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Do Ants Eat Cactus? [A Fascinating Relationship]

You look out one morning at your cactus to find a swarm of ants on your plant and wonder to yourself if they will pose a danger to it. While you think that ants will dislike the cactus like most animals, now you wonder if you may need to protect your cactus. Do ants eat cacti?

Ants do love the cactus because they secrete a sugary nectar at the spine, but they don’t eat the cactus itself—they have more of a symbiotic relationship. The cactus secretes this nectar to attract the ants and control the aphids, mealybugs and scales that can kill a cactus. 

If you’d like to learn more about ants and their fascinating relationship with this plant, keep reading as we explore it further in depth. 

Ants and Cactus: Relationship of Mutual Benefit

What is a symbiotic relationship? It means that both in the relationship benefit. The cactus benefits from the ants killing the aphids, mealybugs and scales that could kill it. At the same time, the ants benefit from this sugary nectar secreted from the cactus to attract the ants.

Anything that will threaten the ants and their access to this nectar fountain will receive a proper lashing from the ants. Without the ants, the cactus may prove vulnerable because it can’t defend itself, so it uses the ants as a barrier of protection. 

As a side note, plant experts say that ants also improve the soil as well, which will help the cactus in its growth. They also kill pests in the soil. 

Can Ants Kill a Cactus?

Ants pose little danger to the cactus compared to other pests like mealybugs, scales and aphids. This is one of the reasons that the cactus will produce a nectar to bring in the ants to kill some of the other pests more dangerous to it. 

When ants depend on a food source for their colony, they will grow aggressive in defending it, especially some species of ants. Ants are after one thing when it comes to the cactus—sugar. Not only will they take it from the nectar of the cactus, but they can target the scale and mealybugs, which produce sugar. Don’t let them do this, however. 

What Cactus Do Ants Love?

Let’s take a look at some of the cactus that ants will go after because of the sweet nectar that they produce:

  • Ferocactus (infamous for doing this)
  • Opuntia
  • Coryphantha 
  • Thelocactus
  • Echinocactus
  • Sclerocactus
  • Cylindropuntia

Think of the cacti that have extrafloral nectaries in their patches, and these cacti tend to attract the ants. 

Expert Tip: Your cactus will even lose water in an effort to attract the ants. For that reason, you may want to give it a bit of extra water to keep it safe from drying out. 

How to Get Rid of Ants on a Cactus

While they don’t usually pose a direct danger, they can introduce mealybugs or aphids to the cactus, which can indirectly cause problems. If you happen to see a few ants around the cactus, it won’t cause much for problems. Many times, this will indicate that they went there because of pests on the cactus, which can pose an actual threat to the cactus. 

Should an ant infestation start to seem out of control, it would be best if you were to remove the cactus from the potting soil. Be aware of where they receive their food source as well and remove what attracted them to begin with since it won’t do any good otherwise. 

Related Article: Can Rabbits Eat Christmas Cactus?

Are Ants Bad for Cactus?

I would give a definite no on this that ants don’t pose a threat to your cactus. In fact, they’re mostly beneficial unless in huge numbers. Ants will clean away the microbes like fungi and bacteria that can harm your cactus, and they will keep the pests away. Ants will attack other insect larvae in the soil that might threaten your cactus. 

For that reason, I wouldn’t recommend using ant insecticide for your cactus since it will do more harm than good. In many cases, the cactus purposely attracts the ants to it as a way to eliminate other pests that would kill it off. 

Ant-Cactus Mutualism in the Sonora Desert

Let’s take another excellent example of ants and their relationship with cactus in the desert. Most cactus experts believe that the cacti benefit as much as the ants from an ant nest nearby. Many of the ants in the Sonora Desert are believed to have even evolved with the cactus. Especially during a drought in the Sonora Desert, they would take up refuge in the cactus and defend it as a food source aggressively. 

Whenever ants sense they may have hurt their food source, they will peel out of the cactus quickly to prevent damage to this food source. In other words, they have an interest in keeping the cactus healthy. 

Some studies showed how the ants would use the cactus as a source of carbohydrates, and they would even become aggressive against other colonies fighting for the same cactus. 

You even have an ant named for a cactus that it commonly defends called the crematogaster opuntiae. This ant often takes up residence in the opuntia plants out in the Sonora and the Chihuahuan deserts. 

Backfired: When Ants Prove Harmful

Ants are often a sign of other pests in the plants that could kill your cactus since the cactus lure them there with sweet nectar. You do have one time when ants can prove harmful to your cactus. Never let ants farm the mealybugs, aphids or scales for their sugar. This may sound hilarious—it does to me—yes, ants will sometimes domesticate and protect the mealybugs, aphids and scales for their sugar. 

The issue with it is that they don’t kill the harmful pests in your cactus, and if you have a collection of cactus with ants and mealybugs, it becomes the perfect storm as ants will move them around and milk them for their sugar. This can hasten the death of your entire cactus collection, which explains why some gardeners choose to kill ants on sight. 

However, it can serve as a barrier of protection when the ants defend the plant itself from pests, but you must keep a close eye on it. 

Final Thoughts

In general, you don’t need to worry too much about ants eating your cactus because it serves as more of an indirect food source to them. They don’t want to destroy that by killing your cactus. They will even protect it. The only time where you need to worry in a big way is if you see tons and tons of ants surrounding your cactus because it may cause problems for your plant in some of those cases. 

