Is a Monkey Tail Cactus Hard to Grow?

I am a beginner gardener and would like to try to grow a Monkey Tail Cactus. I saw it in a store and fell in love with it. Is it hard to grow? Does it take much care?


A Monkey Tail Cactus is a great plant for beginners. It has long, white, soft, hairlike spines and gets large bright red flowers. It looks best in hanging baskets. The care requirements are very simple.

Long white, soft, hairlike spines on Monkey Tail Cactus

Monkey Tail Cactus


Watering: Water when the soil has totally dries out. The warmer the air the more frequently you’ll need to water. When it is cloudy and cold, it will take the soil longer to dry out.  Keep the soil even drier during late fall and winter when a Monkey Cactus needs to “rest” for a few months in a cool area. This dormant period is necessary for it to bloom well.

Temperature: It’s hard to believe, but a Monkey Tail Cactus can survive temperatures below freezing.
Light: Very bright indirect lightVery few houseplants should be placed in direct sun. High light refers only to bright indirect light since direct sun often burns the leaves of indoor houseplants. An area that is too hot and dry encourages Spider Mites and causes blooms to quickly fade. A northern exposure really doesn't provide enough light for high light plants. These plants need to be placed directly in front of an east-facing window, within 1-3 feet of a west-facing window, and within 5 ft. of a south facing window. A high light area has over 300 ft. candles of light., no direct sun.

Soil: Use a Cactus mix that drains quickly.

fertilizerPlants need fertilizer only when they are actively growing. Slow growing plants in low light require very little plant food. Too much fertilizer is worse than not enough. Most plants prefer a water soluble plant food at 1/2 the recommended strength. Plants that are in bloom or dormant should not be fertilized. Houseplant food contains nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). A fertilizer containing these elements in equal proportion is considered a balanced plant food. Nitrogen helps in photosynthesis and encourages the growth of leaves and stems. Potassium and phosphorus also help in photosynthesis and aid in root and flower development. Most fertilizers have trace elements of other minerals that are lacking in the soil but are necessary for good plant growth. Fertilizers have a high salt content. If a plant is not producing new leaves and doesn’t absorb the fertilizer, salts build up in the soil. These salts can burn the roots, discolor the leaves, and cause new growth to be small.: Feed only when the plant is actively growing with a liquid plant food high in potassium.

Pests: They are susceptible to scaleSoft Brown Scale is the most common scale that attacks indoor houseplants especially ficus, ivy, spider plants, ferns, aralia, and schefflera. It appears as small bumpy brown spots that appear to move. As the scale sucks on the sap of the plant it secretes a sticky substance called honeydew. The honeydew attracts black mildew. Because of the shell-like exterior, sprays are only partially effective against scale. Wipe off the lines of brown oval bumps with your finger, a cloth, or a child’s toothbrush then spray the plant with Neem Oil. Use the Green Solution to clean off the black mildew., spider mitesSpider Mites, members of the Acari family, are small insects about 1mm in size. The most common indoor plant mite is the red spider mite (also called the two-spotted spider mite.). These pests lay their eggs on the under surface of leaves and produce fine webbing especially where the leaves are attached to the stem. Spider mites are hard to see with the naked eye, and may appear only as small red dots. They are more often recognized by the gritty feel of the leaf when you run your finger down it’s length, or by the appearance of discolored leaves due to the sucking action of the mites. The best way to prevent spider mites is to keep your plants clean and dust free. Treat spider mites by spraying every ten days for a month with a product such as Safer Insecticidal Soap., and Mealy BugsSee a picture, learn to identify and treat Mealy Bugs, a houseplant pest that leaves sticky,white, cottony residue on houseplants.. (you can read more about these in the Glossary of the website).

propagationRead how to propagate houseplants by Plant Division at Monkey Tail Cactus are easily propagated using cuttings in the spring or summer. Allow the end of the cuttings to form a “callous” before planting them in cactus soil.

So you see, it’s really pretty easy to grow a Monkey Tail Cactus…just be careful with the water.