Of all Cacti species, the Moon Cactus is one of the most delicate. Many websites and stores claim these have easy care, but this isn’t necessarily true because of their rootstock rarity. Not that they’re difficult, but they are a mutation of thier original parentage.
How Long Do Moon Cactus Live?
A Moon Cactus can survive for up to three years. But, it’s not unusual for these Cacti to live only a few short months. Some gardeners have success in keeping this cactus species for around five years. So, it really comes down to understanding the Moon Cactus and its need for new rootstock.
About Moon Cacti Care
The Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii, or Moon Cactus, is a small, ball Cactus plant with beautiful grey-green body color. It can have eight to 14 ribs with yellow, orange, pink or red flowers.
Moon Cacti are mutant succulents because they don’t self-manufacture chlorophyll for photosynthesis. . This is because of how they came into existence by a graft onto Hylocereus rootstock, or Dragon Fruit rootstock. This makes the Moon Cactus two plants rather than one.
Origins – History of Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii
The Moon Cactus has over 80 species and hails from South America in places like Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. So, to care for these precious Cacti, they have to be in a hardiness zone between eight and 10.
What we recognize as Moon Cactus came in 1940 by the efforts of Eiji Watanabe, a Japanese nurseryman. He propagated and grafted a Cactus from Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii species in the hope of developing a wider color range. This tinkering is why the Moon Cactus is a mutation.
What Causes a Moon Cactus to Die?
There are several reasons why your Moon Cactus could be dying. But, understand these don’t live long due to genetics. If you’re new to Moon Cacti and you’ve only had it a few months, death is inevitable.
If you’ve overwatered the Cactus, then it’s likely the plant is dying. Other factors could be poor sunlight, improper soil, inappropriate Hylocereus rootstock or it isn’t warm enough.
What Are the Signs of a Dying Moon Cactus?
One of the best ways to know when a Moon Cactus is dying is by the overall condition of the plant. If the color changed or if it looks unhappy, chances are, it has root rot.
Other indicators are instability in the pot, the stem is soft or there’s a foul odor coming from the Cactus. If any of the following apply, then it is definitely on its way out due to root rot:
- The rootstock texture and color are a mushy black or brown
- Wet, soggy soil even after not watering for more than a day
- The potting mix doesn’t have enough drainage
- You don’t let the soil get bone dry before watering
Sunlight – Warmth
If the roots are still healthy and white, then it’s dying for some other reason. Evaluate the plant’s location to ensure its getting enough warmth and light. Also, check that the potting mix is appropriate and not too nutrient-rich.
The Moon Cactus should sit in a place with plenty of bright but indirect sunlight that’s not more than a foot or so from a window. In the wild, they grow in the shadow of other Cacti, so direct sunlight can damage the plant.
If you put it outside, make sure you bring the Moon Cactus in when temperatures drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Watering – Fertilizer
Only water it once or twice a week, when the soil or potting medium is dry. Check that the pot or container has good drainage and ensure you keep it at room temperature, or 70 degrees Fahrenheit, all year long.
Its growing season is between April and September. Therefore, it’s important to give the plant liquid cactus fertilizer every month or every other month during this time.
What Size Does a Moon Cactus Reach?
Moon Cactus plants are tiny succulents, reaching only about a ½ inch to eight inches wide in diameter. The height depends on its rootstock and never gets much taller than 12 inches. The flowers reach about four inches wide, roughly the same size as a golf ball.
A Moon Cactus is a charming plant with a relatively short lifespan, unlike many other Cacti types that can live for decades. Since this is actually two plants in one, it usually won’t thrive longer than around three years. But, they’re beautiful, fun to have, and provide a wonderful splash of color.