Blooming Beauty: Moon Cactus (Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii)

Moon cactus, also known as Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii or Hibotan cactus, is native to desert habitats in various parts of South America; Argentina to be precise. It belongs to the Gymnocalycium genus of globular cacti. They are succulent plants that are very colorful but lack the necessary chlorophyll to produce plant sugars through photosynthesis. This makes the plants to be grafted onto a species that provides plenty of chlorophyll upon which the moon cactus can sustain itself for several years.

The blooming beauty of Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii plants is seen in its vibrant bright colors of brilliant orange, hot pink and an almost neon yellow. The lack of chlorophyll causes this color difference. They are small plants, generally a half-inch across. This makes it common for them to make lovely window boxes or southern exposure houseplants and be sold as gift plants.

Blooming Beauty Moon Cactus Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii
The Beauty of Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii @flowers.cactus

Moon Cactus Has The Following Characteristics:

  1. This plant grows as a globular mass, reaching about two inches in size.
  2.  It tends to produce offsets that grow around the base of the globe where the sides of the globular shape feature seams with prickly quills.
  3. It has a thick base that makes the perfect host for the moon cactus.
  4. Moon cactus is typically grafted to another cactus-like Hylocereus undatus commonly known as the dragon fruit cactus.
  5. This plant may produce flowers from the sides giving it a blooming beauty but does not produce a scent.

Just like other plants, some factors determine the growth of the moon cactus as seen below.

Light

Moon cactus does well in bright but indirect sunlight. Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can be harmful to the plant. A covered porch that has some shade or an area where direct sunlight is blocked is the best environment for a moon cactus to grow. If the plant is indoors, set it near a window to give it plenty of sunlight. Note that, if the plant does not get enough bright light, the color starts to fade.

Temperature

Gymnocalycium mihanovichii grows well at average room temperature throughout the year. For your cactus to survive through a winter freeze, bring it indoors or in the garage where the temperature drops below 40 degrees. Alternatively, you can cover them up with a light blanket or sheet to shield them from cold weather. When exposed to hard elements during a hard winter, the moon cactus will freeze.

Water

Just like other succulent plants, moon cactus requires water. Water it regularly throughout the spring and summer months. During the winter months, water less frequently. Ensure the soil is dry before watering the plant. Make use of unglazed pots with numerous drainage holes to prevent standing water at the base of the pot, which further prevents the roots from rotting. Putting a thin layer of gravel at the bottom of your container before adding the moon cactus plant is advisable as it aids in water drainage.

Soil

Moon cactus grows well in the regular commercial soil with good drainage. You can opt to use a mixture of pumice or perlite and regular potting soil.

Try making your own succulent soil at home by checking out “How to Make Your own Succulent Soil at Home“.

Blooming Beauty Moon Cactus Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii
Growth of Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii @plantvalley.shop

Glooming Maintenance & Propagation of Moon Cactus

To maintain the globular shape of the moon cactus, cut off the side shoots. When propagating, use the side shoots or the offsets growing from the plant. Use host plants for the side shoots like the Hylocereus undatus which offers a perfect base for them. Select host plants of the same thickness, height, and diameter.

Prepare the host plant before collecting the side shoots. Cutting at a slant, cut the top of the host plant, then carefully cut the side shoots from the mother plant. Press the two cut pieces together, setting the side shoot on the host plant. Press firmly but not too tight. Don’t allow the cuts of the host plant and the side shoots to dry before finishing the grafting process. To hold the two pieces together, secure the side shoots with a rubber band.

After several weeks, the side shoot should have started growing off the host plant. Remove the rubber band and follow the moon cactus care tips.

Be sure to check out our in-depth ebook on all things propagating. Don’t miss out on “The Right Way to Propagating Succulents Successfully” today!

Blooming Beauty Moon Cactus Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii
Maintenance & Propagation @little_gavin_cactus

Advantages of The Moon Cactus

Due to its fun appearance, it is made an excellent choice for any cactus or succulent garden. It is also seen great in window sills where it grows in a small pot.

The Shortcomings of The Moon Cactus

The major problem faced by the moon cactus is being infested with mealybugs and scales. You can deal with these infestations by use of tweezers, or cotton wool dipped in alcohol. If this does not curb the situation, use an insecticide as your last resort.

The other common problem is root rot which results from overwatering. Always be careful when watering your moon cactus. Want more info on root rot? Check out our piece “What is Root Rot & How Do You Fix it?” for more helpful info.

Blooming Beauty Moon Cactus Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii
The Moon Cactus @suzy2510

Despite these challenges, the moon cactus plant is easy to get, fun to own, and a colorful little plant to add to your collection. Besides, it has relatively low maintenance requirements.

Thank you for reading! Be sure to check out more pieces on the cacti species like “The Beautiful Blue Cacti—Pilosocereus” or even “Why Succulent Plants Are So Popular“.

Did this article help answer your succulent-care questions? We sure hope so! If not, no worries. Succulent City is devoted to aiding all succulent lovers, and that’s why we created a line of ebook guides! Check out our in-depth tips on “All the Types of Succulents for Indoor & Outdoor” or even “Rare Succulents You Wish You Knew About” today! 

Happy Planting! 🌵

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