Cereus forbesii f. monstrose ‘Ming Thing’
KER-ee-us FORBZ-ee-eye mon-STROH-ee
Synonyms of Cereus forbesii (11) (Updated on 12-4-20): Cereus cochabambensis Cárdenas, Cereus cochabambensis var. longicarpa Cárdenas, Cereus comarapanus Cárdenas, Cereus hankeanus F.A.C.Weber ex K.Schum., Cereus huilunchu Cárdenas, Piptanthocereus comarapanus (Cárdenas) F.Ritter, Piptanthocereus forbesii (C.F.Först.) Riccob., Piptanthocereus forbesii var. bolivianus F.Ritter, Piptanthocereus hankeanus (F.A.C.Weber ex K.Schum.) Riccob., Piptanthocereus huilunchu (Cárdenas) F.Ritter, Piptanthocereus labouretianus Riccob.
Cereus forbesii C.F.Först. is the correct and accepted scientific name for this species of cacti. It was described as such by Carl Friedrich Förster in Handbuch der Cacteenkunde in 1846. However, it was FIRST described in 1844 as Cereus forbesii Otto by Christoph Friedrich Otto (with other authors) in Cactaceae in Horto Dyckensi Cultae. For some reason, Otto’s description was not accepted or validly published. However, some websites do list Otto as the accepted author. Information on Wikipedia for Carl Friedrich Förster is not in English.
Dave’s Garden continues to list Cereus validus f. monstrose ‘Ming Thing’ as the accepted species. According to Plants of the World Online by Kew, Cereus validus is a synonym of Cereus hildmannianus. Tropicos from Missouri Botanical Gardens, says Cereus validus is a synonym of Cereus forbesii and Cereus forbesii is a synonym of Cereus validus… Hmmm…
I wrote a lengthy discussion about which websites said what on this page in 2017 but then decided to rewrite it… Most websites are on track with Plants of the World Online now as The Plant List is no longer maintained. A new site, World Flora Online, is taking the place of The Plant List, but it uploaded all the old data from The Plant List which hasn’t been updated since 2013. It is a work in progress, I know. They are supposed to upload correct and updated data from Plants of the World Online at some point…
The genus, Cereus Mill., was named and described by Philip Miller in the fourth edition of The Gardeners Dictionary in 1754. Plants of the World Online by Kew currently list 25 accepted species in the Cereus genus (as of 12-4-20 when I am updating this page). It is a member of the Cactaceae Family with 144 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made.
THERE ARE SEVERAL LINKS AND GROWING RECOMMENDATIONS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING.
I bought my first Cereus forbesii f. monstrose ‘Ming Thing’ on 7-15-09 at Lowe’s in Greenville, Mississippi when I was living at the mansion in Leland. I thought the plant was so AWESOME and weird looking that I just had to bring it home. It was the first of many cacti for me and it taught me a lot.
Cereus forbesii is native to parts of Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay and grows in a variety of habitats. The species is shrubby and tree-like with many branches and can grow up to 21 feet tall. GEEZ!!! The species looks nothing like the monstrose or other forms that can mutate. The monstrose form CAN appear in nature OR in the horticulture field. It happens when the main stem is damaged by a hungry and curious insect or on purpose by humans or aliens and then it starts mutating. Ummm, maybe I should leave out the alien part.
I really liked this plant but it was filling the pot so I decided it needed re-potting. I don’t remember what all I used, but it was a little of this and that. I was a newbie to cactus and succulents at the time. 🙂
When I repotted this plant, I noticed I could divide it. So, I did. I named them #1, #2, and #3. #2 died sometime in 2012 so I brought the two with me when I moved back to the family farm in mid-Missouri in February 2013.
I had to keep most of the plants in the basement for the remainder of the winter. They did fine for the most part.
But they were glad when spring came and they could be moved outside. I picked a spot next to a shed to rebuild the plant tables I brought from Mississippi. This plant had weird spots but I didn’t realize what they were at first…
Doing very well…
Sometimes we do things we regret later on. I always regretted dividing this plant but I suppose I did it as an experiment and because I wanted more.
There was something weird going on with some of the cactus. Something was chewing on them and I couldn’t figure it out. Sometimes during the day, I would see a grasshopper on the plants but they weren’t chewing on the cactus. One night I decided to go out with the flashlight and see if something was doing it during the night. Sure enough, it was crickets. I suppose that was what nibbled on #1 while in Mississippi.
Unfortunately, I gave up my two large and AWESOME Cereus forbesii f. monstrose ‘Ming Thing’ in 2014 and most of the other plants.
FORTUNATELY, THOUGH, I FOUND ANOTHER ONE, although MUCH smaller at Wal-Mart on 2-1-16.
The plant was pretty nice and well-shaped…
Of course, the crickets had to sample this one, too. The two little plants in the pot are from the Kalanchoe daigremontiana (Mother-of-Thousands).
I had to move the plants inside for the winter on 10-17-17. I always photograph and measure the cactus when I move them inside and it measured it on 10-17-17 and it was 2″ tall x 3 1/2″ wide… SO, it is growing although VERY SLOWLY!
Still alive and kicking and enjoying the great outdoors! I moved the plants from around the shed to the front and back porch of the house on July 4. I put this plant with the cactus on the back porch. The Japanese Beetle invasion was getting pretty bad and they were starting to chew on some of the plants. The plant tables were under a Chinese Elm tree that the beetles love.
