Moon Cactus Repotting: When Should Moon Cactus Be Repotted
By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
Moon cactus make popular houseplants. They are the result of grafting two different plants to achieve the colorful top part, which is due to a mutation in that grafted part. When should moon cactus be repotted? Spring is the best time for repotting moon cactus, although the cactus prefers to be rather crowded and doesn’t require a new container more than every few years. New soil, however, is beneficial, as the old soil will lose nutrients and texture over time.
Should Moon Cactus be Repotted?
Most moon cactus plants are the result of grafting Gymnocalycium mihanovichii to a base of Hylocereus. The Hylocereus is a chlorophyll producing plant while the Gymnocalycium does not produce its own chlorophyll and requires the assistance of the Hylocereus to produce food. These tiny cacti do not require repotting very frequently, but you should know when and how to repot moon cactus at least every 3 to 4 years.
Cactus plants generally grow in inhospitable terrain with low fertility soil and rocky medium. They can wedge themselves into cracks and crevices with little wiggle room for roots and seem to like it that way. Similarly, a potted cactus enjoys some crowding and only needs an inch (2.5 cm.) or so between itself and the container edge.
The usual reason for moon cactus repotting is to change the soil. If the plant needs a new container, it will begin to show roots out of the drainage holes. This is a sign that a new slightly larger container is required to allow the plant to grow further. Choose containers that drain well and are not glazed. This is to allow any excess moisture to evaporate, an important consideration in cactus care.
How to Repot a Moon Cactus
As mentioned, spring is the best time to repot cactus. This is because they are actively beginning to grow and root development is starting back up, which leads to a successful transplant. Once you have your container for repotting moon cactus, it is time to turn your attention to the new soil.
A general cactus mix is sufficient but many growers have better success when they create their own moon cactus potting mix. Equal parts of a peat-based potting soil mixed with coarse sand makes an excellent and well-draining medium. Many gardeners also add some fine gravel to the bottom of the container to enhance drainage. Fill the container halfway with your moon cactus potting mixture and lightly moisten it.
A couple of days before repotting your cactus, water it well so the roots are moistened. Use gloves if you are worried about the little plant’s spines and carefully remove it from its container. Insert the plant at the same level at which it was growing and gently pack more of the medium around the roots.
Leave enough room at the top of the container so water doesn’t spill over. Add a thin layer of gravel or sand as a mulch to the top of the container. Wait a week before watering the newly planted cactus.
Water the cactus when the top inch (2.5 cm.) of soil is dry during the growing season but only once every 2 or 3 weeks in winter. Apply fertilizer in spring, such as a 5-10-10 every 2 to 3 months, and suspend fertilizing in winter when the plant is not actively growing.
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Propagating from cuttings
Propagating by stem cuttings is probably the most common and easiest route. Many cacti can be propagated successfully by stem cuttings. Stem cuttings are taken from an existing plant, then allowed to dry and callous. The cuttings will eventually start rooting from the cut end and start growing as a new plant.
Some cacti that commonly propagate from stem cuttings are:
- Opuntia or prickly pears
- Columnar cacti
- Pincushion and Globular cacti
Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii Care and Propagation Information
Growing Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii “Moon Cactus”
Moon cactus “Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii” is similar to other succulent plant families when we talking about its caring and growing characteristics. if you are already aware of how to grow most of the other succulents and cacti plants, then you easily grow moon cactus without any stress. This cacti plant will not live for years, even if you give them proper care, but still, they deserve all the efforts you do for them.
Lighting and Temperature needs for Moon Cactus
As we know these cacti plants are a combination of two different species of cactus and the lighting preference of both of them also differs. However, both grow mutually we can say that the bond of both of them is parasitic. In terms of keeping them good-looking shape, their need must be also meet each other. While the bottom part Hylocereus cactus loves lots of sunshine, where the top color part Gymnocalycium cannot bear direct sunshine for a long period.
Remember that when growing these cacti plants place them in an area where lots of partial and filtered sunlight came. Too much direct sunlight causes the color to fade on the top of the plant over time.
Similar to other cacti plants, Moon cactus “Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii” can handle a long period of drought, due to they thrive well in desert similar conditions.
These plants grow well in indoor alike temperatures, but you need to keep them safe during the winter seasons. moon cactus cannot tolerant the temperature drop below 40 °F (4 °C) Protect them in cold temperature, a blanket may a good option, otherwise, they will probably not survive in a too-cold environment.
