The 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. These cacti 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.

For a more in-depth coverage of your cacti’s water needs check out: “How Often To Water A Cactus: Essential Guide”.

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. Though, we highly recommend this succulent and cacti soil from Hoffman. Our plants here at the office rated it with 5 stars! 

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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Beautiful Easter Cactus – Hatiora Gaertneri

Easter cactus which is also known as spring cactus is related to Christmas cactus. It is a species of the epiphytic plant in the Rhipsalidiae tribe, which is within the subfamily, Cactaceae. It is named so since it blossoms during the Easter holidays in the northern hemisphere. The beautiful succulent makes a lovely houseplant. Hatiora Gaertneri grows on trees or rocks only. When growing, it requires a regular amount of water for it to survive.

Beautiful Easter Cactus
Easter Cactus @brcuyanikvolkan

How to grow Hatiora Gaertneri

As a newbie gardener, you may wonder where to start for you to have this wonderful plant in your garden. Below are the guidelines on what to do and the conditions required to grow Hatiora Gaertneri.

Light

Hatiora Gaertneri does well in bright natural light. Don’t expose it to direct sunlight as this will burn the fleshy leaves of a spring cactus. When growing them outdoors, ensure they are under a bright shade. On the contrary, you can opt to grow them indoors and let the light penetrate through the open windows.

Water

Despite being in the cactus family, they differ from the desert cactus. They are epiphytic cacti, growing on other plants and rocks, not in soil. This gives them the need to breathe. Water your plant with plenty of water and let it drain thoroughly out of the pot. Before another watering session, make sure the plant has gone dry to avoid the roots rotting out due to constantly moist. The watering process is exercised until the plant blooms. At this particular period of blooming, water your plant more often since you don’t want it to go completely dry at this time.

To learn more, check out “How Often To Water a Cactus: Essential Guide”.

Soil

Hatiora Gaertneri requires rocky soil to grow well due to its nature of growth being on trees and rocks. You will need a mixture of soil to tree bark, perlite, or pumice in the ratio of 1:1. The use of pumice is the best. This soil should be neutral and well-drained. We highly recommend this soil by Hoffman! Our office plants love it!

Temperature

Hatiora Gaertneri is tolerant of a wide range of temperatures. They do best in warmer temperatures. Ensure that you keep them away from any heaters and any cold drafts. To set the plants blooms, ensure the evening temperature is cool. This could be between 45-55 degrees. If you are in template climates, growing them outdoors is advisable.

Humidity

The Easter cactus requires a humid environment for it to survive. To stimulate the needed moisture, mist the plant daily with a sprayer, even during the resting period. Alternatively, you can place the plant on a saucer filled with pebbles and a little water. The air around the plant will be moistened through evaporation.

Fertilizing

Hatiora Gaertneri requires fertilization, preferably every 14 days. Use a balanced fertilizer and dilute it to half strength. Do not fertilize the plant during the resting period. You can also top-dress the plant with an organic granular fertilizer. They always respond with abundant growth during summertime when fed regularly despite them being moderate feeders. If you want a professional recommendation without the hassle of research, this batch by GrowBetter really does help our babies grow better!

Our Pick
GrowBetter Organic Cactus & Succulent Fertilizer
$8.89

Great slow-release for indoor & outdoor cacti and succulents. Can be pre-mixed with potting soils or top-dressed. OMRI Listed.


11/30/2020 08:38 am UTC

If you want a more in-depth look at succulent fertilizers, check out “5 Safest Fertilizers For Succulents”.

Propagation

Propagate any segment that is at least 3 inches long. This is done in late spring. Allow the cut surface to dry before being placed in slightly moist soil. For More tips and tricks on propagating succulents and cacti check out: “5 Tips for Propagating Succulents”.

Repotting

Once the flowering has finished, you can repot your plants. It is always important to use a well-drained potting mix with good air porosity preferably the ones used for any succulent or cactus.

