A Monkey Tail Cactus is a great plant for beginners. It has long, white, soft, hairlike spines and gets large bright red flowers. It looks best in hanging baskets. The care requirements are very simple.
Monkey Tail Cactus
Watering: Water when the soil has totally dries out. The warmer the air the more frequently you’ll need to water. When it is cloudy and cold, it will take the soil longer to dry out. Keep the soil even drier during late fall and winter when a Monkey Cactus needs to “rest” for a few months in a cool area. This dormant period is necessary for it to bloom well.
Temperature: It’s hard to believe, but a Monkey Tail Cactus can survive temperatures below freezing.
Light: Very bright indirect lightVery few houseplants should be placed in direct sun. High light refers only to bright indirect light since direct sun often burns the leaves of indoor houseplants. An area that is too hot and dry encourages Spider Mites and causes blooms to quickly fade. A northern exposure really doesn’t provide enough light for high light plants. These plants need to be placed directly in front of an east-facing window, within 1-3 feet of a west-facing window, and within 5 ft. of a south facing window. A high light area has over 300 ft. candles of light., no direct sun.
Soil: Use a Cactus mix that drains quickly.
fertilizerPlants need fertilizer only when they are actively growing. Slow growing plants in low light require very little plant food. Too much fertilizer is worse than not enough. Most plants prefer a water soluble plant food at 1/2 the recommended strength. Plants that are in bloom or dormant should not be fertilized. Houseplant food contains nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). A fertilizer containing these elements in equal proportion is considered a balanced plant food. Nitrogen helps in photosynthesis and encourages the growth of leaves and stems. Potassium and phosphorus also help in photosynthesis and aid in root and flower development. Most fertilizers have trace elements of other minerals that are lacking in the soil but are necessary for good plant growth. Fertilizers have a high salt content. If a plant is not producing new leaves and doesn’t absorb the fertilizer, salts build up in the soil. These salts can burn the roots, discolor the leaves, and cause new growth to be small. : Feed only when the plant is actively growing with a liquid plant food high in potassium.
Pests: They are susceptible to scaleSoft Brown Scale is the most common scale that attacks indoor houseplants especially ficus, ivy, spider plants, ferns, aralia, and schefflera. It appears as small bumpy brown spots that appear to move. As the scale sucks on the sap of the plant it secretes a sticky substance called honeydew. The honeydew attracts black mildew. Because of the shell-like exterior, sprays are only partially effective against scale. Wipe off the lines of brown oval bumps with your finger, a cloth, or a child’s toothbrush then spray the plant with Neem Oil. Use the Green Solution to clean off the black mildew., spider mitesLearn how to identify and treat Spider Mites on plants. This sucking plant pest causes yellow blotchy leaves with a red haze and a gritty feel to them., and Mealy BugsLearn how to identify and treat Mealy Bugs, a houseplant pest that leaves sticky, white, cottony residue on houseplants.. (you can read more about these in the Glossary of the website).
propagationLearn how to propagate plants by plant division at https://www.houseplant411.com/glossary: Monkey Tail Cactus are easily propagated using cuttings in the spring or summer. Allow the end of the cuttings to form a “callous” before planting them in cactus soil.
So you see, it’s really pretty easy to grow a Monkey Tail Cactus…just be careful with the water.
The Monkey Tail Cactus the common name for Cleistocactus winteri subsp. Colademononis is an interesting member of the Cactaceae family hailing from Bolivia.
This unusual cactus is commonly referred to as:
- Golden Rat Tail Cactus
- Monkey’s Tail Cactus
- Tarantula Cactus
- Rat Tail Cactus also called by that name (Aporocactus flagelliformis)
- Monkey Tail Cactus Care
- How To Propagate Cleistocactus Winteri
- Cleistocactus Winteri Main Pest or Disease Problems
- Suggested Monkey Tail Cactus Uses
- Cleistocctus winteri Golden Rat Tail
- Rat Tail Cactus Care
- What Is A Rat Tail Cactus?
- What Does Aporocactus Flagelliformis Look Like?
- Does The Rat Tail Cactus Have Flowers?
- Is The Rattail Hard To Keep As A Houseplant?
- Can Rat Tail Grow In A Standing Pot?
- How Much Light Does Rat Tail Cactus Need?
- What Temperature Does The Whip Cactus Need?