Soil and feeding for Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii “Moon Cactus”
When you start planting the “Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii” moon cactus, you first need to choose a good cactus potting mix with proper nutrition and good drainage. The chosen cacti potting mix should have a low Ph level.
Although they don’t need any fertilizer, you still need to fertilize them during their growing months, April to September. Fertilize them after every two months also ensuring to stopping fertilizes the cacti in the winter months.
Water needs for moon cactus
Generally, the moon cactus plant doesn’t need regular watering. Although the watering needs for Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii are minimal, almost nominal. If you give them less watering and even protect your cacti plant from excess rainfall, these plants do their best in every possible way.
However, if you are in a region where rainfall regularly and you also want to put your plant outside, it would be best to place your cacti plant in any covered space.
It shall be best if you themselves check if your moon cactus plant needs water or not. If you feel the soil is dry, then perhaps giving them mild watering would benefit your cactus plant’s overall growth.
We advised you to avoid overwatering your plant. If your plant 1-year older or maybe more then, it would be best to stop watering thoroughly in the winter seasons. On the other hand, for younger moon cactus plants, only give water if you feel the soil is dry and the plant truly needs watering then a small amount of watering would need.
Concerning water, keep in mind moon cactus prefer unglazed Pot with proper water drainage. To increase the water drainage efficiency, you can also add a gravel layer in the bottom of your container or Pot before using the Pot to plant moon cactus.
When and how to Repot moon cactus?
Repotting a “moon cactus” Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii is also an exciting part. Repot the plant in their growing season would be the best and ideal way to do it. Ensure that soil must be dry when you start to remove the cacti plant from the pot. When you take out the plant, ensure that to remove the excess soil from the pot’s sides and the plants. If the plant has any rotten or dead roots, remove them gently or trim them.
If the previous Pot seems small in the perspective of the moon cactus plant, it is good to find a new pot with a drainage hole and fill it with a fresh cactus potting soil mix and plant your cacti plants in. wait a week, after that water your cacti plants, avoid immediate watering which causes root rot most of the time. Provide them enough sunshine, so they do their best.
The Way You Can Propagate Grafted Moon Cactus
- Gently cut off the extra shoots from the plant’s sides.
- Use grown offsets or cut shoots from the plant’s sides for propagation.
- Use an ideal host which offers a perfect base for side shoots most probably, Hylocereus undatus would be best ideally perfect for them.
- Pick the host plant that is having the same diameter and thickness.
- Ready the host plant until collecting the side shoots.
- Gently cut off the top of Hylocereus undatus, cut at a slant.
- After that, cut the side shoots carefully of the parent plant.
- Join the two cut portion together, but place the side shoots on the host plant’s top and press it. Press sturdily but not soo tightly.
- Keep moist both parts until the grafting process would be complete.
- To keep both parts together until they properly joined, use a rubber band and tie both of them softly.
A few weeks later, the sides shoot begin growing from the top of the host plant. When you observing its new growth on the top of the Hylocereus undatus plant, eject the rubber band and freely follow the care and growing tips of the “moon cactus” Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii plant.
Propagate moon cactus through Offsets
Some moon cactus also produces small’s offsets on the plant’s top and sides through them, we can also propagate Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii. Initially, to begin propagation:
- You have to remove the offsets from the mother cactus plant and keep it clean.
- Ensure that they’re dry if not, keep them for few weeks until they are dry and ready to propagate.
- Use a well-draining cactus potting mix for your newly cactus plant, and water them when the soil dries out.
A common problem with “Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii” Moon Cactus
Root rot is a common concern when grows moon cactus this problem occurs due to the extensive giving amount of water to the cacti plants. To minimize this problem, you need to ensure not overwater the cacti plant instead, you also enjoy its growth.
As we know, Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii doesn’t need too much water. It’s a low caring cactus plant that regularly grows when you don’t overwater them.
Moon cactus is a pleasant, bright, colorful smaller cacti plant, which might be undoubtedly worthy of your plant collection. Especially for beginners, this cacti plant is a good choice in their planting pathway.
Frequently asked questions regarding moon cactus
Question: Is pest is a big problem in Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii?
Answer: The pests are not a big concern in “moon cactus” Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii, but still, whenever you see any spider mites or mealybugs, eliminate them soon as possible. You can also use rubbing alcohol dipped in any cotton and gently scrub the cacti plant.
Question: Where to plant Moon cactus “Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii”?
Answer: However, it’s a personal choice of any plant lover, either you place them indoor or any outdoor area. This small cactus plant looks beautiful on window sills. If you want to put them in the garden, ensure that you cover them, especially in the winter season, to protect them from the cold.