Beautiful Easter Cactus
Cacti Family @jana_hylocereus

Getting the Hatiora Gaertneri to bloom

Having followed and maintained the points above, you should have a healthy green cactus. For you to accomplish flowers, you will be required to have a special set of conditions. The first thing to do is to stop feeding them. Secondly, move the plant to a place where it will have 12-14 hours of darkness. Ensure the temperatures are 10 degrees Celsius for the best bud set. Thirdly, water the plant sparingly from October to November. By the time it hits December, moves the plant to somewhere warmer with 16-18 degrees Celsius range. The plant will be ready to flower from February to March.

Challenges faced when growing Hatiora Gaertneri

Despite having followed the procedures for its growth, they are met by some challenges, one of being infested by insects.  Scale and mealybugs are the common insects that attack this plant. It usually occurs if the plant is indoors. To curb this, you can wipe the stems down with some alcohol. This will remove the insects and the honeydew they excrete- which can attract fungal spores and the dust that has accumulated. 

If the infestation becomes severe, take your plant outdoor and use insecticide made for succulent plants to treat it. Always follow the directions on the package for application.

Another great problem with this Easter cactus is the root and stem rot caused by a wet, heavy potting mix. To avoid this, you can use the special cactus soil available for use with succulents and cactus. Consider growing your plant in a clay pot which will provide a quicker dry down of the potting mix and better soil aeration. Also, the Easter cactus will fail to flower in the following year, if it is fertilized in the 30 days following blooming.

ALSO READ:

Beautiful Easter Cactus
Hatiora Gaertneri @leaf_as_we_know_it

The next time you are interested in adding some springtime color to your home, be guaranteed to witness it by having this plant in your garden or in that corner of your house. It is easy to grow and brings that bliss in your home. Make your next Easter colorful with Hatiora Gaertneri.

Thank you for reading! If you’d like this read you’re going to love our full in-depth ebooks! With so many of our succulent lovers asking for more, we listened and can’t wait to share it with you here! With our very detailed ebooks, you’ll get more information than these short articles, some ebooks are 30+ pages, perfect for a weekend read.

Happy Planting! 🌵

8 Beautiful Succulents That Flower; Different Types for Indoors/Outdoors

Do you want to add a tinge of amazingness in your succulent farm? Whether indoors or outdoors, having a beautiful botanic garden is a dream come true to all succulents lovers. That’s why you need succulents plants that flower. Succulents are exhilarating plants. They come in different shapes and sizes making a place look magical. The sight of them is breathtaking.

They not only attract humans but insects too, thus resulting in pollination. Succulents that flower come in different shades from pale green, to purple, and pink. To find out more about plants that flower, read on for the exclusive details.

1. Stapelia

Stapelia has different species. The plant was first discovered in South Africa. Sometimes it’s referred to as carrion flower. They have a strong scent resembling rotten meat. Unfortunately, this doesn’t attract humans but only insects. Instead of leaves, they possess thick spikes which are quite harmless. Also, their flowers are magnificent and attractive. Some of its species are red, while others have purplish tips.

Be sure to check out “5 Succulents with Red Flowers” for a list of plants of the red species.

8 Beautiful Succulents That Flower
Born in South Africa @flowers.cactus

2. Huernia

Huernia is closely related to stapelia and is also sometimes referred to as carrion flowers. Initially, it was cooked and used as food. Huernia has sharp-looking thorns but they are soft and won’t harm your skin. Since they don’t have leaves, they use their thick stems, which are pale green for photosynthesis. The red species has a foul smell that attracts insects for pollination. Lastly, they can survive in hostile conditions like extended periods of drought.

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8 Beautiful Succulents That Flower
Survival of The Fittest @succulentaerialyogi

3. Portulaca

Portulaca is a brightly colored succulent. The sight of this plant just screams life. It has fleshy stems, and the plants flowers come in different shades like lavender, pink, yellow red and even orange. Apart from being vibrant, you can easily maintain them, and they require little water for them to flourish. For the best results, you should plant them in shallow containers. They also thrive in rock gardens.

Portulaca has shallow spreading roots which help to prevent soil erosion. Additionally, it has numerous species, for instance; sun jewel which grows fast. “Magic Carpet” and “Sunkist” are annual species that cannot survive in winter.

Be sure to check out our guide on “How to Care for Succulents in the Winter” to see how you can take care of your succulents plants during the winter weather.

