Monkey’s Tail Cactus (Cleistocactus Colademononis)

Monkey's tail cactus in hanging pot

The succulent Monkey's Tail Cactus, also known as Cleistocactus Colademononis or Hildewintera Colademononis, is a species native to Bolivia, department of Santa Cruz, near to Cerro El Fraile.

It stands out for its pendulous growth, with long stems that extend down to the ground and look like monkey tails. This makes it the best option to grow it in hanging or fixed pots but with enough space to grow downwards. 

In this guide you will learn all the information you need to know about the characteristics, care and propagation of this cactus.

Table

Main characteristics

  • Light: abundant but filtered or indirect (avoid full sun)
  • Height: grows up to 2.5 m tall and 7.5 cm wide
  • Soil: fast drainage
  • Watering: normal, reduce frequency in winter
  • Minimum temperature: -2°C
  • Propagation: by seeds and cuttings
  • Origin: Bolivia (Santa Cruz)

The Monkey’s tail cactus is part of the Cactaceae family. It grows vertically at the beginning and over time it starts to do so downwards. It has very long, soft white spines (like hairs) that do not prick unlike most cacti.

It is a large cactus that grows up to 2.5 m tall and 7.5 cm wide.

During spring and summer it produces bright red flowers, if pollinated it can produce spherical shaped fruits, also red and measuring 8 to 12 mm in diameter.

Cleistocactus Colademononis flowering
Photo by @khanehostovaei

Monkey’s Tail Cactus Care

Light

This is a cactus to grow in the morning sun, preferably with filtered light in hot climates, and in cooler climates it can be given more sun exposure. 

Like many species similar to this cactus, it can be kept both outdoors and indoors with good lighting, but never in total shade. 

Always remember that if in the nursery where you bought it, they had it protected from the sun under a shade net or something similar, chances are that at home it will not have the same conditions. 

So, even if you are in a climate that tends to be colder, it is important that you do not expose it to a considerable amount of sun immediately, but let it gradually acclimatize, little by little until it gets used to it.

Once it is adapted to being in direct sun for a few hours, you can expose it all morning in cold climates and in semi-shade or filtered light in hot climates.

Watering

The Monkey’s tail cactus is very susceptible to waterlogging, so you must be very careful with the watering routine to avoid drowning and rotting. 

Watering should be moderate and always wait until the soil is completely dry before watering again. Never water it when the soil is still wet because it will most likely start to rot.

This applies especially during spring and summer. In autumn and winter, you should reduce watering frequency to approximately 3 to 4 weeks between each watering.

Note: If you keep it outdoors in a place where it is exposed to rain, be very careful specially in seasons when it is constantly raining.
In this case, it will be necessary to keep the cactus indoors or leave it under a roof that protects it from the rain. This is because if the soil remains wet for a long time - even if the soil is very draining - it can cause rotting.

Monkey's tail cactus in white pot
Photo by @fanaticaporplantas

Soil

Any type of soil can be used for the Monkey’s tail cactus as long as it has good drainage to avoid excess moisture.

This is because cactus roots rot easily, as they have little resistance to humidity and drowning rot is a very common problem in them.

On the other hand, if it is placed in a hanging pot outdoors, it is best to use a soil that is not only draining but also light. This is because if there is a strong wind, the suspenders of the pot could burst due to movement and excess weight, causing the pot to collapse.

Temperature

The ideal temperature for healthy growth and flowering of Cleistocactus Colademononis is as close to 20 °C as possible. Of course, it can withstand higher and lower temperatures.

During the winter, it can survive comfortably in temperatures between 5 °C and 15 °C as long as it receives enough light.

It can even withstand temperatures as low as -2 °C but not for long periods of time (no more than 2 or 3 days). If it is exposed to these temperatures for longer, it will most likely die quickly.

Therefore, if you live in a very cold place, with constant temperatures below 5 °C, it will be better to grow it indoors but with sufficient sun exposure.

How to propagate the Monkey’s Tail Cactus

The monkey tail cactus can be propagated by seeds and stem cuttings. Between the two, the most common and effective option is stem cuttings propagation.

