How to graft cactus?

Grafted Cactus Care: Tips For Grafting Cactus Plants

Off with your head! Cactus propagation is commonly done by grafting, a process where a cut piece of one species is grown onto a wounded piece of another. Grafting cactus plants is a straightforward method of propagation which even a novice gardener can try. Different species work better with different methods but a brief cactus grafting guide follows with basic instructions on how to graft a cactus.

Cacti comprise some of my favorite plants due to their uniqueness of form and unusual characteristics. Propagation is through grafting, stem cuttings, leaf cuttings, seed or offsets. Growing cactus from seed is a long process, as germination may be unreliable and growth is at a snail’s pace. Broadly, cacti that do not produce offsets can be propagated by grafting as long as there is a compatible rootstock. The grafted part is called a scion and the base or rooted part is the rootstock.

Cactus Grafting Guide

Cacti are grafted for a variety of reasons. One may simply be to produce a different species mechanically, but the process also produces disease-free stems, to provide a new stem for an existing stem that is rotting or to enhance photosynthesis in plants that lack the ability. Grafting cactus plants is also done to create unique forms, such as weeping plants.

Grafting is common in fruiting plants because it increases the maturity of an existing cultivar for earlier fruit production. The scion becomes the top part of the plant with all the originating species’ characteristics. The rootstock becomes the roots and base of the plant. The union is at the vascular cambium where the wounds of scion and rootstock are sealed together to heal and join.

Once the joining wounds have healed, no special grafted cactus care is required. Simply grow it as you would any other plant.

Rootstock Cactus for Grafting

The generally approved rootstocks for grafting cactus are:

  • Hylocereus trigonus or undatus
  • Cereus peruvianus
  • Trichocereus spachianus

Also, if the rootstock and scion are in the same species, the compatibility is excellent. Compatibility decreases as the family relationship decreases. Two plants in the same genus may possibly graft, but two in the same genera are rare and two in the same family are very rare. The appropriate cactus for grafting are, therefore, the ones in the same species and with as close a relationship as possible for the best outcome.

How to Graft Cactus

Use very clean, sterile instruments when making cuts. Choose healthy plants and prepare a scion. Cut off the top or at least a 1-inch (2.5 cm.) stem. Then prepare the rootstock by beheading a cactus to within a few inches of the soil.

Set the scion on top of the cut portion of the still rooted rootstock so both vascular cambium are situated together. Use rubber bands to hold the pieces joined as one.

Grafted cactus care is the same as ungrafted cactus. Watch for any insects at the union or rot. In about two months, you can remove the rubber bands and the union should be sealed.

Plant of the Week: Grafted Cactus, Neon Cacti, Moon Cactus, Hibotan Cactus

The neon cacti made their way into the European and then American markets in the 1960’s but were never a big hit among cactus collectors. They began to appear in mass market outlets in the 1980’s and continue to be sold there. Today 70% of the world production of these grafted cacti, with a wholesale value of $4,000,000 in 2011, is produced in South Korea.

Grafted cacti are easy to grow thanks to the rootstock. Hylocerus undatus is a triangular shaped, tropical, sprawling epiphytic cactus that is tolerant of extreme drought or survives in moist soil. So with even minimal attention to watering the grafted plant can be expected to survive. Because the top of the plant can overgrow the green, grafted base most neon cacti only survive a couple years unless regrafted onto a new rootstock. While these interesting and bizarre plants are cacti, they typically grow in the shade of other desert plants. Locate them in an area with bright light but not full sun or sunburn damage may result.

For more information about horticulture or to see other Plant of the Week columns, visit Extension’s Web site,, or contact your county extension agent. The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the U of A Division of Agriculture.

The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, marital or veteran status, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

It’s hard to mistake a moon cactus; you’ll always recognize them by their bright pink, yellow, or orange colors. The bright neon colors are usually in the shape of round looking balls, with thorns, and they’re sitting on top of another green colored cactus. The little moon cactus is a funny plant because it’s actually two plants in one and the product of human design.

In order for the bright section of the plant, to survive, it had to be grafted to the second plant beneath. Many people don’t realize when they see these easily recognizable little cactus plants at their local plant nurseries that they’re actually looking at two separate plants.

The beautiful, bright, colorful part of the moon cactus naturally does not produce chlorophyll, and the lack of chlorophyll allows for the bright, vibrant colors to show. So in order for it to continue living, human grafting to another plant or rootstock is required, and then it’s able to get the proper amount of nutrients and chlorophyll that it needs from the second plant that it now sits atop of.

