Dear Master Gardeners, We currently have a beautiful columnar cactus in our living room. (Please see attached photo). Unfortunately, we will be moving in January and our new home will have a lower ceiling although just as much light. This means we will need to prune the tallest section in the coming weeks. Having never attempted this on my own before, would you be able to provide me with some guidance? Also, can we safely wrap and pack this plant in the winter months for transport? Thank you.
Certainly you can cut back the height of your columnar cactus, by cutting it with a saw at a node, being very careful to avoid the spines. Here are some resources that will help guide you.
A video from ABC Channel 15 Arizona.
An article from the San Francisco Chronicle.
As for moving the cactus, you haven’t said how far you are moving. If it is a local move, i.e. a drive of only a few hours, you should have no problem if you make sure the pot is carefully positioned so that it cannot fall over in the van or truck or be struck by something else falling against it. For extra insurance, you could put the pot in a box, stuff bubble wrap between the pot and box sides, with a tube of corrugated cardboard standing around the plant itself.
If it is a long distance move, most moving companies will not insure plants and cannot guarantee their safety. Here is the website for one moving company on the subject. Make sure you talk to the various movers you get to quote on your move; they may have additional advice and also be able to supply you with special packing materials for this purpose.