Question: Why does the Moon cactus not survive for long?
Answer: The Gymnocalycium cactus plant is usually a parasite on the Hylocereus cactus because Gymnocalycium grafts on the Hylocereus cactus plant. The bottom rootstock cacti are incapable of producing enough food for both of them indefinitely. That’s the reason moon cacti do not survive for a long time.
Due to lack of nourishment overtime, rootstock cacti weaken. Whenever that situation arises, the bottom cacti try to support both of them and start to die, finally reaching the point where both cacti are leading to death.
Question: How long will these moon cactus live?
Answer: It isn’t straightforward to tell how long they will live because I buy them and do not know how long they lived before purchasing them. We researched this topic and found that the ‘moon cactus” usually live 1.5 to 3 years before declining health and, eventually, death. Due to lack of sunlight and too much overwatering, it usually causes faster death than this.
Requirements for Repotting Cacti
Repotting isn’t much different from the initial potting. Below is a recap of the requirements.
The right pot or planter
When it comes to choosing a pot for your cactus, the size and material are of utmost importance.
Usually, a pot made of clay like a terra cotta pot is preferred over a plastic one. The clay allows the roots to breath more easily which contributes to the general well-being of succulent plants.
Additionally, it boosts the drainage of the cacti potting mix hence providing just the ideal conditions for your cactus – scarce water.
On the size aspect, choose a pot that is neither too large or too small – depending on the size of the cactus you wish to pot. You want to make sure that there is just a bit of space between your cactus and the pot’s walls. A super small pot will choke up the roots ultimately killing the plant. A larger than life pot will lead to the soil mix retaining water, and you know that means for your cactus.
Also, don’t forget to ensure your pot has a few holes down there. A big enough and well flowing draining system will be crucial to your cacti’s growth.
The proper potting mix
Cacti, being succulents, require a potting mix that is well-draining to provide the water scarcity condition that they’re adapted to. So your normal soil mix is a no-no. (If you’re looking for a premium cacti soil mix, here’s one we highly recommend from Superfly Bonsai).
Instead, you can grab a commercial succulent mix prepared just for your cactus. A typical cacti/succulent potting mix contains a small amount of organic materials, sand, perlite and sphagnum peat moss.
Alternatively, you can prepare your own ideal mix at home as long as you have the ingredients – and it’s not some endless collection of stuff from the outer space, although that’d be pretty cool. Check out the ingredients your cacti soil mix will need.
- Potting soil
- Coarse sand
- Pumice (perlite is also a good option here)
And the procedure is straightforward – mix the above ingredients with potting soil taking up a larger share of the combination while the other two ingredients sharing the remaining part equally.
For instance, 2 parts of potting soil can be combined with 1 part of coarse sand and 1 part of pumice/perlite.
To test if you’ve indeed ended up with the real thing, wet your mixture and try squeezing it. A good one should be coarse and crumby. If not, consider adding more of sand and pumice/perlite. The coarseness and crumbiness (is that a word?) is what allows your succulent soil to have a functional draining system.
Cutting and propagating cactus through pads
Reproducing cactus by pads is as popular as it is easy if looking to expand your collection. However, not all cactus species can be propagated using pads. Some species do not grow pads and thus propagated by other means already discussed. Follow these steps to propagate your cactus through pads:
Using a pair of tongs, break off a mature pad from the parent plant. Alternatively, you can snap it by hand if you have thick gloves to put on for protection against spikes. This should be a clean job for most cacti species, but if the process proves challenging, you can use a sharp knife to cut off the pad.
Allow the pad to callous over for a few days before laying it flat on top of your potting soil. Soak the soil as you would when watering your other cactus. Do this regularly by ensuring the soil remains moist but not too dump. This helps spur root growth, and in no time, your plant will hold on to the soil and growth into a strong, healthy plant.
For you to keep your cactus at its peak, if you strictly do indoor growing, place them outside during summer. Make sure they get the light they need to avoid edema. Select a sheltered spot. During the rainy season, ensure they don’t soak in rainwater and be on the lookout for snails as they may end up destroying the juicy stems.
The idea of having cactus on your patio or indoors is exciting. As a beginner, you don’t have things already figured out. However, the above tips should help you get started on how to care for cacti.
Cactus is great indoors because you can use it as part of the decor. Some cute white pots with a Christmas Cactus makes the house look alive. Whether you want it in your bedroom or the kitchen, it is a great addition. With the findings above, you can be sure that your cactus will grow healthy.