Scientifically known as Strophocactus testudo, the Dog Tail cactus belongs to a polymorphic species and is native to the tropical rain-forests of South America.
If you are a new plant parent, the Dog Tail cactus is a great place to start—it can survive almost anywhere, thanks to its robust nature.
You can identify them through their long, thin trailing stems in the shape of a dog’s tail (thus the name!).
They add an aesthetic component to your house, especially if you mount it in hanging baskets in a bright window - this becomes a necessity when you have pets at home because let’s face it, they will paw at anything, and these have cylindrical leaves lined with small spines on the edges grow downwards, that could potentially hurt a nosy feline or two.
Even though the Dog Tail cactus falls under a hardy family of cactus, it still requires some specific care and nurture to bloom. A well-drained soil-mix is required using two parts of sand, perlite and gravel, and one part of natural organic matter. The Dog Tail cactus does fine in temperatures between 39°F to 80°F (4-27°C) and enjoys lower humidity levels (50% is the absolute max). Oh, and remember, don’t overwater the plant as you could be unwillingly contributing to its wilting. These epiphytic plants consume the majority of their nutrients from the air directly, so no problem there!
The Dog Tail Cactus grows perfectly under well-lit conditions, so a major part of the care you need to provide is centered on appropriate light conditions. If proper light is supplied, the spines grow up to a shorter length and become sharper to touch, else they droop to a softer configuration and become hair-like. Another downside of not receiving enough sunlight is that the stems usually become pale and lose their vigor or rigidity, and often become too thin—in turn losing their beauty. Keep in mind that we are talking about the amount of sunlight, and not the intensity.
The trickiest part to maintain a cactus at home is to keep the watering under control.
Epiphytic cacti like more moisture than the other species and require more water during summer. But you need to make sure that the water is not stagnant and drains away, keeping the cactus mix dry. Excessive water or stagnant water near the roots will cause the roots to rot.
On the contrary, if the Dog Tail fails to receive sufficient water, the roots and stems will look asymmetrical and disproportionate with the stems growing thin and pale. To keep the water in check, dig your finger into the soil surface and feel the moisture. If the top inch (3 cm) of soil is dry, it is time to water the plant.
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