I recommend doing both seed and stem cutting propagation during the spring or summer. Seeds need heat to break dormancy and germinate and cuttings need heat to root more easily.

Seed Propagation

Although it is a slower process, the benefit of this method is that it can be done on a large scale, since you are not limited to cuttings that you can separate from your cactus. 

Therefore, in the long run, with the seed method you can propagate your monkey tail cactus many times more than with the stem cuttings one.

The steps to follow to propagate this Cleistocactus Colademononis by seeds are:

  1. Prepare the soil: You must prepare a draining soil and sterilize it by watering it with boiling water. This is to kill any fungi or bacteria that might be there. Cactus seeds are quite small and weak, and these fungi or bacteria could kill the seeds before they germinate.
  2. Place it in a container with a lid: Once the soil has cooled, place it inside a container, preferably transparent and with a lid. This is to simulate the greenhouse effect.
  3. Mix it with a less dense material: As a recommendation, mix the soil with small portions of a less dense material such as sawdust, coconut fiber or rice husk. This will make the soil a little looser and lighter, allowing the roots to penetrate and grow more easily, with less stress on the plant.
  4. Place the seeds and water the soil regularly: Once the soil is ready, drop (not bury) the seeds in it. To make them germinate, you should always keep them well hydrated and with abundant filtered light, such as near a window. It is important to avoid placing the seeds in direct sunlight during this process.

Note: The container must have holes to avoid waterlogging and watering should be done preferably with a spray bottle. Furthermore, it is important to ensure that the soil is at least 3-4 cm deep, this will provide enough room for the roots to grow and develop properly.

The seeds usually germinate after 1 to 2 weeks and are ready for transplanting after about 2 to 3 months.

Stem Cuttings Propagation

This method is the most effective for propagating the monkey’s tail cactus. Stem cuttings, being a detached part of the cactus, usually have roots or grow roots in a short period of time.

Follow these steps to propagate the Cleistocactus Colademononis by stem cuttings:

  1. Choose the cutting: When selecting a cutting to propagate, it is advisable to choose one that is not too small, it is best to select a well-formed and mature cutting, this will promote easier and faster root development.
  2. Separate the cutting: Once chosen, separate the cutting very carefully using your hands (preferably with gloves) and, if necessary, use a knife, scissors or cutter previously sterilized with alcohol. It is important to ensure that the cut made on the cutting is as straight as possible, this facilitates the wound healing process and helps the cactus to generate roots faster once planted in the soil.
  3. Let the wound dry: As the wound remains moist, it is advisable to let the cutting dry for 1 or 2 days until its callus forms. To promote healing, you can leave it in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight and in a vertical position, such as hanging or propped up.
  4. Place the cutting into a pot: Once the cutting has healed, place it into a pot filled with soil. Wait 5-7 days before watering to allow the cutting to develop stronger and healthier roots while continuing to heal.
Offshoots propagation of Monkey's tail cactus
Photo by @juliana_jungle

After the first watering, continue to care for the cactus as previously mentioned.

What are your thoughts on the Monkey’s Tail Cactus?

The monkey tail cactus is a very peculiar species and quite large compared to the most common cacti. Furthermore, it requires minimal maintenance, making it a suitable choice even for beginners.

If you liked this article, please consider sharing it with other succulent enthusiasts on your social networks. We will be thrilled if it reaches a wider audience and provides more people with valuable insights on the cultivation and propagation of the Cleistocactus Colademononis, one of the largest and most impressive cacti in its family.

All the best taking care of your plants!

Sources and cover image:

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Luis Camacho

I'm passionate about traveling, trekking and gardening. In this blog i want to share everything I learn throughout my journey and help you get the best of your plants.

  1. Virgene says:

    Where can I purchase seeds?

    1. Luis Camacho says:

      Hi Virgene! You can buy Monkey's Tail Cactus seeds in online stores like Rare Plant World and Etsy. They both offer worldwide shipping.

  2. Islam Berkemajuan says:

    Thanks for the informations! We will use this to expand our dataset collections.

    1. Luis Camacho says:

      Hi Islam, glad to be of help. All the best!

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