Cactuses grow in a variety of environments, including deserts, forests, and grasslands. They can even grow on trees in the tropics, though cactuses from the Cylindropuntia genus are not found in the rainforest.
Because of their unique biology, cacti are interesting to observe in the wild. If you visit a national park, there’s a good chance you’ll see some wild cacti.
Cacti are among the most resilient plants in the world because they can not only survive but also thrive in extreme conditions.
We see cacti grow on mountains, dry deserts, and barren and arid areas. This begs the question: If cacti are so resilient and can grow in harsh conditions, can they also grow in better conditions? When water availability is not scarce, and there is greenery all around them?
The main question revolved around rainforests, and yes, some species of cacti can grow in rainforests.
Cacti are versatile plants like many others and can grow in a wide variety of habitats, including rainforests and other places with greenery and availability of water.
Let us now take a look at some of the common habitats of cacti and what cacti and other succulents grow in these places:
What Are The Areas And Conditions That Are Favorable For Cacti/Succulents?
The most commonly known habitat of cacti and succulents includes deserts and barren, rocky areas where water is scarcely available, and there is very little greenery.
However, there are many other habitats reserved for cacti as well. Here are some of them:
Since cacti are primarily associated with deserts, we can see how common cacti are in deserts. There are hundreds of thousands of species of cacti available in desert lands, and some of the most common ones include:
These desert cacti can also be grown in succulent gardens and terrariums, and they only require the bare minimum of nourishment to survive and thrive.
They usually cannot grow in rainforests and other areas with rainfall and water availability.
Some cacti only grow in mountainous regions such as the Andes Mountains. Mountainous regions can have hot and dry climates but can also receive snowfall and freezing temperatures.
Cacti that grow in mountainous regions often tend to shrivel and hibernate during the fall all through winter to rise up again in spring when the temperatures are better.
The most common species of cacti that can be found in mountainous regions include the Copiapoa cactus and the hedgehog cactus.
Both of these cacti tend to shrivel up in the fall months and rise again in the spring when the temperature is not as extreme.
While most species of cacti will not be able to thrive in a coastal environment because the sand cannot support their needs, there has been some evidence showing that some cacti species grow in coastal areas as well.
For most cacti, the salty ocean water, the varying degrees of temperature, and the dry, undrained sand are unable to sustain a cactus for long. Even if a cactus does grow in these areas, it quickly dies out.
Some species of succulents that are not cacti, including some agaves and bitter aloe, can survive in sandy coastal areas for a long time.
Lastly, and most surprisingly of all, there are quite a few species of cacti that can thrive in forests, and this includes rainforests as well.
These cacti are usually epiphytes (grow on plants and trees) and sometimes lithophytes (grow on rocks) and do not consist of sharp spines like most other species of cacti do.
Cacti that grow in forests are also known as jungle cacti and include various species such as the Hatiora, the Rhipsalis, and the Disocactus.
Therefore, we can see that some types of cacti can survive in the jungle. These cacti do not rely on nutrition from other plants, so they are not parasitic.
They get most of their nutrients from the air around them and from dried and dead leaves in the surroundings.
Categories Of Cacti That Can Survive In A Rainforest
Cacti that grow most commonly in jungles include Holiday cacti. The most common ones amongst them are:
- Easter Cactus – This cactus blooms in a start shape and is among the more colorful cacti out there. It is different from desert cacti because it does not have spines like most other cacti; however, it is still a cactus. It thrives in slightly cooler and more humid climates than most other cacti.
- Thanksgiving Cactus – This cactus is also different from other cacti and is known for its beautiful flowers. It is known as the Thanksgiving Cactus because it is around this time when the cactus is in full bloom. It is a tropical cactus and is another variation of the three-holiday cacti.
- Christmas Cactus – The Christmas cactus also produces pink or lilac flowers when it is in full bloom. People often grow these plants in their homes as ornaments because of their beautiful appearance. They also grow in humid areas but in warm temperatures and are entirely different from desert cacti.
What Happens If You Put A Desert, Mountain, Or Coastal Cactus In The Rainforest?
While cacti that grow in the desert, a mountain, or the coast are all cacti, their features and survival mechanisms are very different.