- How Much Water Does The Rat Tail Cactus Need?
- Does The Rattail Cactus Need Fertilizer?
- How Often Does The Disocactus Flagelliformis Cactus Need Repotting?
- Why Does This Desert Plant Need Such A Nourishing Potting Medium?
- What Size Pot Or Basket Is Best For The Rat Tail Cactus?
- How Do You Propagate Rat Tail Cactus?
- Can The Rat Tail Be Grown From Seed?
- What Are The Best Uses For Rattail Cactus?
- Rat Tail Cactus
- Redditors who have had rat tails, why did you do it?
- Rat Tail Cactus – Plant of the Month
Monkey Tail Cactus Care
Size & Growth
This enthusiastic cactus grows easily in rocky soil.
In nature, its tail-like stems ramble over rocky slopes to a length of up to 3′ or 4′ feet.
They start upright, but once they attain a length of about 2′ feet, they fall over and dangle.
Flowering & Fragrance
Bright red flowers may be as long as 3″ inches.
The flowers transition into reddish, spherical seeds that germinate easily.
Blooms appear mostly in spring and summer, but the plant may bloom in autumn or even winter depending upon the climate.
Light & Temperature
Indoors, Rat’s Tail cactus likes very bright, indirect sunlight.
Outdoors, it can do well in full sun, unless the sunlight is especially harsh and punishing.
In very hot climates, morning sun and afternoon shade are preferred.
Tarantula cactus thrives in USDA hardiness zones 9a – 11b; however, anecdotal evidence indicates it can tolerate temperatures as low as -2° degrees Fahrenheit (-19° C).
Watering & Feeding
During spring and summer, water deeply when the top couple of inches of soil dry out.
In wintertime, keep the cactus dry because cool temperatures and moisture will promote root rot.
Early in the springtime, apply a slow-release, low nitrogen, high potassium fertilizer.
Soil & Transplanting
In the wild, this cactus grows on rocky slopes.
It appreciates a gravelly, sandy cactus mix with sharp drainage.
Repot only every couple of years to refresh the soil.
You will not necessarily need to move up to a larger size pot because the root system is quite shallow.
Grooming & Maintenance
Tendrils may die off naturally, occasionally. Remove these as needed.
Remove offsets or small branches as you wish to enhance the appearance and to use for propagation.
Please note, whenever you trim any part of the cactus, it will be stimulated to produce new growth.
Because the tendrils are prone to breakage, you should avoid moving the plant around.
Protect Rat’s Tail Cactus growing in hanging baskets from exposure to high wind.
How To Propagate Cleistocactus Winteri
Monkey’s Tail Cactus grows from seed or by cutting off a small branch and rooting it in gravelly soil.
The plant may also produce offsets from time to time. These may also be rooted.
Remember to allow cuttings and offsets to dry in the open air for a couple of days before placing them in a substrate.
Drying helps prevent fungal infection.
Cleistocactus Winteri Main Pest or Disease Problems
Indoors, like most cactus, Monkey’s Tail Cactus may be bothered by succulent mealybugs, spider mites, and scale insects.
Proper watering, ventilation, temperature, and lighting will help prevent these problems.
Overwatering will lead to root rot.
Is This Plant Toxic Or Poisonous?
Unlike many types of cactus, Monkey’s Tail Cactus is not edible. Its flesh is toxic.
Luckily, the chances of ingesting it are quite low because it’s soft, furry looking hairs are protective spines which will poke you painfully if you apply too much pressure.
All-in-all, it’s wise to remember this is a cactus simply, so you should keep it well out of the reach of kids and pets and out of the way of passers-by.
Is This Plant Invasive?
Although Cleistocactus winteri subsp. colademononis is not listed as an invasive species, and if you do happen to live in an area with weather conditions conducive to its spread, you should take care to keep it contained.
The plant propagates easily through breakage, offsets, and germination, so it is not inconceivable it could adapt and become invasive if not kept in check.
Suggested Monkey Tail Cactus Uses
Monkey’s Tail Cactus is easy to grow, so it is a good choice for beginning gardeners.
As a houseplant, it does well in a hanging basket.
In zones 9a – 11b, it makes a nice addition to a rock garden, and it can add a lot of visual interest to an informal rock wall in a sunny setting.
