Moon Cactus Flower: All Queries Solved!

Moon Cactus Blooms
Moon Cactus Flower (Source: Wikimedia)

Moon Cactus (Gymnocalycium mihanovichii) is a strange and unique plant to grow indoors. It is a ‘mutant’ plant because it needs another plant to flower.

Although the scions (colorful upper part of the cactus) are the beautiful part of the Moon Cactus, the flower is not far behind.

Generally, Moon Cactus rarely produces flowers, but when it does, it blooms during spring, in April, or May. It has pink, orange, or yellow-colored flowers and can bloom indoors.

Grafted cactus flower in a pot
Colorful Moon Cactus has a beautiful scion and equally pretty flower.

Its beautiful foliage, or should we say, its scion is the part that will grab your attention—the scion act as the base for the flower’s growth.

The Moon Cactus bloom needs certain conditions and environment to bloom. Let’s explore them in detail.

How often does the Moon Cactus Bloom?

Although a beautiful plant to have, Moon Cactus cannot grow without grafting as it needs a host to survive.

After grafting, this plant produces pretty blooms of white, pink, or yellow color during spring (April or May). This plant prefers a USDA zone of 11-12.

Grafted Moon Cactus With Flowers
Grafting is a technique in Moon Cactus where the scion of Moon Cactus is attached to another plant.

This plant has a better chance of flowering if you keep it in its natural habitat, but it may also flower in your home if you fulfill its care requirements.

Grafted Cactus need to mature to be able to flower. While the maturity depends upon the rootstock, let your plant be at least an inch wide to let it bloom.

While the plant has a lifespan of about 1-3 years, the flowers live only for about 12 hours.

Moreover, you can drop the idea of not letting the plant flower as the Moon Cactus is not monocarpic, meaning the plant will not die after flowering.

After it blooms, you may have to wait a year or two before the plant can bloom again.

You may have a better shot at blooming if you keep your Moon Cactus outdoors. If you fulfill the requirements, they may bloom indoors.

As the Moon Cactus indoors usually comes grafted, the bottom part can also sometimes produce flowers. If it does, the upper part will not flower.

Moon Cactus Blooms Overview

The Moon Cacti plant symbolizes resilience as it survives on top of another plant through grafting.

People believe that Moon Cacti symbolizes tenacity, endurance, and strength. This plant also symbolizes motherly love and long life.

Look at the table below to find out the general overview of this plant.

FactorsSpecifications
Flower size Up to 4 inches wide
Flower ShapeSlender, funnel-shaped
Flower PetalsSpread out ~10 petals
Flower ColorWhite, pink or yellow
FragranceNo fragrance
Flower characteristicsShowy flowers that emerges on top of spines
Blooming SeasonSpring (April to May)
Flower span12 hours
ToxicityNon-toxic to animals and humans

They produce large flowers with bright petals. The color of flowers is usually the same as the plant’s scion.

Apart from the color of the flowers mentioned above, Moon Cactus has shades like pale pink, vibrant red, purple, neon yellow, brilliant orange, etc.

Moon Cactus also produce blooms with multiple colors like yellow-red, yellow-orange, etc.

Pollination of Colorful Moon Cactus Blooms

Moon Cactus is a beautiful flower that you would want to replicate. One of the best ways to do that is via seed propagation.

To produce seeds, you must let the plant go through pollination first. The plant can propagate via the following two methods.

1. Natural Pollination

Natural pollination is a type of pollination in which natural factors like insects, birds, wind, etc., are responsible for a plant’s pollination.

In Moon Cacti, the pollination is usually done by moths and bats when the plant blooms at night.

Moth siting on a flower
Moths are one of the primary insects responsible for the pollination of Moon Cactus, thanks to the cactus’ colorful scion and flower.

Thanks to its bright-colored scion and equally attractive flowers, different birds and other insects are also attracted to the plant.

If you are lucky, the pollinators will collect the pollen and deposit it to the Stigma of the same or another plant within the same night.

As the flower has a shorter lifespan, the anther and stigma may be active simultaneously to aid in pollination.

The prospect of wind pollination depends on various factors like the amount of wind, direction, and the structure of the flower.

As the Moon Cacti is funnel-shaped, wind pollination is very unlikely to occur.

However, leaving the pollination duties to insects and birds can deny you any success as the blooms are short-lived.

2. Hand Pollination

It may sound strange, but hand-pollinating a moon cactus is easier than depending on nature to perform its magic.

While it may be a long and complex process, pollinating the plant by hand will give you a fair shot at success.

As the moth is the only primary pollinator, you would not want to depend on them for this plant to pollinate naturally.

Follow the steps below properly to ensure safe and efficient pollination.

  • Gather tools like a utility knife, gardening gloves, etc., and sterilize them properly for pollination purposes.
  • Use a utility knife to cut the whorls of sepals and petals off the plant to reveal the Stigma.

While removing the sepals and petals, ensure you do not cut the stamen, or the pollination will not occur.

  • Take a chopstick and unfurl the tiny Stigma very carefully.
  • Now take the whorl you separated earlier and look for the anthers.
Close up stamen picture
Stamens in the flowers contain anther, which is primarily responsible for creating pollens.
  • Rub your chopstick on the pollen you find and rub the pollen-laden chopstick on the Stigma.
  • Repeat the above process several times to increase the chance of success.

If the buds do not fall off and start growing in 2-3 days, congratulations, you were successful.

