Reasons Why Moon Cactus are Grafted? (It Is a Parasite)

Reasons Why Moon Cactus are Grafted?

In botany, grafting is taking two different plants and fusing them together. The end result will appear as one plant when done correctly. In the case of the moon cactus, it is a colorful Gymnocalycium mihanovichii that forms the scion (the top part of the tree) that is fused with another plant called a rootstock, which can be either a Hylocereus undatus (dragon fruit) or another type of cactus for example.

The reason the vibrantly-colored gymnocalycium cacti need to be grafted is that they can’t survive living on their own. They require sunlight in order to make food (chlorophyll) for themselves and the color in their bodies comes from chlorophyll. As you can see, there isn’t any green color in the plants so they need to be grafted onto a green plant that can make food for them. 

As houseplants, moon cacti have vivid colors—from hot pink to neon yellow. They lack chlorophyll so they must be grafted onto a rootstock cactus to survive.

“Grafting enables its vascular system to obtain nutrients from a host plant”

Plants are sometimes mechanically grafted onto other plants in order to get certain characteristics, such as disease-free stems. This is usually done because of a defect or because the plant being grafted doesn’t have the specific quality that it needs. This process can also be used to enhance deficiencies that affect photosynthesis, which allows some plants only to take in energy from light and not from chlorophyll for example.

What Is a Graft?

A graft is the union of two different plants, which will join to form a new plant. There are two differentiated parts.

Grafting is the union of two plants which join to form a new plant. There are two parts: the scion, which is the plant that is desired in connection with the rootstock.

“Grafting can be defined as the natural or deliberate fusion of plant parts so that vascular continuity is established between them and the resulting genetically composite organism functions as a single plant.”Cornell University

The foot or base of the plant, gives stability for the scion to thrive.

The graft, the plant that we incorporate into the foot, there will be welded and will remain united in order to develop together, as a single plant.

Grafting cacti is a highly rewarding process. Unfortunately, it also can be an arduous task for beginners as there are countless factors to consider when choosing the right plants and making your cut. We suggest you start with species that are closely related so that they share similar attributes!

Grafted Cacti

Grafted cacti are one of the saltiest small houseplants we can find. Do you want to know everything about these incredible little plants?

General characteristics

  • Common Name: Grafted Cactus
  • Scientific name: Gymnocalycium mihanovichii
  • Origin: Mexico
  • Family: Cactaceae
  • Location: Indoor
  • Light: bright to very bright, never direct sun
  • Minimum temperature: 2ºC
  • Ideal temperature: 18-24°C
  • Irrigation: Moderate; P.S. let the top coat dry between waterings
  • Fertilization: each month; P.S. every three months


This plant is made up of two parts: the base is composed of green stems from a variety of cacti, upon which yellow and red globes from the Gymnocalycium are attached. These plants normally reach a small size and new shoots are formed in balloons at the top, giving them an absolutely unique and attractive appearance.

It’s best to plant your cactus in a small clay pot that has been baked properly by the sun (or placed over high heat on the stove). We can fill the bottom of the pot up with some gravel so that it doesn’t move around easily and possibly fall over.

How to Care for Moon Cactus 

Though all cacti need a good deal of light, the Grafted Cactus thrives best with ample access to light. However, if exposed to too much direct sunlight on a consistent basis, it may eventually degrade and become damaged to the point of being unsavable. 

As with all cacti, it requires little water and should be left in practically dry soil for a few days before being watered again and even more time if possible before the next watering. Fertilize only when needed with special fertilizer made specifically for cacti plants.

How to Graft Moon Cactus – Step by Step

If you’re fond of gardening, you can attempt to graft some cacti yourself. To do so, cut a green-stemmed cactus by cutting off pieces that are about 10cm long and let the wounds dry out. Then, place them on the ground.

When these have rooted, make a small incision in the upper part and place a sucker that you have extracted from the upper globe of a cactus that we have already grafted.

Simply, it is necessary to ensure that both remain united and, with the passage of time, they will be welded, obtaining new grafted cacti.

What Do We Get by Grafting Cactus?

With grafting, you can get newer, different, and unique plants, as well as ones with faster growth rates.

By grafting cacti, we can achieve:

  1. Unique plants with very colorful shapes and colors. Colors, orange, yellow, red, pink, etc., give life with the foot or base that synthesizes chlorophyll, to types of cacti that would die if they could do so.
  2. Take care of a cactus that is suffering from foot rot, which is generally caused due to excess watering, and by cutting the stems, replanting them by attaching it to a plant with healthy roots.
  3. Seek a faster growth, grafting on a vigorous foot, those species of slow growth.
  4. Those delicate species can be grafted onto resistance-heavy roots so that they can better handle root rot issues or cold weather conditions.
  5. A single plant or specimen.
  6. In order to cultivate plants that are difficult to grow and breed or breed animals that have a hard time having offspring while trying to attain certain desirable traits.