Cleistocctus winteri Golden Rat Tail
Cleistocctus winteri Golden Rat Tail
(This plant comes in a 3.5 inch pot. All of our plants are grown under the same conditions, although not all the plants are the same. You will receive a similar plant in size and shape to the ones in the pictures. Our plants are hand-picked and carefully selected to bring you the best quality possible. Please allow us up to 3 business days to process your order. If you wish to receive your order on a specific date, or have special instructions, please add a note at the checkout . The plant is shipped in its pot to prevent any damage to the roots).
Cultivation and Propagation: Cleistocactus winteri is of easy culture, which makes it a good cactus for beginners. It suited to hanging baskets as well as pots.
Soil: Use a loose well drained cactus mix.
Repotting: Since they are rapid growers need plenty of space for their roots, repotting with fresh potting-mix should be done every other year or when the plant has outgrown its pot. However, repotting doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll need larger containers.
Sun Exposure: Require filtered bright light, partial sun or light shade, but not in full sun that will sunscald it.
Watering: They require moderately watering through the growing season. This can be done weekly or more frequently during the summertime, if the weather is sunny enough, but allow to dry fully before watering again. Kept this way, plants will show a healthy growth. Keep rather dry as soon as the temperature starts dropping in October and keep it dry in winter. The plant survives outside without protection in winter (cold hardy to -2° ) but is then somewhat prone to rot, too.
Fertilization: Give an occasional high potassium liquid feed during the active growing period.
Hardiness: Winter care presents no problems at temperatures from 5 to 15 degrees centigrade with plenty of light, but frost hardy to -2°C for short periods if very dry. This plant needs a period of cool rest in winter to produce flowers abundantly. It flowers freely indoors too if conditions suit it.
Pest and diseases: They are generally fairly easy to grow, especially if kept pest-free. They are susceptible to, scale insects and spider mite. Watch carefully for infestations of stem and root mealy bugs, and damage from these may well initiate fungal attack.
Propagation: Easy to propagate from cuttings or seeds. Take cuttings spring or summer, let them dry till the ends callous well. Then replant them in fresh cactus soil that is ever so slightly moist, and keep it that way till they root. Surface sowing is the best; seeds germinate in 14-28 days at 20° C, remembering that seedlings dislike strong light and dry conditions.
Some of the information in this description has been found at desert-tropicals.com, llifle.com and cactus-art.biz
The Rat Tail cactus the common name for (Aporocactus flagelliformis) or (Disocactus flagelliformis) is one of several slender, attractive outdoor succulent plants with long flexible, branching, hanging stems about ½” inch in diameter.
Bristly ‘hair” covers the limp stems which can be trained into many shapes and forms.
Rattail cactus plants send out aerial roots and bear small bright red, crimson flowers about 3” – inches long.
Often grown in hanging baskets or grafted onto other cactus species (eg Trichocereus) and trained into fantastic forms.
Most growers consider Aporocactus flagelliformis an easy species to grow and showy in bloom.
Rat Tail Cactus Care
Scientific Name: Aporocactus flabelliform | Disocactus flagelliformis
Common Names: Rattail Cactus, Rat’s Tail Cactus, Whip Cactus, Snake Cactus
Synonyms: Cereus flagelliformis, Cereus flagriformis, Aporocactus flagelliformis var. leptophis, Aporocactus leptophis, Aporocactus flagriformis, Aporocactus flagelliformis, Cactus flagelliformis, Cereus leptophis
USDA Hardiness Zone: 10a-11
Foliage: Bright green when well-cared-for.
Flower: Pink, crimson to red, abundant, fragrant and attractive to hummingbirds and pollinators.
Shape: Trailing, climbing or rambling.
Length: Up to five feet.
Water Needs: Water generously during the active growth period and very sparingly during the rest period.
Humidity Requirements: This desert plant likes low humidity.
Light Requirements: Plentiful and direct. Choose a west or south-facing window.
Temperature: Warm (60°-75° degrees Fahrenheit) during the spring, summer and early autumn; cool (45°-50° degrees Fahrenheit) during the late autumn and winter months.
What Is A Rat Tail Cactus?
Rat tail plant cactus is an epiphyte (or lithophyte). This means, in the wild, it does not need soil to grow.
In its native, southern Mexico and Central America, it is often found clambering over rocks or into trees.
