Everything You Need to Know About the Brain Cactus

Everything about the Brain Cactus

Brains.

This spooky, scary cactus really does look like brains! If you put it in a faux human skull planter, you may be able to fool a few people into thinking your Brain Cactus is a real human brain! Maybe an idea for halloween 2019?

OK, we’re just kidding about the real brains thing! The Brain Cactus is bright green, so you probably won’t be fooling anybody with it anytime soon. But it does have curvy stems that wrap and twist around each other into a round shape, so the whole plant does look a lot like a brain.

This unique cactus has an interesting history and some specific care requirements, so if you want to learn more about it, keep reading!

Also, for our new readers that don’t know. We’ve been collaborating with Amazon to provide our readers amazing deals! Like this one, you can sign up for Amazon Prime for a 30 day FREE trial. How cool is that? Our team is thinking about getting new planters to spice up the office!

Anyways, onwards to the brains…

everything to know about the brain cactus
sunny brain cactus @plant_addiction__

Origins of the Brain Cactus

The Brain Cactus, also known as the Mammillaria ElongataCristata’ cactus, is native to central Mexico. It’s a rare form of the Mammillaria Elongata cactus and has a unique, crested shape. Its growth pattern kind of looks like worms or brains, which is how it got the nickname Brain Cactus.

Mammillaria Elongata cacti are called Ladyfingers and grow nice and straight, but this crested form has stems with lots of kinks in them that grow in one big round clump. How did that happen?

It didn’t happen through cultivation—it actually happened through mutation or damage.

All succulents, including cacti, have a center of growth. This center of growth is called the apical meristem. If the apical meristem gets munched on by an insect or damaged somehow, your cactus may start to grow in a wormlike crested shape. Pretty cool, huh?

That’s not the only way that crested cacti can form, though. Sometimes a mutation happens in the cells of a cactus and causes it to become crested. Mutations happen much more rarely, though.

everything to know about the brain cactus
brain cactus @maijamasena

How to Care for the Brain Cactus Properly

Taking care of a Brain Cactus is easy, but there are a few things you should know, especially when it comes to propagation. Keep reading if you want to learn how to take care of the amazing Mammillaria Elongata ‘Cristata’ plant!

The best soil to use for your Brain Cactus

The best cactus soil is going to be something that drains well, like succulent soil or a homemade soil blend made with potting mix, perlite or pumice, and sand.

We highly recommend this soil mix by Bonsai Jack. It is one of the best soil mixes on the market. It doesn’t need to be mixed with any other soil, it helps fight root rot, perfectly pH Balanced & is pathogen-free (ie: won’t kill your plants). This soil is the go-to for our office plants. Go ahead and get the 7 Gallon Bag if you are plant nerd like us :). Pick up some of our favorite soil by clicking here: Bonsai Jack Succulent Soil.

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Last update on 2021-08-02 / Amazon

Repotting the Brain Cactus safely

When you get your Brain Cactus home from the nursery or in the mail, you’ll probably want to plant it in a new pot.

When you repot this cactus, you have to be careful! It has spines that can hurt you, so put on a thick pair of gardening gloves before you try to pick it up. Once you have your gloves on, grab your new pot and cactus soil and fill it up, leaving some room for the plant and its roots.

Now you’re ready to take your cactus out of its old pot!. Run a trowel around the edges of the pot to loosen up the soil. Gently pick up the cactus and shake as much of the old soil out of the roots as you can. Plant it in the new pot and add more soil around it so that the soil reaches the top of the pot. Hold off on watering it for a few days to give it a chance to acclimate to its new pot.

You should repot your cactus once every two to four years in the spring. If you see its roots peaking out of the drainage hole, that’s a definite sign that it’s outgrowing its pot and needs to be replanted!

everything to know about the brain cactus
up close and personal @stringofplants

Brain Cactus water requirements for ideal growth

Most cacti don’t require a lot of water, and the Brain Cactus is no exception. Excess water can get in the folds of this crested cactus and rot it quite quickly, so you have to be careful when watering it! Make sure that you don’t get water on the body of your Brain Cactus. We like to use a small watering can and point the spout at the soil, not the plant.

We use the “soak and dry” method to water our cacti, so we keep pouring water onto the soil until water runs out of the drainage hole of the pot. Then we wait until the soil is completely dry to the touch before watering again.

I know what you’re thinking. Soaking my cactus with water? Won’t that cause it to rot?

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everything to know about the brain cactus
brain cactus in yellow pot @omniasucculents

Cacti have a reputation for needing very little water, so I totally understand why you think that! But this watering method actually mimics the weather patterns in their native environment, the desert, so it keeps them nice and healthy.

