Espostoa Melanostele “Peruvian Old Lady” Care & Buying Guide

Espostoa Melanostele


Light requirements High
Water requirements Low
Ease of care Easy
Size Very large
Toxicity Non-toxic
Zone 9a to 9b
Temperature resistance Mildly frost-hardy
Growth speed Medium
Indoor growing Suitable when young


Taking Care Of Espostoa Melanostele “Peruvian Old Lady”

Ideal conditions

Espostoa Melanostele “Peruvian Old Lady” is ideally grown in the ground rather than potted. Growing fairly rapidly, the Peruvian Old Lady can quickly outgrow its pot and become bound by it, which will slow down its growth.

Ground growing would be ideal in climates with warmer winters since you would not have to move the cactus inside. This cactus is somewhat frost-hardy (down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit/-6.7 degrees C), but it should be kept warm for best results.

Pot growing is also possible with this cactus, but you may not see your Peruvian Old Lady cactus grow to its natural 6-7 feet of height.


The water needs of Espostoa Melanostele “Peruvian Old Lady” are typical for a succulent – only water this cactus when its soil is dry to the touch. Overwatering this cactus could lead to waterlogging and root loss.

In winter, the Peruvian Old Lady becomes dormant and needs less water. Occasional watering once or twice per month should be optimal to hydrate this plant while avoiding water damage.

Where to plant

Espostoa Melanostele “Peruvian Old Lady” should be planted in fast-draining cactus soil. For extra drainage, consider adding perlite or coarse sand in a 1:1 ratio to the potting mix.

Whether to plant this cactus in a pot or garden soil depends on your goals and climate. If you want your Peruvian Old Lady to get tall, then garden planting is optimal. However, growing in garden soil is undesirable if winters in your area are cold – you will have to repot the cactus and move it inside in winter to protect it from cold.

So, generally, if you want a tall Peruvian Old Lady and winters aren’t cold in your area, then you may keep it in garden soil. Otherwise, pot growing will be optimal since it will allow you to easily move the plant indoors in winter. Besides, potted Peruvian Old Ladies won’t grow big, which is great for inside keeping.

Whether potted or not, the Peruvian Old Lady cactus will do best outdoors since it requires partial to full sunlight. This may be achieved inside as well, but only on a window sill that receives sunlight all day.

Espostoa Melanostele “Peruvian Old Lady” is heat-resistant, but during heatwaves and extreme heat, it should be temporarily moved to a shaded location.

General care information

In spring and summer, fertilize the Peruvian Old Lady with a cactus fertilizer diluted to half strength. Fertilize the cactus once every one or two months.

If keeping the cactus potted, you will need to repot it as well. To maximize its growth, repot it once a year every spring or summer. 

Before repotting, allow the soil to dry. Once the cactus is out, inspect its roots and remove any rotten or damaged parts. And after planting the cactus into a new pot, don’t water it for about a week.


You may also like:   Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii 'Hibotan' "Moon Cactus" Care & Buying Guide