop from a group of cells called ‘Spine Primordia’

But what if my Cactus isn’t meant to be hairy but has bits of white woolly hair on it ? 

Now if you are sure that your cactus is not one of these ‘hairy’ ones then you may have a problem and thats because there is something else that can be mistaken for hair and that is the dreaded Mealy Bug ‘Beasties’, these pests will produce white woolly nests on your cactus plants and love to hide their woolly nests in between the spines and often on the areoles ( the area where spines emerge ) where they are very hide to see, if mealy bugs are the reason your none hairy cactus is suddenly getting ‘hairy’ then you will need to take immediate action and isolate the cactus/s from your other collection and remove any bugs and their woolly nests with rubbing alcohol and a brush and treat with either repeated weekly treatments with horticultural Neem oil mixed with a horticultural soap or use a Systemic insecticide for dealing with Mealy Bugs. If you have a greenhouse/polytunnel you can also use the predatory mite Ladybug called Cryptolaemus montrouzieri, but these predatory Ladybugs need a warm tropical temperature of at least 16c / 60F to reproduce, but these predatory Cryptolaemus montrouzieri Ladybugs can still be very effective against Mealy Bugs if they are used during the warm Summer months in a greenhouse /glasshouse /polytunnel. I have made a video on my Cactus and Succulent You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on How to treat Mealy Bugs on Cactus, including a special video on ‘How to treat Mealy Bugs on very hairy and or spiny Cacti‘ and you can watch this video by clicking HERE:   

Mealy Bugs on a Ferocactus
Mealy Bugs on a Ferocactus, If you notice woolly nests on your none ‘Hairy’ cactus it could be Mealy Bugs and you need to act fast.

I hope you enjoyed this Article on ‘Hairy Cactus plants’ and if you don’t have any hairy cacti in your collection then why not add one of these beauties to your collection.

If you want to have a look at the different types of ‘Hairy’ Cacti that I have in my Cactus Collection then please do check out the video below that I have made for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon.

If you have always wondered why Cacti have Spines ? then please do check out the video I have made for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on ‘Why do Cacti have Spines ? ‘

For lots more Tips and Tricks on How you can care for and grow your Cacti and Succulents then please do check out my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon and please do Subscribe ๐Ÿ˜€ 




Top 5 Cactus Plants to Grow for Beginners

Hi Guys ๐Ÿ˜€ 

In this Blog I am going to be talking about the Top 5 Cactus Plants that are great for beginners.

There are many amazing cactus plants that are available to buy and grow but if you are new to the hobby and passion of growing these incredible plants it can be a bit difficult to know what types of Cacti to begin with as some are much easier to grow and get to flower than others.

I have a lot of favourite Cacti that I can recommend that are easy growing for newbies to the hobby, but not all of them are easily available to purchase in the garden shops or online and if I was to pick just 5 of the easiest Cacti to find and to grow these are the Top 5 that I recommend. 


This Cactus Genus is often overlooked and yet it is one of the most beautiful and easy growing of cacti to grow especially for beginners. Rebutia are often nice and compact small clump forming growing plants that are ideal for windowsills and apartments, they are low maintenance and as long as you give them a cool and dry winter rest period they will often flower abundantly from spring and Summer with a multiple of beautiful small blooms. 

Rebutia like a sunny position in Spring and Summer and like to be grown in a well draining Cactus soil with a monthly fertilising once a month from Spring until late Summer.

Here is a video below I have made for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants Of Avalon of my Rebutia albipilosa Cactus with a beautiful abundance of bright orange blooms: 

Here is a video below I have made for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants Of Avalon of my Rebutia Perplexa with a bright pink bouquet of flowers: 



Mammillaria Cacti are fantastic plants for beginners and they are very commonly seen for sale in Garden centres and online cactus nurseries.

Mammillaria are very easy flowering as long as you give them plenty of sunshine and they love a cool Winter dry rest period. Some Mammillarias can grow large over time and some can stay small and compact too depending on the variety of Mammillaria.

 Here is a video below I have made for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants Of Avalon of my Mammillaria carmenae Cactus Plant with a Garland of white flowers :



Echinopsis Cacti are often known as ‘The Sea Urchin Cacti’ or ‘The Domino Cacti’ due to many of the globular type of Echinopsis resembling a sea urchin in their appearance. Echinopsis cacti are also very readily available for purchase in many Garden centres and online nurseries and can be found in many forms and in a huge variety of differnt flowering colours, they are very highly hybridised and because of this almost any colour of flower can be seen with this Genus from white to yellow to red and pink and orange.

Echinopsis is also an easy one to get to flower and as long as you can give them a cool and dry winter rest they will flower often multiple times from spring and Summer often with highly scented blooms.

Here is a video below I have made for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants Of Avalon of my Echinopsis subdenudata Cactus with a fountain of beautiful blooms:


Gymnocalycium Cacti are wonderful globular Cacti that are also very easy flowering plants. Most Gymnocalyciums prefer a bit more shade than others but they will often let you know if they need less sun by taking on a slight yellow appearance but most commonly available for sale Gymnocalycium can take plenty of sunshine if protected from very intense full sun desert conditions.

Gymnocalyciums like most of the Cacti like a cool and dry winter rest period and can take plenty of after during their active growing and flowering season from spring and summer as long as the soil is a well draining cactus mix and the soil is allowed to dry out in between waterings as these Cacti have a tendency to lose their roots if kept too wet for too long but as long as these conditions are met then they are very easy cacti to grow and flower.

Here is a video below I have made for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants Of Avalon of my Gymnocalycium pflanzii cactus in beautiful bloom. :



Opuntia Cacti commonly known as ‘The Prickly Pear’ are very often seen for sale in Garden Shops and Florist Shops the Opuntia microdasys being the most common one.

Opuntia Cacti are like the ‘Marmite’ of the cactus world haha you either LOVE them or HATE them.

Personally I LOVE them, they have such character and have a wonderful almost comical look about them.

The Opuntia Genus is MASSIVE as there are so many different types of Opuntias some are small and compact and some are HUGE, also the Tephrocactus, Cylindropunta also fit under the whole Opuntia group of Cacti and this Genus is so varied that some Cactus collectors specialise in this whole genus by itself.

Although Opuntias them selves are easy to grow and many can take very low Winter temperatures making them ideal for greenhouses and even outdoor gardens in Summer and can even be grown outdoors in Northern Hemispheres if given a very sheltered position and protected from rain and frost. Many Opuntias can certainly take more humidity than many of the other cacti can too.

Most of the Opuntias are very fast growing and can grow large though so if you are short on space it may be best to concentrate on the many smaller growing Opuntias that are available such as the Opuntia microdasys ‘minima’ or the Tephrocacti. 

If you are into flowers though Opuntia are not the easiest to get to flower in cultivation so bear that in mind if you are more into flowers, but personally I just LOVE the appearance of Opuntia even if they are hard to get to flower in cultivation.

Given plenty of sunshine and a cool and dry winter rest period they can still flower in cultivation and here is a video below that I have made for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants Of Avalon of my Opuntia Stricta Cactus with a beautiful bright yellow bloom. :

I hope that you found this Blog on The Top 5 Cactus Plants To Grow For Beginners useful and if you want to watch a video I have made for my You Tube Channel Called Desert Plants Of Avalon on The Top 5 Cactus Plants To Grow For Beginners Here is the Video : 

Thank you all for reading and lets all have a fantastic time growing these AMAZING plants.