Hildewintera Colademononis – Monkey Tail Cactus

hildewintera colademononis monkey tail cactus
Genus: Cleistocactus winteri subspecies colademononis (2005. Hunt)
Common name: Monkey Tail, Rat Tail
Origin: South America
Soil: Dry
Light: Full sun, bright indirect light.

Hildewintera Colademononis AKA the Monkey Tail cactus is an epilithic cactus with a fuzzy, soft character and strikingly beautiful red blooms.

Although Hildewintera is considered its old genus, taxonomists have since combined colademononis (from the Spanish words Cola de Mono, meaning Monkey Tail) into the genus Cleistocactus. It is now properly called Cleistocactus Colademononis. However, it is still common to see this cactus called both Hildewintera and Cleistocactus.

Interestingly, as a bit of history, the genus Hildewintera was named after Hildegarda Winter, the sister of Friedrich Ritter, a renowned German cactus expert, and authority.

The Monkey Tail cactus has become an increasingly popular and in-demand cactus due to its unique features and easy care. You can buy a monkey tail cactus from the shop and are available in a variety of sizes.

The great thing about the Monkey Tail cactus is that it is low maintenance. I will outline below some of the key tips for the successful maintenance and growth of the Monkey Tail cactus.

How To Care For The Monkey Tail Cactus

Water

How you water is especially for a Monkey Tail cactus. If there’s one major takeaway from this article, this is it. The Monkey Tail cactus is particularly rot-prone if overwatered during winter when it’s in dormancy.

To prevent this, it is recommended not to water at all in the winter, and if you do, to do so sparingly. To be on the cautious side, it is better to water from the bottom of the pot to keep the moisture off the stems.

During the Spring and Summer, watering can resume a normal schedule. When the soil becomes dry, simply water the cactus until the soil is moist.

Soil

Soil is crucial for a Monkey Tail cactus because if you think about its natural environment, these cacti grow epiphytically between rocks. Therefore, you’re going to want to mimic its natural environment as best as possible.

Thick, dense soil would not be suitable and could pose root rot risk if accidentally watered too much. Most store-bought soils are not well aerated, therefore, if you plan on buying a store-bought bag of generic soil you’re going to want to amend it with plenty of perlite, pumice, lava rock, crushed gravel, sand or bark chips. Or a combination of these to get a gritty consistency.

Light

The Monkey Tail cactus needs plenty of light which can be either direct or indirect. If giving your cactus direct light, do so in a northern or eastern facing window. This will provide very bright morning to early afternoon sun before the sun becomes too harsh. Southern exposures are not recommended because this is when the sun is at its hottest and could potentially burn the Monkey Tail.

Temperature

Monkey Tail cacti are comfortable in a variety of ranges. However, if you are in an area that has freezing winter temperatures below 40°F then it’s best to move indoors to prevent it from freezing, especially if the plant is damp with moisture.

Fertilizer

Like most other cacti, the Monkey Tail cactus enjoys a low nitrogen fertilizer during the active period (Spring and Summer). Your local garden store or Amazon should have a selection of fertilizers specifically formulated for cacti (liquid or slow release) to choose from. Simply follow the instructions provided on the bottle.

Echeveria Care Guide

echeveria succulent

Succulent plants are not only easy to love but easy to care for too! The Echeveria plant is just one of the many examples of a hardy plant that can thrive even during periods of neglect and lack of water. You shouldn’t always neglect your plant, however, so here are our tips to make sure that your Echeveria thrives year-round!

It All Starts with the Soil

As with any succulent plant, your soil should drain water well. Echeverias don’t like to sit and soak or else their roots will start to rot. We recommend that you should choose a gritty cactus commercial mix with some extra aggregate thrown in for faster draining. You should avoid soil for your Echeveria that is very fine or compacted, as those types of soil will store water for longer.

