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This plant was first described less than 10 years ago but has already had several changes of name! It was published as Hildewintera colademononis in 2003, but a few days earlier had been invalidly published (but that is another story!) as Hildewintera polonica. In 2005, Hunt renamed this plant as Cleistocactus winteri subsp. colademono, whilst accepting that it might possibly be of hybrid origin. Given that recent DNA studies may suggest that Cleistocactus and Borzicactus (including Hildewintera) are good genera in their own right, then the next name change is awaited with interest!

0912 Cleisto colademono

But back to the plant – whatever its name, it is worthy of a place in every cactus collection. It is easy to cultivate, using your usual well-draining cactus mix (e.g. John Innes with added coarse grit), and benefits from plenty of water in the spring and autumn; water less in summer and not at all in winter.

0912 Cleisto colademonoflower

In habitat, in the state of Florida in Bolivia, it grows on cliffs with its long pendent stems hanging down. So in cultivation it benefits from growing either on the edge of a shelf or, when it becomes a more mature clump of stems, in a hanging basket. Young plants grown from seed develop their pendulous nature almost immediately, but have quite short spines. As the plant matures, it develops long hairs or bristles and these continue to grow longer and longer as time goes by. It is from these bristly areas that the spectacular and showy flowers grow. If you are lucky, several flushes of flowers will appear in both the spring and autumn.

The illustrations show a mature plant with flowers and bristles and two younger plants, about two and a half years old from seed.

Tony Roberts

 
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