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Cactus tail (Rat tail cactus)

Rodents may not be your thing but the easy-to-grow rat tail cactus could be. Aporocactus rat tail cactus is an epiphytic plant, which means it grows naturally in low soil cracks such as tree crotches and rocky crevasses. The plants are native to Mexico which means for the most part growing rat tail cactus is an indoor activity. Gardeners only in the warmer zones can grow them outdoors, but rat tail cactus houseplants thrive in the interior landscape. Rat tail cactus care is uncomplicated and the plants add interest and texture to hanging baskets or succulent containers.

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Rat tail cactus is a trailing plant that sends out long stems with short, fine spines. The overall color of the plant is green when young but the stems age to an almost beige color. Flowers are rare but when they arrive they are a glorious bright pink to red hue. Blooms are up to 3 inches long, tube-shaped and arise on mature stems.

Many gardeners choose a hanging planter or unusual container, such as a hollow cow’s horn, for growing rat tail cactus. The unusual appearance of the plant is set off by simple container forms that accent the lovely pencil thin stems. Happy rat tail cactus can get 6 feet in length. Trim excess growth and use pruned stems to start new cactus.

Contrary to some advice, cacti do need water. During the growing season between late April and November, soak them deeply and then allow the soil to dry out before soaking again. In winter allow them to dry out and keep them slightly cooler. This will promote the formation of blooms in spring. Excess humidity may cause the stems to rot but overly dry conditions encourage spider mites. Find the happy medium and your plant will thrive.


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