Monkey Tail Cactus: Plant Care & Growing Guide

The monkey tail cactus, also known as the soft monkey tail cactus, is a fun and easy-to-grow succulent that makes a great addition to any garden or indoor plants collection, as long as you follow these Monkey Tail Cactus care tips..

With its distinctive tail-like stem and charming blooms, this little cactus is sure to be a hit with everyone who sees it.

In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about growing and caring for your monkey tail cactus. So read on for tips on how to make your monkey tail cactus thrive!

What is a Monkey Tail Cactus?

The monkey tail cactus (Cleistocactus colademononis) is a cactus plant, known for its long cascade shape and hair-like spines. The common name for this particular variety comes from its furry appearance that resembles a monkey’s tail-like characteristics to make it look soft or “hairy”.

This is a great plant to grow in a hanging basket with all the hair-like spines hanging over the edge.  Cactus plants, in general, are known to have water-filled branches and thick leaves so they need little care to survive.  They make a wonderful houseplant, even if you have trouble growing plants.

Monkey Tail Cactus Care & Growing Guide

1. Light Requirement

It does not need direct sun but instead, it needs indirect bright light and some shade.

2. Water

You will not have to water the Monkey Tail Cactus until the soil has dried out.  The warmer the air, the more it will need to be watered.  The soil will take longer to dry out if the weather is cloudy and cool.  During the fall and winter, when it is in its dormant, or resting, stage, the soil needs to be even drier.  The cactus needs this resting time to bloom.  Also, if you water it during the cold and winter season, it causes the frosting of the cactus and kills it.  The main times that you will need to water it is in the spring and summer.

3. Climate

USDA Hardiness Zone 9b

4. Soil

The best soil for a Monkey Tail Cactus is a cactus mix that will quickly drain. If you do not use a cactus mix, then the soil needs to light and well aerated.  This means it needs to be sandy and loamy.   You will only need to fertilize it when it is growing actively.  The liquid plant food should be high in potassium and low-nitrogen.  Dilute the fertilizer with water so you can use it as a liquid to administer it.

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5. Temperature

Most would figure that it being a cactus, that they need hot temperatures but the Monkey Tail Cactus can survive in temperatures that are below freezing.

cleistocactus winteri flower

6. Repotting

When you repot Monkey Tail Cactus, it should be done once a year after the growing and flowering season is done.  If you are repotting a mature cactus, you will need a bigger planter with a new soil mix.  You do need to have fertilizer mixed in with the new soil and well aerated.  The new cuttings need a lot of nutrients to grow and flourish.   Make sure that the pot you use gives them plenty of room for their roots.

7. Speed of Growth

It grows quite rapidly and very vigorously.

8. Height and Spread

The Monkey Tail Cactus will grow a few feet before they start to droop.  On average they will grow to 12-18 inches before they start to drop.

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9. Flowers

The Monkey Tail Cactus has large bright red flowers with long, white, soft, hair-like spines.  The flowers will last for a few days before they turn to fruit for a short period of time.  The foliage can be silver/gray, cream/tan, light, dark, or medium green.

10. Trimming

You do not need to trim this cactus but you can carefully remove any dead flowers.

Monkey Tail Cactus

Is Monkey Tail Cactus Poisonous?

While touching the cactus is not poisonous, this is a species of cacti that you should not eat. Monkey Tail Cactus is indeed very toxic if eaten for both humans and animals, so be sure to keep your pets away from it as well, though the needles should deter pets on their own. As is always the case with cactus needles, it would be advisable to keep them out of the reach of pets and children.

Can Monkey Tail Cactus grow in Water?

The Monkey Tail Cactus cannot be grown in water.  Before you put your cuttings for new plants in the soil, they have to dry out.

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How to Get Monkey Tail Cactus to Flower?

In the spring or summer, you can use the cutting from the Monkey Tail Cactus to start new plants.  Before you plant them in cactus soil, they need to form a callous.  The cuttings have to be left to dry out for a few days.  

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You can also use the black seeds from the Monkey Tail Cactus as they are easy to germinate and get new plants.  You just need to make sure that you have the right soil conditions.  

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Common Monkey Tail Cactus Plant Diseases

Monkey Tail Cactus is prone to a variety of diseases, including:

  • Mealy bugs—these can be taken care of by using a spray of soapy water mixture or a spray of Neem Oil.  You can lightly spray them once a week with the same mixtures to help prevent them from coming back or starting in the first place. You can even use your water hose to wash these insects off.
  • Scales—to get rid of them, you will have to use a soft toothbrush dipped in rubbing alcohol on them to wipe all the affected leaves to get rid of them because they clamp onto the surface of the leaves and you cannot get them off any other way.  Do not use a cotton ball because it will stick to the spikes.
  • Mites—these are also called spider mites and you very seldom know you have them until they have damaged the plant to almost disfigurement. If you notice any brown spots on your cactus they are probably mites.  You can chase them away with proper watering and pumping up the humidity by constant fogging your plant.  
  • Root rot—this is when you have over-watered your Monkey Tail Cactus.  If you do not watch the watering, you can easily kill your cactus.

Also read:


  • The scientific name is Hildewintera Colademonois.
  • They are commonly found growing between or on steep rocks in their natural habitat.
  • It gets its name from its long stems that look like a monkey’s tail.
  • The stems of the Monkey Tail Cactus are greenish-yellow under the soft white spines, or fur looking cover, and point downward.
  • They are not soft and you should not touch unless you want cactus needles in your fingers.
  • A single Monkey Tail Cactus could have three to five stems that branch at the bottom
  • It is a plant that is best suited for a hanging basket.
  • The origin of the Monkey Tail Cactus can be traced back to the Bolivian countryside in Santa Cruz.