Watering Your Echeveria

You should water your Echeveria based on the temperature and climate outside. During the hot, dry months of summer you’ll need to water your plant more, and during the winter when it’s cooler, you won’t need quite as much.

When it comes to the type of water to use for your Echeveria, rainwater is ideal. You don’t want to use water with minerals because it can mar the bloom or damage the leaves. Whatever you do, make sure that you never use water that’s passed through a softener as the salt will kill the plant.

When watering your Echeveria, try to wet the soil all the way through to ensure that it is soaked. After that, don’t water the plant again until it is completely dry. Hopefully, your soil drains well so the plant’s roots won’t be exposed to moisture for very long.

echeveria succulent

Light for Your Echeveria

Echeveria, like many succulent plants, prefers to be in bright, warm environments. That being said, don’t put your plants directly in the summer sun or they might sunburn! You should gradually get them accumulated to the environment by placing the plant in an area of your home that only gets the morning sun for a few hours of the day. Then after a week, you can increase their sun exposure.

You should always avoid the afternoon sun as it will stress the plant out and could cause the foliage to burn. If you do notice that part of the foliage is burned, you can simply take off the damaged leaves, and they will grow back. Pro tip: if the leaves aren’t too badly damaged, you could potentially use them for propagation!

Temperatures

Echeveria like many succulent plants can survive in a wide range of temperatures. They prefer warmer climates and like to live in areas with around a ten-degree difference between the day and nighttime. They can also handle colder temps during the winter too, down to around 40 degrees Fahrenheit at night and around 60 degrees during the day.

During the summer seasons, Echeveria can withstand much warmer temperatures, especially if they are in a greenhouse climate. That being said, you should keep your plants in the shade if the temperatures go above 86 degrees or so.

Caring for An Indoor Cactus 101

indoor cactus notocactus parodia

If you are looking for a breath of fresh air, and a little desert aesthetic, a small indoor cactus is a perfect addition to your home! They won’t grow to be 50 feet tall like wild cacti, and they are fairly easy to care for once you know what you’re doing. In case you don’t, we have you covered! These are our seven tips to care for your new (or old) indoor cactus!

Water

This is probably the most frequent question that we get. People are always wondering “How much water do I give my cactus?” or they’re concerned they’re using the wrong type of water. Let’s clear it up. Cacti need regular watering to help them grow in the spring and summer. However, overwatering can cause their roots to rot.

For forest cacti, you should let the soil dry completely before watering it. For desert cacti, you should let the top few inches dry before watering. For both, you want to soak the soil when you water it, to the point water drains out the holes in the bottom of the container. If you keep your cactus in a sunny room, you’ll probably need to water every few days. In the winter, you’ll probably water less frequently, maybe once a week or so.

As far as water types go, tap water is okay, but usually has minerals that can collect in the soil over time. Ideally, you should use natural rainwater, but you can buy specialized natural water that will work well for your plant. Just make sure you aren’t using water that’s passed through a softener!

Light

As a general rule of thumb, we always recommend that indoor cacti get around four hours of bright sunlight each day. Keep in mind that if you put it in direct sunlight outside, it will burn. To avoid this, make sure it’s in a brightly-lit room, and it should be able to flower and thrive.

Where to Place Your Cactus

Your top priority when finding the ideal spot for your new cactus should be light. Temperature and humidity are also important factors to consider as well. Most cacti thrive in indoor climates that are warmer in temp and lower in humidity.

If you have a tropical cactus, it will probably want a little bit more moisture in the air to simulate its natural habitat. For tropical cacti, you should place them on a tray with pebbles. Keep these pebbles consistently wet, so the air around the plant is relatively humid.

Choosing Your Soil

You can buy pre-mixed cactus soil, but many people like to mix their own blend to ensure their cactus can thrive. When choosing your soil, drainage should be your top priority. You want a soil that is grainy and not super compacted. To get this composition, you should add some sand and grit to the compost part of the soil.

