Pencil Cactus Pruning | 10 Step Super Easy Pruning Guide |

Pencil cactus pruning is not easy as it sounds. Even though it is slender small plant, the plant has toxic substances in it. Therefore you need correct guidance for pencil cactus pruning.

In this article I am trying to provide safe method to prune your pencil cactus.

Pencil Cactus pruning

Where to begin?

You could prune a pencil cactus along its stem so that you could keep it in an attractive shape. Further it will give an accomplishing look for your cactus as well.

However, whenever you are pruning your pencil cactus, the most important thing you need to keep in mind is that the plant is toxic, and you need to protect yourself by wearing gloves and a long-sleeved shirt as well. 

That will avoid the toxic sap getting in contact with your skin.

You need to wash your hands, as well as your tools when you finish using them. Be mindful to not let the irritating sap reach your eyes, mouth, and your nose as well.

Pencil cactus are a relatively fast-growing set of plants. They could get top heavy as they grow. When you prune them, it would help them to stand on their own. 

in terms of pruning, you may either prune them to a greater extent or even on a minor level.

Signs which say your cactus need a prune

There could be several signs where you can identify that you need to prune your pencil cactus. They are as follows.

  1. Overgrown leaves
  2. Overgrown stems
  3. Mealybug infestation
  4. Rotting
  5. Dead stalks once they finished  blooming
  6. Excess height
  7. Leaned stem of the pencil cactus

Tools needed for pruning

 The list of tools which you would want to use are   as follows.

  1. Secateurs
  2. Loppers
  3. Long reach pruners
  4. Tree pruning systems
  5. Saws
  6. Scissors which are specifically designed for gardening
Pencil Cactus pruning

How to prune a pencil cactus 

Before we proceed with this, to briefly touch on the background of this plant, it is a well known indoor grown plant and a relatively fast-growing set of plants too.

They usually resemble a pine tree and pruning them is an easy process. You could do that without causing any damage to the pencil cactus as well.

One more important thing to keep in mind is that you need to protect yourself, especially your eyes, skin etc. 

Moreover, you need to protect your clothes from irritating white sap. This toxic sap could be very dangerous to the level that it could cause severe irritations in skin, eyes as well.

In addition to that, it could cause stains on your clothes and chances are that it could get discolored to black when they get dry. 

Moreover, it will not be suitable for composting as well due to the toxins they contain.

To start this off,

  1. Get rid of the dead, damaged, decaying, and diseased branches as the first step. This would be beneficial to stimulate a new growth and would further tidy up the plant as well.
  2.  Think of a shape and a preferable height you wish to have on your plant.
  3.  After that, use pruners, scissors which are sharp to sharpen the plant depending on which shape you would wish to have. 
  4. When you prune, make sure that you cut the branches slightly above their nodes and cut to the bottom part from where it is originating. Avoid leaving a stub sticking out of the stem.
  5. You have the option of making the plant slender by taking off the branches which have  formed vertically. 
  6. When you do that also, you need to trim the branches from where they are originating. 
  7. When you thin the cactus, it would provide better aeration right across the planet. Because of that, the plant’s overall health would be benefited from that.  
  8. Once you have trimmed the parts, you need to dispose of them carefully too. 
  9. If not, you could share it among your friends who would wish to have pencil cactus as well. 
  10. You need to wait for some days so that the wounds would dry and become callous.

You could prune your pencil cactus either spring or in summer once you get increased levels of temperatures as well as lighting conditions. 

More importantly it would be their actively growing season as well. keep in mind to not take off too many branches unless that would make the plant traumatize.

In general context, you should avoid removing 1/3 of the plant in any given situation. In addition to that, if you cut something off and if you feel like you need to stick back, you could do that as well. 

It is better that you prune them lightly and then adjust further if you wish.

Pencil Cactus pruning

When should I prune a pencil cactus?

To briefly tell you, the best time to prune a pencil cactus would be either spring season or summer season.

Consider that you live in a location where you have a fall with warmer weather conditions and winter.

Then, you could proceed with pruning the pencil cactus in late winter and in the early stage of fall as well.

Whenever you spot your pencil cactus showing the aforesaid signs, you need to go ahead with pruning depending on the best time it would suit you. 

Once you prune the pencil cactus, it would get the beautiful shape it deserves and would tend to look more gracefully with much neater.

Once you finish pruning, you may cover the pencil cactus with a sheet of protection.

That would be beneficial for them whilst they are in their healing stage. You could do that for about a couple of weeks.

Precautions because they can be toxic

First of all, ensure that you sanitize and sharpen the tools you use for this process. Once you do that it will make sure that there would be only clean cuts.

Pencil cacti are toxic. They usually contain a poisonous irritating sap which could be toxic when you get in contact with them. 

When you interact with the plant, keep in mind that you have the risk of getting allergies due to sap the plant contains. Those toxins usually form in copious amounts. 

Further those toxins comprise diterpene esters. In case you cut the plant or interrupt it, its sap will start to squirt.

As such whenever you are interacting with the plant to prune them or do other necessary maintenance work, you could wear disposable gloves and eye protection. 

Not only that but also, make sure you are covering your whole body whilst wearing long sleeves and long pants. 

In addition to that it is best to wear proper shoes as well. The material of those clothing should also be heavy enough which could deflect the sap if by any chance you get in contact with it.

pencil cactus pruning 3 1

Once you are finished interacting with the plant, you need to take off the protective gear and clothing correctly without letting anybody touch them accidently. 

Wash your hands properly, forearms, face and even your skin with cool water. 

On the other hand, if you prune or trimmed your pencil cactus, you need to dispose of them instead of burning them. 

In case you burn them, chances are that those toxins could add into the air and would make it harmful.

Moreover, you could cut up rags into tiny bits and pieces and that will help to somewhat control the sap circulation. 

That will consequently help to keep it off from you as well.

Usually, it would take a very short time like 5 minutes for the sap to stop dripping. Having said timing could change based on its branch sizes as well.

In addition to aforesaid, you could make the cuts straight across too. You could do the cuttings slightly above the existing branches.

Credit to: ehowgarden
Read Next: Pencil Cactus Benefits | 5 Things You Most Likely Didn’t Know About |
About author

I’m Dr. Chamika, As a hobby love talking about plants and showing you that taking care of indoor plants. My website is knowledge I’ve learned over the years and continue to learn about growing succulents. If you’re a succulent lover, then you have come to the correct place.