What Is A Chin Cactus – Tips For Growing Chin Cacti
By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist
A succulent bowl with several different species makes anattractive and unusual display. Tiny chin cactus plants complement many typesof succulents and are small enough they won’t outcompete other diminutivespecimens. What is a chin cactus? This succulent, in the Gymnocalycium genus, is comprised of smaller cacti, most of whichproduce lovely, colorful flowers.
Chin Cactus Information
Cactus collectors should have at least one chin cactus intheir menagerie. Native to Argentina and certain other parts of SE SouthAmerica, these varieties need some protection from searing sun and even do wellin partial shade. They do have the same soil, water and nutrient needs of theirdesert cousins. All in all, a very easy plant to grow with few specializedcultivation needs.
There are about 50 species of chin cactus, many of which areavailable as ornamental plants. One of the most common is a grafted varietysold as Lollipop or Mooncactus. They must be grafted because they lack chlorophyll. They are brightred or yellow and need a green rootstock to help them synthesize food.
Other species in the family are semi-flattened greenish,gray globes with small, sharp spines growing from areoles that feature achin-like protuberance. The genus name comes from the Greek “gymnos,”meaning naked, and “kalyx,” meaning bud.
Some species grow 7 inches (16 cm.) high and 12 inches (30cm.) around, but the majority remain under 5 inches (13 cm.). This makes thesediminutive cacti perfect for combination succulent dishes. The flowers arelarge for such small plants, around 1.5 inches (3 cm.) across and come in red,pink, white, and salmon.
The blooms and stem do not have any spines or wool, whichleads to the name “naked bud.” The flowers are often followed bysmall green fruits dotted with spines. Chin cactus flower easily, but only inwarm sites. The white spines on the main plant flatten out and hug the ribbedbody.
Tips on Growing Chin Cacti
Like most cactus, chin cacti do not have a deep root systemand can thrive in a shallow dish container. They are not winter hardy and arebest suited as houseplants unless you live in a hot region.
A bright, but filtered, light location is best for growingchin cacti.
Use well-draining, gritty cactussoil. Water when the soil dried out, usually once per week in summer. Inwinter, it is best to leave the plant dry.
Fertilizer is not usually necessary unless the plant isstruggling. Use a good cactusfood at the start of the growing season that has been diluted to halfstrength.
Cacti are one of the easiest plants to grow and rarely haveproblems. The most common is overwatering, which can cause root rot.
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Growing Cactus Plants in Cold-Winter Climates
Believe it or not, you can grow cactus plants in cold-winter climates—as long as you don't set your heart on the giant saguaros from your favorite John Wayne western.
For gardeners in Northern regions, growing cactus plants can be a prickly subject. Cacti thrive on light, heat, and excellent drainage. Though you may think they're limited to the Desert Southwest, many are hardy enough to grow deep into Canada. In fact, cactus plants are native only to North and South America.
To successfully grow cacti in cold-winter climates, it's important to understand how they grow. All cacti are succulents—plants that can store water in their roots, stems, and leaves. But not all succulents are cacti.
It's sometimes difficult to tell which succulent is really a cactus. There's really only one way to know: All cacti—and only cacti—have spine cushions, called areoles. These look like small bumps from which spines, branches, leaves, and flowers grow.
Indoor Lighting Preference: Bright Indirect Light, well-ventilated room
Gymnocalycium Baldianum is a shade-seeking plant. When grown indoors, place in the brightest area in the house. However, you need to protect the plant from extreme sun exposure that can happen when placed in a south-facing window or when placed next to a window that receives direct afternoon sun.
Take care not to place the plant right next to a window that gets really hot or that receives direct or intense sunlight. The ideal location for this plant indoors is in the brightest area in the house but with light shade or protection from the direct afternoon sun. When kept indoors during really hot summer days, provide the plant with fresh air and ventilation, as well as relief from the heat.
Provide at least 4-6 hours of bright, indirect light. During winter time when the days are shorter, or when indoor lighting is inadequate, you may consider using a grow light to supplement your plant’s lighting needs. Here are some of my grow light recommendations. Too much shade and not enough light will also be detrimental for this plant.
Types of Cactus Plants & How to Properly Care for OneBy Jonathan Types of Cactus Plants & How to Properly Care for One earlyexperts.net
For those who have a thumb that is not so green, it might be wise to consider caring for a plant that is low-maintenance–extremely low. If you have never had a plant last more than a week in your house, then it’s time to get a cactus. Yes, yes, we know. These spiky plants may not be as widely loved as say, roses or tulips. However, what they lack in popularity they more than make up for in ease of care.
