Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus ‘Fairy Castle’

Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus ‘Fairy Castle’ on 7-19-16, #274-21.

Fairy Castle Cactus, Spiny Hedge Cactus, Peruvian Apple

Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus

‘Fairy Castle’

KER-ee-us  hild-man-ee-AH-nus  ur-uh-gway-AN-us

Synonyms for Cereus hildmannianus (*33) (Updated on 12-5-20 from Plants of the World Online): Cactus abnormis Willd., Cactus monstrosus Willd., Cactus peruvianus var. monstruosus DC., Cereus abnormis (Willd.) Sweet, Cereus alacriportanus Pfeiff., Cereus alacriportanus var. bageanus (F.Ritter) P.J.Braun, Cereus bonariensis C.F.Först., Cereus calvescens DC., Cereus childsii Blanc, Cereus curvispinus Pfeiff., Cereus hildmannianus subsp. xanthocarpus (K.Schum.) P.J.Braun & Esteves, Cereus milesimus Rost, Cereus monstrosus J.Forbes, Cereus monstrosus (DC.) Steud., Cereus monstruosus K.Schum., Cereus neonesioticus (F.Ritter) P.J.Braun, Cereus neonesioticus var. interior (F.Ritter) P.J.Braun, Cereus pentagonus C.F.Först., Cereus peruvianus var. alacriportanus (Pfeiff.) K.Schum., Cereus peruvianus var. monstrosus DC., Cereus peruvianus var. ovicarpus Hertrich, Cereus peruvianus var. persicinus Werderm., Cereus peruvianus var. proferrens Werderm., Cereus peruvianus var. reclinatus Werderm., Cereus validus Haw., Cereus xanthocarpus K.Schum., Piptanthocereus alacriportanus (Pfeiff.) F.Ritter, Piptanthocereus bageanus F.Ritter, Piptanthocereus neonesioticus F.Ritter, Piptanthocereus neonesioticus var. interior F.Ritter, Piptanthocereus peruvianus var. monstruosus (DC.) Riccob., Piptanthocereus validus (Haw.) Riccob., Piptanthocereus xanthocarpus (K.Schum.) F.Ritter
Synonym for Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus: Cereus uruguayanus F.Ritter ex R.Kiesling, Piptanthocereus uruguayanus F.Ritter
*I didn’t update the list of synonyms when this page was last updated on 11-11-21. Plants of the World Online is updating the synonyms for some species and the page for this species isn’t ready.

Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus (R. Kiesling) N.P. Taylor is the correct and accepted scientific infraspecific name for this subspecies of Cereus hildmannianus. It was named and first described as such by Nigel Paul Taylor in Cactaceae Consensus Init. in 1998. Cereus hildmannianus was named and first documented by Karl Moritz Schumann in Flora Brasiliensis in 1890. Cereus uruguayanus was named and first documented by Roberto Kiesling in Darwinian in 1982.

Some have this cactus and Acanthocareus tetragonus ‘Fairytale Castle Cactus’ confused. They are two separate monstrose forms of two species with similar characteristics. I have both and I can see there are differences (but sometimes I wonder…).

The genus, Cereus Mill., was named and described by Philip Miller in the fourth edition of The Gardeners Dictionary in 1754.

As of 11-11-21 when this page was last updated, Plants of the World Online by Kew lists 24 accepted species in the Cereus genus. It is a member of the plant family Cactaceae with 146 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made on POWO.


Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus ‘Fairy Castle’ when I bought it on 1-28-16.

I bought this cactus from Wal-Mart on January 28, 2016. I had been there a few days earlier and noticed they had just got in a shipment of cactus and succulents. They were still wrapped in plastic sleeves and drenched with water. I didn’t have money at the time, so I went back on the 28th to see what they had. Believe it or not, the plants were STILL wrapped in their plastic sleeves and STILL soaked with water.

Most cactus I buy from Wal-Mart are small, but this one measured 6 1/8″ tall x 3 1/2″ wide.

This plant was unlabeled, so instead of trying to figure out what it was, I put photos on a Facebook group for suggestions. One of the members said it was Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus and the common name was Fairy Castles. I checked the name out and believe that is correct.

Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus ‘Fairy Castle’ on 7-19-16, #274-21.

The Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus did very well over its first summer outside with very few issues.


Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus ‘Fairy Castle’ on 5-31-17, #339-7. (Notice the baby Walking Stick?).

The ‘Fairy Castle’ did well the first summer but started getting weird over the winter. It was turning yellow and I thought it would soon die.

I just noticed the baby Walking Stick in this photo as I was updating this page… 🙂

Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus ‘Fairy Castle’ on 9-7-17, #371-7.