Also, beware of when the ants start to protect the pests for their sugar since this can also end badly. 

Ants and cactus even evolved together over time, and this symbiotic relationship has continued to this day. You may even begin to think that your cactus attracts the ants, and you may not be far off the mark with that thought. 

Did this all sound fascinating how cactus will attract ants purposely to handle their pests? It certainly did to me, but I had learned of this practice and the incredible intelligence of plants in the book, The Hidden Life of Trees. I would especially recommend this book for anyone who wants to feel wonder at the wondrous mysteries and beauties of nature. 

Do Cacti Grow in Sand? [Learn More Here]

Cacti have grown in popularity as a houseplant over the years, but someone new to the cactus may wonder about the soil that it grows in. That matters because if you pick the wrong soil with a cactus, you can inadvertently kill your plant before it ever starts to grow. Keep in mind that with nearly 2,000 cactus species, you will want to check each one for soil recommendations. However, generally speaking, does the cactus grow in sand? 

Despite them loving well-drained and sandier soil, most cacti do not grow well in pure sand. The issue stems from how the plant’s roots won’t have time to drink the water in the soil before it drains. Usually, you will want to mix one part potting soil and one part sand for the best results.  

Now that you’ve learned a bit about the cactus and how it won’t grow in straight sand, I’d like to talk more about the soil that cacti do grow in. 

What Soil Does the Cactus Grow In?

Most desert species of cacti grow in a soil that consists of clay, pebbles, rocks and organic materials. It offers enough drainage to prevent root rot because standing water will kill your cactus. Pumice, chicken grit and gravel are also common with cactus soil. 

Whatever you do, pick your soil—even for the cactus—carefully. You don’t want to choose washed river sand because of the fineness of the grains. Ocean sand gives you the same problem, but the issue with ocean sand comes from how the excess salt can damage your plant.

You want about 20 percent coarseness to the sand, 20 percent coarse perlite and 60 percent sifted regular garden soil. This would make the best cactus sand. 

This shows you the ideal mixture because cacti still require minerals from the soil to grow properly. You might use cactus fertilizer to grow your cactus faster. In general, most cactus experts recommend that you fertilize it twice a year in its active growth stages in the spring and autumn. 

I would recommend the Espoma Organic Cactus! Plant Food

Just keep in mind that with this fertilizer and all fertilizers, you may want to wear gloves, safety goggles, a dust mask and long pants to protect your eyes, skin and lungs from the chemicals and bacteria. 

Even with a natural fertilizer, you still want the protection because of the bacteria in the fertilizer.

Cactus Soil vs Coarse Sand: What to Know

Coarse sand by itself becomes a death sentence to the cactus, but the finer the sand, the worse it becomes. The issue, even when you mix this in with other soil, is that it packs the mix up and lacks airflow. 

For a cactus, you want the water to stay properly drained and the air to stay around the roots. In an open bed, sand will dry fast, but when you put this in a pot, it becomes a straight disaster for your cacti since it lacks capillary action that will take the moisture away. It retains the moisture for longer. 

Expert Note: Many cactus experts, when given the choice between sand and pure potting soil would consider the pure potting soil as the lesser of two evils. 

Blow sand is particularly bad for cactus because of how it contains a range of particle sizes bad for drainage. If you want to use sand with your cactus, you want a uniform grain size for drainage and airflow purposes. 

Recreate the Environment of the Desert

When many people think of the desert, they think of a dead place where nothing grows, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the desert is a rich ecosystem where tons of life lurks in the shadows. The only difference is that the weather is much harsher than other places, but it doesn’t mean that the soil there is pure sand. 

Desert soils are downright unusual. The textures vary from one desert to the next, and while many will contain sands, it will also contain clay and rocky soil in many cases. 

When you go to plant a cactus, you try to replicate the environment of the desert. Understand the habits of your individual plant. Now, keep in mind that you do have some tropical cactus species like the Christmas cactus or the coral cactus. Those types of cacti will require regular soil, but you’ll still want good drainage. 

Coarse sand does the best because it allows for good drainage in your soil. It doesn’t become compacted in the same way as a finer sand, which will hold in the water better. I’ve even known people who would crush aquarium rock or granite to create the soil for the cactus. 

Can You Plant a Cactus in Sand?

You can do anything you want, and while you can plant a cactus in sand, it will make it harder to grow. A cactus won’t grow in pure sand because it requires nutrients for it to prosper. It may adapt to a harsher environment than other plants, but it will still need some nutrients to succeed. Without a decent soil mixture, your cactus will either die, or it won’t grow properly. 

Now, you can either choose to make the soil mixture yourself, or you can buy it. For beginners, I would recommend that you buy it because you increase your chances of success. Anyone interested may want to check out WONDER SOIL Organic Cactus and Succulent Mix. This soil will help your cactus to grow faster and build stronger roots from the rich nutrients in it. 

Final Thoughts

To sum it up, cactus do grow in sand, but they don’t grow in pure sand. You want coarse sand over the finer sand because it doesn’t compact as much, and it allows for better drainage. Each cactus of the more than 2,000 species will have its own individual requirements that you can study to make a better environment for them. Tropical cacti will require a slightly different sand compared to those in the desert. 

If you enjoyed this article, check out the article that I wrote here about the fascinating alligator cactus. 