Deserts get periods of heavy rain followed by long periods of intense drought. Cacti soak up all the water they can during those heavy rains and then dry out during the drought, drawing on their water reserves to keep themselves hydrated.

So soaking them mimics those heavy desert rains and drying them out mimics the drought. They love this watering method, so try it out!

As for frequency, we soak out cacti once every one or two weeks during the summer, and then cut back to once every four to six weeks during the winter.

everything to know about the brain cactus
potted brain cactus @succiexhi

How much sunlight does a Brain Cactus really need?

Like most cacti, this one likes bright, direct sunlight. With that being said, you shouldn’t leave it in the hot summer sunshine for more than four hours. If you do, your cactus could get scorched!

When growing this cactus indoors, you should put it near the brightest window in your home to ensure it gets enough sunlight. Having some sort of window sill planter will make it look pretty too!

The ideal temperature for Brain Cactus growth

Unfortunately, the Brain Cactus isn’t cold hardy, so you’ll have to bring it inside for the winter. It can’t handle even a light frost, so bring it indoors at the start of fall.

If you don’t quite understand the difference between hardy or soft plants, be sure to take a detour here.

everything to know about the brain cactus
pretty in pink @pottheadluver

Does a Brain Cactus need any fertilization?

Sure thing! You should try fertilizing your Brain Cactus about once a month during its growing season in the spring and summer. A water soluble cactus fertilizer like this one is a great choice.

If you want more options be sure to ask some of our green thumbs in the Succulent City Plant Lounge.

Propagating the Brain Cactus the Right Way

Propagating Mammillaria Elongata ‘Cristata’ is a lot different from propagating other cacti and succulents, in case you’ve read our most popular propagation guide. But because it’s crested, you’ll have to get a little creative with your propagating techniques to preserve its unique shape.

This plant does produce offsets that can be divided and replanted, but we’ve heard that these offsets usually have a normal growth pattern that’s more like the Mammillaria Elongata. You may get lucky, though—normal looking offsets can become crested as they grow, so don’t pluck them off your plant and throw them out. Try and replant them and see if they become crested as they mature!

You can also propagate the Brain Cactus from cuttings, but those cuttings should be grafted onto another cactus for best results. Grafting is kind of like creating a Frankenstein cactus. You cut off the head of one cactus, take a cutting from another, and mush them together to create one brand new cactus!

It sounds weird, but it works! If you put a cutting from your Brain Cactus on top, the new cactus will have the same characteristics and crested shape, which can’t be said for other methods of propagation.

Grafting works best if the two plants you use are closely related genetically. So, if you can get your hands on a Mammillaria Elongata, you should graft your Brain Cactus onto that. If you can’t find a cactus that’s the same species as your Brain Cactus, then just try to use a cactus that’s in the same genus.

everything to know about the brain cactus
outdoor garden @arelys_succulent_shack

Let’s begin

To begin, cut the body of your Mammillaria Elongata with a grafting knife. Make sure that the part of the cactus that’s still in the soil is at least a few inches long. Discard or set aside the top part of the cactus that’s no longer attached—you won’t need it.

Then, take a stem cutting from your Brain Cactus that’s at least one inch long and put it on top of the Mammillaria Elongata.

On the cut side of both of your cacti, you’ll see a ring—at least part of those two rings need to overlap in order for this to work. So when you layer your Brain Cactus cutting on top of the Mammillaria Elongata plant, make sure that they line up.

Grab some rubber bands and use them to hold the two pieces in place. You can wrap the rubber bands around the pot as well to better secure them. In about two months, the pieces will be joined and you’ll be able to remove the rubber bands!

In the meantime, continue to care for the plant just like you would any other cactus. There’s a small risk of infection and a chance that your graft will fail, but it’s a pretty reliable way to create a new cactus if you use species that are closely genetically related.

everything to know about the brain cactus
beautiful brain @cactusky9

Well, that’s everything we know about the Brain Cactus! We hope that this post has given you the confidence you need to grow this awesome little succulent. It’s not hard, we promise!

Is this plant going on your wishlist? Let us know in the comments below!

Loved learning about this succulent and now inspired to add more to your collection?! (We don’t blame you) Check out Succulent City’s new line of ebooks covering topics from, “All the Types of Succulents for Indoor and Outdoor,” “Different Types of Planters,” and many more helpful in-depth ebooks. Head to this link to view our full line of ebooks and get started with our complementary guide. 

Happy planting! ?

Easiest Way to Take Care of Aeonium Arboreum

Care for Aeonium Arboreum

Most succulents thrive on neglect, and the Aeonium arboreum plant is no exception. As long as you don’t completely forget to water it, it’ll probably survive! It’s the perfect plant for people with black thumbs and people who don’t have a lot of time to tend to their plants.

