Trichocereus huascha (syn. Echinopsis huascha) | ‘Red Torch’ | 25 seeds
Trichocereus huascha (‘Red Torch’ or, less often, ‘Desert’s Blooming Jewel’) is a popular clumping columnar cactus which is native to northwest Argentina. More properly described under modern taxonomy as Echinopsis huascha, this light-green species has also gone by many other synonyms, notably including Cereus huascha, Helianthocereus grandiflorus, Helianthocereus huascha, Lobivia grandiflora and Trichocereus rowleyi. An attractive and distinct variety, Trichocereus huascha var. grandiflora, is also popular in cultivation.
Usually reaching a metre to a metre and a half tall once mature, the ‘Red Torch’ grows in small groups, branching (upright or semi-prostrate) from the base, with each stem growing to roughly eight centimetres in diameter. The plant is covered in unequal, yellow to brown spines, up to seven centimetres or so in length. Scentless, bell or funnel-shaped blooms (up to ten centimetres long and seven centimetres across) appear from the stem tips between late spring to mid-summer and are coloured orange-red-yellow. Unusually – compared to its cousins such as Trichocereus pachanoi, at least – these fabulous flowers appear in the daytime. Oval to round, green-red-yellow fruits follow the flowers, growing to roughly three centimetres in diameter.
Often cultivated for use in creating ornamental hybrids and for populating cactus gardens, in the wild, Trichocereus huascha grows in mildly-acidic to mildly-alkaline soil in semi-arid and arid regions in USDA Hardiness Zones 9-11, at an altitude of between five hundred to two thousand metres.
As with most of the Trichocereus genus, the ‘Red Torch’ is pretty easy to raise from seed; sow in containers (we recommend following a ‘Takeaway Tek’ like the one in our Cultivation section), transplanting to larger individual ones after six months to a year (dependent on your climate). Cacti require regular but moderate watering, good drainage and full sun. If planting this species in the ground, space each plant approximately a metre apart so that they have plenty of room to reach their full potential!
All the seed sold by Arkham’s Botanical was freshly and ethically sourced this year