With a nickname like this, there’s no reason to suggest that the plant itself doesn’t have some spunk.
There are lots of funny sativas with monikers such as Freddies Cookies, White Widow, and The Pineapple Express.
This particular variety has a goofy name and an aesthetic appeal to its tail-like appendage, but that doesn’t mean you should think of it as a silly houseplant.
Rat tail cactus are hardy and grow very well indoors despite their tropical nature. In fact, they’re one of the few types of cacti that don’t require direct sunlight to survive.
A rat tail cactus is pretty easy to care for and can bring the right amount of zest into your home without too much work on your part.
If you have a rat tail cactus, you may be wondering how to take care of it.
Rat tail cacti are native to South America and are one of the hardiest succulents around.
While they don’t need a lot of special attention, there are some things you can do to help ensure your plant will thrive.
Table of Contents
Place The Cactus In A Sunny Location.
- Place the cactus in a sunny location. While it’s not necessary to place your cactus in direct sunlight, it should receive at least four hours of direct sunlight each day. Placing the plant in indirect light (e.g., a north window) is also fine, as long as there isn’t too much shade.
- Avoid placing the plant near cold drafts and/or heat vents that blow cool air directly on it; this will kill off some of its leaves and prevent new ones from growing back after they’re trimmed off.
- Allow your cactus to dry out between watering — approximately two weeks between waterings — so that its roots have time to soak up any excess moisture from rainfall or rainwater collected aboveground by leaves during their growth period (which can last several years).
Plant The Cactus In A Container Filled With Well-Drained Potting Soil.
To plant your cactus, use a container with drainage holes and fill it with well-drained potting soil.
You will want to make sure that the container is large enough for your cactus; when planted, bonsai rat tail plants grow vertically rather than outward, so this means you will need a wide planter.
The bottom of the planter should be covered in a drainage layer made of something porous (like pebbles or stones) that allows water to drain away quickly from the soil below.
Water The Cactus When The Top 1/2 To 1 Inch Of Potting Soil Dries Out.
It’s important to water your rat tail cactus when the top 1/2 to 1 inch of potting soil dries out.
The frequency of watering varies based on how much light your plant gets, but it’s a good rule of thumb to water once every two weeks or so.
If you have a young cactus, you may need to water more frequently since they use up moisture faster than mature plants do.
You also shouldn’t wait until the soil is completely dry before watering again; instead, maintain a soil moisture level of about 1 inch below the surface of the soil.
If your plant is not getting enough sunlight where it’s placed (especially during winter), increase the frequency of watering slightly until spring arrives and more sunlight enters its ecosystem.
Do not over-water. This will cause root rot which can kill off parts or even all of this hardy succulent specimen in no time flat.
Over-fertilizing isn’t recommended either—you should feed with diluted houseplant fertilizer once per month during spring and summer months when growth is fastest (May through August).
Apply a 3- to 5-inch layer of pebbles around the base of your rat tail cactus. This will help to keep the soil from drying out quickly and prevent it from sitting in water when you water the plant.
Reduce Watering During Winter, Allowing The Soil To Become Completely Dry Before Watering Again.
Rat-tail cactus, or Opuntia ficus-indica, is a succulent plant. Succulents are plants that store water in their leaves, stems, or roots.
As a desert plant native to South America and Mexico, the rat-tail cactus requires very little water during the winter months when temperatures are cool and there’s little rain.
It needs less water as it grows older; when left alone for several years without irrigation it will eventually die back completely (this is called dormancy).
As long as you keep this in mind while caring for your rat tail cactus at home—giving it enough moisture but not too much—you should still have success with this particular species.
Fertilize Once Per Month With Water-Soluble Fertilizer For Cacti.
Your cactus should be fertilized once per month with a water-soluble fertilizer for cacti.
Follow the directions on the packaging to determine how much fertilizer to use, and make sure to keep it away from your plant’s leaves when applying.
It’s also important that you do not over-fertilize your cactus.
If you believe it may have been underfed, don’t worry—you can always go back and give it more nutrients later.
You will know whether or not your rat tail cactus needs fertilizer by looking at its color: if its spines are green, then everything is fine; if they are white or yellowish/brownish in color, this indicates that you need to add some nutrients into its soil.
Allow The Plant To Rest For 10 Minutes Before Repositioning The Container.
- Allow the plant to rest for 10 minutes before repositioning the container. Don’t move it too often, or you’ll risk damaging its roots or even breaking the pot.
- If you need to transplant a rat tail cactus into a new pot, make sure that it’s about half an inch larger in diameter than its current one.
- Be careful not to damage any roots when transferring your plant.
Grow A Beautiful Yet Low Maintenance Succulent.
A Rat Tail Cactus is a low-maintenance succulent that will thrive in sunny locations if given the proper care.
It’s best to place your cactus in a container filled with well-drained potting soil, and water when the top 1/2 to 1 inch of potting soil dries out.
Once it has established itself as an adult, you should be able to move your plant indoors during the winter months without too many worries.
Our Final Thoughts
Cactus is grown across the globe and with the right care, all of them are capable of growing into huge specimens.
Learning how to cultivate a rat tail cactus is not too far off from caring for many other types of plants, so it should be fairly simple once basic guidelines have been followed.
We hope that you enjoyed learning how to care for a rat tail cactus.
Despite their name, these plants make great houseplants as they are both beautiful and easy to care for.
You can grow them in pots indoors or outdoors so they can be enjoyed at home all year long.