How Long Do Moon Cactus Live? [Not Long, Here’s Why]

Moon Cacti generally have a relatively short life span. These cacti live on average between one and three years. With the proper care and attention, some plants can live five years or more. However, if not cared for correctly, the moon cacti will quickly perish. Many people find that their moon cactus only lives for a few months. If you’re thinking of purchasing a moon cactus, it’s vital to do your research and find out about the specialist care and attention these cacti require.

Let’s look at how to care for a moon cactus to ensure it has a long and healthy life. We’ll answer the question, ‘how long do moon cactus live?’ in more detail.

What is a moon cactus?

Moon Cactus Lifespan

The Moon Cactus is a hybrid plant that has been created by combining two different types of cacti. To make a moon cactus, the Gymnocalycium mihanovichii is grafted with the Hylocereus.

The Gymnocalycium mihanovichii is a species of cactus that’s small in stature and was initially discovered in South American countries. This cactus has an attractive spherical shape and is a grey-green color.

The Moon Cactus was developed in Japan in 1937 by Eiji Watanabe. To create the cactus, he grew 10,000 Gymnocalycium mihanovichii seedlings and experimented by grafting them with other types of cactus.

Watanabe created cacti with interesting colorations as his plants lacked chlorophyll which is a pigment used in photosynthesis that helps plants produce energy and grow well. The absence of this pigment allowed him to create cacti in other colors. Although the moon cactus is exciting and looks stunning, it can’t survive for long due to the lack of chlorophyll.

How Grafting Affects the Moon Cactus Life Span

How Grafting Affects the Life of a Moon Cactus

The main factor concerning how long moon cactus live is how they are created.  Horticulturalists use grafting to combine two plants to get the best qualities of each in a single hybrid species. Grafting is a common technique for fruit trees and ornamental plants.

To create the Moon Cactus, the Gymnocalycium mihanovichii was used as the scion, and another cactus, the Hylocereus, was used for the rootstock. While most grafted plants have similar lifespans to the two parent species, moon cacti are slightly different and often described as being problematic.

The main issue with this hybrid cactus is that the two types of cacti used to create it aren’t compatible. The Gymnocalycium mihanovichii is a small cactus that only grows to be a few inches tall, while the Hylocereus can grow as tall as thirty feet.

The differing needs of the two types of cacti make it challenging to care for a moon cactus. A Gymnocalycium mihanovichii likes to grow in the shade and requires less water. It also lacks chlorophyll, which means that it can suffer from sunburn if grown in full sun. The Hylocereus loves the sun and only tolerates partial shade.

The Moon Cactus has a shortened life span because it’s essentially two different plants with different needs, so one is almost like a parasite, living off the other.

Extending the life of a moon cactus

Extend Moon Cactus Lifespan

If you want to extend the life of your moon cactus, you may be able to graft a new rootstock onto the scion. You can buy a new rootstock from a Hylocereus or use a Cereus or Trichocereus cactus. Ensure that your new rootstock is approximately the same size as the scion, as this will make the two more compatible.

Make a clean cut at the top of the new rootstock and also cut the scion close to the old rootstock. Don’t leave any of the old rootstocks on your scion. You can then place the two pieces together and align the circle that can be seen in both plant’s cross-sections. Secure the two pieces firmly with tape or a rubber band. It will take about two months for the two pieces to join together completely.

You can also plant the rootstock that you’ve removed, and this will regrow.


Moon Cactus Do Not Live Long

There are many problems associated with growing and keeping a Moon Cactus alive. Most people who buy a moon cactus cannot care for the plant correctly, and it only lives a few months, while others manage to look after the plants for one to three years. Even experienced cacti collectors aren’t able to keep the moon cactus alive for much more than five years.