Moon Cactus is a species of cactus from South America. The scientific name of Moon Cactus is “Gymnocalycium mihanovichii”. It belongs to the kingdom of Planate. In general moon, cactus have different sizes and heights.
But they stop growing further once they reach 10cm height. The average height of this cactus is around 4 inches and a diameter of 1.1 to 1.9 inches. It has around 10-14 slightly notched ribs with narrow knives. It is available in different colors like yellow, green, red etc.
Moon cactus is a kind of grafted cactus with a colorful small-ball top. It is also known as ruby-ball cactus, Hibotan cactus or Star-flowered cactus. This cactus is very easy to grow and maintain in our homes. Moon cactus is a combination of two different cacti that have been grafted together.
Some of these colorful cactus plants have multi-coloured or variegated tops—but all have clusters of small, sharp spines running down the curved veins. Before getting into detail to know the steps to grow grafted cactus and to protect them one needs to know the origin of grafted cactus.
Origin of Grafted Cactus
The small cactus plants of different colour available in the market or shops are not vivid as wild cactus plants. Cactus plants with pink, bright red, orange and yellow are natural cactus.
They are found in between Paraguay and Argentina. But with cactus having neon colours cannot produce chlorophyll which is necessary for a plant to live. To save such cactus, the round grafted cactus is transformed into a regular grafted cactus. Any colour can be used to create the moon cactus.
In general, the species used is Hylocereus for sale in the garden. Green coloured have a star-shaped on their stems because of which moon cactus is also named as Star-flowered cactus. Any cactus will survive till proper care is taken. The moment you neglect in taking care of the cactus it dies.
Growing Moon Cactus (Grafted Cactus)
To grow any plant soil is most crucial for healthy growth. Soil differs from plant to plant and as per climatic conditions, temperature, and place. It is advisable to choose the right soil before you start growing the grafted cactus. For a moon cactus, the best soil is aerated and sandy kind of soil. This allows absorbing water in good proportions. By adding small stones or pebbles to the potting mix used to grow the cactus can improve the quality of the soil.
For every plant, there are some succulents used in soil to make it best for its growth. In a similar manner moon grafted cacti prefers a potting mix that is acidic to neutral. These are slow growing in nature. On an average basis, it grows between 1-3 cm per year. Moon cactus are sold only they are fully grown which is time taking process.
Factors considered for growing a healthy moon cactus are mentioned below:
- Ways to pot the moon cactus.
It is essential to decide what is the correct amount of light is required for moon cactus (grafted cactus) proper growth. This is one of the main factors which can either improve the growth or destroy it.
This moon cactus requires plenty of light for its growth. Direct sunlight is not advisable as it can affect growth. To grow at your home, prefer the brightest side of the home which is either a windowsill or your balcony shelf.
As both have protection from direct sunlight, yet they are on the brightest side and perfect place. Grafted cactus has a shade tolerance on its top which does not support direct sunlight.
Ensure there is a right balance of light for the moon cactus. By overexposure to the sun, the cactus may turn yellow and some parts of the cactus white. It is better to move the grafted cactus away from the sun.
Water is the heart and soul of any plant. A perfect proportion of water is required for the moon cactus at regular intervals. Never overwater the cactus which can affect the growth of the grafted cactus. Soil needs to remain moist which is done by watering at regular intervals. Without water, there is no growth of this. Moon cactus or grafted cactus are droughts tolerant. The Deep-watering technique is used for watering the pots.
It is advisable to water your cactus plant is when the pot is almost dry. The proportion of water depends on temperature and humidity. During summer for small, grafted cactus watering is done once a week. During cool climatic conditions watering routine is different. Keep the pot dry during winter. Occasionally misting your cactus houseplants helps to keep them healthy.
Moon cactus or colorful grafted cactus prefers warm temperatures or ideal room temperature for healthy growth. Different prefer different temperature because of their color origin. Moon cactus thrives better by placing it on a window as sufficient heat is provided. At the same time protect them from direct sunlight. Starflower cactus prefers temperature between 64 degrees to 77 degrees Fahrenheit for their growth.
If you opt to grow the moon cactus outdoors it is perfect if you belong to USDA zone 10 or 11. Extra care needs to be taken if you grow outdoors as temperature varies from season to season. A shady place with a bright light in your backyard is best for their growth. During rain or any natural calamity take cactus indoors to safeguard them.
