Have you ever seen a plant that looks like a rat’s tail? Well, the Aporocactus Flagelliformis, more commonly known as the Rat Tail Cactus, is just that!
This amazing plant is native to Mexico and can be found in the desert regions of that country. The Rat Tail Cactus gets its name from its long, thin, and tail-like stems. These stems can grow up to 4 – 6 feet long and are covered in tiny spines. The plant produces small pink or red flowers that bloom in the springtime.
As a succulent lover, you can’t help but appreciate the unique beauty of the rat tail cactus. Not only is it visually pleasing, but it’s also easy to care for.
In this blog post, we’ll provide all the information you need to know about growing and caring for this unique plant. So if you’re thinking about adding a rat tail cactus to your collection, read on!
Light and Temperature
The rat tail cactus is a desert plant, so it’s used to hot and sunny conditions. When grown indoors, you should place it in a spot with plenty of direct sunlight. If your home doesn’t get a lot of natural light, you can supplement it with artificial grow lights.
Regarding temperature, the rat tail cactus can tolerate a wide range between 50-85 degrees Fahrenheit. You can keep your cactus outdoors if you reside in an area with a warm climate year-round. If you live in a cold area, you’ll need to bring your plant indoors during the winter and place it in a warm location.
Like all succulents, the rat tail cactus is pretty drought-tolerant and doesn’t need a lot of water to survive. You should only water your plant when the soil is completely dry.
During the active growing season (spring and summer), you may need to water your cactus once or twice a week. During the dormant season (fall and winter), you can reduce watering to once or twice a month.
When you water your cactus, be sure to use room-temperature water. Chilly water can shock the plant and cause the roots to rot. Stick your finger in the soil to check if your plant needs water. If it feels dry, it’s time to water. If it feels moist, wait a few more days before watering again.
The rattail cactus doesn’t need a lot of fertilization to thrive. Excessive use of fertilizer can do more harm than good. If you decide to fertilize your plant, use a succulent-specific fertilizer and apply it sparingly. We recommend diluting the fertilizer to half-strength. The best time to fertilize your rat tail cactus is during the active growing season (spring and summer). Avoid fertilizing during other times, as the plant doesn’t need the extra nutrients.
Potting and Repotting
As your rat tail cactus grows, you may need to change its pot every year or two. The best time to repot your rat tail cactus is in the spring before the active growing season begins.
You may use a standard cactus potting mix to plant a rat tail cactus. Be sure to use a well-draining pot, as the plant doesn’t like sitting in wet soil. When repotting, only move your plant up one pot size. Larger pots hold more moisture, which can lead to root rot.
The rat tail cactus doesn’t require a lot of pruning, but you can trim back the stems if they get too long.
To do this:
- Cut the stem at the desired length with a sharp knife or pair of scissors.
- Sterilize your cutting tool before use to avoid spreading disease.
- Once you’ve made your cut, allow the wound to be callous for a few days before watering.
The rat tail cactus easily propagates from cuttings because of its many stems, and new plants can be grown every season. Protect your hands and forearms when propagating since the plant’s spikes are pretty sharp.
To take a cutting, use a sharp knife or pair of scissors to remove a stem from the main plant. The cutting must be at least 4-6 inches long. Allow the cut end of the stem to be callous over for a few days before planting.
To plant your cutting, fill a pot with cactus potting mix and make a hole in the center. Gently insert the cutting into the hole and lightly press down on the soil to secure it.
Water it thoroughly, but be sure not to overwater. You can secure it with a wooden skewer to keep it from falling out.
Your cutting should start to root within a few weeks, and a new plant will develop shortly after that. Once the plant is well-established, you can remove the wooden skewer. Allow your rat tail cactus to grow for a few months before fertilizing.
The rat tail cactus is relatively pest and disease-free. However, mealybugs, spider mites, and scale can sometimes be a problem. These pests are small, white, and fuzzy-looking and feed on the plant’s juices.
If left unchecked, they can cause the plant to become stunted and weakened.
To get rid of mealybugs, spider mites, and scale, you can use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. Gently dab the pests with the swab to kill them. You may have to repeat this process a few times to eliminate the pests.
The rat tail cactus is known for its beautiful flowers that bloom in spring and summer. The flowers are typically pink or red. They are 7-10cm long and open only briefly (usually just a few days).
To boost blooming, make sure your plant is getting enough light. If your plant isn’t getting enough light, it may produce fewer or no flowers. In addition, make sure you’re not over-watering your plant. Too much water can stress the plant and cause it to produce fewer flowers.
The rat tail cactus is generally a low-maintenance plant, but there are a few common problems that you may encounter.
One problem that can occur is etiolation when the plant’s stems become long and thin. It is usually caused by too little light. If your plant is etiolated, move it to a brighter location.
Another problem that can occur is stunted growth. It is usually caused by too much water or fertilizer. If your cactus is not growing as quickly as it should, cut back on watering and fertilizing.
Finally, the rat tail cactus can sometimes be affected by root rot. It is usually caused by too much moisture and can quickly kill a cactus. If your plant is affected by root rot, you’ll need immediate action to save it.
If you suspect your rat tail cactus has root rot, remove it from its pot and inspect the roots. To save a plant from root rot, you’ll need to remove the affected roots carefully.
Cut away any mushy or black roots, being careful not to damage the healthy ones.
Once you’ve removed the affected roots, replant your cactus in fresh, dry soil.
Always use a well-draining pot; don’t water your plant until the soil has completely dried out.
The rat tail cactus is a low-maintenance plant that is easy to care for and propagate. It’s an excellent choice for beginners or those who don’t have much time to dedicate to their plants.
However, it’s essential to keep an eye out for common problems.
With some care, your rat tail cactus will thrive for many years. We hope this guide has been helpful! Thanks for reading.