Answer: Some varieties seem to be heftier than others, but it is also a matter of age. Young plants started recently from cuttings will not have that "woody" look at the base. I would expect it to take at least five years or so for the stems to begin to seem more like trunks or stalks. The plants seem to last forever -- I have one that is well over twenty years old; I know this because it was my mother-in-law's plant before it came to my house.
These plants actually hail from the jungle and prefer a bit more humidity than most cactus. A general purpose soilless mix or a cactus mix can be used, and they will do well in either clay or plastic pots, but your watering will need to be adjusted to reflect the type of pot you are using. Allow the soil surface to dry out between waterings. Clay pots dry out faster so you may have to water more often.
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