Ultimate Guide for Alligator Cactus [Don’t Kill Your Plant]

Have you encountered an alligator cactus before? What makes this succulent unique is its tiny plantlets growing along the edges of its leaves. The succulent’s distinct look gives its other known name – mother of thousand plants. A single leaf can produce 50 tiny plantlets and the whole plant can make thousands of new alligator plants. Despite this unique and fascinating character, it also carries a negative effect as it makes the plant invasive and displaces other plants.

However, this plant is also commonly known as the alligator cactus because of the tiny plantlets growing on the edges of its leaves that look like an alligator tail. Also, these plantlets develop tiny roots that allow them to survive whenever they fall to the ground. Aside from its common name such as alligator cactus and mother of thousands, this succulent also comes with names like the Devil’s Backbone, Mexican Hat Plant and Evil Genius. The alligator cactus first came from Madagascar but now grows in arid places such as South Africa and South America.

Alligator Cactus Appearance  

The alligator cactus has a fleshy green stem like other succulents. A fully mature alligator cactus grows up to 39 inches tall. The leaves are thick and dark green. What makes this plant unique is its tiny plantlets growing at the edge of its leaves. These plantlets acquire roots – the reason why they grow well once dropped on the ground. This uniqueness gives them an illusion of an alligator tail appearance.

The alligator cactus blooms from late December to March. The flowers come in a variety of colors such as pink, purple and red. However, you rarely see this succulent bloom – especially when kept indoors. The flowers come in clusters per branch and protrude from the whole plant.

Caring Needs of Alligator Cactus

Although alligator cactus is easy to grow, its survival depends on what kind of care you give – especially if you have this plant in places far from its natural habitat. To help your alligator cactus thrive, consider the following factors discussed below.

Sunlight Exposure

If you’re growing an alligator cactus indoors, don’t forget to put it outside or on your window for four to six hours in the morning. Since this plant belongs to the family of succulents, it requires sunlight exposure because these plants are already adapted to the arid environment as their natural habitat. Sunlight plays a vital role in their survival. It allows them to produce their food through photosynthesis.

However, sunlight is scarcely available during winter. Don’t worry because you can use artificial lights like LED lights. LED lights imitate the sunlight and give succulents the light they need. These lights come with advantages such as lasting long, energy efficient and you don’t have to worry about your alligator plants getting burned. In using artificial lights as a substitute for sunlight, allow your alligator cactus to bask daily for 13 to 18 hours as this timespan equates to six-hour long exposure to sunlight.

Soil and Pot Requirements

Just like other succulents, the alligator cactus needs well-draining soil and a well-draining pot. When it comes to well-draining soil, four potting mixes are usually used. You can follow the ratio provided below:

  • Cactus Mix (2 parts)
  • Coarse sand ( 1 part)
  • Pumice (1/2 part)
  • Perlite (1/2 part)

The above ratio provided is just the basics and you don’t have to strictly follow it. For example, if your alligator cactus experiences slow draining of water, you can put an additional mixture of perlite. One problem that most succulents encounter is root rot due to poor water drainage, so make sure you don’t overlook this factor by using a well-draining soil mixture in a well-draining pot as well.

When to Fertilize Alligator Cactus

You can start fertilizing your alligator cactus in the second year after repotting it. It takes a year for your cactus mix soil to lose its nutrients. However, remember to fertilize your succulent during its active months starting from March to September. Your alligator cactus stays dormant after those months when winter starts. This plant undergoes dormancy to survive the extreme cold and bounces back when the normal temperature starts again.

Fertilizing your alligator cactus during its dormancy period will cause rotting. When succulents hibernate, they stop absorbing the available nutrients provided by the fertilizer. If you put in fertilizer during this phase, it will disrupt their natural growth cycle. Fertilizer will soften their leaves so that they slowly start to rot.

On the other hand, fertilize your alligator cactus during its active season. You may ask – how often? Some people would fertilize this succulent once a month during the summer months. Some say every two to three months and some would say every year. The University of Minnesota Extension suggests fertilizing cacti once or twice a year when they are actively growing.

They also suggest using fertilizers with higher phosphorus content than nitrogen. Diluting the fertilizer in half was the recommended rate.

Water Requirements

If you’re growing alligator cactus indoors, water it once every two weeks. This succulent doesn’t require frequent watering because it can live without water for a long period. Succulents can drink and store water in their leaves and stem through their widespread root system. The reserved water gets tapped when needed.

If your alligator cactus grows outdoors, check the soil by sticking your finger in it. Don’t water it if it feels damp. Give it two days or more, because it varies in the temperature. When the time comes that you need to water it, use water that has a temperature of 68 degrees to 77 degrees Fahrenheit – or simply the same as your room temperature.

However, the best way to water your alligator cactus is the soak and dry method. The soak and dry watering method involves drenching the cactus soil in water and waiting for it to completely dry between watering. What makes this watering method the most recommended one is that succulents develop an extensive root system that allows them to thrive during longer periods of the dry season. The soak and dry method helps your alligator cactus produce larger roots for more water storage.

During the alligator cactus’ dormancy period, give less water. The dormancy period starts during the winter season. As mentioned earlier, succulents like the alligator cactus ingest less water and nutrients when they go dormant so be careful with the amount you give them. It will lead to the rotting of your alligator cactus.

