Monkey Tail Cactus Care and Propagation: A Complete Guide

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Growing succulents is a hobby that is growing in popularity. Succulents are easy to grow and look beautiful when given proper care.

The Monkey Tail Cactus, or Cleistocactus colademononis, is an excellent plant for indoor and outdoor gardens.

This plant is both easy to care for and propagate.

Your plants will grow beautifully and reward you with beautiful flowers with the proper care.

This complete guide will provide you with all the necessary knowledge to properly take care of your own Monkey Tail Cactus plants.

Overview

The Monkey Tail Cactus, also known as Cleistocactus colademononis (syn. Hildewintera colademononis), is a cactus native to Bolivia in the Cactaceae family.

The Monkey Cactus is a white-spined, long-shaped cactus with a cascading form.

Every year, a single stem may reach almost a foot in length.

This cactus blooms with bright red flowers in the spring and early summer.

Monkey Tail Cactus are known for clinging to trees or tall structures, so they do well in hanging baskets, especially ones that can dangle freely.

Hanging baskets allow the cactus to dangle freely and grow straight down without obstruction.

The common name for this perennial succulent plant comes from its hairy appearance, which resembles a monkey’s tail.

The Cleistocactus colademononis cactus is also known as:

  • Soft Monkey Tail Cactus
  • Golden Rat Tail Cactus
  • Monkey’s Tail Cactus
  • Tarantula Cactus
  • Rat Tail Cactus

How To Care for the Monkey Tail Cactus

Monkey Tail Cactus care is easy. Like other succulent plants, this cactus requires only minimal care to thrive.

Once you have found a location that meets its needs, it will be happy there for many years.

The following is a list of the essential information about caring for your Monkey Tail Cactus.

Sun Exposure & Light Requirements

The Monkey Tail Cactus thrives in full sun to partial shade exposure.

It can even thrive in partial shade, but this plant should receive a maximum of 5 hours of direct sunlight daily.

If the cactus receives too much shade, it will become weak and spindly over time.

Bright, indirect light is the best kind of light for this plant. It needs very bright, but not direct, sunlight to thrive.

Too much direct sunlight can burn the plant, but too much shade will make the cactus weak.

When grown indoors, west- or east-facing window exposure is best.

In the winter, the cactus should be positioned so that it faces a south-facing window to receive as much sunlight as possible.

Avoid intense midday sun exposure when grown outdoors, as the intense heat may sunburn the cactus plant.

Watering Requirements

The Monkey Tail Cactus plant does not require very much water at all. Overwatering is the most common mistake made by new cactus owners and one of the easiest to fix.

Water your plant about once every one to two weeks, enough to soak the soil thoroughly. Be sure to remove any excess water that stays in the pot after an hour or two.

As with all cacti, it is best to let the soil dry out between waterings and never allow the plant to sit in water.

If your cactus is in a sunny location, you may need to water it more frequently. If your cactus has been outside during the summertime, you will need to water it more often.

Your cactus will need to be watered less frequently during the winter months, perhaps once every two to three weeks.

Soil Requirements

The Monkey Tail Cactus plant needs light, well-drained, and porous soil.

It doesn’t like to grow in heavy clay soils or soils with low water absorption.

One way of dealing with such soil is using a cactus/succulent potting mix that can be bought from any garden center.

If you prefer using a homemade potting mix, I suggest using a mix of perlite, coarse sand, and potting soil in equal parts.

This mix gives a fine balance between water retention and drainage.

Temperature and Humidity Requirements

Monkey Tail Cactus need a temperature between 15°C/59°F and 30°C/86°F.

So, if you live in a climate where the temperature usually goes below 10°C/50°F during winter, you need to take extra measures to protect your plant from frost damage.

The Monkey Tail Cactus plant is a succulent that originates from Central America, where it can be found in the canopy of moist forests.

However, it does not need to live in humid conditions to grow well. It will survive happily indoors under low humidity conditions.

Fertilizing

The Monkey Tail cactus does not need to be fertilized, but it is suggested to give it fertilizer every month during the growing season (spring and summer).

This is an excellent way to prevent nutrient deficiencies and promote flowering.

You can use a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted to half-strength during this time.

Be careful not to give it too much fertilizer, as this can damage the cactus.

Do not feed your cactus in the wintertime, as it will be going into a dormant state, and any nutrients you apply to it may cause the plant harm.

Potting and Repotting

The Monkey Tail Cactus does not require much attention when it comes to potting and repotting. They need to be placed in a pot of the right size and the optimal potting mix.

The Monkey Tail Cactus is commonly used in hanging baskets due to its ability to be shaped into various forms.

When potted, the plant can grow quite large and should be kept in a pot that can accommodate the growth.

A minimum of 10 inches (25 cm) in width is needed, but if you place this cactus in a hanging basket, it will have room to grow much larger.

It’s important to use a pot with drain holes in the bottom because it will help prevent root rot.

When potting, make sure to cover the roots with a generous amount of potting soil, filling the top half of the pot. Be careful not to press down on the cactus; this will damage it.

Before you repot your cactus, make sure to remove any dead or dying roots first because this will help prevent root rot.

The best time to repot your cactus is in spring or early summer, when its growth cycle begins again.

