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HOW DO I CARE FOR MY CORAL CACTUS – ULTIMATE GUIDE

HOW-DO-I-CARE-FOR-MY-CORAL-CACTUS-–-ULTIMATE-GUIDE

The coral cactus is a unique variety of plants to keep at home. Coral cacti make great showy and display-worthy décor items at homes as indoor plants.

This plant has a very different and unusual look to it. The foliage part of this cactus resembles the look of ocean corals. These species are usually grown by horticulturalists for selling purposes.

The Coral cacti are a combination of two plants in just one. This mini cactus species is a joined plant type created by combining two different succulents.

The showy portion at the top of this plant that resembles the coral is the part of the Euphorbia lactea. The bottom part of the coral cactus is a rootstock from a Euphorbia neriifolia.

These two portions from two different succulents are joined together to create this coral cactus that is also known as the Euphorbia lactea “Cristata”.

These coral cacti are an uncommon cactus species and are known for their unusual beauty. These are also called the ‘Frankenstein’ in the world of succulents or the ‘white ghost’ type in cacti plants. These cacti add an exotic and pleasing appearance to your interior as well as exterior display.

The caring and maintenance of this cactus plant are very easy with keeping all the right steps in mind. 

Description of the Coral cactus:

Description-of-the-Coral-cactus

This plant although termed as a cactus is not one. This is in reality a transfigured cacti plant that has a very unique look and has similar features to that of a cactus.

The main stem or the trunk part is derived from a cactus and that is where this variety gets half its name. This plant in reality is succulent from Africa belonging to the Euphorbia genus. Two plants from this family have been chosen to mutate and create into a single unique variety – the coral cactus.

The coral cactus as the name suggests looks like a coral reef leaf on the top portion of the plant. The edges of this coral cactus have an appearance of lettuce leaf edges that are crinkly and textured.

This top part of the cactus resembling an ocean coral is called the ‘crest’ of the plant. The leaves have a combination of many colors like green, yellow, white, pink, purple, etc. The stem is green, thick, and tough.

The coral cactus plants usually grow and reach up to a height of 9inch – 15inch. The overall look is very unusual and has a lot of admirers for its absurdly pleasing quality.

This plant is a poisonous one. All parts of this indoor houseplant are harmful to humans if consumed. The white sap of the coral cactus is also equally harmful as it can irritate the skin.

The handling of this plant must be done with care and if the sap touches the skin, it should be properly washed off immediately.

It is advisable to keep a coral cactus plant out of reach of kids and even pets as it has these harmful qualities too.

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Keeping a coral cactus at home adds to display of the house and it is also an easy to grow plant for an indoor setting.

Similar to a cactus, these plants also thrive well and require less fertilizing, watering, and re-potting. All in all, it is the option to go for even when you are a lazy gardener. This coral cactus makes a great showy houseplant for your rooms.

Growing and caring for the Coral cactus:

Growing-and-caring-for-the-Coral-cactus

Growing this peculiarly grafted and mutated cacti plant is similar to that of a cactus and also has differences as it a mix and match of two Euphorbia species plants.

Here are certain tips along with necessary conditions and essential requirements that you would need to know to grow and maintain a coral cactus plant in your homes.

1. Temperature needs of the coral cactus:

Temperature needs of the coral cactus

Just like all cacti varieties, this one also prefers growing in a warm environment. Regions with temperatures and climates which are generally warm all year round are best for these types of indoor cacti plants.

They can either be grown outdoors or even indoors depending on the climatic conditions. If your indoor environments are cooler, then the coral cactus can be shifted outside and vice versa.

These plants can be grown throughout the year in zones 10 to 11. The best temperature range for growing these plants is between 60 to about 85.

These cacti plants are not at all tolerant of frosting weather. Always keep it away from cold winters and the frost and cold winds can damage the plant permanently and even kill it.

If your outdoors is too cold during the winter, the potted cactus must be shifted indoors to keep it warmer and more comfortable. Temperatures below 50 are not suitable for the growth of these plants.

Always try to keep your coral cactus in an environment with temperatures above 60 to ensure good growth, preferable temperatures, and encourage development in the plant.

2. Light needs for the coral cactus:

Light-needs-for-the-coral-cactus

Like other cacti, this species also likes a good full Sun. It can be grown in conditions with good, bright, and full sunlight, but they prefer a partial light source.

The plant in the initial days and growing periods must be kept in a location that receives partial light from the Sun as the new plant is vulnerable and needs to be kept in milder and protected situations.

The new plant must be initiated by providing partial light from the sun and then gradually introduced to fuller and brighter sunshine. This way the plant can easily adjust and not be traumatized.

If the plant gets too much sunlight while being kept in a hot climatic region, the plant can suffer sunburns. If the temperatures are too hot then it is advised to keep the coral cactus indoors to protect them from extreme heat and harsh rays of the Sun.If keeping the coral cactus indoors, make sure it receives good light from the windows for about 4 to 5 hours per day.

The plant can be turned regularly so that sunlight is distributed equally to each side and the cactus has an even growth rather than developing in a lopsided manner.

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3. Soil conditions necessary for the growth of a coral cactus:

These combined cacti varieties like to be planted in extremely well-draining soils. There are special potting mixes available for cactus plants. These coral cactus varieties can be potted using these cacti potting mix or they can also be potted in regular potting soils that have good drainage features and are light.

