Stunning Colorful Moon Cactus Plants
Moon cactus plants are known as Gymnocalycium mihanovichii or Hibotan cactus. Strangely, the plants are something of mutants and lacks the ability to produce chlorophyll, which means they must be grafted onto a rootstock with that ability. The resulting bright color of the Hibotan makes the plants popular as decoration, though it has a relatively short life for a cactus. Without enough chlorophyll to turn sunlight into food, a plant will die; this is the case with moon cactus seedlings. They can survive for only up to a few weeks on their own. If a Gymnocalycium mihanovichii is grafted onto a chlorophyll-dense succulent, however, it can live for many years. Most plant nurseries will sell moon cacti that are already grafted and flourishing. If a gardener wishes to do the grafting at home instead, many books and websites include instructions on how to do so successfully.
The main idea is to cut the top of the base cactus and the bottom of the moon cactus off. Then, by lining up the insides of both cacti, the two plants will heal by becoming one plant. The Hibotan should begin to grow as it feeds off of the base cactus. Typically, the top plant will turn a bright shade of yellow, orange or red. This effect is caused by the revelation of the plant’s underlying pigmentation and the lack of chlorophyll, which gives plants their usual green color. It is common for people to confuse a moon cactus with a cactus flower.