It is best to replant after the cactus flowers, but this will depend on where you live; you’ll need to make sure your Monkey Tail Cactus has enough time to recover after replanting.

If you don’t want it to grow too large, put them in small pots. After a few years of growth, repot your plant into a larger pot than the previous one.

Pruning

The Monkey Tail Cactus does not require any hard pruning or cutting.

When the cactus has grown too long, you can replant it in a bigger pot to prolong its life.

If your cacti are getting crowded and you need to separate them, just cut through the stems with a sharp knife until they split apart.

When separating the stems, you can cut off any dead or dying stems to make them look nicer.

Just make sure you take off the dead parts as close to the base as possible, as rot can spread if you leave it attached to the rest of the plant.

Pests and Diseases

The Monkey Tail Cactus plant is generally resistant to pests and diseases.

However, they can be affected by some pests like spider mites, mealybugs, and scale insects.

Bacterial and fungal diseases can also affect some species of cacti. The most common of these is powdery mildew.

Spider Mites

Spider Mites are one of the most common pests that affect cacti.

They are sap-sucking creatures that live on the undersides of leaves and can very easily spread to healthy parts of your plant, severely weakening it over time.

You can identify spider mites on your plant, as they gradually cause damage by yellowing the leaves and webbing on some species.

You can rid your plant of spider mites by washing it thoroughly with a soapy water solution.

Mealybugs

Mealybugs are little white bugs that suck juices from plants and cause damage to the plant’s stem, leaves, and flowers.

You can identify mealybugs on your plant by their cottony white mass and honeydew excrement on the leaves of your cactus.

You can get rid of mealybugs on your cactus by dabbing with a cotton ball soaked in isopropyl alcohol or by washing your plant with soap and water.

Scale Insects

Scale insects are clear, flattened bugs that feed on your plant’s juices.

They are immobile pests, so you won’t see them move around much.

You can identify scale insects by their shell-like appearance on the stems of your cactus.

You can get rid of scale insects on your cactus by dabbing with a cotton ball soaked in isopropyl alcohol.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that affects cacti.

You can identify it by the white powder covering the stems and leaves of your plant. It looks similar to other fungi that infect plants, but you can identify it by its powdery texture.

Powdery mildew is easily spread between cacti, so try to keep your plant isolated to prevent the infection from spreading further.

You can rid your plant of powdery mildew by washing it with soap and water or with a solution of baking soda and water.

How to Care for the Monkey Tail Cactus in Winter

The Monkey Tail Cactus winter care should include temperatures at about 55-60° Fahrenheit, which is about 12° Celsius.

The temperature should be maintained between 50-65° Fahrenheit during winter if possible. It can survive in colder climates, but it should be protected from frost and freezing.

When the temperatures fall below 55° Fahrenheit, it’s advisable to bring your succulent indoors.

The Monkey Tail Cactus is a desert cactus and can survive on little water and sunlight. However, it won’t tolerate freezing temperatures, so you should keep the plant in a warm environment with sunlight exposure during winter.

In winter, you should reduce the water given to the cactus. Watering once a month can be enough as long as the cactus isn’t exposed to freezing temperatures.

You should also stop fertilizing your plant when winter comes around, as it will start to enter a dormant stage.

This will help prevent growth or sprouting during winter.

If you live in an area with mild winters, you can follow the same care routine as during spring, summer, and fall.

How To Propagate the Monkey Tail Cactus

The Monkey Tail Cactus is a unique species, and while it is not the most common species of cactus you will find, it is still relatively easy to care for.

The propagation process can be done by seed or stem cutting.

Stem Cuttings Propagation

To propagate your Monkey Tail Cactus by stem cutting:

  1. Select a healthy stem that is approximately five inches in length. The base should be one inch across to ensure proper rooting, but the larger, the better.
  2. Fill a small pot with cactus potting soil. Be sure the pot has good drainage to prevent root rot.
  3. Remove any spines on the lower half of your cutting, and gently push it into the soil so that only the tip is sticking out of the soil.
  4. Moisten but do not saturate the soil, and place out of direct sunlight (no more than four hours per day) until your cutting has developed a root system.
  5. Once your cactus starts to develop new growth, it may be transplanted into a larger pot with regular cactus soil.

Seed Propagation

To propagate your Monkey Tail Cactus by seed:

  1. Collect fresh, ripe seeds from a healthy plant. Use gloves to avoid the prickly hairs of the cactus getting stuck on your skin.
  2. Place collected seeds into a glass dish and leave them out overnight until the outer skin has dried.
  3. Once you are ready to remove the outer skin, do so by hand or with a wire mesh sieve.
  4. Fill small pots with cactus soil and sow the seeds thinly on top of the surface.
  5. Cover your seedlings and place them in indirect sunlight. Keep moist but not wet and allow to germinate (this can take several months depending on how fresh your seeds are).
  6. Once your cacti are large enough to transplant, remove them from their original pots and plant them into a new pot with regular cactus mix.

Final Thoughts

Caring for succulents is pretty straightforward; however, certain growing conditions must be met for them to thrive.

Succulents require a well-draining soil, water only when the soil is dry to the touch, and sunlight.

If you give them these essentials, they will reward you with vivid colors and shapes that are anything but ordinary, as the Monkey Tail Cactus does.