Environmental Requirements

Aside from the light and temperature requirements, growing an alligator cactus requires a safe environment. This succulent contains toxicity that’s dangerous to pets and children. It contains a toxin called bufadienolides that causes paralysis, cardiac poisoning, gastrointestinal distress and even death. Ingestion symptoms include:

  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

Studies show that the alligator cactus possesses toxins for humans instead of potential medical use. Keeping this plant away from kids’ reach is strictly recommended. This succulent possesses a reputation for being a killer of dogs and livestock. It adversely affects the nervous system and muscular systems of animals. If you own pets and livestock at home, it’s best to keep the alligator cactus out of reach.

If you plan to grow alligator cacti outdoors, place them in a pot. Letting this kind of succulent grow on the ground isn’t recommended as it becomes invasive over time. The tiny plantlets easily fall off from their leaves. Putting your alligator cactus in a pot helps prevent this problem because you can catch them and dispose of them properly. Don’t throw the plantlets elsewhere because they multiply faster, displacing other plants from their natural habitat.

Propagating Alligator Cactus

Due to the large number of plantlets found at the edge of its leaves, propagating alligator cactus seems easy. These plantlets already acquire roots while still attached to the leaf holding them. They easily fall off when touched lightly. All you have to do is pick some of the plantlets and place them on a mixture of cactus soil, pumice or perlite (refer to the soil pot requirements mentioned above).

When putting the plantlets on their soil mixture, use a stick to create a shallow hole in the ground. Using a stick makes it easier to adjust the holes that could fit the roots. Remember not to bury the plantlet leaves. The leaves should barely touch the soil. Gently cover the roots with soil and give them enough water.

Ideally, plant them in several pots to make sure you get extra plantlets when others couldn’t make it. If you’re having alligator plants indoors, put them in the brightest corner of your apartment where the sun directly hits them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I Remove Babies From Mother of Thousands?

The plantlets naturally drop themselves on the ground so you don’t have to remove them. If you’d like to, you can remove them by gently picking up each baby. They easily detach themselves from the mother leaf.

How Fast Do Alligator Plants Grow?

The tiny plantlet detached from its mother plants takes two to five years to fully grow. It grows up to three feet tall – given that it grows outdoors with the sufficient sunlight it needs. When planted indoors, expect them to grow shorter than three feet.

What Is the Difference Between Mother of Thousands and Mother of Millions?

Mother of thousands grows a single stem that grows upwards following the direction of sunlight. A mother of millions has several stems in contrast to a mother of thousands. Another distinct difference between the two plants is their leaves. A mother of thousands has wider leaves compared to a mother of millions with narrow leaves.

Conclusion

Alligator Cactus is one of the most unique succulents due to its way of reproducing. It’s easy to grow and in fact, an invasive species. Despite its interesting appearance, it’s toxic to both humans and pets. Make sure to keep this plant away from your kids’ and pets’ reach. 

If you enjoyed this article, maybe you will enjoy another article we wrote on why your cactus isn’t growing

Can Rabbits Eat Christmas Cactus? [+Pet Safety Tips]

Many rabbits will see houseplants as a source of curiosity, but with the knowledge that most houseplants can poison your rabbit, you may wonder if a Christmas cactus can prove deadly to your bunny. You want to keep most houseplants out of reach since it will often lead to poisoning. Rabbits are very sensitive this way, and they can be poisoned easily. Can rabbits eat Christmas cactus? 

Christmas cactus has needle-shaped leaves with spines that contain toxins called saponin, and in high concentrations, it will destroy the red blood cells of your rabbit causing anemia, weakness and diarrhea. Unfortunately, many rabbits will be determined to get at it. 

What to Do if Your Rabbit Ate Christmas Cactus

Your safest bet is to take them to the vet since they will know the best way to help your rabbit. Rabbits eating something poisonous poses a danger since you can’t induce them to vomit up the Christmas cactus like other animals. 

Rabbits have a very tight sphincter in the esophagus, and the position of the stomach makes self-induced vomiting more limited.

Instead, the vet usually tries to block the toxic absorption to prevent poisoning. After that, they will provide supportive care. Some vets recommend that you administer charcoal to bind the toxins in the stomach. They usually give 4 grams per pound every eight hours. 

You can mix this in with food or water to syringe feed the rabbit. Encourage the rabbit to eat hay to add extra fiber to his diet and safely push out the toxins. To best treat a rabbit that has eaten Christmas cactus, it would be wise to take them to a vet. I’m not a vet, so I can’t give expert advice, and you need to take the rabbit to the vet for the best care. 

Will Christmas Cactus Kill a Rabbit?

Saponin in high concentrations will destroy the red blood cells of your rabbit, which can cause anemia, weakness and diarrhea. Some say it isn’t fatal, but you still wouldn’t want your rabbit to get a hold of it. It’s still mildly toxic and can hurt the liver. It will cause GI upset if the rabbit ingests it. Be aware of how your rabbit will have curiosity about the Christmas cactus and houseplants, in general, can get them into trouble.

Keep them all out of reach of your rabbit to keep him safe. In some cases, the rabbit won’t exhibit symptoms of poisoning right away. His condition may unfold over a period of days or weeks. 

Generally speaking with the Christmas cactus, the signs of poisoning will show up within the first six hours of ingestion, or they won’t show up at all. 

Eating Christmas cactus in large quantities can still prove fatal to your rabbit. It wouldn’t be wise to let them eat it even though it probably won’t kill them in most cases. 

Don’t Trust Your Rabbit Not to Eat the Plant

One of the most harmful beliefs that pet owners can have is to think that their rabbit won’t eat the plant because they will know it is poisonous. Unfortunately, as many saddened pet owners have found out, you can’t trust that your rabbit will know what is and isn’t poisonous. Keep the poisonous plants out of their reach. 