As of 2018, according to inaturalist.org, the increasing destruction of cloud forests in the Mexican states of Hidalgo, Puebla and Veracruz list the Aporocactus flabelliform as “near threatened.”
When kept as a garden or houseplant, its rambling habits make it perfect for trailing or growing in a hanging basket.
What Does Aporocactus Flagelliformis Look Like?
Golden rat tail cactus has long thin stems. They are about an eighth of an inch thick and can grow up to five feet long. They grow at a rate of about a foot a year.
When the cactus is in good health, the stems are bright green in color.
Each stem has between eight and twelve ribs, separated by wide, raised areoles adorned with brown thorns about a tenth of an inch long.
Does The Rat Tail Cactus Have Flowers?
When the rattail plant matures, it produces numerous, very pretty, tubular flowers in the springtime. The flowers are about 2” – 3” inches long and an inch wide.
The flowers come in shades of pink, crimson and red. The blooming period usually lasts for several days.
Is The Rattail Hard To Keep As A Houseplant?
These tough, pretty, interesting plants are very easy to care for as houseplants (just watch out for the thorns). They are a perfect choice for a hanging basket in a sunny, still setting.
Line the basket with sphagnum moss and then add a nourishing, quick-draining potting mixture.
Place or hang the pot up high and out of the way because the thorns or spines can be a bit of a hazard.
Can Rat Tail Grow In A Standing Pot?
If you put Aporocactus flagelliformis in a standing pot, set the plant up high so the stems can trail.
Otherwise, the weight of the stems may cause the pot to overturn.
How Much Light Does Rat Tail Cactus Need?
Full sunlight is absolutely necessary for the plant to perform best. Put your basket or pot in a bright, sunny, west or south-facing window.
When the weather is nice and warm, put your cactus outside for extra sun and air.
What Temperature Does The Whip Cactus Need?
In spring, summer and early autumn, these cactus are happy at normal room temperature. If you are comfortable, your cactus will be comfortable.
In the wintertime, move the cactus to a cooler setting and allow the plant to rest.
Temperatures ranging from 45° to 50° degrees Fahrenheit are best. The rat tail can tolerate temperatures up to 60° degrees Fahrenheit in the winter months.
How Much Water Does The Rat Tail Cactus Need?
When the cactus is actively growing, the potting medium should be kept slightly moist. In winter, do no watering unless the soil becomes dry. Then water lightly.
Does The Rattail Cactus Need Fertilizer?
Apply fertilizer to this epiphyte by spraying a mild solution (half strength) of liquid fertilizer onto the stems every couple of weeks during the spring, summer and early autumn.
DO NOT fertilize the plant in winter.
How Often Does The Disocactus Flagelliformis Cactus Need Repotting?
It’s a good idea to repot the rat-tail plant once a year, right after it finishes blooming.
Surprisingly, this epiphytic cactus depletes the nourishment in its potting medium fairly quickly.
Unlike many kinds of cactus and many kinds of epiphytes, the rat tail like the epiphyllum orchid cactus enjoys a rich, light potting mixture.
Combine two parts high-quality potting mix with one part leaf mold, orchid compost or aged, milled cow manure.
Related: Monkey Tail Cactus (Cleistocactus winteri subsp. Colademononis)
Why Does This Desert Plant Need Such A Nourishing Potting Medium?
Even though these desert plants grow naturally in dry settings with little or no soil, when kept as a houseplant, you get much more spectacular results when plants get extra nourishment and moisture.
In the two videos below, the first one appears to be treating the Rat tail cacti as desert plants.
Note the faded coloring and relatively few blossoms.
Compare this with the plants displayed in video at the top of the page.
The difference may have to do with soil, water and fertilizing habits, as the presenter shares that the plants are in a “sandy mix“ and she allows them to dry between waterings.
Rat-Tail Cactus update
What Size Pot Or Basket Is Best For The Rat Tail Cactus?
Generally speaking, these plants do well in a 9” – inch basket or a 6” – inch pot. For root-bound plants, provide a slightly larger pot.
Otherwise, thoroughly clean and reuse the current pot or use a new (clean) pot of the same size.
If the plant grows too large for a 6” – 9” inch container, you may find it more convenient to take cuttings and discard the original plant.
When these cacti become too big, they are difficult to manage.
How Do You Propagate Rat Tail Cactus?