Here are a few of the most popular cacti that you can keep both indoors and outdoors. We’ll show you how to care for these plants so you can take pride in the fact that you finally kept one alive.
Red Cap Cactus
If you like plants with a bit more color, then consider Red Cap, also known as Ruby Ball, cactus. With a reddish-pink bloom on the top of the cactus, this makes for a delightful pop of color for this robust cactus. Keep in mind that this cactus requires less light than some others. It would work best in places where there is a good balance of light and shade. Balconies or patios are perfect for Red Cap cactus.
Fairy Castle Cactus
When thinking about a stereotypical cactus, it’s common to think of tall green towers covered in spikes. The Fairy Castle Cactus is a good succulent for beginners. It is an extremely low-maintenance cactus that is easy to care for and slow growing. Once it is fully grown, this succulent will reach around 6 feet in height. If you are looking for something that has a bloom though, this one may eventually have a flower or two sprout from its branches. You might have to wait awhile though since it takes about 10 years for this cacti’s flowers to bloom.
When looking for a plant that is more exotic in appearance, the Zebra Cactus is a good choice. With striped bands of spikes, this stylish succulent somewhat resembles an Aloe plant. It doesn’t require a large amount of light, which makes it perfect for offices, kitchens, and other places in the house that don’t get large amounts of light.
Dwarf Chin Cactus
This cute cactus makes a nice addition to smaller containers. If you are looking for a succulent with a lot of colors, the Dwarf Chin Cactus is definitely one of the more vibrant cacti. This cactus has large flowers that grow on top of it varying from pink to red and even white. This low-maintenance plant would make a wonderful addition to any room in your home that needs a little burst of color.
For those who enjoy unique shapes, especially ones that resemble rabbit ears, this is the perfect cactus. The name “Bunny Ears Cactus” is not an exaggeration. With it’s tall, flat pads this cactus looks more rabbit-like than traditional cacti. It generally will not grow beyond 18 inches so this is a great plant to have inside of the home.
Caring for Your Cactus
While cacti are very easy to care for, it’s not completely hands off. They still require some TLC to ensure that they last for a long time. You’ll need to make sure that you keep your cactus in a spot in the house that gets a few hours of direct sunlight each day. Window sills are a great spot to keep most species of cacti. However, there is a such thing as too much light. If your cactus begins to look as if the color is washed out or begins to turn yellow, it could be getting too much light. If that’s the case, then try moving it to a spot with less light.
Watering Your Cactus
Cacti are resilient plants by nature. However, one thing that will quickly kill a cactus is too much water. Overwatering can cause root rot and ultimately destroy the plant. One way to tell whether or not you need to water the cactus is by touching the soil. Soft soil means that there is too much water. If the soil is too dry then you need to give it some water. You may even be able to get away with watering on a weekly or bi-weekly basis during the growing season, but just make sure that you are checking the soil to make sure that you aren’t overdoing it.
The growing season for cacti occurs during the spring and summer. During this period, the cactus will need to have more light, water, and of course, fertilizer. It helps to add a little bit before each watering. There is no need to use the full amount that the manufacturer recommends though. Since you are using it more frequently during this time of year it’s okay to limit the fertilizer. Diluting it will ensure that your plant doesn’t get too much fertilizer.
Rotating and Repoting Plants
Cacti are prone to growing towards the light, which might lead to the plant growing at a strange angle. If you want to encourage the cactus to grow in the right direction then rotate the pot once a month. Once a year, you will need to repot your cactus and transfer it to a larger pot. After placing the cactus in the new pot, be sure to put it in a spot with a lot of light and give it a couple of weeks before watering the plant. During the fall and winter months, you’ll reduce the number of waterings to once a month and stop fertilizing it.
For a low-maintenance plant, the cactus is a wonderful pick. With a number of different species to choose from you aren’t only limited to a boring, green plant. So whether you want a more basic cactus or one that produces flowers, there are a number of options to suit your personality. The best thing is that succulents are perfect for those just starting out on their plant care journey and need something that is easy to care for.
How to Grow Mini Cactus
Some cacti that grow outdoors in desert regions reach several feet tall and wide at maturity. Feel free to try growing large indoor cactus, but you'll have more luck with small specimens in an indoor cactus garden.
Some easy-to-grow mini cactus plants include Chin cactus (Gymnocalycium) and hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus coccineus). Both of these are flowering cactus plants. You can also add a splash of color to your cactus garden by growing the ruby ball cactus, which is also a Gymnocalycium. This plant features two cacti in one. The top part is a striking red color and the bottom is green.