What Graft-Bearing Feet or Base Plant, Should We Use?

The most used species for grafting cacti are:

  • Hylocereus undatus is extensively employed in the grafting of Gymnocalycium mihanovichii because they are fast-growing and are able to tolerate more humid soils. They have a short lifespan, approximately 3/5 years.
  • Trichocereus pachanoi , spachianus, because it is a columnar cactus, they are able to can adapt to cold climates as well as dry, dry substrates in winter.
  • Trichocereus macrogonus, fulvianus or pasacana, since these have very fast growth and are very vigorous.
  • Echinopsis pachanoi , brigdesii, macrogonus, peruvianus , these are feet that can harbor a graft for a long time on them.
  • Echinopsis multiplex, etc., as they are easy to grow, producing many shoots.
  • Eriocerus jusbertii is a popular choice for a while now because of its ease of cultivation and consequently the speedy harvest of stems. It is not a plant with too many thorns. It is able to grow in all kinds of soil. However, it’s best to have soil that is well-drained and moist. It can tolerate cold temperatures as well as low temperatures.

Other Feet or Patterns to Graft Cacti.

When to Graft  Moon Cacti

For cactus grafting to succeed, one should consider the best time for it and that is spring and early summers. At this time the base or host is growing, it is more fit, it heeds faster, and has a stronger chance of joining with the new part.

In case of emergency, we could provide immediate help until early autumn. It might even be possible to extend our service into the winter season depending on conditions which will naturally vary, however, this depends on your specific situation.

The winter is clearly an unwise choice for building a cactus, as at that point we need the foot to be growing.

What Do We Need to Successfully Graft Cacti?

  1. We must first consider the family/species of cacti to be grafted.
  2. We should consider size, that is, the foot must be at least as big as the graft.
  3. It’s ideal to choose afoot that will be larger than the area you need to graft.
  4. There are several factors to consider when grafting a plant. For example, the age of the rootstock and that of the grafted plant itself: it needs to be a mix of both old and young age since an older rootstock will damage unions yet younger roots cannot support plants properly either.
  5. The tools or instruments and tools that we will need are:
  6. Fine-cut knife, clean and in good condition (a blade, cutter, scalpel, etc…)
  7. Cotton, absorbent paper.
  8. Plastic kitchen film, large elastic bands or latex tape, rubber bands or thick thread.
  9. Ethyl alcohol (96º)

To Graft Cacti!

The process of grafting cactus can be divided into the following steps:

  1. A week before the process of grafting, water and fertilize the plant a little more than usual, making it comfortable for the process to happen.
  2. Use an infection-preventive that’s at least 96% ethyl alcohol. Disinfect the blade or cutter with 96º ethyl alcohol.
  3. Cut the foot of the base cactus. Make a clean-cut, without irregularities.
  4.  Trim the edges of the foot, so that when it dries or heals, it does not pull and bend, which could separate or detach the graft. This will leave the foot ready to receive the graft.

5. Quickly put them together.

6. Check that the surfaces to be joined are clean and without irregularities.

7.  From the graft, its vascular bundles must be placed on the vascular bundles of the foot. These are vertically crossed, resting on top of the cactus.

8. Join together firmly, but not so much that the mixture becomes overly dense with no air to give it room to expand. Make sure not to allow impurities or air pockets in your compound as they may cause problems later on.

9. Fasten the foot with plastic film or elastic bands or thick thread.

10. Once the graft is well attached, it should remain in a warm place in the shade for at least 1 week. After those 1 to 2 weeks depending on each case of grafting and environment, removing the film or rubber band will suffice to let the graft become a complete union.

11. Once the grafting cactus is achieved, once the union has been created, you can place it in the sun for a short time, but not too long since the grafted plant is weaker at that time.


Gymnocalycium cacti cannot survive outside of their host plants, and instead must be grafted with another plant to support photosynthesis. The reason they don’t have chlorophyll and are so orange is that they need the nutrients that the host plant gains access to through photosynthesis.

Through grafting, the vascular system of a plant can adjust to the nutrients available from its host plant’s roots

For a grafting to succeed, one should consider the right timing. The best time for grafting on a cactus is in the spring or early summer when its base is growing and already fit while it can easily accept the new part.




Anwar Hossain

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

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