A good test to make sure that your soil drains well is to test how long it takes for the water to seep out. It shouldn’t take longer than a minute for it to drain ideally. If you’re noticing that water continues to drip out for longer, re-pot your plant and add some more grit and sand to your soil blend.

Fertilizer

During the growing season, your cactus will regularly need fertilizer. You want one that is low in nitrogen and high in phosphorus to promote blooming. We recommend you use a water-soluble fertilizer at about one-half strength. Mix the fertilizer with a gallon of water and water your cactus until the water flows through the drainage holes on the bottom.

Pests and Diseases

To keep your cactus healthy for years to come, you need to protect it from different pests and diseases. The number one reason that a lot of indoor cacti die is that people overwater them. If you drown your cactus, it could develop root rot which stunts the plant’s growth, can cause the leave to wilt, and your plant will inevitably die.

If you notice that the plant might be on its way out, reduce the water and wait for the soil to optimally dry before watering again.

Here are a few of the most common pests that can wreak havoc on an indoor cactus:

Fungus gnats: These are tiny black flies that hover above the soil surface as the larva remains in the soil. Get a few sticky traps, and you can trap and dispose of these.

Mealybugs and scales: The white mealybugs show up in a group on the undersides of leaves, on leaf spines, or in the soil. Scales have white dome-like shells and thrive on stems and leaves. Take a cotton swab, and you can remove the bugs. Alternatively, if you take the plant outside, you can wash them off.

Spider mites: These spiders leave white webbing all over the plant. They are really small and look like brown dots or even dirt. Simply wash your cactus off, and you can get rid of them.

Repotting Your Cactus

You should try to re-pot your plant at least once a year to give your cactus fresh soil and check their roots to make sure that they’re healthy. To do this, simply invert the pot and give it a tap to loosen up the soil and roots. Next, you’ll have to get the roots out of the soil. Grab a thin stick like a chopstick and gently tease out the roots to remove the old soil mix. Make sure you’re careful with the roots, and also check for any pests while you’re looking at the roots.

Pick a new pot (preferably bigger than the old one) and put the cactus inside. Add some fresh dry mix, and you’re ready to go! Don’t water right away! You want to make sure that the roots have time to heal in case you damaged them during the process. Dry roots heal themselves fairly well, and unhealed roots are more susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections from moisture.

Summary

Indoor cacti are pretty easy to care for as long as you know what you’re doing. Hopefully, you’ve learned from this post. If you don’t have a cactus yet, what are you waiting for? Head on over to the store and see our awesome selection.

Marimo Moss Ball Care 101: Your Questions Answered!

marimo moss algae ball care

At Thoughtful Garden, we receive many questions about plant care, but no plant eludes more new gardeners than the Marimo moss ball. These cute little balls of algae are typically found floating through freshwater lakes in Japan, Scotland, Iceland, and Estonia, but make for serene decorative indoor plants if you know how to take care of them.

We’re here to save you from hours of Googling with the answers to the most common question about Marimo moss ball care. Let’s get started!

Wait, so they’re not actually moss??

That’s right! Don’t let the name fool you, Marimo moss balls are actually a rare form of spherical algae. In fact, the word “Marimo” actually means “seaweed ball” in Japanese because of the habitat the balls thrive. It takes a while for these things to grow, typically around 5mm per year. There isn’t a center stone or hidden crystal inside the Marimo moss balls; they’re just solid algae!

As you probably know, algae are a living creature technically, so it needs proper care just like any other pet would. The cool thing about Marimo moss balls is that they can live for over 100 years if you take care of them. Talk about a pet you can pass onto the next generation!

How do you keep them from turning brown?

This might be the most common question that we get. Many new growers find that their beautiful moss balls turn brown relatively quickly and they can’t figure out where they went wrong. Where you place your Marimo moss balls can greatly impact their lives, especially the light that they are exposed to.