When I took the above photo I noticed some critters, probably crickets, had been snacking.

According to Plants of the World Online, this subspecies is native to Northeast Argentina, southern Brazil, and Uruguay. Llifle (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) say it occurs only in Uruguay. As far as the cultivar ‘Fairy Castle’ is concerned, its origin is somewhat controversial. Apparently, it was discovered “in cultivation” which means not in the wild, such as in a nursery or garden.

Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus ‘Fairy Castle’ on 10-17-17, #384-4.

I bought the potted plants inside for the winter on 10-17-17. I took them to the basement first then moved the cactus and succulents upstairs. As you can see, it looks like this plant is barely hanging on. Even though it looks like it does, it did grow. It measured 6 7/8″ tall x 4″ wide when the above photo was taken.


Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus ‘Fairy Castle’ on 1-27-18, #407-3.

Well, as you can tell in the above photo, it isn’t dead yet. It is growing! It has been in my bedroom over the winter and has been looking better. You just have to overlook all the scars from the crickets.

Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus ‘Fairy Castle’ on 7-30-18, #488-8.

We had a pretty bad Japanese Beetle invasion and I had to move the potted plants to a new location. I put the cactus on the back porch in full sun and most of the other potted plants went on the front porch.

Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus ‘Fairy Castle’ on 10-10-18, #519-18.

Temperatures started dropping so I decided to move the potted plants inside for the winter. As usual, I measured them and this plant is now 7 1/4″ tall x 4 1/2″ wide. That’s very good! It measured 6 7/8″ tall x 4″ wide last October 17.

Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus ‘Fairy Castle’ on 11-29-18, #534-4.

I took the cactus outside for a photoshoot on November 29. We had a couple of spring-like days and I wanted to take photos for a new blog post comparing the cactus in my collection.

A close-up of Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus ‘Fairy Castle’ on 12-1-18, #535-3.

My plant’s stems are somewhat spineless and what spines it does have are very thin and hair-like. Its areoles also have small wooly tufts mainly on newer growth and almost absent farther down the stem. The species is found in several countries in South America while the subspecies is only found in Uruguay. The species and subspecies are MUCH taller in the wild than this miniature version…


Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus ‘Fairy Castle’ on 6-22-19, #593-7.

The cactus are all outside on the back porch for the summer where they can enjoy the full sun. I always like taking photos of my plants, but this one is a little tricky because of the scarring from the crickets. We have had our ups and downs but it has survived and it continues to grow. I often wonder how other people’s cactus like this are doing and if they have had the same issues.

Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus ‘Fairy Castle’ at 6 1/2″ tall x 4 1/2″ wide on 10-11-19, #639-14.

I had to move the plants inside for the winter on 10-11-19. As always, I measured the cactus and some of the succulents. This one shrunk because the top of the oldest and tallest trunk was damaged and the new growth fell off. Last October it was 7 1/4″ tall and now it is 6 1/2″ tall. It is still the same width as last year at 4 1/2″. The new growth that fell off was approximately 1″ tall. The offsets around the main stem had grown a lot over the summer.


Cereus hildmannianus subsp. uruguayanus ‘Fairy Castle’ at 8 tall x 6 3/4 wide on 10-15-20, #747-19.

This cactus did very well over the summer of 2020. I had it on the back porch last year in full sun as an experiment and decided to put it back on the front porch for 2020. It had had many battles with crickets and cats in the past and has several scars. It grew to 8″ tall x 6 3/4″ wide over the summer which is 1 1/2″ taller and 2 1/4″ wider than when I brought the plants inside in 2019. That’s pretty good. Its color is also much better now.


I had a small mealybug infestation with some of my plants over the winter. When I was putting the plants outside in the spring I noticed this plant has a few. I removed them with alcohol on a cotton swab and put it on the side porch. It started declining and died during the summer… GEEZ!

Family: Cactaceae
Origin: Northeast Argentina, south Brazil, and Uruguay, etc.
Zones: 10a-11 (30-40° F)
Size: 24-36” tall (eventually…)
*Light: Light to full shade…
**Soil: Fast-draining. Two parts of good quality potting soil amended with 1 part additional pumice and 1 part chicken grit. I now use 50% potting soil and pumice.
***Water: Average to moderate during the growing period, barely 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. 

You can read my Cactus Talk & Update and Cactus & Succulent Tips to get my opinion about growing cactus and succulents.

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 will continue adding photos and information as time goes by.

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. You can also email me at thebelmontrooster@yahoo.com. There isn’t much online about this cactus except for sales… I did not include LLIFLE (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) because it does not have it… Their page for it refers to the Achanthocereus tetragonus ‘Fairytale Castle Cactus’.


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