These “succulents” grow readily from a six-inch cutting of any part of the stem.
Use the tip of the stem, or cut an entire stem into six-inch sections to start lots of little Rattails.
Before potting the cuttings, allow them to air dry for a period of three days.
When cut into segments, make sure to keep track of which end of the segment is the bottom end.
When poking the cuttings into the soil, it is important to keep them right-side-up.
Don’t “plant” the cutting into the soil too deeply (no more than an eighth of an inch). If it tends to fall over, use a Popsicle stick or similar item to stake it up.
Treat the cuttings as mature plants. They should take root, and begin to see some growth, within two or three weeks.
Can The Rat Tail Be Grown From Seed?
Yes, follow standard cactus planting protocol to produce lots of little plants to enjoy and share.
What Are The Best Uses For Rattail Cactus?
In addition to making a wonderful conversation piece as a houseplant, these drought-tolerant cacti are excellent for xeriscaping projects in hot, dry climates.
They do very well rambling about in a rock garden and as a ground cover in a desert garden.
Rat Tail Cactus
The Aporocactus flagelliformis (rat tail cactus, rat’s tail cactus) has thin weak stems (usually about a half inch in diameter) that can grow five feet long and hang down over the sides of its pot.
Cactus Image Gallery
Aporocactus flagelliformis. See more pictures of cacti.
The stems are covered with short, reddish brown spines. The two to three inch long red flowers can last for several days.
The rat tail cactus needs bright light and coarse heavy soil with excellent drainage. Drench and let dry, but water more sparingly during the winter. Air that is too dry can encourage red spider; air that is too moist can encourage rot.
In winter, keep the plants cold and dry to encourage blooming. In Mexico they grow at high altitudes where the night temperatures are very brisk. In rural areas the dried flowers are used medicinally. They are often planted in the open end of a cow’s horn, making an interesting decoration.
This is an old-timer which is probably more often acquired as a cutting from a friend than through purchase.
|Alluaudia procera||Nananthus schoonesii|
|Calibanus hookerii||Rat Tail Cactus|
|Eulychnia saint-pieana||Spider Cactus|
|Foxtail Asparagus Fern||Tephrocactus|
|Haageocereus chrysacranthus||Trichodiadema olearea|
Caring for your cactus:
- Cactus Care
- Light Requirements of Cactus Plants
- Water and Humidity Requirements of Cactus Plants
- Temperature Requirements of Cactus Plants
- Fertilizing Cacti
- Preventing Cacti Pests and Diseases
- Potting Cactus Plants
- Propagating Cacti
- Arranging Cactus Plants
- House Plants
Redditors who have had rat tails, why did you do it?
Same. It was actually pretty popular in the 80’s, and didn’t really disappear until early/mid-90’s. I don’t remember when I started it, but it ended up getting almost a foot long (and curly like a pig’s tail). By the time I got to highschool I was “that kid with the rat-tail” and it kind of became a running joke to see how long I’d keep it, and who would cut it off when I finally decided to.
Senior graduation, there was a huge group of friends who all grouped around to hold the scissors for the cerimonial cutting-off of that ridiculous shit. For all the crap I got for it, it ended up being a pretty fun experience, and earned me the kind of friends who didn’t give a shit about JNCO jeans and wallet-chains, but were able to actually have some fun and appreciate people for people instead of fashion. What I found funniest/charming was, the ‘bully’, who had given me shit about it for close to 8 years and constantly told anyone who’d listen he’d “cut that fucking shit off me”, ended up being the only one to politely ask if he could get in on the group-cutting.
Edit: I just realized, I think I still have it in a bag somewhere. Memories.
Believe it or not, rat-tail radishes are not used explicitly in large, bubbling, black cauldrons by evil-doers who are looking to cast a spell. In spite of their rather unfortunate name, they are quite a lovely vegetable plant.
While most radishes are harvested as edible root vegetables, the unique rat-tail radish is grown for its crispy and mildly peppery flavored pods that grow off the stem of the plant. The mature and ready to eat pods look just like a green or purple rat’s tail, which is how they got that funny name.
Rat-tail radishes have been a staple for many gardeners throughout time. They are indigenous to Southern portions of Asia, and they are a versatile plant. Their adaptability has allowed them to be enjoyed in regions from the tropics all the way up to some rather chilly locations in the North.