These succulents aren’t just easy to care for—they’re also super beautiful! They have long branching stems and big rosettes in colors like green and maroon. They remind us a lot of Echeveria and Hens and Chicks. If you like those succulents, you’ll love this one for sure!

Even though Aeonium arboreum plants are pretty easy to take care of, there are a few things that can kill them. So stick with us and keep reading to learn all about aeonium care!

how to care for aeonium arboreums
potted aeonium arboreum arrangment @aeonium.nhits

Planting Aeonium

Most Aeoniums are native to the Canary Islands. Because they’ve adapted to a coastal environment, they like a little more moisture than other succulents.

To give our Aeoniums a little more moisture, we like to plant them in a less porous soil blend than the one we plant our other succulents in. We blend a little bit of regular potting soil with our favorite succulent soil to create a soil blend that retains just a little more moisture.

Two parts succulent soil to one part potting soil is what we like to go for. It’ll drain a little slower than regular succulent soil and keep the Aeoniums moist, but not too moist. We don’t want to cause root rot!

Speaking of roots, did you know that Aeoniums have shallow root systems? Aeonium arboreum plants can get to be up to four feet tall, so you’d expect them to have deep roots. But even tall Aeoniums can survive in fairly shallow containers because of their shallow root systems.

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how to care for aeonium arboreums
blooming aeonium arboreum @laboiteamaga

Because Aeoniums don’t need a lot of soil, they make great container plants! They look great in stylish indoor planters like this one and only need to be replanted in bigger containers about once every three years. The best time to repot them is in the fall, during their active growing season.

After we replant our Aeoniums in a bigger container, we give them a few days to acclimate to their new pot before we water them. This gives them a chance to root and helps prevent root rot.

Another thing to keep in mind when you’re planting Aeonium is that their branches are pretty fragile. They have a tendency to snap right off, so you have to be careful when handling your plant!

If a few branches pop off, don’t worry! You can leave them to scab over for a few days and then replant them. They should take root and form brand new plants! We’ll talk about this more later.

how to care for aeonium arboreums
green aeonium arboreum @guardiaplantas

Watering Aeonium Arboreum Plants

Aeoniums do like a little more moisture than other succulents, but you still can’t go crazy with the watering can! You should only water your Aeoniums when the top layer of soil feels pretty dry. You’ll probably end up watering them about once a week.

During the summer months, when they’re dormant, you should cut back on the water. Watering them once a month should be enough during the summer. If your plant is outside and gets some rainwater, it may need even less frequent waterings or no water at all!

You should soak and dry your Aeoniums the same way you do with your other succulents. Before you water them, stick your finger an inch deep into the soil and make sure it’s dry. If it’s still pretty wet, hold off on watering for a little longer.

If the soil feels pretty dry, grab your watering can and soak your Aeoniums until water runs out of the drainage hole of the pot, and if your Aeoniums are in the ground, water them until the soil feels wet about an inch down.

One of the few ways to kill your Aeoniums is by overwatering them, so make sure you follow the soak and dry method! Otherwise, they’re pretty chill plants that can withstand a lot!

how to care for aeonium arboreums
droplets on aeonium arboreum @mimgarrett

Fertilizer Requirements

Aeonium arboreum plants grow during the winter and spring, which is the best time to fertilize them. You should fertilize them with a balanced, water soluble fertilizer, diluted to half strength. So if the directions say to dissolve 1 tablespoon of fertilizer into a gallon of water, you’d only use ½ tablespoon. You can fertilize them up to once a month during their growing season.

Remember not to fertilize your Aeonium arboreum plants during the summer months—that’s when they go dormant!

Light and Temperature Requirements

If you keep your Aeonium arboreum plants inside, then you should put them near the brightest window in your home.

Outside, though, these plants prefer partial shade to full sun, especially during the summer months when the sun really beats down on them. They do best with bright but indirect sunlight, so provide them with some light shade to prevent them from burning in the hot sun.

Aeonium arboreum plants generally don’t like cold temperatures. They can survive for short periods of time in 25 degree weather, but they can’t handle long winter freezes without turning into popsicles. So if you live in an area that gets lots of cold weather and snow, bring your Aeonium arboreum plants in for the winter to keep them nice and toasty!

how to care for aeonium arboreums
deep purple @paulhitchcock1958

Can Pests Kill Aeoniums?

Pests and overwatering are kryptonite for Aeoniums! Pests like mealybugs and spider mites are aggressive and can kill your plant if you let the infestation go on long enough.

