Start to Ending Time of Moon Cactus Life Cycle

Start to Ending Time of Moon Cactus Life Cycle

We all know that most cacti can live for several years, however, the moon cactus has a short life span due to the fact that it is the result of a union between two plants where one plant functions as a parasite.

The rootstock isn’t capable of producing enough food for the scion. This affects both the scion and rootstock, decreasing the life span of the Moon Cactus. The lifespan of Moon Cactus is very short, about 1-3 years on average but sometimes as long as 5 years. However, it’s common for Moon Cactus to only live one or two months.

A native to desert regions of South America, such as northeast Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, and  Brazil..

Their limited lifespan is due to the rootstock growing faster than the upper part which is the top part of the plant. It is necessary to graft the ball cactus onto the rootstock in order to extend the longevity of their lives.

It is believed that the Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii plant is attractive, with bright and vibrant colors such as neon yellow and hot pink. The difference in color results from the absence of chlorophyll. They are tiny in size typically a half-inch in size.

Why Is The Moon Cactus Lifespan Short?

Moon Cactus Lifespan Short
  • Moon cactus lives short because of the incompatibility of the two plants joined.
  • The top portion of the moon Cactus (the colorful ball) is devoid of chlorophyll and is therefore unable to make itself food.
  • Since it is unable to make itself food items, its top part is unable to sustain itself on its own. It relies on the ability to make food from the lower section in order to flourish and live.
  • Furthermore, when rootstock grows out from the pot, the top part of it will soon die. That is probably the main reason.
  • The rate of growth of both plants differs from one another and causes the root plant of the cactus to grow faster than the scion.

How Grafting Affects The Moon Cactus Life Span

The primary factor that determines the length of time moon cactus can live will depend on factors such as how the plant was cultivated and the methods that are used for cultivation. Horticulturalists employ grafting techniques to mix two plants in order to achieve the most desirable qualities of every single hybrid. Grafting is a popular method used for ornamental and fruit tree plants.

To create the Moon Cactus, Gymnocalycium mihanovichii was used as the scion (the top part of the plant). It was grafted onto different cacti, Hylocereus undatus (the rootstock, which provides stability to the plant). Most grafted plants take on some similar characteristics to both their parent species and can live as long; however, moon cacti are the exception.

The distinct needs of two varieties of cacti make it difficult to take care of the moon cactus. It is a Gymnocalycium mihanovichii that prefers to be in shade and needs less water. It is also deficient in chlorophyll meaning that it could be susceptible to sunburn if it is planted in full sunlight. The Hylocereus likes the sun but can only tolerate partial shade.

How Can You Extend The Life Of A Moon Cactus

Extend The Life Of A Moon Cactus
Extend The Life Of A Moon Cactus

If you’d like your moon cactus to live longer, it might be because your roots of yours are about to die or have already died. When this happens the branches remain green for some time, but will eventually wither and fall off your plant. You can probably save your moon cactus by grafting it to a new rootstock. You can buy a new rootstock from a reputable nursery or you could use any kind of cactus plant as a rootstock if you either happen to have one on hand (curiosity may actually get the best of you), or decide that intent alone is good enough reason to purchase one. Just make sure your roots are approximately the same size as this ensures that everything partakes together in harmony when it comes to satisfying their shared nutritional needs.

Take a clean cut on top of the new rootstock along with snipping your scion to just below where it is attached to the old stock. Remove any pieces of the old stem so there is no chance for them to hurt your newly grafted shoots or produce undesirable roots. You will want to tie them together securely so that they won’t come apart and be able to see that bump you are creating from placing these two parts together back-to-back. Ideal conditions for grafting plants like trees would be around 65 degrees Fahrenheit, but you can decide what works best based on how long of a healing process you expect.

Along with providing some necessary ingredients so that your moon cacti live long like

Duration of Light

This dwarf cactus is a combination of two different cacti. It may need more than the sunlight that a single cactus needs. The most beneficial amount of sunlight would be a bright light and partial shade both because it is a mixture of cacti that need different amounts of light. The plant will require 4 to 6 hours of sunlight each day.


These plants do well in warm climates and grow very easily in average conditions at room temperature. But they must be cared for correctly or else the moon cactus will quickly die from frost. So please keep this type of plant inside during the winter season to protect it from freezing temperatures.

Water requirements of Moon Cactus

Like many other succulents, the moon cactus requires plenty of water. In the warmer seasons, you can water it more often than you water it during winters. Always make sure to let the soil dry out before re-watering it. Unglazed pots with numerous drainage holes are best to prevent standing water at the bottom of the pot which would eventually rot its roots; a thin layer of gravel in its pot ensures that doesn’t happen!


Moon cactus does well in a mixture of regular potting soil and pumice or perlite if drainage is a concern. The best type of soil for this plant is one that’s very rich in organic matter and has a neutral pH level. If the Moon Cactus has had excess moisture, it’s best to let the soil dry out between watering to prevent root rot.


Moon cacti grow slowly, meaning they don’t need to be repotted too often. Moon Cacti reach various heights dependent on the rootstock. They usually stop growing once they attain a height of approximately 4 inches. This is about 10 centimeters. The size of the Moon cactus is a variable range of 1.1 up to 1.9 inches, or 3 to 5 centimeters.

To grow cacti, simply feed it using cactus food each month during the growing season. Otherwise, leave it as such in the dormant season.


In grafting, the scion is the part of the plant that is selected to carry out a certain function – often this function being fruit production or ornamental features. Whereas, the rootstock must be able to fulfill the needs of the scion for it to survive and thrive.

Common Problems with Moon Cactus

Like most houseplant cacti, the moon cactus is rather durable and easy to maintain, but there are a few things you need to be wary of:

  1. Color Is Faded

If the colorful top portion of a moon cactus has faded, it is likely because the plant received too much direct sunlight, causing the pigmentation to wash out. Such plants can be moved to an area that gets bright but diffused light instead.

  1. Plant Begins to Collapse

Overwatering can be detrimental to a cactus; as it is only supposed to be watered once or maybe twice per month depending on how hot your home is. So you should avoid watering too much and causing root rot, which can make the plant collapse.

  1. Upper Ball Is Detaching

It’s not uncommon for the two cacti species to grow at different rates, which can sometimes lead to their graft coming unhitched a few years down the line. When this sort of situation occurs, it might be necessary to try another transplanting strategy by taking the top portion of one and wiring it onto the rootstock of another cactus.

  1. Edges of the Colorful Scion Turn Brown

As a plant begins to grow, it needs sunlight and water. Without sufficient amounts of these nutrients, the plant will slowly die. When the colorful top portion starts to turn brown around the edges, you should adjust your watering regimen or move the plant away from direct sunlight if it’s receiving too much.


The Moon Cactus is a succulent that stays energetic and vivacious throughout its lifetime of only 3 years on average.

Moon cactus dies young because it is incompatible with the other two together.

The factors influencing whether a moon cactus can live long depend upon several different things, including how the plant was cared for and what sorts of techniques were used in caring for the plant.

Anwar Hossain

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

Recent Posts