In the wild, rabbits learn eating habits from the older warren members. Unfortunately, they don’t receive the same training in captivity, and in many cases, they will eat it if it’s green—even if it kills them. Rabbits in captivity don’t have a great survival instinct compared to rabbits in the wild because they received no training on what to eat and what not to eat. This can make the life of pet owners more tricky. 

Treat All Houseplants as Toxic

The best way that you can keep your rabbit safe is to treat all houseplants as if toxic since they will often be toxic. You have such a huge variety of houseplants that can poison that it’s nearly impossible to list them all. Up to 78 different houseplants can prove toxic to your rabbit, which shows you why it’s better to be safe than sorry. Treat them all as toxic plants to protect your rabbit. 

In the outdoors, you have a little leniency, but you still don’t want them nibbling on anything since they can still munch on a poisonous plant. Check to see that the plant isn’t poisonous first. 

Signs of Poisoning in Your Rabbit

Look for odd changes in the behavior of your rabbit, such as a change in eating, defecating or regular activity levels. You should take your rabbit in to see a vet immediately if you notice these signs and see if they nibbled on your Christmas cactus. Your rabbit may exhibit other signs as well, such as:

  • Lethargy
  • Breathing difficulties 
  • Obvious abdominal pain

Unfortunately, rabbits that display the symptoms above may die regardless of treatment. In most cases, if they ate Christmas cactus, they will do fine. You have many other houseplants that can poison a rabbit, however, and it’s always wise to keep the plants out of their reach. Apples and pears are notorious examples due to the trace amounts of cyanide found in the fruit. 

Appropriate Diet

Good pet care comes down to a great diet and making sure that your rabbit eats the appropriate things. You don’t want him eating Christmas cactus. Instead, you will feed him pellets, hay, fresh vegetables and clean water. Up until a rabbit reaches adulthood at seven months, you should continue to feed it alfalfa hay since it contains all the required protein and calories.

The hay should always be fresh since eating anything moldy can sicken your rabbit.

Final Thoughts

Like with all houseplants, you need to exercise caution with them around your rabbit. Don’t put the Christmas cactus out to where he can nibble on it. While eating Christmas cactus will rarely prove fatal to your rabbit, you still don’t want him eating it. You may want to spend time with your rabbit each day to observe him and make sure that he hasn’t eaten anything that he shouldn’t have eaten. 

If you suspect an emergency, call your local veterinarian as soon as possible. A quick response time with poisoning can mean the difference between death and survival. Unfortunately, many things can prove dangerous and even tree branches treated with fire retardant can be toxic. It can also be helpful to have some charcoal on hand in the event of a poisoning. You can check out this Activated Charcoal Powder for Pets.

10 Stunning Cactus with Pink Flowers

Are you looking for a cactus plant that bears pink flowers? We got you covered. Cacti with pink flowers aren’t hard to find. Upon doing research, we found different species of cacti that produce pink flowers – with Opuntia, or also known as the prickly pear cactus, as the most common one. To know more about these cacti that bloom with vibrant pink flowers, keep on reading.

Prickly Pear Cactus

Prickly Pear Cactus

The most common cactus that produces pink flowers is the prickly pear cactus. It starts to blossom from early June to September. These flowers come in vibrant pink blossoms but may also bear yellow, red, orange, white or purple. The flowers appear to have uniform-looking petals and sepals. The innermost part of each flower mostly comes with an orange smear. You can see these flowers grow on top of the cactus pads.

The prickly pear pink flowers later develop into edible fruits. These fruits, also called tunas, are cooked in various ways. This cactus is well-sought in Mexican cuisine as 95% of its production’s purpose is for domestic consumption. Each year, the country produces approximately 800,000 tons. In fact, this cactus has become Mexico’s well-known symbol.

Moon Cactus

Who isn’t fascinated by the moon cactus? This succulent needs to be grafted, usually to the stem of dragon fruit, and comes in different colors. Moon cactus bloom with vibrant pink flowers starting from March to June. Aside from pink, you can also see this cactus producing white, yellow and bright red flowers. The flowers grow up to four inches wide and come in funnel shapes. However, the flowers only live for 12 hours. Sometimes, the buds fall off from their scion before they even open.

Moon Cactus Pink Flowers

As mentioned, moon cactus is known as a grafted plant. Since this plant alone doesn’t possess any chlorophyll or green pigments, it can’t photosynthesize to produce its own food and thus, can’t survive. Photosynthesis plays a vital role in a plant’s life. This process allows plants to produce glucose which supplies energy to plants necessary for their survival. This explains why moon cactus needs a graft host – which is usually a dragon fruit stem.

Star Rock Cactus

The star rock cactus derived its name from its appearance which looks like a star. This succulent from the cactus family produces pink flowers right from the youngest areoles found at the center of the plant. Areoles refer to the center of a plant where flowers, spines or new branches emerge. These flowers come in funnel shapes that grow between one to two inches in diameter. The flowers usually bloom from August to November. However, like other cacti, it comes in various species. This means, aside from pink flowers, this succulent also bears white, yellow or purple flowers.