Growing and taking care of these unique little cacti plants is not very difficult at all. They’re extremely low maintenance plants and caring for multiple moon cactus plants at the same time is not much harder than caring for one. They can add color and life to your window seal or porch area and because they’re such low maintenance, moon cactus are an easy choice for those that are new to horticulture.

Water requirements

The water requirements for moon cactus are minimal. They’re not the type of plant that you have to water often. Additionally, these plants do much better when their not subjected to excess rainfall. If you live in an area where it rains frequently, moon cactus will do much better if they’re situated under a covered porch, if you have them outside. You can generally tell if your plants need watering by feeling the soil. If the dirt is dry and dusty, your moon cactus would probably benefit by a mild watering. Not too much. You never want to overwater to where the pot is waterlogged and soggy and the potting soil is running over the sides of the pot. You don’t want to ever water so much that your moon cactus is sitting in a pool of soggy dirt. Additionally, it’s recommended to stop the watering completely for the older moon cactus during the winter season, that would be those that are a year old or more. On the other hand, if you have a young moon cactus plant, just a tiny bit of water during the winter months is required.

With regard to water, remember that the moon cactus calls for unglazed, shallow pots with good drainage. Make sure your pots or containers have adequate drain holes so that the water can run down and out. Additionally, it’s advisable to put a thin layer of gravel in the bottom of your container prior to adding you moon cactus. The gravel with aide in water drainage.

Sunlight & Temperature Requirements

As far as temperature and sunlight, the moon cactus calls for the temperature that you might expect for a desert type plant. They do the best in bright but indirect sunlight. Prolonged periods of direct sunlight can be harmful to the plant. So a covered porch that has some shade or an area to where much of the direct sunlight is blocked is the best location for a moon cactus. There are cacti plants that will survive through a winter freeze but to be on the safe side, bring your moon cactus indoors, or in the garage when the temperature drops below 40 degrees. If you’re unable to, them cover them up with a sheet or light blanket to shield them from the cold weather. Cactus will freeze if exposed to the elements during a hard winter so keep that in mind as the seasons change.

Common Problems

The main problem for moon cactus is root rot which is a result of over watering. The best thing you can do it enjoy your moon cactus and enjoy it’s slow growth and remember not to over water! For the most part, they a wonderful, colorful, low maintenance plant that’s easy to grow as long as you do not give it too much water.

A moon cactus is a fun, easy, colorful little plant to add to your collection and it’s especially a good choice for beginners in the plant world, due to their fairly low maintenance requirements.

Where to Buy

You can purchase LIVE Moon Cactus plants on Amazon.

Large Grafted Moon Cactus Succulent Plants


Vital Tips to Grow And Care for a Coral Cactus Plant

The coral cactus plant is a beautiful, potted plant variety, which can display a lot of versatility in beautifying outdoor landscapes as well as indoor areas. Its coral reef like appearance is where its name originates from. Let us now look at the best way to grow and care for a coral cactus plant.

Quick Fact

A coral cactus plant (euphorbia lactea crest) is not a real cactus. It is actually a euphorbia plant that has a rare mutation, which causes it to grow with a crest-like appearance. Because this interesting mutation is very rare, the plant is a very sought-after item.

This weird-looking plant closely resembles an ocean coral. It is extremely hardy and requires almost no care to survive. Its green and pinkish color makes it a popular choice in many gardens, even though it can also be used to increase the appeal of the ambiance indoors. It is a small plant that does not grow more than 25 inches in height.

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Let’s Work Together!

The plant is a result of grafting the crest-shaped top of a Euphorbia Lactea on the stock and root of a Euphorbia neriifolia, or on the root of a cactus. The plants have their origins from the nurseries of a few experimental horticulturists. Although the grafting process is a little complex, taking care of a successfully grafted plant is a piece of cake in comparison. We shall first look at how the plant is grown and propagated followed by tips on coral cactus care, to help it thrive.

Growth and Propagation of Coral Cactus

To successfully graft a coral cactus, the following procedure has to be followed:

  1. A v-shaped cut has to be made at the base of the Euphorbia lactea plant’s crest. The cut should curve outward.
  2. Now the root stock of the cactus or Euphorbia neriifolia has to also be cut in a v-shape. However, the cut must curve inwards.
  3. Now place the two sections together in such a way that the joint comes together well.
  4. Cover the joint with grafting wax, to prevent the plant from drying, and tie the plant with rope or twine to hold the two pieces of the plant together till it heals.
  5. If the two plants are compatible, the graft should completely heal in a few weeks. If you find that the plant has not healed fully, replace the wax and rope. However, be careful during this time, as a little damage can set back the healing process considerably.
  6. Babies of the coral cactus will eventually grow from the same plant. Cut off these new growths, and dry them for a couple of weeks and pot them. The plants will soon get roots. After this happens, plant the saplings in the soil; however, these new saplings may or may not form crests, and there is no way to force the way these plants will grow. If your new euphorbia does form crests, you may have to repeat the above process all over again.