That’s why it’s important to recognize when an infestation is happening and nip it in the butt quickly! Mealybugs are white and fuzzy, so they’re often mistaken for mold. Spider mites are a little harder to see and identify. The first signs of damage will be brown or yellow spots on the leaves of your plant. As the infestation continues, you might notice webbing on the plant that looks like spider webs.

Both of these types of infestations can stunt your plant’s growth, cause damage to its leaves, and even kill it if it goes on for too long. Yikes!
But there is something you can do to help! You can spray your plant with insecticidal sprays or neem oil. To curb a mealybug infestation, you can also spray your plant with some rubbing alcohol if you put it in a spray bottle. Keep spraying your plant until the bugs are gone. Make sure you move any infected plants away from the rest of your plant collection too so the pests don’t spread!

how to care for aeonium arboreums
potted aeoniums @rechieii_tunyi

Aeonium Propagation

If one of the stems of your Aeonium arboreum plant falls off when you’re repotting it or falls over because it’s too heavy, you can propagate that stem to create a brand new plant instead of discarding it.

You can also take a cutting directly from the plant underneath one of the rosettes. Just grab a sharp garden knife and cut the stem about 5 or so inches beneath one of the rosettes.

Before you plant your cuttings, you’ll have to let the cut ends heal over for a few days. Wait until the cut sides have scabbed over completely before you plant your cuttings in succulent soil.

Once they’re planted, keep them in a location that gets bright, indirect sunlight and water them regularly. Over the next few weeks you’re going to want to keep the soil barely moist at all times. When the plants take root you can put them on the same watering schedule as your mature Aeonium arboreum plants.

how to care for aeonium arboreums
beautiful aeonium arboreum @gea.zini

Now that you know how to take care of Aeonium arboreum plants, are you going to go out and buy a few? The next time we go to the nursery we’re definitely going to grab a couple! Let us know if they’re on your wishlist too in the comments section below!

Better yet, let us know if you have this in our exclusive Succulent Plant Lounge. Every day we have exclusive members giving each other tips and tricks on how to take care of their succulent babies, we know you’d like this too!

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 Correct Way to Water Succulents today!

Happy planting! ?

The Stunning Crassula Capitella Succulent

The Stunning Crassula Capitella Succulent

Would you like to grow your very own natural pagoda?

Yes, that’s right. In the heart of the wonderful world of succulents is an eye-catching perennial with multi-colored bright red and green leaves that appear like a tiered tower of a pagoda. This fiery evergreen makes an attractive garden focal point and creates a gorgeous border around the edge of a sunny rockery. Meet the Crassula Capitella, the small but striking succulent that also goes by the names Red Flames, Red Pagoda and Campfire Plant.

The Stunning Crassula Capitella Succulent
Red and green succulent. @mes_succulentes

Origins of the Crassula Capitella

Crassula Capitella is natively rooted in South Africa, vibrantly thriving in the provinces of Transvaal, Mpumalanga, Free State, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape. It is also prominently featuring in the landscapes of Namibia and Botswana. The plant is well known to the indigenous people of South Africa as a herb whose roots are dried and crushed into a powder that is used to heal wounds.

This succulent derives the name Crassula from the Latin word “Crassus” which means ‘thick’. This is referring to the size of the chubby leaves. The word Capitella relates to a specific epithet drawn from the Latin word “Capitellum” which translated means ‘small head’.

Be sure to also check out “Where Do Most Succulents Come From?” to see the origin of the rest of your succulent garden.

The Stunning Crassula Capitella Succulent
Succulent in well-draining pot. @myfellowfoliage

Crassula Capitella Succulent

This evergreen succulent has small, pointed, thick leaves that are firmly stacked on top of each other, attached to a stem. The leaves are narrow and tend to resemble a propeller. As the plant grows, the leaves start off as a bright, apple-green color. After that, the more sunlight the plant receives which makes for the leaves to form highlights at the tips and edges that range in shades. From deep purple, to blush red and intense orange.

The different hues are emphasized during the winter as the perennial takes advantage of bright sunlight and cool, long nights. When grown in shaded areas, the leaves of Crassula Capitella remain olive green in color, all year round. The leaves grow in the shape of a rosette. With larger leaves tightly packed at the base of the stem and smaller, spaced-out leaves at the top tip of the stem.

Interested in these colorful succulents? Make sure you check out “5 Succulents with Red Flowers” here.

Crassula Capitella is an upstanding member of the plant society, in the sense that it tends to grow standing upright, ranging from 15 to 40 cm tall. Given the right conditions, this succulent can also spread around a 1-meter radius. But the tips of the stems will always try and face the sun.

