Monkey Tail Cactus
We all have seen Cactus in our life. They are known for their spiny and succulent stems. Usually, They aren’t kept indoors as they aren’t very attractive. However – There is one spectacular cactus that everyone is fond of. It is none other than Monkey Tail Cactus. In this article, we will cover everything about this succulent along with its Morphology Care and Price. So, Read till the end so that you can be the best caretaker for your Monkey Tail Cac.
The plant is native to Bolivia, Santa Cruz. There it is found growing on cervices of cliffs and stones (lithophyte). At present, It is distributed worldwide and gaining popularity among indoor gardeners. As the name suggests, The stems of this succulent resemble the tail of a monkey. They are long, cascading, covered with spines and white hairs. A single plant gives rise to 3-5 stems. The stem grows upright for a few feet which ultimately becomes pendant and cascading. The length of the stems can reach up to 3 to 4 feet.
However – If you are the one who loves foliage, you might be a little disappointed as it does not bear any. Apart from its unique stems, This plant is preferred for bright red flowers which makes it elegant and decorative. Flowers are seen in the active growing season of spring and summer. During winter, The plant goes dormant and is an ideal time for repotting. The plant is perennial and will spread its beauty in your home for years.
They are quite easy to grow and can adapt well both indoors and outdoors. You can place them on the terrace, balcony, windows and on the table. Due to their cascading nature, Hanging Baskets are an ideal place to grow. This beautiful plant is often misidentified as rat tail cactus. However – These two are completely different plants. You can separate these two as:-
- Monkey tail cac has Long, white and hair like spines while Rat tail cac has short, prickly and golden spines.
- The stems of Monkey Tail are longer than Rat Tail cactus.
Despite different pros, This plant does have some cons. Monkey tail cactus is toxic. So – Ingestion should be avoided.
The botanical Classification of Monkey Tail Cactus is Hildewintera Colademononis. It belongs to Cactus family.
Monkey Tail Cactus Care
This plant is heliophyte meaning it loves sunlight. It thrives in both direct and indirect sunlight. East and West facing windows in summer, South facing windows in winter and balconies are ideal places for Monkey tail cactus. Too much direct sunlight causes burning of plants and Too much shade will make the plant weak and spindly. If we talk about the numbers, 5 hours of bright indirect sunlight is best for monkey tail cactus.
Monkey tail cactus prefer warm climates. However – It can be easily grown in low temperatures also. It can thrive as low as 21 degree centigrade (-6 degree celsius). If you live in areas where the temperature goes below this, It is better to keep it indoors otherwise the plant may suffer heavy damage.
Being lithophyte, the cactus monkey tail doesn’t require much soil. Little soil as long as it can provide an anchorage is enough. The main thing to remember while making cactus mix is that, It should be well drainable. Adding perlite is also good as it helps in aeration and drainage. You can prepare a cactus mix by adding Soil, More Sand, Gravel, Little FYM and perlite. Well draining soil with neutral or acidic pH is ideal (5.5-6.5).
When it comes to watering, you don’t need to worry. Being succulent, It can store water on its stems. So – Even if you forgot to water this plant for a few days, It will grow perfectly. Also, In wild it grows on rocks where water is less. It has the capacity of taking water directly from the atmosphere. If we talk about the frequency, You can give water weekly in summer and monthly in winter. Watering can be done by a soak and dry method. This method says that, During watering, the soil should be soaked completely and it should be allowed to dry before next watering. However – Don’t overwater and make soil soggy. This could lead to the rotting of roots.
The plant prefers the humidity of (40-50)%. Too much humidity can create a favourable environment for fungi and moulds. The humidity can be increased in summer when the plant uses atmospheric moisture to produce new spurs.
The benefit with succulent plants is they don’t require much fertilisers and feeding. This case works for our Monkey tail plant also. Fertiliser low in nitrogen and high in Phosphorus and Potassium should be given during summer/spring season. During this season, plants grow and produce flowers, seeds, and fruits. Phosphorus helps in flowering and fruiting while Potassium makes the stem strong. It is better to give slow releasing and diluted fertiliser to this cactus.
Potting And Repotting
Choosing the right pot is crucial for this plant. The pot should be large enough to support the growth of its tails. The pot size should be of minimum 10 inches in width with average depth. The pot should be provided with a drainage hole, otherwise the soil will be soggy and root rotting may occur.
When the plant grows sufficiently large, repotting is necessary. It can be done in every 3 years, While repotting the soil mix should be new and new pot should be slightly larger than original one.
Monkey tail cactus can be propagated by 3 different methods. So – It is easy to get new plants. These 3 methods are explained below:-
It is the most successful and convenient method of propagation. The steps of this method are given below:-
- First, Select a healthy tail/stem of the cactus.
- Cut the end of the tail with a sterilised knife or blade. The cut should be sharp.
- Apply fungicide on the cut section of both cutting and parent plant. This prevents the infection with fungi when water falls on the cut section.
- Keep the cuttings in dry newspaper or tissue paper and let it dry in shade for about 7 to 10 days.
- After drying, The cuttings can be planted in soil mix. The cut portion should be inserted into soil ½ inches.
- Do not irrigate and keep it in shade. Misting can be done after 12 days of sowing the cuttings.
- Rooting occurs within a couple of weeks.
2. From Pups
Pups are the offsets produced from mother plants or cuttings. They are also good propagating materials. They can be separated from the mother plant by cutting from the base. They are also allowed to dry as like other cuttings and later they are sown.
After flowering in spring and summer, Pollination occurs which results in formation of fruits and seeds. Seeds are black in colour. They can be sown to produce new plants. The main drawback of this method is, It takes more time to grow a plant by sowing the seeds.
Monkey Tail Cactus price ranges from 8$ to 50 $ for a piece in the USA. However, The price may vary according with the place and age of the plant.
Is It Rare?
Yes – Monkey Tail Cactus is very rare among the cactus. In its native place of Bolivia, the plant is found in the wild growing on rocks. If you are looking for this plant, You can try to get it online or from a local nursery.
Mainly three different pests infest the monkey tail plant. They are:-
They can be seen on stems. Using pressurised water hose to wash off the mealybugs can be effective. You can also try making your own pesticides to get rid of mealybugs. You can learn the technique from here – Get Rid Of Mealybugs.
2. Spider Mites
They are very different to locate. If you see brown patches on your plant, then – It is the indication of Spider Mites infestation. Regular watering and maintaining proper humidity chase these away.
3. Scale Insects
They are found in impervious shells under leaves. Therefore – They can’t be removed easily. Using alcohol soaked toothbrushes and rubbing on affected parts will help to eradicate scale Insects from your cacti.
Monkey Tail Cactus is one for the beautiful cacti I have seen. I definitely recommend you to add this plant to your list. This will be the centre of attraction for your indoor gardens. It is relatively easy to grow. Being perennial with easy Propagation, you don’t have to worry about buying it frequently. One time buying will be enough. We hope this article helped you to solve all your confusion. Thank you.