While their popularity hit a slump here in the U.S. in about the 1950’s, they are making a comeback. For heirloom variety enthusiasts, the rat-tail radish is a unique option. And for the everyday gardener who might be looking for an easy to grow, abundantly productive, and pretty vegetable plant, the rat-tailed radish fits the bill.
How to Grow and Care for Rat-tail Radishes
The rat-tail radish is a hardy plant. You can sow the seeds direct in early spring, because like all radishes, rat-tails are cold tolerant. Choose a full sun location, and plant the seeds 1/2 inch deep in good garden soil.
Amend the soil with a handful or two of compost. Thin the seedlings to space your plants about a foot apart. You can toss the tiny seedlings into a garden fresh salad for a slightly spicy flavor.
Your rat-tail radish plant will grow to between 3 and 4 feet tall. The plant will need a support for its weight as it begins to produce. It will develop small, lacey-looking yellow or white and pink flowers that will develop into pods within about 50 days.
Keep the ground around your rat-tail radish cool by watering frequently. Mulch around the base of your plant to retain moisture. Provide an inch of water a week. Unlike other radishes, the rat-tail radish will keep right on producing through the heat of summer.
You can harvest rat-tail radish pods when they are about as thick as a pencil and 4 or 5 inches long. Rat-tails should be harvested sooner than later to keep the plant producing. They are also tastiest when harvested young. They will begin to lose their tenderness and become fibrous as they grow and mature, so pick them early.
Rat-tail radishes are a yummy treat straight off the plant. Or they add a flavorful bite to a salad. They can be cooked and used as an alternative for pea pods in stir fry and other dishes. You might even enjoy them pickled.
Rat-tail Radish Pests and Problems
Rat-tail radishes are resistant to most diseases and pests. The biggest pest threat for rat-tail radish plants are aphids. So, you might want to watch out for aphids late in the season. Ladybugs are helpful at warding off the unwanted pests. A steady spray of water will often discourage aphids too, at least for a while.
Want to learn more about growing rat-tail radishes?
Don’t miss these helpful resources:
Rat-tail Radishes Produce Delicious Seedpods from The Oregonian
Discover Unique Varieties of Radishes for the Garden from Mother Earth News
Radish Aims to Please in a Pod from The Washington Post
Creative Commons Flickr photo courtesy of Fallywalker Farm
Rat Tail Cactus – Plant of the Month
Whilst rodents may not be your thing, we are fairly sure the Disocactus Flagelliformis (rat tail cactus, to give it it’s easier common name) will be. It’s strong yet simple form and easy to manage needs make it an ideal house plant for the masses. Originating from Mexico, the rat tail cactus can be found naturally growing from crags and rocks in the dry Mexican heat, or hanging from trees in the very dry forests.
The Rat Tail Cactus tends to prefer bright, direct light where possible (although will also be happy in bright but indirect light) and dry, warm air. Too much humidity can cause the stems to rot, especially during winter. Contrary to what you might imagine, these cacti also enjoy fairly regular watering in the late spring and summer months, making sure the compost is always slightly moist but not soggy. In winter and over the cooler months reduce watering to be only once the soil has dried – water just enough to make sure the stems don’t dry out completely.
Rat Tails benefit from being re potted every couple of years. This doesn’t necessarily have to be into a much larger pot though, as the main purpose of re potting this house plant is to feed it with fresh cactus soil as it is quite hungry for nutrients! It’s also worth poking into the soil every so often as it enjoys oxygen rich soil. If you do not wish to re pot yearly, it’s advisable to scrape off the top few layers of soil and replace with fresh cactus potting mix.
If the simple care above is followed, the rat tail cactus is likely to produce it’s beautiful bright pink flowers in the spring and summer months! Removing discoloured, dead or old stems in the late winter will also encourage new growth and flowering.
Though it can be propagated by seed, the rat tail cactus propagates best by stem cuttings.
Select a pot with sufficient drainage and fill with a mix of rich compost and cactus soil.
Cut any part of a healthy stem and allow the end to dry for a few days before re potting it into your soil mix. Once potted, keep the top of the soil a little damp with a mister and keep the plant in a bright spot.
It should start to root within a few weeks but a gentle tug on the stem (best done with gloved hands to avoid the hairy spines!) should help you to tell – if you feel resistance then the plant has a sufficient root base.