Once a year, mostly during the summer, the stems sprout clusters of tiny, star-like, white flowers that become the feature attraction for bees and butterflies. This succulent also produces an elongated inflorescence forming from the stem. The roots appear at the plant’s internodes, making rooting effortless if the stem is lying on the ground.

The Stunning Crassula Capitella Succulent
Crassula capitella with blueish hue. @dr_succs

Best Watering Conditions

No matter how faithful we try to be with our evergreen friends, sometimes things just don’t go as planned. For example, they may end up with no access to water for a short time period. The ever-forgiving Crassula Capitella turns out to be a super succulent! In addition, to storing water in the leaves like other succulents, it also saves water during the day. Thanks to the Crassulacean Acid Metabolism (CAM), the succulent is able to open its stomata at night to absorb carbon dioxide, instead of during the day, which helps the plant reduce internal moisture loss due to evaporation. The plant’s hardiness enables them to thrive and survive in drought-prone areas.

That being said, however, the Crassula Capitella still requires a drink of water now and again. Try these water bottles out when its time to water your succulent. Likewise most succulents, one of the greatest dangers to these plants is over-watering. To be on the safe side, you would rather your plant be too dry as compared to too wet. Not sure why your Crassula Capitella is dying? Check out “Why Are My Succulent Leaves Falling Off?”. Anyways, that is to say, a good drink of water every fortnight should be sufficient and the timing can alternate depending on the weather. This succulent does not like bath time and would only require a short 10-minute soak in a saucer of water, then shaken off to drain excess water.

The Stunning Crassula Capitella Succulent
stunning decoration @succulentsssss

Best Lighting Conditions

To bring the best out of the leaf coloring, Crassula Capitella will do well with at least 6 hours of sunshine in a partially shaded area. The plant prefers light or porous, well-draining garden soil, like this one. Crassula Capitella can withstand some level of frost, but it does not do well in freezing temperatures. When small, brown dots start to appear on the leaves, this could be a sign of frost damage. If residing in areas with cold climates, place the plant in a container that can easily be relocated indoors during extreme temperature changes.

The Crassula Capitella is susceptible to mealy bugs and fungal diseases. It should be checked on regularly. This succulent can also fall prone to foliage edema which occurs from rapid changes in moisture. The plant is safe to have around curious animals. To clarify it does not fall under the list of toxic succulents.

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The Stunning Crassula Capitella Succulent
Crassula capitella in the garden. @cactinaut

Propagation

This branching succulent propagates through offsets of leaf, root, and stem cuttings. To propagate the plant using a part of the plant, ensure that your cutting is approximately 130 mm long. Try these shears for those tricky cuts. After that, place the cutting in a tray with succulent potting mix or soil that is moist but not waterlogged. It takes about 4 to 6 weeks for the cuttings to take root and show new growth. During this time, it is advisable to occasionally water the plant to establish an extensive root system. After that, you can reduce watering to every fortnight.

Also check out “5 Tips for Propagating Succulents” for a more in-depth look at propagation.

The Stunning Crassula Capitella Succulent
Light green capitella succulent. @adelicadezadoamor

Pruning and Fertilizer

To elongate the life of the Crassula Capitella, firstly it’s suggested that you prune and replant your succulent after it flowers. Secondly, this succulent could do with an organic compost fertilizer, twice a year or if the soil is impoverished. Old foliage can be taken off with a sharp, clean knife before the new leaves start to emerge to maintain the pleasant and delightful look of your succulent. To really keep your Crassula Capitella thriving, every two to three years, especially in the early springtime, you could divide up the clumps and direct the succulent to grow in the direction you would like.

The Stunning Crassula Capitella Succulent
Stair pattern on crassula capitella succulent. @replantnl

Depending on your location and where you buy your plants from, Crassula Capitella range in price from $3.00 to $20.00. With a wide variety of colors available at select supermarkets, online, and at your local farmers market. Their intriguing shapes have become the latest trend for wedding planners and interior designers. They make absolutely brilliant ornamental gifts in an indoor container plant or hanging basket.

Thanks for reading! If you have a minute, drop us a line letting us know where you get your succulents from. Maybe we could compare notes, leaves, and succulents!

Also if you liked this post, make sure to check out related content like “What is a Cactus Plant?” or “5 Office Succulents You Wish You Had at Work”. And Be sure to join our ever-growing succulent community on  Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!

Loved learning about this succulent and now inspired to add more to your collection?! (We don’t blame you) Check out Succulent City’s new line of ebooks covering topics from, “All the Types of Succulents for Indoor and Outdoor,” “Different Types of Planters,” and many more helpful in-depth ebooks. Head to this link to view our full line of ebooks and get started with our complimentary guide.