These little guys are used to floating in cool lakes in Japan and Scotland, and when placed in direct sunlight, their water will get way too warm for them to survive. We recommend putting them in an area of your home that doesn’t receive intense light so they can stay nice and cool. If they do turn brown, move them to a cooler location, and they should be able to recover on their own. If not, try adding a pinch of aquarium salt to the enclosure.

How to Keep Them Round

Marimos naturally develop their round shape by rolling across the lake floor. Since there isn’t a current in your home, they might start to fall apart or develop flat spots over time and lose the signature round shape they are known for. Don’t panic! This is entirely normal. To help them get back to that spherical shape, gently roll them around in your palms as you clean them. If you are gentle, it won’t harm them and will help them get back in shape!

Let’s Talk About Water

As with any aquatic plant, the water that they’ll be living in is crucial to their survival. These are the temperature and water parameters you should keep in mind:

Water Temperature: 63– 73° Fahrenheit
Water Types: Most freshwater aquariums are suitable, and tap water is fine.

Many have found success with saltwater tanks as well; however, you need to keep a close eye on the salinity of your water. Brackish water with salinity levels up to 1.015 are perfectly fine and may actually be beneficial in keeping your moss balls green and healthy.

When it comes to changing the water, we recommend that you do a 50% change every two weeks. For best results, you should let the water sit out for 24 hours before adding it to the tank. Keep in mind that depending on the fish that you’ll have in the enclosure and the climate of your home, you might need to change the water more frequently. Do some experimenting and find the interval that works best for you!

To clean your enclosure, treat it like any other aquarium. Simply use a brush to clean the sides of the tank walls to get rid of any excess algae that might collect there over time. Also, while changing the water, you should clean off your moss balls. Gently squeeze them to flush out any dirt particles that might be trapped inside and roll them around gently to get them back into shape.

Can they survive outside of water?

The short answer is yes, they can. However, since their natural habitat is in water, it is recommended you don’t keep them out of the water any longer than a week or so. That being said, some have had success storing Marimo balls in open air terrariums for up to a month.

Are they safe for fish?

This answer depends on the type of fish that you have. In most cases, moss balls are 100% safe for fish, and it’s actually the moss balls you should be concerned about. Certain species like Goldfish, Pleco fish, and other aggressive fish that travel in schools will usually eat the moss balls.

On the other hand, solitary fish like Beta fish are great tank-mates because they don’t feed on algae. Plus, the contrasting colors of the fish and the moss balls will make for a nice decorative piece in your home.

Why do they float?

Marimo moss balls float because of an air bubble trapped inside of them. This is completely normal and nothing to be concerned about. If you want your moss balls to sink to the bottom, you can simply give them a light squeeze to release the air trapped inside but be careful not to squeeze them too hard and change their shape! Typically, moss balls will float when you first toss them into the tank but will sink to the bottom after only a few days.

Marimo moss balls are great additions to your home! Whether you’re putting them inside your fish tank or in a Marimo terrarium, these living creatures add a wonderful splash of color and vitality to any home, and you can keep them around for years and years to come! Check out our Marimo product now and stay tuned for even more in the future from Thoughtful Garden!

How to Care for Your Succulent Plants: 9 Tips

kalanchoe chocolate panda plant

Succulents are cute and wonderful plants to have inside to add a splash of color and vitality to your home. Succulent gifts have become very popular in recent years. They are versatile plants that don’t require a lot of maintenance if you plant them right. They are relatively easy to care for compared to other garden plants, but there are still some things you need to keep in mind if you want to grow a beautiful succulent that lives for a long time.

After our years of growing and caring for succulent plants, we’ve compiled this guide full of nine tips and do’s and don’ts for succulent care. If you follow them to a tee, you’re practically guaranteed to have a beautiful indoor succulent plant even if you have little planting experience!

succulent echeveria

1. Choose the Right Soil

The first step to ensuring that your beautiful seeds grow up to be cute, leafy plants is to feed them the nutrients they need. We’ve found that most succulents do best when planted in soil that doesn’t hold water to ensure you aren’t overwatering them. When it comes to the soil that you use to plant your succulents, there are a few options to choose from.