Note:A colorful grafted cactus or a moon cactus cannot survive if the temperature is below 48 degrees Fahrenheit.
This factor helps in cactus growth. Colored grafted cactus is easy going in nature when it comes to moisture needs. Moisture keeps the soil damp which is essential for the cactus plants. Small household moon cactus or grafted cactus prefer relative humid conditions for their growth.
It can even grow in low humid conditions. An important tip regarding this factor is to ensure that soil is dry before adding moisture. If it is damp already then soil gets too moist which is not good signs for the growth of grafted. Cactus with yellow, red, or pink colored tips requires misting to keep them healthy. Misting provides enough moisture without making the soil damp.
Note:Watering the moon cactus is not allowed from October to February months.
Feeding the Moon Cacti
Providing healthy food to cacti is the most essential tip while growing a moon cactus or colored grafted. For a ruby ball cactus, there is no need for feeding very often. It is very good to use the soil with a good mix of nutrients and minerals that can make the cacti healthy.
Monthly fertilizing keeps them healthy. Never use inorganic fertilizers for feeding. It is always good to use an organic-based cactus fertilizer for feeding the moon cactus. Read the instructions mentioned on the label and mix it with manufacturers. Top moon cactus care tip—flush the soil before monthly feeding. To do this, thoroughly water your cactus plant.
Use enough water that is about four times the pot’s volume. Allow the water to drain completely before adding the cactus fertilizer. Always follow a routine for feeding the fertilizers which from overdose usage of fertilizers. By overdose of fertilizers can damage the cactus growth.
Note: Never feed your moon cactus during the fall or winter seasons. It affects their growth.
Ways to pot a Moon Cactus
There is a certain way designed to pot a moon cactus. Repotting is very rare for moon cactus or ruby ball cactus. Ensure that the pot size is slightly bigger than the normal one. This hard grow well when they are slightly rootbound. The best time to repot your moon cactus is spring and early summer.
Steps to repot the moon cactus:
- Before you report the cactus plan a week to water the soil thoroughly.
- Wait till the soil becomes completely dry to remove the cactus from the pot. Remove the cactus slowly from the pot by pulling the green stock so that the colored top is not disturbed.
- Once the cactus is removed from the soil check the pot whether there are any diseased or dead roots left inside the soil.
- Once you find such kind of roots removes them from the pot in a smooth manner.
- Take a new pot and fill it with good quality organic cactus mix till half of the pot.
- After filling the pot place the cactus at the exact position and height of the previous pot.
- Fill the pot with potting mix and gently press the soil around the rootstock.
- After following the entire procedure place the pot at a bright position which is away from the direct sunlight.
Do not water the cactus for seven days after potting the cactus for safe measures. The new soil in the pot increases the life span of a moon cactus.
Problems Encountered while growing Moon cactus
Water, light, and humidity are the common problems encountered while growing a moon cactus. Too much water affects the cacti, and less amount of water affects them. A moon cactus changing to yellow color is because of a water issue. Too much sunlight also affects the ruby ball cacti as it turns yellow. One can observe white scars on the stem. Inorganic fertilizer can stop the growth of the moon cactus.
Care measures for a Moon Cactus
- Put the cactus in a warm, sunny place.
- The pot used must have draining holes and contain a quick-draining cactus mix.
- Thoroughly water the plant only when the potting medium is dry.
- Fertilize monthly during summer and spring for the healthy growth of a moon cactus.
- Leave the ruby ball cactus alone during the winter season for healthy growth of the moon cactus.
- Succulents such as cacti go dormant in wintertime and do not require any care.
- Keep the cactus above 49 degrees Fahrenheit during winter to safeguard them.
- Never expose the cactus to freezing temperatures as they can die.
Moon cactus a kind of grafted cactus cannot be propagated. To increase the life span of a moon cactus you need to have knowledge of how to graft the cactus. Learn grafting skills to increase their life span. You can also graft a healthy G. Milanovich with a healthy Holocene’s if you want to create your own, unique type of cactus.
Growing a moon cactus is not so easy if you follow all the steps mentioned above. If you still have any doubt seek professional help for growing a moon cactus and taking care of it.