8 Beautiful Succulents That Flower
Flowers of Various Colors @georgualdoni

4. Epiphyllum

Epiphyllum is also known as orchid cactus. You can easily term it as ugly, pathetic, or disgusting before it blossoms. But when it does, you would definitely regret using nasty words on epiphyllum. What’s more enthralling about them is their dinner plate’s size like flowers. Behold! They are something out of this world. And, they possess different colors like white, bright red, purple, and palest cream, hot pink, and pale shell pink.

They start blooming around the end of September and the begging of the spring. But different varieties can be grown at different periods of the year. Lastly, this succulent can cross-breed easily, and their cuttings also grow easily.

8 Beautiful Succulents That Flower
Hideous and Horrible @blkgirl_plantstagram

5. Adenium

Adenium is an interesting succulent. You will automatically fall in love with it its woody stem, green leaves, and their hot pink flowers turning white towards the center. It comes in different varieties, but the most common one is adenium obesum. Adenium is delicate and requires lots of care. The type of soil in which they thrive and the amount of water they get is essential. You shouldn’t overwater, and you should plant them in soil that has good drainage.

The plant often loses its leaves during winter, and they need to be kept in cold or winter temperatures. During summer, they need to receive maximum sunlight, at least 6 hours of sunshine per day.

Learn to also take care of your succulents in low light environments, check out “7 Best Succulents for Low Light Environments” for more.

8 Beautiful Succulents That Flower
Fall in Love in Adenium @adenium_vladikavkaz

6. Bromeliads

Bromeliads are famous for their jawbreaking and colorful nature. Their flowers bloom when you least expect them. The leaves are long and slender with a solid green color. The plants can be a mystery, and it can take some time to unfold. Their leaves can be confused as flowers. What’s more surprising is that these leaves or bracts change their colors like a chameleon. Amazing, right?

Are your succulents changing colors? Check here to find out what it means

The actual flowers of that succulent which are tiny and purple are usually inside the cistern. Bromeliads can survive in dry conditions, as carry their water. Bromeliads are a must-have in your garden.

8 Beautiful Succulents That Flower
Color of Nature @pvplantguy

7. Christmas Cactus

Christmas cactus succulent is a beautiful gift for your loved one or a friend. It has flowers of a different shade of red, pink and purple, white or orange, which will make you warm up to them. Their colorful nature is excellent for your interior decor. Christmas cactus needs a lot of care to bloom from one year to the next. You need to water the plant sparingly. Too much water can destroy it. Also, you should avoid moving the plant from one location to the next as its buds and flowers are fragile.

Lastly, keep the plant slightly root-bound. Don’t worry; even if it doesn’t bloom as often as you love. That’s their nature.

8 Beautiful Succulents That Flower
You Can Call Christmas Cactus @hannahlockard

8. Ruby Ball

Tired of a dull office desk? Or you do want to make your table at home stunning? Then, a ruby ball succulent is the perfect match. Ruby ball is also called red cap cactus and has a colorful red top. This succulent lack chlorophyll hence the name albino plant. They don’t have any hair or spikes. You should place them in a place full of light as they love being exposed. Ruby ball has a variant of 15 different colors. Some of which are neon, yellow, purple, orange, pink, and red.

Be sure to learn all about the cacti species by checking out our piece “What Is Special About A Cactus?“.

8 Beautiful Succulents That Flower
Variant Color Ruby @photosbyamelinda

You need the right succulents that flowers to get your garden as colorful as you love. With the above types, you are good to go!

Thank you for reading! Did you enjoy reading this post? If so, you’ll really enjoy our ebook about “Rare Succulents You Wish You Knew About“. With this ebook, you’ll find yourself more detailed answers that’ll help your succulent grow even better! With thousands of succulent lovers enjoying our ebooks, you don’t want to miss out on what works the best to grow your succulents. 

Happy Planting! 🌵

Succulent Insight: How Fast Do Cacti Grow?

Most succulents are slow growers, but cacti may be the slowest! Most species of cacti grow slowly—even the ones that get huge like saguaros. It can take a saguaro up to ten years to become just an inch tall. That’s a long time for such little growth! 