First, you can use the regular-old garden soil you might already have. Add a little pumice or perlite to the soil, and you’ll be good to go! Secondly, you can buy specialty succulent soil mix that mimics the natural soil they grow in out in the wild. Finally, you can take a DIY approach, and make your own succulent soil by mixing together turface, crushed granite, and pine park.

2. Avoid Dimly-Lit Areas…

Your succulents need light to grow! In fact, many experts believe that succulents need up to 6 hours of sunlight when growing out in the wild. Make sure that you are putting them in direct sunlight during the day so they can absorb as much of the sun’s natural love! If you keep them in the dark, they won’t grow nearly as well, and can even begin to die if you aren’t careful!

3. …But Don’t Sunburn Them

If you notice that your succulent is starting to develop black spots on its leaves, or has a white-ish hue, you are exposing it to too much sunlight! It all depends on the type of succulent that you choose, but some will prefer less-intense forms of light, such as during the morning or under partial shade. Keep in mind that if your succulent has been sunburned, it will probably have those scars forever, but the plant will still be able to grow and thrive healthily.

4. Don’t Overwater

Overwatering is one of the biggest mistakes that many people make. Succulents aren’t super thirsty plants, and they can store water in their stems. The rule of thumb to follow is only to water them when their soil is dry—not when it’s wet or even a little damp. There aren’t any set time periods for watering, and it will depend on the climate inside your home. That being said, if it takes a week for the soil to go dry, only water once a week. If it takes two weeks, only water every two weeks. Adjust your watering schedule to your plant’s needs and don’t drown it!

5. Let Them Drain

Going off of our last tip, you should only choose containers that will let your succulent dry off. Their roots don’t like being wet for extended periods so it is vital that water can freely drain from their container. Choose a container that has a hole at the bottom to allow water to seep out, and don’t tightly compact soil all the way to the bottom. Instead, we like to use loosely-packed gravel at the bottom that will let water seep through. This way, your succulent gets all of the water that it needs and nothing more.

6. Don’t Water with Spray Bottles

Although spray bottles might seem like a more convenient way to water your succulents and could prevent overwatering them, they actually do more harm than good. By watering with a spray bottle, the water isn’t reaching all the way down to their deepest roots. This shallow watering encourages shallow root growth which is weaker and won’t be able to soak up all of the nutrients in the soil. Use a pitcher to water your succulents and make sure the water is going deep.

7. Don’t Let the Leaves Shrivel

If you start to notice that the leaves of your succulent are beginning to shrivel, it’s a sign that it is severely dehydrated! Make sure that you start watering it immediately to replenish its moisture before it’s too late. Keep in mind that if leaves are simply falling off that it is completely normal.

8. Fertilize At Least Once a Year

Annually, you’ll need to replenish the nutrients in your succulent’s soil. Luckily, unlike many plants, succulents are fairly low maintenance, so you don’t need to worry about fertilizing them all of the time. We recommend you pick up a well-balanced organic fertilizer and use half of the suggested dose during the beginning of your succulent’s growing season.

9. A Tip for Propagating

If you’ve ever propagated houseplants before, you probably plucked a stem, soaked it in water, and watches the roots grown. When it comes to propagating succulents, the process is the exact opposite. You’ll need to pluck a stem and put it in the shade for three days to dry out. The reason that you will let the stem dry is so it can “heal” or form a callus that prevents rot. Put your dried stem in some soil, give it some water, and it should be ready to start growing.

Hopefully, this guide has been helpful, and your succulents will be much healthier this year! Follow these tips, and you should be able to avoid many of the common problems that new succulent growers encounter. If you need any pots, bowls, or new plants, feel free to check out our products!