Happy Planting!! ?

Taking Care of the Old Lady Cactus (Succulent Tips)

Taking Care of the Old Lady Cactus

What comes to mind when you think about an old lady? Especially when it has to do with a cactus? You may be trying to make the connection between a prickly plant and a sweet old soul. All it takes is one look at the Old Lady Cactus, especially when it is flowering, for it all to come together.

Keep on reading to find out our tips on taking care of the Old Lady Cactus.

Mammillaria Hahniana

The Old Lady Cactus also goes by the name Mammillaria Hahniana. The Mammillaria family has around 200 species of cacti, most being native to Mexico. The Old Lady Cactus is a part of the Cactaceae family. Being easy to take care of the Old Lady Cactus, it is a much-loved choice to add to any garden, both indoors and outdoors!

Taking Care of the Old Lady Cactus
Old lady and her flowers. @dr.rika_jikken.kun

Old Lady Cactus Characteristics

The Mammillaria Hahniana features stunning spherical stems that are covered in sharp white spines and white down. These spheres grow to be around 4 inches tall, and 5 inches wide, though over several years this can evolve to a height of up to 10 inches. 

This is one cactus that does not like being lonely, and often grows in groups, creating a collection of spheres. Then something happens in the spring and summer. What was simply a spiky looking ‘ball’ plant, begins to take on a new look. They flower with reddish purple flowers forming a crown at the top of the plants. Nevertheless, these flowers look like a perfect headband, creating a halo effect on the cactus.

Want to add the Old Lady Cactus to your collection of succulents? Here is everything you need to know to ensure they thrive!

Taking Care of the Old Lady Cactus
Beautiful old lady cactus plant in pot. @katelovesplants

Does the Old Lady Cactus Need Water?

There is a time for everything, and the same applies to watering your Old Lady Cactus. How do you know the right time though? Well, you need to make sure that the soil is quite dry when determining if you need to water your succulent. If you feel the soil and there is even a touch of moisture, do not put any water on your plant.

Once the soil feels totally dry to the touch, water the cactus. Make sure the water goes all the way through the soil. Your pot needs to have proper drainage holes– check out these little pots we found. The plant should not be left sitting in water as this could lead to root rot and eventually kill it, which is why drainage is a must.

Seasons affect watering as well. The cooler the weather, the less water that your plant will need. Spring and summer are the best time to water your plant. In winter, do not water your Old Lady Cactus. As you keep reading, you will see why.

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Taking Care of the Old Lady Cactus
Top view of the old lady cactus plant. @plant.accordingly

What Soil is Required for the Old Lady Cactus?

Water retention can really affect the growth of your cacti, so your choice of soil is quite important. You need soil that will drain relatively fast, is porous, and it should be rich in nutrients as well. Look for a commercial cactus mix, like this one we swear by, for the very best results. A mixture that is sandy in texture would be the best option.

Taking Care of the Old Lady Cactus
Pink flowers blooming on old lady cactus plant. @that_sunshinelife

Feed Your Old Lady Cactus with Fertilizer

Timing is everything when it comes to feeding your cacti with fertilizer. Cacti goes through growing seasons, with the spring and the summer being the time the cacti grow. In the winter, growth comes to a standstill.

Fertilizer should only be added during the growing season for one simple reason. Blooming flowers!! Too much fertilizer will inhibit the flowers blooming on your cactus. Less is more, and it is better to use a liquid fertilizer with this plant– try this one from Miracle- Gro. Try and make sure you use a fertilizer with a high potassium content as this will help the plant thrive. In the winter when the plant is dormant, save up on your feed – your cacti doesn’t need it.

Sometimes we will use fertilizer if we see that our succulents or cacti need a bit of help in order to get back on their roots.

Taking Care of the Old Lady Cactus
Old lady cactus covered with white webbing. @toomanyplants

Propagating Your Old Lady Cactus

The best way to start your journey with an Old Lady Cactus is by propagating it, the right way. The Mammillaria Hahniana will thrive from offsets. These are the smaller spheres which are found at the base of the older plants. To properly propagate, here is what you can do.

  • Put on some thick gardening gloves.
  • Find the smallest of the offsets and gently remove it from the main plant.
  • Keep the offset on some dry tissue in a dry place.
  • Leave it there a few days to allow it to dry out.
  • Where you cut off the offset from the main plant, place some rooting hormone.
  • Take a small pot and add some cactus mix (a special soil that offers the right drainage for the plant)
  • Plant the offset in this pot.
  • Give it a little water each week, for around four weeks.