So if you’ve had your cactus for a few years and you’ve barely seen it grow, don’t worry—that’s completely normal! You’re not a bad plant parent, and you’re not taking care of your cactus wrong. Even cacti that are well taken care of will only grow about an inch taller each year unless you have one of the rare few species that grow quickly. 

If you want to know why your cactus is such a slow grower and what you might be able to do to support its growth, then keep reading! 

How Fast Do Cacti Grow
Cactus growing in a black pot @cactusmagazine

Why Cacti Grow Slowly 

Soil and climatic conditions

For cacti, slow growth is a matter of survival. In the desert, water and nutrients are incredibly scarce. It barely rains, and the soil is dry and almost infertile. Plants need water and nutrients from the ground to carry out photosynthesis, so the fact that cacti get so little of both means they can’t grow very much. 

Cacti have also adapted to focus their limited resources on survival rather than sprouting lots of new growth. They conserve water and resources so that they can survive through long periods of drought and extreme heat. 

Check out “The Rounded Ball Cactus— Parodia Magnifica” for a fun look at an amazing type of cacti you can take home with you.

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How Fast Do Cacti Grow
Cactus growing outdoors @mallachtsplants

Lack of leaves

Another reason why cacti grow so slowly is that they don’t have leaves. Plants transpire through their leaves. About 99% of the water absorbed by a plant’s roots evaporates through its leaves. So if cacti had leaves, they definitely wouldn’t be able to grow in the desert! 

One downside of not having leaves is that it limits their ability to soak up the sun and convert it into food through photosynthesis. Plants with big, broad leaves have more green tissue, which means they have more chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the chemical that makes plant tissue green, and it’s also a vital part of photosynthesis. Chlorophyll can soak up energy from the sun and convert it into glucose, which primarily plants’ food. Plants are then able to utilize that glucose for energy and growth. 

Because cacti only have stems and not leaves, they have less green tissue and less chlorophyll than other plants. This limits their ability to soak up the sun and convert it into food that they can use to grow. Cacti have spines and sometimes wool on their stems that shade them from the sun, which likely limits their ability to soak up the sun even more. No wonder they grow so slowly! 

How Fast Do Cacti Grow
Aerial view of cacti growing in pots @plantadictos

Stomata in cacti

Another adaptation that slows down their growth is their stomata. Stomata are the pores found on the surface of all plants that allow them to take in carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is needed to carry out photosynthesis, so for a plant to grow quickly, it needs to take in a fair bit of carbon dioxide.

Whenever plants open up their stomata to take in carbon dioxide, though, some of the water in their leaves evaporates. Cacti couldn’t survive in the desert if they lost lots of water through their stomata, so they’ve adapted to have fewer stomata than other plants. Because they have fewer stomata, they can’t take in as much carbon dioxide, further limiting their ability to carry out photosynthesis. 

All the adaptations that make cacti cool, distinctive plants are the reason why they can’t grow as fast as other plants. Bummer, right?

How Fast Do Cacti Grow
cacti mounted on a wall @planter_me

Can I Make My Cactus Grow Faster? 

We bet that you get a little impatient waiting for your cactus to grow—we certainly do! We’ve spent a lot of time researching how to make cacti grow faster. And unfortunately, we’ve learned that there’s not a whole lot that you can do to speed up your plant’s growth without potentially harming it. 

Can fertilizer help?

If you give your cactus extra fertilizer or water to try to speed up its growth, it can develop several defects. Giving your cactus too much water could actually cause its skin to split. Cacti have adapted to soak up as much water as possible whenever it rains and store it in their cells. They’ll try to soak up all the water you give them, even if their cells aren’t big enough to fit all of it. This can cause their skin to split as their cells and tissues bulge from all the extra water, which will create an unsightly scar when it heals. 

Be sure you also check out our article “5 Dangers Of Overwatering A Cactus” to see all the possible dangers of too much watering.

Cacti also don’t respond well if you give them extra fertilizer. Their new growth will often be deformed, which ruins their appearance. This especially happens with columnar cacti. Their new growth is much more significant and more circular than the growth below it, so it looks like a big round ball is sitting on top of your cute, skinny cactus! They also become very top-heavy and can even fall over if they get this way, so you don’t want to overfeed your columnar cacti to speed up their growth. 

