Dog Tail Cactus outstands most creeping houseplants for its long, cylindrical stems with small spine dots, demanding little care.
Though Cactus are a less demanding plant, you should not neglect their basic care requirements. Scroll down to get some tips for growing Dog Tail Cactus successfully.
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Overview of Dog Tail Cactus
Dog Tail Cactus is a native of the South American rainforest, growing as an air plant broadly in the wild.
|Strophocactus testudo, Selenicereus testudo
|Dog Tail Cactus, Pitaya De Tortuga
|Approx. 10 feet in wild
Approx. 6-9 feet in indoors
|Exotic trailing skinny-tail with spine dots
|Cylindrical leaf with small dotted spines.
|White or pink, resembling Orchids
|March to July
|Epiphytic covering nook and crannies of trees
Dog Tail Cactus: A Detailed Care Guide
It is epiphytic plant that lives on and winds around large trees, so it becomes dramatic in its growing needs when plucking out indoors.
As its trailing habit, Dog Tail Cactus can be good for perching on shelves, pedestals and in hanging baskets.
1. Sunlight & Temperature
Being a creeping plant, Dog Tail Cactus requires at least 6 hours of bright light, with partial shade if kept outdoors but should get ample sunlight.
You need to consider growing these plants outside under a stable temperature of 40-90ºF.
Consequently, in case of bright, scorching light, the tips turn yellow, and the growth gets slowed down.
So try to maintain the light and heat by growing them a few feet away from the sunny South-West facing window.
You can keep the plants on a patio or hang them on the balcony with a roof outside.
However, amidst all the location changes, do not let your plant suffer from frost, as Dog Tail Cactus cannot tolerate temperatures below 25ºF.
2. Watering & Humidity
Unlike other Cacti, Dog Tail Cactus requires more frequent watering, at least once a week in summer but do not be uptight about following the schedule.
Moreover, humidity is also a factor in determining the watering schedule, as Dog Tail prefers air moisture to be around 50%.
However, any fluctuations in humidity lead your plant to suffer from overwatering or underwatering, depending on the humidity level.
Dog Tail Cactus loves dryness and humidity just at the point, as higher air or soil moisture invites overwatering, making the plant limp and mushy and inducing root rot.
Besides, the long dryness and lack of moisture cause underwatering, leading the plant to wilt, wrinkle, and grow excess aerial roots.
So try to treat the dry heat by installing humidifiers or grouping the plant together.
3. Soil & Fertilization
Dog Tail Cactus prefer a moisture-retaining, well-draining cactus mix that is slightly acidic to neutral, with a pH of 4-6.5.
However, avoid using too porous soil, unable to hold the water, as that will make your plant suffer from underwater conditions.
You can make a DIY potting mix using ingredients like fine perlite or sand and organic matter in a ratio of 2:1.
However, try not to overfertilize them as that increases the soil’s toxicity level, discouraging root tips’ function and leading the plant to droop.
Also, do not keep your Dog Tail Cactus malnourished for longer, leading to yellowing stems.
4. Potting and Repotting
To be on the safe side, always plant the Dog Tail Cactus in a terracotta pot with enough drainage holes.
It ensures your cacti are not under water stress and allows you to water the plant from a bottom-up approach, pouring water into the plate under the pot.
Small and plastic container makes your Dog Tail root-bound, increasing the growth of aerial roots and leading to ground root rot.
However, do not try to pull out or bump the roots when repotting, as it can create trauma and shock the entire plant.
Fill the right cactus mix in the pot and repot the Dog Tail letting the plant stand dry for at least a week before first watering.
5. Periodic Pruning
Pruning occurs when Dog Tail Cactus have dead and diseased stems due to pest infestation and bacterial growth with overgrown aerial roots.
However, scales and mealybugs find their way into the trails of the cacti, sucking the nutrients off them.
So, prune off the stems and rotted roots of Dog Tail in their active growing season and maintain a regular watering schedule.
You can even use cotton swabs dipped in alcohol to rub over the stems of Dog Tail affected by mealybugs and scales or spray insecticidal soap.