They survive in different temperatures, do not have the same physical features, and require different types of maintenance.
The same can be said for cacti in the rainforest. They are the most different out of them all and don’t even have the most defining feature of all cacti: spines.
This is because the environment of rainforests is very different from that of a desert, mountain, or coast.
For starters, rainforests are very humid and have an abundance of water. This is why there is so much greenery in a rainforest.
Other than that, the temperature in a rainforest is usually moderate and the soil is very arable, which can grow a lot of plants.
Because of these differences, cacti that can grow in a desert, mountain, or coastal area cannot grow in a rainforest.
If you decide to plant a cactus in a forest or simply remove it from its normal habitat and place it in the soil in a rainforest, it will probably die very quickly.
Since desert, mountain, and coastal cacti do not need a lot of water, the presence of water and excessive humidity will overwater the roots of the plant.
The roots will then begin to rot and compromise the integrity of the cactus. It is also possible that the cactus could be attacked by pests such as fungus gnats as well or eaten by other pests in the rainforest. In any case, the plant will not be able to survive for long.
Therefore, putting a desert, mountain, or coastal cactus in a rainforest is not great. If you want to plant a cactus, make sure that its surroundings are suitable enough for it to thrive and not die out immediately.
This goes for jungle cacti as well since their requirements are very specific, but they do not grow in the same conditions that regular cacti grow in.
Can A Cactus Survive A Flood In A Rainforest?
Unfortunately, cacti cannot survive a flood in the rainforest or anywhere else for that water. Even though jungle cacti can grow in more humid conditions and can survive more water intake than normal cacti, a flood will be entirely too much water for them.
If you place a cactus in a flooded environment, its roots will become overwatered and begin to rot.
Eventually, the plant will drown and die out. If there is a flood in the rainforest that submerges the cacti, they will die out.
This is because the water in the soil that the jungle cacti are planted in needs to dry out before more water is introduced.
In a flooded area, the water will submerge a large part of the cactus for a long time and the cactus will be unable to breathe or survive.
Therefore, a cactus cannot grow in a rainforest.
How To Grow A Christmas Cactus At Home
The Christmas cactus is one of the three-holiday cacti. These cacti survive and thrive in the jungle and are known for their prolific flowers and beautiful seasonal blooms.
These cacti are also very easy to grow in the comfort of your home. Most people who like cacti and succulents enjoy growing holiday cacti in their homes as well because of how easy and beautiful they are.
Here, we will see how to grow a Christmas cactus, one of the holiday cacti, in the comfort of your home. If you are able to grow a Christmas cactus, you will probably be able to grow a Thanksgiving and Easter Cactus too:
- Christmas cacti produce seeds in their pods which are the fruits of the Christmas plant. You can harvest these seeds and wash away the pulp from the seeds to be able to grow them easily.
- Place the seeds in the soil, which could be sphagnum moss with peat or a cactus mix. Press the extracted and washed seeds into the potting mix and cover with a thin layer of vermiculite.
- Use a clear plastic bag or wrap to cover the pot to make the growing environment more humid and favorable for the plant.
- Do not place the plant under direct sunlight; put it in a place that is bright but receives indirect sunlight.
- Christmas cacti need an abundance of water when they are growing, unlike many other cacti. Therefore, you should make it a point not to let the soil dry out completely. Spray the soil with water daily or if there are holes in the bottom of the pot, you should place the pot in a tray of water.
- The seedling will begin to emerge in a few weeks, and once you see the growth, you should remove the plastic bag from the surface of the plant.
- Once the seeds can be easily removed and repotted, you should plant them in individual pots.
You can also grow a fully developed Christmas Cactus with the help of stem cuttings which you can propagate. Here Is how you can propagate a Christmas Cactus:
- Root the pruned section of the stem of the Christmas cactus by placing it in a jar of filtered water.
- If you are propagating the Christmas cactus, add a cactus mix or your choice of potting soil in a pot.
- Use sterile tools like knives to section the stems into three or five segments each.
- Place the segment into a slightly low temperature and low humidity environment to callus the ends.
- After the ends callus, place the cuttings in the soil after using a little bit of water on it. You can push the stems into an inch of the soil and wait for the roots to form, which would take two to three weeks.