What about watering?

You should only water your cacti about once every two weeks when the soil is completely dry. They don’t need much fertilizer either—feeding them once or twice during their growing season will probably be enough given the fact that they’re used to infertile desert soil. But you can safely fertilize your cactus about once every month or two during its active growing season without harming it. Just don’t start fertilizing it every week!

Check out our guide “How Often To Water Cactus” for all things watering when it comes to taking care of your cactus plant.

How Fast Do Cacti Grow
Thorny cactus plant @sibosunkaktusukulenti

Which Species of Cacti Grow the Fastest? 

If you love to see your plant babies grow as we do, then you might want to get a species of cacti that are known for growing faster than the rest. We’ve heard from other succulent gardeners that Cereus and Trichocereus cacti species are particularly fast growers. 

Pilosocereus cacti, a beautiful genus of blue cacti, are also known for being pretty fast growers. Go check out the article we just wrote about them to learn more! 

It’s a bit of a bummer that most cacti grow slowly, but trust us—their growth is worth waiting for! 

Also, be sure to check out “Totem Pole Cactus (Pachycereus Schottii Monstrosus)” for another type of cactus to get you excited over.

How Fast Do Cacti Grow
Potted cactus plant @succulent.pro

We hope that this article has answered all your questions about how fast cacti grow. But if not, feel free to leave your questions below or ask them in our awesome community of succulent lovers, the Succulent City Plant Lounge

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 “Essential Tools for Planting the Best Succulents” or even “The Most Common Issues Amongst Succulent Growers”  today!

Happy Planting! 🌵

What Is Special About A Cactus?

These thorny succulents that complement any environment always have and up to this day remain a wonder to humans as well as animals in the wild. A hungry creature will eat anything in its path to stay alive, and as such, they are continually looking for food. The ones that have tried extracting the juices from this plant have done it at their own risk. Most of the time, coming out of the ordeal with nothing but painful stabs in their mouths and paws by the sharp spikes the cactus plant has.

The cacti species has been widely researched to find what makes them worthy of having a whole family named in its honor. What sets them apart from most flora is the physical outlook that no other plant on the planet possesses. And in this piece, we shall look into more features that make these succulents unique and widely loved.

What Is Special About A Cactus?
Variety of short cacti in planters @tara_desert

They Grow Anywhere and Everywhere

Contrary to belief, cacti can be grown in almost all climates in the world and not only the desert climate. This is supported by the fact that some species have been found to thrive in the rainforests and colder environments in different parts of the world. Their resilience to the harsh conditions as experienced in the deserts makes them even more popular. Whatever the location they are brought up in, they find ways to survive, thrive, and produce. As long as they have all their nutritional needs met- in the desert or your backyard, they will grow. Cacti are not fussy plants.

Check out our article about “The Rounded Ball Cactus— Parodia Magnifica” for a look at an amazing cactus variety you probably have not seen before!

They Are Nocturnal Plants

Humans are wired differently, and as you will see, plants too. Some people are morning persons, and others aren’t. Others are more productive during the day and others during the night. Animals also behave the same, some hunt at night and others during the day. And the cacti family are loyal members of the night club. The cacti open their stomata during the night as opposed to a majority of plants. If they open the pores during the day, they will lose most of the water they hold within their tissues, and this will mean a shorter life span. They do prefer the night time because the temperatures are cooler, and the calmer breeze helps them retain most of their water storage.

They Are Stem Succulents

Most succulents are characterized by the fact that they have thick leaves as their primary water storage tanks. But this is not the case when it comes to the cactus. To begin with, cacti do not have leaves. They instead have another site to store the water they absorb; otherwise, they wouldn’t be here today. Their swollen stem takes up this role, which explains why they are thick, round, and tight to touch. Some even look like they are almost bursting out. Well, now you know why their stems look that way; they are the plant’s primary water reservoir.

Take a look at our piece “How Often To Water Cactus” and see techniques we came up with to better water your cactus.