With proper care, your coral cactus can bloom with beautiful purple or pink flowers. This usually takes place around a year after the grafting, and occurs yearly, in warm conditions.

Coral Cactus Care Tips

  • Plant the coral cactus plant in a gritty soil which drains easily. You can do this by mixing regular potting soil with an equal amount of sand.
  • Do not bury the plant more than root deep. It helps protect the euphorbia from rot.
  • The plant can thrive in an arid environment. To artificially stimulate this, place the plant in a place with warm, bright, but indirect sunlight. The ideal temperature around the plant should be 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Water the plants intermediately, to keep the soil slightly moist. Excess water causes the plant to start dying. The root and the flesh of the plant start to rot. To avoid this, let the soil completely dry from the previous watering before you pour some again. Burying your finger deep in the soil will give you an idea, about whether you should water it or not.
  • Use diluted solutions of fertilizers once during spring followed by once in the fall.
  • Regularly turn the plant side which is facing the sun. This prevents the plant from growing lopsided.
  • Re-potting the plant is needed as soon as you bring the plant home, because the store-bought container is usually ceramic, which is not suitable for the plant’s growth.
  • The hardiness zone of this plant is 10-11, so grow the plant accordingly.

The coral cactus plant produces toxic latex sap, hence it should be kept out of the reach of children and pets. One must always use gloves while handling the plant and should wash them after, just to be safe. However, this is a great low-maintenance plant that is sure to increase the appeal of the area it is kept in, be it your home, office, or garden, so what are you waiting for? Go ahead, and get one for yourself.

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Quick Tips for Coral Cactus Care

Coral and cactus in name only, the Coral Cactus (Botanical name: Euphorbia lactea Crest or Euphorbia lactea ‘Cristata’), combines two succulent plants to form one fan-shaped plant consisting of a crest (the coral-shaped part) and a cactus root (the Euphorbia neriifolia) underneath it.

>> Get your own Coral Cactus on Amazon <<

A cultivated succulent originating from India and Sri Lanka, it now grows naturally in many tropical and sub-tropical regions. Other names for the Coral Cactus include the Candelabra Plant, Crested Elkhorn, and Crested Candelabra Plant.

An unusual-looking plant featured in many cactus gardens, the Coral Cactus resembles a large coral with crinkled, cabbage-like leaves. The leave edges may be purple, green, ruby, white or yellow with pink.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

Coral Cactus Facts

The quirky-looking Euphorbia lactea Crest adds flair to any garden. The more conservative plant fanatics in your life may even ask “What is that thing?” The Coral Cactus only grows to about two feet high so that you can place it almost anywhere in your home or garden.

Photo by Leonora (Ellie) Elking licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Arrange the Coral Cactus in container gardens or on window sills with Kalanchoe, plants, Cactus and Paddle Plants. This plant can be grown outdoors year-round in U.S.D.A. growing zones 10 and 11 and in the summer in more moderate climates.

While not as spiny as regular cactuses, there’s still potential for accidents. All parts of the plant contain toxins, so be careful when moving the Coral Cactus or doing any work on it (or around it).

>> Buy the Coral Cactus on Amazon <<

Here’s a quick video, “Euphorbia lactea crest “from the California Cactus Center YouTube Video Channel with some information about the plant

Planting and Propagating Coral Cactus

Coral cactuses rarely become potbound. Repot them only when necessary. It’s best to check the plant as soon as you get it home from the store or nursery for signs of inadequate potting, soil or bound roots. If you discover any of these conditions, transfer the plant to a slightly larger pot with good drainage.

Propagate your plant with cuttings in the spring. Dry them out for a few weeks before potting them. When removing from the original container, keep the root ball in one piece. Dig wide holes in the soil, not deep ones and spread roots outward. Pack the area around roots with soil.

Avoid getting Coral Cactus sap on your skin or in your eyes. It’s poisonous, so you’ll need to wear gloves and protective eyewear. If you have pets or small children, locate your Euphorbia lactea Crest plants in a safe place, like on a high shelf or an off-room.