Spray the Cacti with Copper-based fungicide to treat the fungal growth once in the growing season as a preventive measure.
Dog Tail Cactus: All About the Growth Rate
As a Cacti variety, Dog Tail takes up a slow and steady growth rate, attaining at least 6 feet indoors and spreading up to 15-24 inches in about 2-3 years.
Besides, the trailing plant can extend up to 10 feet in its natural habitat around tree trunks, living for centuries.
The foliage of Dog Tail bears long, broad stems with spine dots on the upper surface, giving a dark green shade.
Meanwhile, they give orchid-like fragrant white blooms.
Sadly, the flowers of Dog Tail are a nocturnal bloomer, opening up only at night during spring and summer.
Toxicity of Dog Tail Cactus
Dog Tail contains no toxic compounds and is safe for pets and humans.
Meanwhile, the spikes on the Dog Tail surface also help in keeping the pets away from chewing on them.
Although you can be safe to be beside the plant, the spikes on the skin of stems can penetrate your skin, so try not to touch it without wearing gardening gloves.
Propagation Methods for Dog Tail Cactus
You can populate Dog Tail easily using stem cuttings and root division in spring.
These cacti are easy to break off but get in gloves first!
1. Propagation via Stem Cuttings
Before starting, select a plant with a healthy stem, allow it to dry in the bright sun for a day, and follow the steps.
- Put a cut at the joint segment of the stem with the help of a sterilized gardening knife but be careful not to hurt the main plant body.
- After that, let the stems dry and form callous, which usually takes 4 to 7 days.
- Meanwhile, fill a pot with well-draining store-bought cactus mix and bury the stem 1 to 2 inches deep into it to let the roots develop.
- At last, water the plant lightly after a week of planting to allow the roots to establish fully.
2. Propagation via Root divisions
Select the healthy stem and bend down to bury it along the mother plant.
Though it seems like air layering, you need to cut roots at the end when roots develop from the buried stems.
- Mist the buried portion, attached to the mother Dog Tail, with a sprayer once every four days.
- Continue the same process for about three weeks till you see new root growth.
- After the roots have developed, cut them from the mother plant and let them grow as a single plant.
3. Propagation via Seeds
Growing Dog Tail from seeds is challenging as the seedlings are fragile and should always have successful pollination to form seeds.
- Take a terracotta pot having enough drainage holes and fill it with an appropriate mix.
- Spread the seeds over the soil and cover them lightly with sand.
- Let the seeds dry out before shifting them to a dry, shaded location.
- After drying out the seeds, mist them lightly daily till germination occurs.
Dog Tail Cactus for Sale
Some of you might already have the Dog Tail in the house, while some might be a new homie of Cactus.
|Within 1 to 4 business days
|Within 4 to 6 days
|Within 1 to 3 days
|Within 4 to 7 days
|Within 3 to 4 days
Dog Tail Cactus vs. Rat Tail Cactus
One of the closest members of the Dog Tail, resembling the same creeping nature with a trailing tail and areole, is Rat Tail Cactus.
|Dog Tail Cactus
|Rat Tail Cactus
|Epiphyte and Lithophyte
|6-9 feet indoors
|3-6 feet indoors
|Violet-pink, red, orange
|Full sun to partial shade and bright light
|Bright direct sun
Dog Tail Cactus vs. Dragon Fruit
Comparing Dragon Fruit to Dog Tail Cactus might be shocking and weird for many, but they both belong to the Cactaceae family.
|Dog Tail Cactus
|Rounded, green with spikes all over the body
|Flat, green with spike on each segment
|10 feet in wild
|8-20 feet in wild
|White and orchid-like
|White with yellow inside
|Spherical, black and not edible
|Egg-shaped, red and are edible
Dog Tail Cactus has prevailed in houses for its exotic downwards trailing greenery and long tubular stems.
They can offer cascading effects like a falling spring if grown in a hanging basket.
And because of their survival ability, Native Americans use it as a symbol of warmth and unconditional love.