Their Unique Growth Habits

Cacti display quite an array of different growing patterns that make them very bizarre. The first growth habit is the arborescent cacti, which grow like a tree with a single trunk topped up by several branches. The second type is the columnar cacti that consist of an erect and cylindrical-shaped stem. The stems may or may not be branched, depending on the species. Smaller versions are the ones that grow in a globular manner. These are the ball-shaped shorter and smaller versions of the columnar cacti. The cactus that grow in this pattern are mostly solitary succulents or may develop several clusters that may be sharing the same root.

Other cacti growing in tropical regions develop as epiphytes, which are plants that grow on other plants deriving their nutrients from the surrounding air. Others emerge as climbers that can grow to enormous sizes. These kinds usually have flattened stems with little or no spines.

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What Is Special About A Cactus?
A thick-stemmed and thorny cactus @cappucinoforpt

Unique Physical Cacti Characteristics

Specialized skin surface

The cacti have a waxy, shiny skin that helps them survive the harsh weather conditions in some of their natural habitats. The coating on the skin is ribbed and covers the exterior of most cacti species. The ribs allow the crop to easily stretch without breaking the surface when the plant absorbs water during the rainy season. The ribs also provide some shade to the plant’s skin. The waxy, shiny texture works towards reducing the rate at which evaporation is taking place. 

The spines

Well, the needles are perhaps the most known feature that characterizes a cactus as one. The sharp prickly features are not only for aesthetics but also helps the plant to survive. One of the ways it has done so is by taking the place of leaves when compared to other plants. The reduced number or lack thereof the leaves means the plant has fewer stomata, which consequently means less water loss. Secondly, the spines protect the plant from animals and humans from interfering with it. The needles also help the succulent shed its skin and insulating the crop during the cold, dry weather.

In some cactus, these spines help collect rainwater by directing the droplets towards the plant’s roots. The needles also provide shade to the succulent from the hot glazing sun.

Take a look at the article for “Taking Care of the Old Lady Cactus” for a look at a cactus with little spines and interesting features.

What Is Special About A Cactus?
Different cacti species @kaktusyesilii

Specialized root system

Cacti plants have a somewhat different root system as compared to the other flora found growing in harsh conditions. As opposed to having deep roots, they have an extensive, shallow root system that spread widely to all directions and sit right below the surface. Whenever there is a downpour, torrential, or light, the roots absorb the water from the surfaces above them faster and more efficiently. These roots grow exponentially during these wet times, but when it gets drier, they wither and break off from the parent plant to conserve water further.

Their flowers 

All cactus species have flowerets that grow at least once in their growth cycle. Some get flowers very early in their infancy and some take months and years to develop. Some even never get to bloom because of the conditions they are exposed to in their habitats. Well, the flowering part is not what makes them unique but how the individual flowers look like. The flowers have both the petals and the sepals combined, and they have numerous stamens around a multi-lobed stigma. The petals are at least ten in number. The flowers bloom in different sizes and colors, all dependent on the species.

Some of these flowers develop into fruits that both humans and animals can eat, although one should take caution, as some of these fruits are poisonous and not safe for consumption.

Be sure to not miss our article “Why is the Prickly Pear Cactus One of the Most Popular Cacti?” to see this cactus. See why it’s so popular!

Areoles

An areole is a raised structure on the surface of the cactus that the spines originate from. This is the distinguishing trait that only the cactus family possesses. These parts of the plant are circular or oval-shaped; they appear like raised fusion-discs and are fully covered by small hairs or sharp spikes. Some other plants have spines, but if they do not come from an areola, they are not cacti.

What Is Special About A Cactus?
Potted cacti @nannipereira

The cactus species never ceases to amaze, and if you were to house all the types in your backyard, you would run out of space. The traits mentioned earlier should, with no doubt, convince you that the cacti are a unique and special family of plants. With their exotic-looking features, any setting should be glad to host these wonders of nature.

Thank you for reading! Don’t run out of cactus content! Check out more from the cactus species like “Everything You Need to Know About the Brain Cactus” or “Does the Bunny Cactus Hop?” for more fun cactus facts and info.

If you liked this read, you’re going to love our full in-depth ebooks! With so many of our succulent lovers asking for more, we listened and can’t wait to share it with you here! With our very detailed ebooks, you’ll get more information than these short articles, some ebooks are 30+ pages, perfect for a weekend read. 

Happy Planting! 🌵

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