Cacti are famously known as plants that are impossible to kill. This generally makes these plants great for beginners who aren’t sure about their capacity to keep a plant alive.
If you want a slightly showy plant that is still as easy to care for, choose the monkey tail cactus. There’s not much to it, so here are the 5 things you should know before growing monkey tail cactus.
What is monkey cactus?
The monkey cactus is a very interesting cactus plant. The name comes from the way the plant looks. The plant has soft supple and extremely long stems that look very much like a long tail. The thorns on the stem make it look hairy and thus very much like a long monkey’s tail.
The plant is, of course, a cactus and belongs to the Cactaceae family. What it means is that they are a group of perennial plants that live for many years.
When seeded, the plant takes around two years to grow long tails. This is why, especially industrially, the plant is grown through cut parts instead of seeds. Plants grown from cut stems have more thorns whereas, monkey cacti grown from seeds usually don’t, and are softer.
The monkey tail cactus is native to Santacruz in Bolivia. The geography of the area is mountainous and therefore perfect for such plants to grow.
The monkey tail also gives beautiful reddish pink flowers.
Soil type and watering
The monkey cactus is an epilithic lithophyte meaning it grows on rock surfaces. What it also means for plant growers is that the Monkey Tail cactus does not have a very hardy root system. Instead, it gets its nutrients from its atmosphere, unlike most plants.
This makes it a fairly easy plant to take care of as most cactuses which in highly popular media are seen as the ‘hardest plant to kill’.
The soil for a monkey cactus exists mostly as something it hangs off of, instead of it being the primary source of nutrition. Thus, to care for a monkey tail cactus, you will need soil similar to its natural, rocky environment.
In general Monkey Tail cactuses need shallow, loamy, and sandy soils. They also do not require the soil to be combined with any other type of soil as many other plants do.
As for the pH balance of the soil generally, cactuses grow best in soils that are natural or acidic. The monkey tail cactus however does grow in soil that is not nearly as acidic as most other cacti need. The pH level required for this plant is usually between 5.5 and 6.5.
The pH balance needs to be kept in mind when watering the plant. If you watch is more alkaline than the soil it will change the pH levels of the soil over time, making it very difficult for the plants to survive.
And show that the soil drains well when watching it because cactus do not require as much water as other plants do.
How to pot?
The seeds of The monkey cactus are very easy to grow. If you’d like, you can also use cuttings from another plant.
If you are using cuttings to plant, they grow best in spring and summer. You will also need a love nitrogen fertiliser for its growth.
Seeds are also easy to grow in pots. Once you have the proper soil you can put the seats into the pot. Just ensure that you do not bury the seeds too deep into the soil.
You can sprinkle a layer of grit or vermiculite on the top level of the soil then cover the soil and keep it near a sunny or warm window. Alternatively, you can also use the greenhouse but you will still have to cover the soil with a plastic bag to keep the moisture.
Seeds usually take a few weeks to sprout. once you see the plant sprouting, remove the plastic bag and start watering the soil once it starts getting dry.
If you grow the plants in a pot, make sure to re-pot them every year. This is because the plants grow very rapidly and may require bigger containers and newer potting soil.
Temperature and sunlight
Like all plants, cacti also have a particular temperature that they are comfortable with. The temperature they will be comfortable with will usually be dependent upon where the plant is native.
Since the cactus naturally grows in a warm climate it cannot withstand extremely high or extremely low temperatures. To protect plants from any kinds of extreme temperatures many apply mulch over the soil. However, if it is well below freezing, it is necessary to keep the plants indoors. If it’s extremely cold, do not water the plant either.
Greenhouses or warm window sills that get enough sunlight are typically great for the Monkey tail cactus.
The monkey tail cactus plant follows the sun for its life cycle. This means that an abundance of sunshine, such as in the spring will trigger a growth spurt, while without much sunlight, it might not grow at all. Thus without bright sunshine, it’s very complicated to grow this plant.
Managing bugs and other problems
Normally cacti are fiarly sturdy plants naturally that do not require much care.
Due to the soil type, the plant doesn’t always get a lot of bugs or pests. However, to protect it from any that might take a fancy to it, there are some rules you must follow.
One of them is that during summer low nitrogen components will be needed. Phosphorus can also be used along with nitrogen to propagate flowers. To that don’t forget to add potassium to strengthen the stems and build plant health so that it can naturally fight any rot or other issues.
Overwatering the soil can also lead to problems. To avoid this only water the plant when the soil looks dry.
You can get insecticides for the plant but ensure that it targets specific bugs and not others like ladybirds, butterflies, etc that are required for the plant’s growth.