After nearly a month, you can harvest the seeds and propagate them.

But, this phenomenon is hard to perform as Moon Cactus rarely produces seeds due to the lack of chlorophyll.

How to Make a Moon Cactus Plant Flower?

Here comes the hard part: you must be attentive to the plant’s needs if you want to make this flower.

An anomaly in fulfilling its requirement can hamper the plant’s ability to flower. And you may even never see the plant flower ever.

Follow the steps below carefully to make the Moon Cacti plant flower.

  • Plants in the cacti genera usually need a dormancy period to bloom. So, keep the plant at a temperature around 60°F for 3 to 4 months to force a bloom.
  • Relocate the plant to a cool place with bright enough but not direct sunlight and cut back on watering or fertilizing. This plant is susceptible to root rot.
  • Use a pot with well-functioning drainage holes for hibotan cacti and place it in bright light.
  • Make sure the rootstock cactus gets enough sunlight so that it will be able to convert the energy to produce flowers.
Image represents the condition of plant placement in bright but not direct sunlight
Moon Cactus prefers bright but not direct light for optimal growth.
  • Moon Cacti prefers low humidity conditions. So, you can place them indoors to provide the required humidity.
  • You need to use well-draining soil with added perlite or coarse sand. A commercial potting cactus mix is also good for Star Flowered Cactus.
  • Placing the plant in a south-facing window with a few hours of morning sunlight is pivotal in making the plant flower.
  • You can use a normal houseplant fertilizer rich in phosphorus for your Cactus to encourage the bloom.

Common Problems with Moon Cactus Blooms

Although a sturdy flower, the Moon Cacti flower is not completely safe from the problems that may occur during its life.

The flower may show some problems despite having a short lifespan of only 12 hours. Most of the issues are associated with unsuccessful pollination.

Let’s look at some of the common problems and their causes.

  • If the Moon Cactus plants cannot drain the excess water in the soil, the flower may wilt a few hours after opening.
  • Root rot and overwatering can lead the Cactus flowers to turn brown, rot, and even die in a worst-case scenario.
Overwatering the Snake Plant
You can kill the plant if you water it too much, as too much water can invite pests and other diseases.
  • Lack of light and extreme temperature can cause the flower to drop petals off.
  • If the top part of the flower doesn’t have a regular airflow, the scion may rot and die.
  • Sometimes you may encounter grafted Cactus flowers falling off. That may be due to the dryness of the soil.

Many people confuse the scion for the flowers. At times when the scion falls off the Moon Cactus rootstock, the rootstock produces vertical arms on it.

What Should you do with Moon Cactus Plants Flower?

Moon Cactus is a beautiful plant with its shiny scion. To add a cherry on top, it produces lovely flowers.

The beauty of the flowers pales in comparison with the beauty of the scion.

Grafted Cactus flower plat with flowers
Yellow Moon Cactus flowers are beautiful in their own way, so you should consider a lot before cutting them.

Nevertheless, I am here to explain why you should cut the flowers and why you should not.

You should cut the flowers because they will suck up the energy directed towards the scion development. Also, the flowers will rot after being spent.

The rot will then transfer to the plant, killing it for good.

It would be best if you did not cut the flowers because they give a pretty good look to the plant overall.

How to Cut the Moon Cactus Blooms?

You must follow a procedure and properly cut the flower to avoid damaging the Moon Cactus.

After the flowers are spent and on the verge of dying, you can cut them off to protect the energy and the plant.

Follow the steps below to cut the Moon Cactus blooms off the plant.

  • Grafted Moon Cactus flowers are easily detachable. So you may not need tools to perform the cutting.
  • Wear protective gardening gloves before embarking on the process.
  • Gently grab the flower by its base and twist it carefully.
Gardening Gloves with soil in hand
It is important for you to wear proper gloves before interacting with the Moon Cactus, as the plant contains thorns.
  • After the flower comes off, do the same with other blooms.
  • Dispose of the flowers carefully as they may hurt your kids or pets.

The grafted Cactus flowers don’t have any particular medicinal or culinary uses.

You could use them for decoration, but they do not have a bigger lifespan, so that may not be useful.

Health Considerations to keep in Mind

As a hybrid mutant, Moon Cactus is a rare plant that people always sell after grafting them to another plant’s rootstock.

Whenever you think of cacti, you may have a notion about how dangerous, toxic and poisonous they must be.

But you are mistaken here. Moon Cactus plants have no element that can poison you, your pets, or your kids.

Cat with a Cactus
Cats may not mess with the Moon Cactus plant because of their thorns, but it would still be safer to keep them out of reach of the plant.

Although, you need to be careful about its thorns so sharp they can pierce and puncture your skin. Your pets can be seriously injured if they try to eat the plant.

So, the only thing you need to do to be safer is to wear gloves to handle the cactus and keep it out of the reach of your kids and pets.

As the plant is non-toxic, there is no evidence of the Moon Cactus blooms being toxic. So, you can deem the flowers not to hurt anyone.

Conclusion

The rootstock, the grafted scion, and the flowers, all three portions of a Moon Cactus, add to the beauty of the plant.

You should get a grafted Cactus if you are up for the challenge of growing a flower. If your moon cactus is distressed, you must know they “needle little love.”

Good luck!

Do you want to read more about the Cactus family? Read our article about Christmas Cactus Light, Mexican Fence Post Cactus, Blue Torch Cactus, Bunny Ear Cactus, Ming Thing Cactus.

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