How Often Should I Water a Peruvian Apple Cactus?

If you are looking for an indoor plant that is an absolute show-stopper and is generally easy to look after, there can be no better option than the Peruvian apple cactus, especially for USA residents.

Known for its deep green thorny trunk and vibrant red apple-like edible fruit, the Peruvian apple cactus is a global favorite for its natural ornamental appeal and high tolerance.

Although this desert plant can produce seasonal, beautiful white flowers and several edible fruits throughout its life, it is generally desired for its ability to thrive in deprivation.

However, despite the undeniable endurance and high resistance, overwatering or excess atmospheric humidity will push the fruiting cactus to its premature death.

Keep reading to learn about the Peruvian apple cactus’ characteristic features and unique root system that makes the desert plant susceptible to overwatering.

The Peruvian Apple Cactus

The Cereus peruvianus, Cereus repandus, or the Peruvian Apple cactus, is one of the few flowering members of the Cactacea family that can produce edible fruit throughout its life.

Originating from areas of South America, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay, the beautiful thorny plant is desired for both its captivating beauty and high tolerance.

In general, a healthy and properly cared for Peruvian Apple cactus will last up to a decade and can grow to an impressive twenty feet in height in just five to six years.

Depending on the time of the year, the Peruvian cactus’ apple-like fruit changes its colors from a deep violet to a light yellow and is known for having a sweet and tangy flavor.

The tree-like flowering cactus has proven to be an excellent housewarming present and continues to be an internationally sought-after cactus for its unique qualities and attributes. 

How Often Should I Water a Peruvian Apple Cactus?

Although the Cactaceae family consists of a whopping 1866 different cacti species, they all generally have one thing in common; low water requirements.

Like all other cactuses, the Peruvian Apple cactus, or the Queen of the Night, thrives on deprivation and is naturally adapted to surviving in drought-tolerant conditions.

Hence, if you own a young or fully matured Peruvian Apple cactus, remember to only water it once every two to three weeks. The rule of thumb here is only to water the flowering cactus once when its soil has thoroughly dried up.

For this, you should insert an electric moisture meter into the Apple cactus’ soil or dip a wooden stick to check if it comes out dry.

Moreover, although it is best to water the Peruvian Apple cactus fortnightly, the desert plant’s watering requirements can change according to external atmospheric conditions.

High External Temperature

For instance, even though plants like the Peruvian Apple cactus are well-adapted to survive in the intense desert heat, they can however dehydrate and die if such conditions prevail for too long.

If the temperature in your house is too hot, any water you add to the Peruvian Apple cactus pot may evaporate before it is absorbed by the cacti’s roots.

When this gets repeated a few times, the Peruvian Apple cactus will end up using all of its stored water reserves and may die prematurely from dehydration.

Low External Temperature

Since desert plants like the Peruvian Apple cactus are adapted to growing in warm and hot weather, a steep temperature drop can be fatal for the plant.

If you water your Peruvian Apple cactus when the weather is too cold, the added water might freeze within the cacti’s potting soil. This can cause a fungal infection in the soil, eventually pushing the plant toward dehydration.

Hence, you must keep revising your Peruvian Apple cactus’ watering schedule with the changing weather to ensure the otherwise tough desert plant does not die before its time.

What Happens When a Peruvian Apple Cactus is Overwatered?

Although water is one of the key ingredients that enable the Peruvian Apple cactus to produce its essential plant food, too much water can be fatal.

The reason behind this is the Peruvian Apple cactus’ unique root system.

While most indoor house plants and succulents only absorb the amount of water their cell capacities allow, a Peruvian Apple cactus’ roots are designed to absorb and transport as much water as possible.

Although this will be super helpful for a Peruvian Apple growing in the desert where water is generally scarce, it can be dangerous for an indoor potted cactus.

When the inexperienced or uninformed plant parent keeps adding water to their Peruvian Apple cactus pot without first checking the soil for moisture, they end up causing a fungal infection in the cactus’ body. This disease is called stem or crown rot.

Crown Rot

As the overwatered Peruvian Apple cactus’ roots absorb and move excess water up the desert plant’s body, it soaks the cactus’ fleshy trunk, causing it to become heavy.

This turns the otherwise hard cactus body soft and mushy and attracts an airborne fungal infection. As the fungus begins to cause the cactus to rot from the inside out, the cactus begins to lose its immunity and strength and eventually succumbs to the fast-spreading fungal disease.

Care Tips for a Peruvian Apple Cactus

As mentioned above, the Peruvian Apple cactus is extremely resilient and super easy to care for. It is an excellent indoor plant for an inexperienced plant parent and a gem for establishments looking for ways to decorate their open spaces.

However, if you wish to protect your flowering Queen of the Night from crown rot, stunted growth, and death, learn all you can about the desert plant’s simple yet unique requirements.

Some of the top care tips for a Peruvian Apple cactus are listed below:

  • Water the cactus only after checking the moisture level of the potting mix
  • Invest in a good indoor ventilation system if the atmospheric humidity levels are too high
  • Invest in an infrared lamp to provide the cactus with artificial light and heat during the cold winter months
  • Place an indoor potted cactus on a sun-facing window sill
  • Fertilize the Peruvian Apple cactus during its peak growth months and regularly inspect its soil for infections and pest infestations.

Peruvian Apple Cactus, Cereus repandus, in 4 inch Pot, Crested, Clumped Rare Cacti

Final Thoughts – Bring Home a Peruvian Apple Cactus Now!

All young and mature Peruvian apple cactuses need to be watered once every two to three weeks. The goal is to only introduce additional moisture to the cactus’ soil once the potting mix feels bone dry. However, if you accidentally overwater the cactus, try to drain the excess water or report the desert plant into a fresh batch of well-draining and evenly dry sandy cactus soil.

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