While you are propagating, remember to keep your cactus away from bright light, especially direct sunlight. You can expose it again once you have noted that it has taken root and continued to grow on its own.

Taking Care of the Old Lady Cactus
Old lady cactus in terra-cotta planter. @wild_about_cactus

Achieve Optimal Health by Repotting your Old Lady Cactus

There is so much happening above the soil, with the perfect sphere and bright flowers being what you see. If you want to really tell how well your cacti is doing, you need to peek below the surface as well. Repotting at least once a year can help keep your plant alive and give it the room it needs to grow.

The warm season is the best time to repot. Take the plant gently out of the soil, though keep in mind that the soil needs to be dry first. When the plant is out of the pot, you will be able to identify the roots which have died, or which may be rotting. Nevertheless, cut these off and on these cuts, place a fungicide.

Then gently brush aside as much of the old soil as you can. In a new pot, place the cacti and add some potting soil. Some popular pots you can use are terra cotta planters, find some here for your home. Once done, leave the cacti in the pot, and after around a week, you can water it a little. Moreover, the reason for not watering right after you repot is to avoid the roots getting rot. They need some time to settle into the fresh soil or cactus mix.

Taking Care of the Old Lady Cactus
Old lady cactus with other cacti. @wild_about_cactus

Getting Your Mammillaria to Flower

The bright flowers of this cactus are what really give it character. So, when taking care of your Old Lady Cactus, you will want to do everything possible to get those flowers to emerge. You need to plan around the seasons.

Want to know how these lovely flowers are formed? The Old Lady Cactus features tubercles, and this is where the spines come from. The tubercles can expand and store water, and from the axils in the tubercles, flowers emerge. Remember the tips on watering? Make sure not to expose your cactus to too much water!

Taking Care of the Old Lady Cactus
Old lady cactus blooming pink flowers. @cluelessmoose

The Correct Light Exposure for Old Lady Cacti

Like other cacti, this plant thrives when exposed to sunlight. However, too much sunlight, and the old lady cactus starts to look a little sad. Ideally, around four to six hours of direct sunlight each day is all that this plant needs. This means that it will do well if left outdoors. It should have a few taller plants around it to give it a little bit of shade and protection, especially in the hotter months.

Making sure that it is constantly exposed to even light through the day is the ideal solution if you are growing this plant indoors. Find a place that gets constant and consistent light and position the plant next to a window. If you live in a place where getting consistent sunlight is an issue, then it would be best to have a grow light close to your plants.

That grow light we linked above is part of our office that doesn’t have much light, it works wonders for the growth of those corner plants we have!

Taking Care of the Old Lady Cactus
Cactus with white webbing. @yorufujin

Taking care of the Old Lady Cactus is simple, and its unique beauty makes it a favorite for anyone who appreciates succulents! This is one plant that will do well whether indoors or outdoors, and it needs only a little water to keep it going.

Want to take a chance at growing this stunning cactus? Just keep coming back and read over this article as many times as you need to. Also, check out other featured articles we have, like How to Tell if Your Cactus is Dying, and How to Propagate your Succulent Successfully for some extra tips!

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 The Most Common Issues Amongst Succulent Growers or even Best Lighting Practices for Succulent Growth today!

Thank you so much for checking out this old lady, she’s so wonderful, isn’t she? Anyways, happy planting! ?

What’s the Difference: Soft vs Hard Succulents

Hard vs Soft Succulents

Did you know that some succulents can survive in extreme, below freezing temperatures? A few species of succulents can even be outside when it’s negative thirty degrees!

Some succulents can withstand cold winter weather, but others just can’t handle it. You may be wondering… why? Succulents have similar characteristics and adaptations, so why can’t they all brave the cold?

The answer is that some succulents have adapted to colder temperatures because they grow in harsh, alpine climates. This group of succulents is called hard or hardy succulents.

Succulents that are native to warmer, arid climates don’t do well in chilly weather. They’re called soft or tender succulents. They can die if you leave them out in the winter, so it’s important to figure out which type of succulent you have so you can prepare it for colder weather!

If you want to learn the complete differences between hard and soft succulents and figure out how to identify and care for your own plants, then keep on reading!

What Makes Succulents Soft?

Soft succulents are much more sensitive to frost than hard succulents because they’ve adapted to warm environments like deserts. So when temperatures drop below freezing, they don’t have the kind of adaptations that they need to deal with the cold.

If you’re worried that your plants will suffer any frostbite during the winter seasons, here’s everything you need to know about taking care of succulents during winter

The water that’s stored in their cells actually starts to freeze when it gets too cold. If your plant stays outside long enough and fully freezes, its leaves will turn brown and get soft and mushy.

