Can Moon Cactus Grow without Grafting? (Chlorophyll Is the Mystery)

Can Moon Cactus Grow without Grafting?

Moon cactus seedlings are not able to survive long on their own, as chlorophyll is essential for converting light into food and the lunar cacti do not possess enough of this pigment.

However, if a Gymnocalycium mihanovichii is grafted onto a chlorophyll-dense succulent, it can live for many years. You can grow moon cactus from seed, but someday it’s going to die unless it gets chlorophyll for photosynthesis. It has to be grafted on another plant so that it will successfully blend with its own infusion.

The branches of this cactus freely offshoot into numerous offsets. They lack chlorophyll, so they need to be grafted onto the rootstock of a green cactus. This hardy and adaptable tropical rootstock are Hylocereus undatus.

Why Graft?

Some plants cannot be re-grown through seeds. Some others are hard or even impossible to generate from a cutting or any other proliferation technique. Grafting ( top working)  is to change the variety of a tree. Also, it’s a way of using roots that are more amiable with soil or climate than the roots which were originally produced by an ungrafted plant. By using special rootstocks or interstems, grafting is a way to produce dwarf plants.

It is important to add that moon cactus are grafted for several reasons, which are basically:

  • Get them to grow faster. And live long on the host.
  • Save a sick cactus by re-grafting.
  • Maintain a crested cactus for the beauty of the home.
  • And of course make them have bright colors, as is done with the Gymnocalycium mihanovichii 

There are two types of techniques for grafting. One type is when a scion is attached to a stock of almost equal size. The other type is attaching a small scion to a much larger stock, with several scions that can be attached to the stock such as in cleft and bark grafting.

Why Are Moon Cactus Always Grafted?

Moon cactus plants are essentially a charming group of succulents that are grown on another species of plant that produces plentiful chlorophyll upon which the moon cactus can sustain itself for several years. Their distinctive appearance makes them well-loved as houseplants that are grown as indoor plants both inside and outdoors in gardens or anywhere you have a little bit of space.

Can Purple Moon Cactus Grow Without Grafting?

Many gardeners believe that a grafted moon cactus is the only way to have a healthy moon cactus. This is not true. If you have a moon cactus that is developing dark colors, or if it has any green on it, then it might be produced without grafting.

If the light-colored variety of moon cactus has a dark-colored or greenish pup (or if the pup has green on it), then it might be capable of forming roots in cactus soil. To test this theory, you can separate the pup from its parent and set it on top of some cactus soil to see if it will form roots.

What Rootstock is Used for Moon Cactus?

The answer is AKA the green Hylocereus rootstock.

 The base cactus provides the necessary chemicals – or “fire” as I prefer to think of it — that is needed for the top plant to have a chance at life.

Because of this, each one can only survive as a scion — the top part is grafted onto a Hylocereus stock and the base is planted into soil.

Can You Propagate a Moon Cactus?

The moon cactus is a grafted plant and will not grow off of the seed. If you notice the top of your moon cactus separating from the rootstock, follow these steps to re-graft it: 

  1. Carefully remove the moon cactus.
  2. Using a sterilized knife, cut off the colorful top of the cactus without damaging the roots. 
  1. Remove any discoloration (green or brown) from the base.
  1. Wrap base with sphagnum moss until firmly in contact with rootstock.
  1.  Cover the entire potting medium with a plastic bag and wrap securely around the base of exposed roots. 
  1. Place potted moon cactus in a bright, but shaded area of your home for a few weeks.
  2. Check twice daily for signs of rot or mold at which point you will need to discard the plant, as it won’t survive with symptoms intact.

What Rootstock is Used for Grafting Moon Cactus?

There are generally two types of rootstocks for working with moon cacti: Hylocereus trigonus or undatus and Cereus peruvianus. Trichocereus spachianus is another one that is being used a lot lately.

How Do You Graft Moon Cactus with Dragon Fruit?

Grafting Tools

Rubber bands/thread – It is essential to hold the top cacti on the top of the bottom cacti. This allows them to not separate and also provides the opportunity for them to join and start to become one.

Grafting Blaze/Mes –You will require a sharp cutting tool and it should cut the perfect cut, but not too thin.

Cleaning alcohol: This is required to clean the knife that is used for grafting to ensure that it doesn’t affect our Cactus.

Safety gloves: You don’t want to cut your hands with a sharp instrument either. This is why advises you to always wear gloves to protect yourself.

If you want to graft a moon  cactus with Dragonfruit stock, we recommend doing it in spring or early summer, as follows:

  1. It is the first thing to fertilize the plant for a week prior to grafting them.
  2. Then it is time to cut the rootstock of the dragonfruit by using a small knife disinfected previously with the pharmacy alcohol.
  3. Now, remove the roots of the scion you want to graft, also with the disinfected knife.
  4. The next step is to join both parts, ensuring that the rings of one and the other coincide. That is, it is NOT important that they are centered, but that both rings are joined.
  5. Finally, you have to join them with elastic bands and put them in a semi-shade.

In about 15 days, if it goes well, they will be ready and you will be able to remove the rubber bands. In the event that it fails, simply remove the graft and cut the rootstock a little more, and then repeat the steps.


Scientific nameGymnocalycium mihanovichii
Other namesRed Cap, Ruby Ball Cactus, Hibotan Cacti, Red Hibotan
OriginalSouth America.
Plant type:Perennial.
USDA hardiness zone11, 12
Flower colorsRed, pink, yellow, orange.
SoilCactus mix and well-drained.
AquaIt depends a bit on the humidity.
LightPartial shade.
FertilizerNot required but used.

How Long Does a Grafted Cactus Live?

People often thought that grafted cacti were destined for a shortened life, however, any cactus can live just as long as an ungrafted if given the proper care.

It may get sick and lose its color for a number of reasons. It may be because the cacti stop receiving enough nutrients it needs or because of insects or disease. When this happens, you have to switch it out with a new rootstock so that it remains in good health overall.

Key Takeaways

You can grow moon cactus without grafting, but the plant will eventually die because it needs chlorophyll for photosynthesis.

Moon cactus plants can be thought of as charming little succulent plants that grow on a species of plant that produces plentiful chlorophyll.

The moon cactus is a grafted plant and will, therefore, not grow off of sexual reproduction.


Anwar Hossain

My name is Anwar Hossain. I am a cactus lover, researcher, and cactus blogger.

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