Essential Care Tips For A Thriving Monkey Tail Plant

With its floppy, hairy limbs, red flowers, and easy going nature, the monkey tail cactus plant (Cleistocactus colademononis) is a perfect beginner-friendly specimen that will double as an interesting focal point wherever you choose to place it. While a monkey tail cactus is a drought resistant plant that does not need a lot of maintenance, there are a few essential care tips you can employ in order for your plant to thrive, including using well-draining soil, being mindful of humidity, making sure your plant gets enough light, and not overwatering.

Originating in Bolivia, this plant enjoys warm temperatures and can be grown outside in USDA zones 9 to 11. If you live outside these zones, you can still grow your monkey tail plant indoors, with ideal temperatures in the 60 to 80 degree Fahrenheit range. Many choose to house their monkey tail cactus in hanging pots in order to display the plant's ever-growing limbs, which amazingly, can grow 5 feet so long as you ensure the appropriate growing conditions. Wherever you choose to house your monkey tail plant, be sure to do so out of reach of children and pets as the plant is considered toxic.

Use well-draining soil and be mindful of humidity

In addition to maintaining an ideal temperature, you'll also want to be mindful of humidity levels when growing a monkey tail plant. Because the plant's native habitat is quite dry, it doesn't appreciate being in an environment where humidity levels are elevated. Depending on where you live, you might want to consider placing a dehumidifier around your monkey tail plant if humidity levels are unusually high. Otherwise, make sure the area surrounding your monkey tail plant is properly ventilated, and avoid placing the plant in areas like the bathroom, where there is a lot of moisture in the air.

Along those same lines, the monkey tail plant doesn't appreciate soil that holds onto moisture, so be sure to house the plant in well-draining soil. Even better, invest in cactus potting soil. You can get an 8-quart bag of Miracle-Gro Cactus Palm and Citrus Potting Soil Mix for about $7 at The Home Depot.

Bright light and minimal water

Being mindful of moisture levels is an important aspect of keeping a monkey tail plant thriving, and this includes your watering schedule. In the winter months, the plant goes into a period of dormancy and therefore does not need water. In the warmer months, you can water your monkey tail plant whenever the first couple inches of soil dry out, which may be every six weeks or so. Every monkey tail cactus is different, however, so this watering schedule may not be applicable to your particular plant. A good rule of thumb: if your plant's limbs are starting to wrinkle up, this is a sign that it needs water.

To keep your monkey tail cactus plant happy, you'll also want to make sure it sees plenty of indirect sunlight. Up to six hours is ideal, and aim for morning sunlight, as it isn't as strong. In the winter months when the sun isn't shining as often, you can use a grow light to help the cactus meet its needs.