Monkey Tail Cactus

Monkey Tail Cactus


The monkey tail cactus (Cleistocactus colademononis, previously Hildewintera colademononis) is a type of cactus plant characterized by its long, cascading shape and white, hair-like spines. Also called soft monkey tail cactus, it gets its common name from its hairy appearance that resembles a monkey's tail.

In spring and early summer, this cactus produces bright red flowers. Its origins can be traced to the mountainous countryside of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, where it can be found growing naturally in rocky soil. As a houseplant, it's commonly grown in hanging baskets, which allow its long drooping stems to grow freely. Each stem can increase in size by nearly a foot every year.

Monkey tail cacti are relatively easy for beginners to grow. Follow these plant care guidelines to ensure that your monkey tail cactus thrives.

  1. Light: Monkey tail cacti thrive in areas that receive plenty of bright, indirect sunlight. While indirect light is ideal, this desert-native cactus will tolerate some full sun as well.
  2. Water: Water your cacti weekly in the spring and summer growing season. Your monkey tail cactus will store water in its stems for fall and winter when it enters its dormancy period. Lightly water it during the off-season when the soil is completely dry, but be careful to avoid overwatering your plant as overwatering can lead to root rot.
  3. Soil: A well-draining organic soil mix or specially formulated cactus soil is ideal. Look for cactus mix at your local nursery or add perlite to a standard potting mix to help the soil drain excess water.
  4. Fertilizer: During its growing season in the spring and summer, apply a low-nitrogen, high-potassium fertilizer monthly to encourage growth.
  5. Pot: The monkey tail cactus has a shallow root system and doesn't need a large pot to thrive. As the stems grow past the length of the pot, however, consider repotting your plant in a hanging basket to allow the flowing stems to trail.