Sometimes you can save frozen succulents by pruning the brown, soggy parts, but some succulents sustain such extensive damage that they die. That’s why it’s important to figure out whether or not your outdoor succulent is soft, and bring it in for the winter if it is!

What Makes a Succulent Hardy?

On the other hand, hardy succulents won’t freeze if you leave them out in below-freezing temperatures.

Most hardy succulents will be fine down to negative twenty degrees. A lot of them are from cold, mountainous regions, so they’ve adapted to winter weather much better than soft succulents. They’re tough little plants that can withstand a lot!

We made a list of 7 Cold Hardy Succulents For Northern Climate You Didn’t Know About!

Is Your Succulent Soft or Hard?

Unfortunately, you can’t really tell if a succulent is soft just by looking at it.

Soft succulents all have different appearances. Some have tender rosettes that look like they’d be damaged by frost, but others have spiky, rigid leaves that look like they should be able to withstand it. So if you make assumptions about your succulent’s cold hardiness based on its appearance, you might accidentally kill it!

Instead of going off appearance, you’ll have to do some research to learn which species are soft and which ones are hard. Some of the most common soft succulents are Echeverias, Aeoniums, Crassulas, Haworthias, and Senecios, but those aren’t the only ones. The most common kinds of hardy succulents are Sedums and Sempervivums.

Soft vs hard succulent plants
@succulentsyndrome

What we like to do to figure out if our succulents are soft or hard is to look up which growing zones they do best in. The USDA has a plant hardiness map that divides the country up into different growing zones based on the coldest temperatures they experience during the winter. (It’s quite neat!)

You can enter your zip code on the USDA website to find out which growing zone you live in. Then you can look up your succulents and see which growing zones they’re best suited to.

If there’s a mismatch between your growing zone and the zones your plants prefer, then you’ll know you need to bring them inside for the winter!

If you can’t move your succulents inside try using some type of plant protective covering like this for a temporary solution.

How to Care for Succulents in Winter

If you have soft succulents, the best thing you can do is bring them indoors when it starts to get cold. We like to move our succulents inside in September. That way we know there’s no chance of our succulents getting damaged by the cold!

Here are some cute owl planters we found perfect for the fall season when you bring in your succulents. If you get one of these please share it with us on Succulent Plant Lounge, people would love this!

Sunlight is Key!

Make sure that your outdoor succulents get plenty of light when you move them indoors. They’re used to more sun exposure than they’re likely to get indoors, so put them near the brightest window in your home to keep them healthy.

If you live in those places where the sun shines for less than 4 hours in a day, having a grow light might be your best bet during the winter season. Here’s a list with the best grow lights for succulents.

You should also water them less frequently than you did when they were outside. There’s less airflow inside because there’s no wind, so the soil dries out slower. Many soft succulents also stop growing during the winter and go dormant, which reduces their need for water.

So be careful with the watering can!

Hard vs soft succulent plants
@sexysucculents_

Watering During the Winter

Even though your hardy succulents can handle winter weather much better than your soft ones, there are still a few things you should do for them to keep them healthy through winter.

Succulents in pots are much less insulated from the cold than ones in the ground. If you can, try to transplant your potted succulents into the ground a few months before cold weather hits.

You should also be mindful of how much water your outdoor succulents are getting. If they’re cold and wet, you can run into some problems. Try not to water your succulents too much in the days leading up to a cold snap.

We want to make it easier for you, and that’s why we made a guide telling you “When Should You Really Water Your Succulents

If the winters in your area tend to be cold and rainy rather than cold and snowy, you may want to put your succulents under a covered porch or the overhang of your roof.

Tip: Use this manual air duster to get some of the water off that is sitting like a pool of water. Protect your succulents!

Snow can actually insulate your succulents from the cold without making them too wet, so it’s ok to leave them uncovered during a snowstorm. Succulents that have to deal with cold weather and rain at the same time, though, have a much higher risk of rotting. So if your area gets cold, rainy winters, try to shelter your succulents from the rain as much as you can!


There you have it! That’s the difference between hard and soft succulents. If this post helped you figure out what kind of succulents you have, let us know in the comments below. Happy planting!

Calling all succulents lovers— rookie or veteran! Succulent City has developed a line of 12 ebooks (see here), ranging on topics from indoor & outdoor succulents, essential tools, the best soil to use, and more! We even threw in a complimentary ebook to help get your succulent journey started you just have to insert your email on our front page for this. With our ebooks you’ll be a succulent guru in no time, have fun!

Also, if you didn’t know. We have a Facebook Group where fellow succulent lovers chat with each other and help grow succulent plants together. Think you would like to join the conversation?

 

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