When I moved the plants inside for the winter on October 10 I had to measure them again. The last time I measured was October 17, 2017. So, after one year, this cactus measures 2 1/8″ tall x 3 1/2″ wide. It seems it has grown 1/8″ taller but it is still the same width.
November 29 was a nice spring-like day so I took the cactus outside for a photoshoot.
I was making a new post about the cactus in my small collection comparing the spines of the different genus and species. Of course, this “monstrous” or “monstruosus” form of Cereus forbesii has very few spines if any. Mine appears to have none and neither did the one I had before. I have seen a few photos online with a few. It reminds of folded hands with the fingers pointing inward.
All the cactus made it through the winter with flying colors and were glad to be back outside. They are on the back porch again which seems to be a much better location. No crickets to snack on the Cereus forbesii f. monstrose ‘Ming Thing’ on the porch.
Once again it was time to move the plants inside for the winter on October 11, 2019. This time, the Cereus forbesii f. monstrose ‘Ming Thing’ measured 2 1/4″ tall x 3 1/2″ wide. That is 1/4″ taller than in 2017 but it is still the same width.
I repotted a few cactus and succulents after I brought them inside for the winter so their soil will be nice and loose (and they needed bigger pots). Even though the Cereus forbesii f. monstrose ‘Ming Thing’ didn’t need a larger pot, I hadn’t freshened its soil for a while. Its old potting soil was 2 parts potting soil with 1 part chicken grit and 1 part perlite which is what I used for years. These plants do not have an extensive root system.
Its potting soil was pretty dry and hard so I used my new recipe of about 50% Miracle Grow Potting Soil with 50% pumice. Now we’ll see how it likes that.
The Cereus forbesii f. monstrose ‘Ming Thing’ is still alive and growing. It is now 1/4″ taller than in 2009 but still the same width at 2 3/4″ tall x 3 1/2″ wide.
Origin: Cereus forbesii is native to parts of Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay. The cultivar ‘Ming Thing’ is of human origin.
Zones: USDA Zones 10a-11 (30 to 40° F/ -1-1 to 4.5° C)
*Light: Sun to part shade. Although information says they do well in full sun, this species does well in a variety of habitats. Mine has been on the back deck on the east side of the house in full sun for several summers and has done very well.
**Soil: Very well-draining. Good quality potting soil amended with pumice (50/50) or additional perlite and chicken grit (2-1-1).
***Water: Likes regular watering during the summer months but barely, if any, during the winter.
*During the summer, I keep most of my cactus on the back deck where they receive full sun. During the winter most cactus aren’t picky about the light because they are basically dormant. For several winters, mine were in front of the east-facing sliding door in the dining room so they didn’t get much light but they did great. I built a new shelf for the bedroom so now they are in front of a west-facing window. Most of the succulents are on a shelf in a south-facing window in a cool bedroom but a few are in my bedroom.
**When it comes to potting soil, finding the “sweet spot” is not exactly that easy when materials are limited. Cactus and succulent enthusiasts (and experts) do not recommend using peat-based commercial mixes but what choice is there for most of us. They say to use a loam-based mix… Hmmm… Our soil is loam, so do I just use dirt? Well, no because “dirt” is heavy and you need a “light” material. There is A LOT of cactus and succulent recipes online and some get pretty elaborate. Many say to use sand as an ingredient, but if you do that, it needs to be very coarse, like builders sand, because “ordinary” sand, like for sandboxes, is too fine and it clogs up the air space between the coarser ingredients. For MANY years I used 2 parts Miracle Grow or Schultz Potting amended with an additional 1 part of perlite and 1 part chicken grit. Schultz doesn’t seem to have as many large pieces of bark. Cactus and succulent enthusiasts recommended using pumice instead of perlite and grit so I checked it out… The “guy” at General Pumice (online) recommended using a 50/50 mix of potting soil and pumice. General Pumice has 3 different sizes to choose from depending on the size of the pot. SO, in 2018 I bought a bag of 1/8″ and mixed it 50/50 with Miracle Grow Potting Soil. I liked it pretty well. Then in 2020, since most of the cactus were in larger pots, I ordered the 1/4″ size. Pumice has a lot of benefits over perlite and has nutrients that are added to the soil when watering. Pumice is also heavier so it stays mixed in the soil instead of “floating” to the top. Still, there is the issue of the mix getting very hard once you stop watering the plants during the winter when you stop watering. I think this is because of the peat in the potting soil… SO, instead of re-potting the cactus and succulents in the spring, I started doing it during the fall and winter so their soil would be loose. Since you don’t water as frequently during the winter if at all, the timed-release fertilizer does not activate. I have not tried coir, but I am looking into it…
***I water my cactus and succulents on a regular basis during the summer but barely ever in the winter (maybe a little in January) until close to time to take them back outside.
When you bring your new plants home from the store, you need to check their roots and the soil to see if they are wet. If so, you may want to re-pot it right away. It is advisable to re-pot them in a better potting soil more suitable for cactus and succulents.
I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant. If you can’t “Like” or post a comment, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ummm… How do I even add links for further reading when very few are even in agreement? I can’t list a link for Llifle because it contradicts itself… Says a species is a synonym of one species and when you check it’s a synonym of another… Maybe in the future botanists, horticulturalists, collectors, scientists, etc. will come together and figure it out… The X’s are for future links. 🙂