Grafting a Coral Cactus

  • To graft your own Coral Cactus, you’ll need a Euphorbia neriifolia plant and a Euphorbia lactea plant. Take the following steps:
  • Make a V-shaped cut at the bottom of the Euphorbia lactea’s crest. Make sure the cut curves outward.
  • Cut the Euphorbia neriifolia’s root stock in a V-shape. The cut should curve inward.
  • Place the two sections together, so they fit together firmly. Cover the joint with grafting wax. (This stops the plant from getting too dry.)
  • Tie the plant together with twine to keep pieces together until it heals.

The graft should heal in two to three weeks. If not, re-wax the plant joint and replace the rope. Be careful not to disturb the plant during the re-waxing process.

New growths will form from your Coral Cactus graft. Cut them off, dry them for a few weeks, and then pot them. Plant the saplings. If you’re lucky, they’ll naturally form crests.

Soil and Fertilizer

Use cactus potting soil, which prevents roots and stems from soaking in water and rotting. A cactus soil mix has better drainage than regular potting soil. Some store-bought mixes contain peat, which absorbs moisture. If the peat dries out, the soil turns dry, and the plant suffers.

If commercial mixes aren’t to your liking, make a homemade cactus soil mix. People in arid climates will benefit from adding more peat to their mix, as long as it doesn’t completely dry out the soil. Other possible combinations include five parts potting soil, one part coir (coconut fiber) and two parts pumice. Coir makes an ideal ingredient for a cactus soil mix, as it has a balanced pH.

Fertilize the Euphorbia lactea Crest during its growth stage, in the summer, spring and fall. Use any regular-strength household plant fertilizer.

Temperature and Lighting

The Coral Cactus likes sunshine and warm temperatures, just like genuine cactuses. Its temperature threshold isn’t quite as high as desert cactuses, but it’s higher than many other houseplants. Position the plant in direct or indirect sunlight in temperatures between 60 degrees and 80 degrees. Any combination of full to partial sunlight during a given day will help your plant grow. You don’t need to leave it in bright sunlight all day. When you move an indoor plant into your yard, increase its light exposure. Too much bright sunlight too soon will burn Coral Cactus leaves.

Provide the Coral Cactus with shade and indirect sunlight in high temperatures. Rotate the plant, so it gets sunlight evenly on both sides, or else it will grow lopsided.

Here’s a look at an outdoor Coral Cactus in a large pot in “My Coral Cactus Vid” from the James Suozzo YouTube Video Channel


The Euphorbia lactea Crest likes well-drained, moist soil. Check topsoil with your finger or a pencil. If the top two to four inches are dry or the “cabbage” leaves droop, water the soil while avoiding the foliage. Wet thoroughly, until water runs out from the bottom of the pot.

Over watering can kill the Coral Cactus, so checking the plant’s soil is more important than keeping a regular watering schedule.

>> Check out the Coral Cactus on Amazon <<

Precautions and Problems

Although the Coral Cactus has its charms, its toxicity deters many people from owning it. Planting the Euphorbia lactea Crest in certain areas may put local ecosystems at risk. The plant also releases toxic latex that may cause eye irritation, dermatitis or temporary blindness if it comes in contact with the eyes or skin, and vomiting or nausea if eaten.

James and Jude Grafting Cacti cactus

Grafting cacti means cutting the top of one cactus and grafting it onto another. This is often done by placing a slow growing cactus on top of a fast growing one which will allow your slow grower to get larger quicker! It’s also done to create fun combos and it’s an awesome science project!

So here’s what you should have.

sharp knife, rubbing alcohol to sterilze the blade each time you cut, rubber bands or electrical tape, cacti, gloves or tough fingers, and……

Step one, pick out your cactus.

A common cactus used for grafting are Trichocereus San Pedros because they are hardy, they grow fast, and they get big!

Sterilze your knife and cut where you want, remember the more plant means the more it can photosynthesize creating energy for growth. If you want to cut an extra thin slice after the main cut, this allows the cut section to stay moist until ready for transfer, at which point you just peal and toss.

Now you want to carefully cut down the sides as when it begins drying, the center area will shrink a little but the outer skin will not, this can cause the two pieces to separate, not good/start over.

Now you decide which cactus top you want to cut and paste!

Slide off the thin piece and nice and slippery. If it is allowed to dry, the two pieces may not bind. You are also trying to place the 2 vascular center holes together, the round circles in the center of each.

carefully place the two together.

Secured with a runbberband and or electrical tape.

Cutting away the tougher out of skin to prevent it from shrinking in when it drys.

Finished products

and here’s some smaller 2″ ones Jude did a few months ago.

Hope you learned a little something and enjoyed their work, thanks, James and Jude.

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