Organic matter added to the regular soil mix can be beneficial for the plant’s growth as it provides nutrition to the plant. Special cactus potting soils already have the necessary nutrients that a cactus needs.

Adding gravel and small pebbles at the base of the pot can help keep the soil well-drained. A pot with proper holes at the bottom must be chosen so that the soil does not hold extra water.

Damp soil is not liked by cacti plants. Mulching the topsoil with gravels can be a good way to avoid the growth of weeds in the soil.

The coral cactus can strive in almost any mild pH level of the soil. The soil can either be slightly acidic or even mildly alkaline; the coral cactus will grow in such soils without any issues.

4. Watering of the Coral cactus:

As we all know, cactus does not require too much watering. But in reality, there is a balance that needs to be maintained when it comes to humidity for the cacti. Unlike other cactus plants, the coral cacti do not tolerate drought situations as well.

This plant must be allowed to be dry for too long. Along with that, there must not be over-wetting of this cactus plant.

Watering this cactus depends on the moisture level of the soil. If the topsoil appears dry it is time to re-water the cactus.

To find out if the soil is dry enough, you can put in a wooden skewer through the soil in the pot and if it comes out with a damp feeling in the middle or base, it shows that the soil isn’t entirely dried out.

In such a case, wait for the soil to dry off completely and then you can water the coral cactus again. If 2 or 4inches of the topsoil seems dry, you can go with watering the coral cactus as well.

Make sure that you are only watering the soil. Do not let water pour onto the crest of the coral cactus as it can damage the showy foliage.

Let the water flow out from the base of the pot as this keeps the soil dry, well-drained, and prevents water-logging.

Watering too much can clog the soil and hamper its drainage. Extra water in the soil can be harmful to the roots of this cactus and can cause the roots to rot.

Root rot is permanent damage to the plant and can affect the display of the plant and also kill it eventually. Thus, check the soil for its humidity content between watering intervals.

Too much watering can also make the crest of the plant to soften and wilt. This affects the display quality of the plant as well as makes it weak.

Summer and spring seasons are the growing seasons for this cactus and they can be watered more often during these periods. During the winter months, the coral cactus can be watered less frequently.

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Generally, watering this cactus once a week during the growing season and once or twice a month during the winter seasons is the best watering schedule for your coral cactus.

5. Fertilizing for a coral cactus plant:

Fertilizing the coral cactus once in a while can prove to be very helpful for the growth of this plant. Using organic matter in the soil is also a great way to supply nutrients to your coral cactus plant.

Providing a general fertilizer is enough, but make sure that the fertilizer is diluted. If you are using a balanced 10-10-10 liquid-kind fertilizer, it is advised to reduce its concentration to its 1/4th.

Fertilizing can be done every two or three weeks if the soil isn’t rich enough. If the soil where the cactus is planted is already nourished then the cactus can be fertilized less regularly.

Using fertilizer in the growing season is better for encouraging the growth of your coral cactus plant. Fertilizing can be done once in every season, that is, one in spring and once in summer.

Fertilizing during the fall time or the winter season must be avoided as it does not require too much nourishment during the colder months of the year.

Slow-release fertilizers and granular versions should not be used on the coral cactus as they can damage the rootstock of the cactus and also, cause burns in the plant.

6. Protecting the coral cactus from pests and diseases:

Cacti are less prone to pest infestations as they are more fleshy than leafy. Their hard structure and latex-like textures are deterrent to pests. Despite this, there are a few pests that can hamper your coral cactus.

White and furry mealy-bugs and brown scale insects are common pests and can also develop on this cactus plant. To keep them away, it is advised to dip a cotton swab in diluted rubbing alcohol and clean the infected parts of the plant with it. Using insecticides and chemical soaps on this cactus can damage the plant.

Using diluted neem oil or spraying the plant with a firm ray of water can keep away spider mites from the coral cactus.

Fungal infections can often develop in the roots of the plant due to over-watering. Make sure to not over-wet the soil and use a well-drained potting soil.

Powdery mildews which generally develop on the cactus due to too much humidity can be kept avoided by treating the surface of the plant with a dilute baking soda and water solution.

7. Repotting the coral cactus:

These cacti plants do not need to be re-potted too often. When the plant is bought, then it needs to be carefully shifted to a pot with suitable potting mix.

This plant can usually live in the same pot unless the roots are entangled. In such a situation, the cactus must be slowly and carefully transplanted to a bigger pot without causing any damage to the crest or the rootstock of the cactus.

With all these care techniques and tips, you are ready to have a coral cactus in your rooms to enhance the décor of it and add an unusually exotic garden feel to your house. These coral cacti make truly appealing succulents for the home.

REFERENCES:

https://www.scienceprofonline.com/biology-general/coral-cactus-care-grafted-euphorbia-lactea-cristata-2.html
https://www.houseplantsexpert.com/coral-cactus.html
https://properlyrooted.com/coral-cactus/

Constance Harrington

Written by Constance Harrington

Constance Harrington is an award-winning and recognized botanist. Harrington has poured hundreds of hours into research (as well as into her own personal gardens and endeavors) and as such has an amazing eye for horticulture and all of its intricacies. She has authored several articles for the website focusing on a vast variety of topics, from basic gardening techniques to more advanced and specific topics for professionals. Constance aims to help with all aspects of your garden—-from technique to economics to culinary—-and she carries with her both the knowledge to do so and the written prowess to explain it to you in an easy to understand way.

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