Star Rock Cactus

A native of Texas and Mexico, the star rock cactus grows well in soil with a generous amount of limestone content. To encourage this succulent to bloom more pink flowers, place your plant in a place with direct morning sunlight. The temperature should range from 70 degrees Fahrenheit to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Along with providing sunlight, make sure your star rock cactus gets enough watering. However, make sure that the soil is dry before watering it. Also, give your cactus a fertilizer rich in phosphorus as it supports transporting the energy throughout your cactus for effective blooming.

Dwarf Easter Cactus

The Dwarf Easter Cactus starts blooming between March and May. The buds begin to appear when the days become warmer and longer. After spring, move your succulent outside to locations with a generous amount of shade to encourage its blooming in the next year. On rare occasions, it flowers again from September to November or during the autumn. This cactus bears rich rose-pink flowers with a pleasant smell. The flowers have sizes between one to two inches in diameter and when the flowers come in mass, they look even more stunning. 

Dwarf Easter Cactus

Although related, the Dwarf Easter Cactus slightly differs from the regular Easter Cactus. As the name suggests, the Dwarf Easter Cactus come with smaller flowers and joints compared to the regular Easter Cactus. Also, you can more easily grow the regular Easter Cactus than its mini counterpart – which is the Dwarf Easter Cactus. While the Dwarf Easter Cactus becomes known for its pink flowers, the regular Easter Cactus flowers come in bright red color.

Dwarf Turk’s Cap Cactus

Known for its cephalium, the Dwarf Turk’s Cap Cactus blooms pink flowers. Cephalium refers to the cap-like feature of the succulent that sticks out on top and comes in red-orange or pink color. It doesn’t just offer a distinct look to the succulent but it has a purpose. This cephalium, commonly known as its cap, produces pink flowers that later develop into edible fruits with shapes that look like peppers. The flowers start to appear in July to August and the size reaches two inches long inside the mass of the succulent’s famous cap. 

Dwarf Turk’s Cap Cactus’ Cephalium with Pink Flowers

The Dwarf Turk’s Cap Cactus derives its name from its unique feature – its cap. The cap resembles the fez or hat worn by the Turkish people that can be traced back to during the Ottoman Empire. This cactus is challenging to grow because it requires specific care that is best left in the hands of experts. 

The Dwarf Turk’s Cap Cactus requires a temperature above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. It won’t flourish well under minimum sunlight exposure, it requires direct sunlight for at least six hours. This succulent also needs plenty of water but not too much that it might cause the root to rot. However, growing this type of cactus feels rewarding once you see those vibrant pink flowers that give it a more attractive look.

Ball Cactus Flower

Ball cactus bears pink flowers from late June to September or during the summer. Aside from the pink color, the ball cactus flower comes in different colors such as red, orange or yellow. Let your succulent relish the winter period and stop watering it to stimulate better-blooming flowers. In addition, ensure your ball cactus gets fertilized during its growing season for better results.

Ball cactus has two types – both bear pink flowers. The first one is the powder puff cactus. The reason for its name comes from the fine hairs that cover its spines. Another type is called the golden ball cactus. As its name suggests, the golden ball cactus has a round shape with golden spines. The golden ball cactus reaches up to six feet when it matures.

Ball Cactus Flower

Pink Christmas Cactus

Christmas cactus blooms from November to January or during the fall season. Its flowers always come in shades of pink with shapes that look like tubes. The petals appear in a double-layer manner – the inner petals grow further up near the stamen while the outer petals come shorter and curl down to the base of the flower. The Christmas cactus blooming stage can reach up to eight weeks if the temperature maintains 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pink Christmas Cactus Flower

To encourage your Christmas cactus to bloom, focus on the light and temperature you provide to your plant. Temperature-wise, place your plant in a cool environment not exceeding 61 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid putting your Christmas cactus in places with direct cold air or hot air. When it comes to light, the Christmas cactus needs an exposure of eight hours of light and 16 hours of darkness every day. 

Take note that light and temperature are the key factors in hacking the blooming season of this plant – yes, you can trick your Christmas cactus to flower even outside its flowering season by mainly focusing on these two factors.

Pink Flower Hedgehog Cactus

The pink flower hedgehog cactus starts to bloom from March to June. Tepals refer to the outer part of the flower when it is not distinguishable if it is a petal or a sepal. The flowers appear anywhere from rose pink to magenta, and the tepals appear rose-pink to magenta. Each plant bears six to 10 large flowers. The flowers are funnel-shaped and grow on the upper part of the plant. They bloom during the day and close at night.

Pink Flower Hedgehog Cactus

The pink flower hedgehog cactus’ name gets coined due to its short and spiny stems that look like a hedgehog. Just like any other cacti, it comes in varieties of species. Aside from its pink flowers, this cactus also comes in different colors like violet. Eventually, these pink flowers turn into edible fruits that appear spiny and red.

Walking Stick Cholla Cactus

Walking Stick Cholla

The walking stick cholla cactus varies in colored flowers depending on its location. In Bandelier, New Mexico, the walking stick cholla always bears pink flowers. This cactus starts to bloom from April to June. It has small flowers with striking pink petals and a touch of magenta. These pink flowers come in bow shapes and range from two to three inches in diameter. Aside from the pink flowers, the walking stick cholla flowers come in a wide array of colors such as yellow, red or purple.

Many people convey a fascination with this walking stick cholla because of its unique features. It possesses arms that get detached easily from its main body. This cactus plant gets its reputation as the jumping cholla because of its segmented arms that easily stick to the clothes or skin of a passerby. 