- In the initial stages of propagation, you should water the plant in a good quantity. You can even introduce more humidity into the environment by tying a plastic bag around the plant. Once you see that rooting of the stem has begun, remove the plastic bag from the edges.
- Make sure the soil is completely dry before you water it again.
- Once you see leaves and stems growing from the section, it is an indication of good rooting. If the roots begin to outgrow the container or you see adequate leaf and stem growth, you should repot the cactus plant.
Additionally, you should also make it a point to keep the following points in mind for the proper growth and propagation of the cactus:
- Christmas cacti do not need as much sunlight as many other cacti, so you should take care of growing them in indirect light.
- Only water the cactus when the soil is dry. To see if the soil is dry or not, you could use a moisture stick or simply touch the soil with your hand to feel how wet or dry it is.
- Christmas plants also require more humidity than other cacti to grow, so they would grow best in a more humid environment.
- After the cactus blooms, you should prune it so that it remains in the perfect shape.
- Use a proper potting mix and fertilizer for the cactus. Make sure you fertilize the cactus with the fertilizer from spring till fall.
- Christmas cacti can bloom even better if they are given around six weeks of darkness and lower temperatures during their life cycle as well.
- You can even propagate the plant by rooting the pruned sections of the plant.
If you take care of these measures, you will be able to grow a Christmas Cactus with a lot of ease.
The Christmas cactus is a very easy plant to grow and propagate, and with these minimal steps, you will be able to grow it into a magnificent plant.
How To Care For Holiday Cacti and Other Jungle Cacti In Your Home:
You should be able to properly maintain a Holiday Cactus if you want it to brighten up your home and your garden.
Since it is a cactus, its maintenance is different from that of most other plants, but since they are jungle cacti, their maintenance is different from that of other normal cacti as well.
Here are some tips you should keep in mind when you want a healthy growing holiday cactus in your home:
Holiday cacti do not need the same temperature all year round. They prefer temperatures around 70-80 degrees from April to September.
In the budding stages of the cactus, the plant needs between 55-65 degrees. The plant doesn’t like sudden temperature drops, so you need to put it in an environment with constant temperatures and no drafts.
Holiday cacti need abundant humidity to be able to grow. If you are growing the cactus in an area that is hot and dry, you should take measures to increase the humidity around the plant to help it grow well.
Holiday cacti do not grow in direct sunlight; they need some shade or diffused light to be able to grow well. You can place them in any well-lit area that receives indirect sunlight, and they will bloom to their maximum potential.
The main thing about the soil conditions for a holiday cactus is the pH value. The pH of the holiday cactus’s soil should be between 5.5 and 6.2, and you can add additives such as peat moss to make the environment more acidic.
Holiday cacti also need to be watered more than other cacti. The soil used for planting the cactus should be well-draining, and the water in the soil should be completely dried out before you water it again. If the soil remains dry for too long, the leaves of the holiday cactus will begin to shrivel.
In conclusion, wild cacti that thrive in the rainforest are more “adaptable” than you would think. They, like their tropical counterparts, are adaptable, meaning they can reproduce in a wide variety of habitats, including desert areas.
They also thrive by adapting to new plant communities, and to this end, they are especially well-suited to becoming part of the rainforest.
Not all cacti can survive in a rainforest because the conditions they need to grow are not available in a rainforest.
However, certain types of cacti, including holiday cacti, do grow in rainforests. You can even grow these cacti in your homes, and they will be sure to brighten up the place with their colorful and prolific flowers.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Do succulents live in rainforests?
What does the cactus need to survive?
Cacti are some of nature’s most fascinating plants. Some species can live thousands of years, even without water or sunlight. What makes them so special? And what do they eat?
There are over 500 species of cacti around the globe, but only a handful are cultivated for their unique properties. Cacti can also be found growing wild in deserts, mountains, and other dry areas.
Can a cactus give you a rash(Allergy)?
Yes. The sap of the prickly pear cactus can cause a severe allergic reaction, known as phytophotodermatitis.
This disease manifests on the skin as red, sometimes blistering, skin; the rash may last up to two weeks. Other names for prickly pear include tuna, tuna bean, and tuna pear.