Pincushion Cactus

You can always find a pincushion cactus bloom with pink flowers since it’s the most common. It also bears white or striking reddish-orange flowers aside from pink. This cactus is a native of the Sonoran Desert, located in southern Arizona and a small area in southeastern California, but largely in Mexico. 

Pincushion cactus blooms from May to August. One fascinating thing about the pincushion cactus flowers is that they grow around the cactus’ apex – forming a flower-crown-like appearance. 

The pincushion cactus has a very spiny surface that entirely covers its surface – the reason why it is called that way. In other words, it looks like a cushion full of pins. When handling this cactus, it’s best to use gloves because this cactus possesses fine tiny spines that stick to your skin and are hard to remove. 

Pincushion Cactus

This cactus remains small as it never grows more than six inches in height. If you want an indoor cactus that bears beautiful pink flowers, the pincushion cactus makes an ideal choice for its small size, aesthetic and low-maintenance. In keeping this cactus indoors, maintain a warm temperature between 60 to 71 degrees Fahrenheit.

Does a Cactus Have Pink Flowers or Yellow Flowers?

Cactus flowers come in an array of colors – that includes pink and yellow. However, the mentioned two colors are more common as you can easily spot different cacti that bear pink and yellow colors. Aside from pink and yellow, you can also find cactus that bears flowers in various colors such as red, orange and white. 

What dictates the flower color is the plant’s DNA. For example, when a cactus produces a pink flower, the petals produce pigments that absorb pink light. This phenomenon happens when the DNA of the plant’s cell produces pigments of a specific color. To sum it up, the plant pigmentation and the genetics of the cactus species direct the color of the flower.

What Kind of Cactus has a Pink Flower?

Not all pink cactus flowers are the same kind. Cacti with pink flowers come in different species – chollas are an example. However, not all chollas bear pink flowers; the flowers come in a wide variety of colors too. The pincushion cactus is another kind of cactus that bears pink flowers.

How Do You Take Care of a Pink Flower Cactus?

Taking care of cactus with pink flowers is similar to other cacti with different flowers. Make sure the cactus grows on well-drained soil, provide enough sunlight exposure of at least eight hours, but do not overwater your cactus and keep the temperature between 60 to 71 degrees Fahrenheit.

Conclusion

Cacti with pink flowers are not rare to find. You only have to look for the right species as each species comes with flowers in different colors. These vibrant pink cactus flowers feel rewarding once in full bloom. Most importantly, pick a cactus that is suitable for your knowledge because not all cactus are the same in caring needs. Some cactus require special needs that might need more of an expert care.

Do Deer Eat Irises? [How to Stop Them]

Most love the sight of a deer leaping and gallivanting about in the flower-covered meadows, but when it comes to your irises or other garden plants, they can become quite the nuisance. Many of the plants in the garden turn into a deer’s all-you-can-eat buffet. You look one morning to find that your irises were eaten clean off and wonder about the greedy culprit. Do deer eat irises?

When the deer have no other choice, they will eat irises, but they usually prefer to target other plants in the garden. Deer will usually avoid eating bearded irises unless starving. Still, irises survive the deer better than some of the other plants in the garden. 

Do Deer Eat Bearded Irises?

The deer don’t like bearded irises. They’re a stinky plant to deer. They will usually avoid eating them, but some gardeners report how deer will graze their other irises to the ground. Most often, they target other plants before they will attack the irises. Only in cases where they have nothing else to eat such as in the early spring of the year will they go after the irises. Rarely do you ever see them attack the bearded irises unless starving such as in the early spring of the year or close to the end of fall.  

Most of the time, they go after the bearded irises that weren’t planted by seed. Unfortunately, deer will target most plants, and you have few that they won’t eat. For those who planted bearded irises, they can call themselves lucky because this is one of those plants that they don’t usually eat unless forced to it. 

Once the food sources grow scarcer, everything is up for grabs—even the bearded irises. 

Never Lost Irises to Deer? Lucky Indeed…

You could consider yourself lucky indeed if you never had a deer come in and eat the buds of your irises. This animal is well known as a garden grazer. In many cases, they will destroy your garden if you don’t put them in check. You have different products that you can buy to keep them away. 

Do Deer Eat Japanese Irises?

Along with bearded irises, deer dislike the taste of Japanese irises, and they will usually avoid them. This is because of how Japanese irises have grass-like leaves, and deer don’t like them. German irises are another type of iris that the deer won’t go after. They dislike this one because of the tough leaves on it. 

You may find this information helpful if you live in an area full of deer. Instead of planting regular irises, you might try to plant Japanese, German or bearded irises to stop the deer from grazing them down. Most gardeners when dealing with deer will simply swallow hard and keep moving forward. 

Do Deer Eat Siberian Irises?

The deer will usually avoid Siberian irises except in extreme circumstances. You can trust that they needed it badly if they ate them. They dislike the bitter flavor and the strong fragrance of Siberian irises. For someone looking for deer-resistant irises, this makes for an awesome choice. 

How to Keep Deer Away from Your Irises

In some regions of the United States, gardeners report that the deer have no qualms about eating the irises to the ground. How do you keep the deer away if they have taken a liking to your irises? I would recommend American Heritage Industries 16 oz Coyote Urine. Now, this may not work every time, but you don’t have anything that will keep the deer away 100 percent of the time. Keep experimenting to see what works and switch between a couple of strategies that work.

Black mesh deer netting is another strategy that works, but you will need to make it at least seven feet high to keep the deer out of it 100 percent of the time. You may still struggle with other critters in the garden. The deer and other creatures will often figure out ways around your strategy as many disheartened gardeners have reported. 

Try to mix undesirable plants like the bearded and Japanese irises with the more desirable plants to keep the deer away. Many deer will avoid the area to keep from biting into a plant that they dislike. Tulips give you an example of another plant that the deer dislike. You can protect your cucumbers and tomatoes by keeping them near the tulips. 

I would recommend this strategy, especially with vegetables since deer love to go after vegetables. 

Believe it or not, even simple windchimes can do the trick to scare the deer out of your garden. They dislike anything unfamiliar to them since they are animals of prey.

Are All Irises Deer Resistant?

Most irises are deer resistant on some level, but they will go after some types more when starving. It may depend on the region as well because some gardeners report the deer as eating their irises despite their best efforts to keep them away. Most deer avoid them because these plants are either toxic or taste bad. 

Once they become hungry, all bets are off, and they will eat anything. The biggest reason that deer avoid a plant comes down to it being poisonous. Strong scents put deer off as well, and you might use it as a way to keep the deer away. Along with Siberian irises, deer will usually avoid peonies and lavender for the same reason. 

Most animals have a stronger sense of smell than humans, and the overwhelming aroma can be off-putting to them. With that in mind, they will target your garden if hungry enough regardless. 

In some cases, even a toxic plant won’t keep a deer from eating it. For example, poppies, foxgloves and daffodils pose a threat to deer when eaten, but they will usually only feel uncomfortable and nauseous. They don’t always die if they eat them. In general, they avoid them because of their toxic properties. You could say that even when starving, they won’t eat them unless it becomes a matter of life and death. 

When to Exercise the Most Caution

The deer will especially target your plants in the first few weeks of growth. When you first plant them, the high nitrogen levels in the plants will make them particularly vulnerable because of a decreased resistance. Given half a chance, the deer will target them, especially during this time as will other animals looking for food. 

Deer: The Worst Garden Pest

It depends on the region, but in most cases, gardeners rank deer close to or at the top as a garden pest. They will utterly destroy some plants. This is why it may make sense to plant some bearded irises, Japanese irises or plants in general that they dislike. You will want to use a multi-layered approach to keep them from attacking your garden. 

Think of it as a type of computer security system. You create multiple layers of protection in case the deer can slip past the first layer of protection. Irises may serve as one layer of protection against them. 

You may spray deterrent on the garden, but in many cases, the deer will adjust to it. It works at first until the deer learn how to adapt to it. In addition, a desperate deer will eat regardless of the consequences. They will eat almost anything. 

To lower the risk that it won’t work, you will want to rotate between different products that worked in the past. Don’t overuse one because they can eventually adapt to it. 

Use a Motion Sensor Sprinkler System

Having a motion sensor sprinkler system, they will often combine sound, motion and water to scare away the deer from your garden. Not only will it scare off deer, but it can scare away other animals, such as:

  • Possums
  • Skunks
  • Birds
  • Dogs
  • Cats
  • Pests

A motion sensor sprinkler system protects your garden in a humane way because it will send the deer running from the garden. You will want to buy one with day and night protection since you never know when the deer will strike. I would recommend the Orbit 62100 Yard Enforcer since it gives you one of the few choices that protect your garden day and night. 

Are Irises Poisonous to Deer? 

Some irises such as the purple iris is toxic to deer, which explains why they avoid it. Deer usually try to avoid eating anything poisonous unless desperate. Just because a plant is poisonous doesn’t necessarily mean that it will kill the deer, however. In many cases, it will simply give the deer an upset stomach and cause enough discomfort to make them avoid those plants. 

Irises cause tissue irritation when consumed or handled. When ingested, the deer may experience drooling, vomiting, diarrhea or fatigue. While rarely a fatal poisoning in deer, the flower may still cause harm if it ingests it. Even touching an iris can cause poisoning, which explains why most deer avoid the flowers altogether. Irises can also be poisonous to dogs and cats, so you may want to think twice about planting them if you have pets. 

Things That Attract Deer to the Garden

Nothing, not even your irises, will be safe if you overstock your garden with tasty plants that they love. Generally, they won’t target your irises, but if you have enough deer around, one or two of them may nibble on your prized flowers. To eliminate the risk and protect all the plants in your garden, you may want to limit some of the plants that attract them, such as:

  • English ivy
  • Beans
  • Hostas
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Pansies 
  • Impatiens

Deer will often target fruit trees as well. For example, they love to eat apple trees. Having too many of these things around can bring a bunch of deer into your garden. If you struggle with deer eating your plants, you may want to first look at the things that attract them. 

Electric Fencing

The only thing that will 100-percent work every time in keeping the deer out of your garden is to make electric fencing. Then they won’t bother your irises or anything else. For those who live in rural areas of the country, they may find electric fencing to be a great choice. In the city, you have to be careful because you can only put electric fencing up in certain ways and it depends on the city. 

Generally, it can’t be anywhere near where the public might accidentally touch it, but you need to look at your own local laws. 

Final Thoughts

Deer will eat irises, but they usually don’t target them because they like other plants better and some varieties of irises are poisonous to them. If you see a deer that ate your irises, you can usually trust that it was starving. In some cases, you have many deer around, and this can make it more common that they would eat the irises. 

If you wonder about the other animals that might eat your irises, check out the article that I wrote here called, “What Animals Eat Irises?