Coral Cactus: The Care Guide!

Are you a fan of succulents and coral reefs? If so, you might want to check out the coral cactus, a stunning plant combining both elements. The coral cactus is not a true cactus but a hybrid of two different succulents that form a crest that looks like a coral formation. Plus, it is a low-maintenance plant that can thrive in various conditions, as long as you follow some simple tips.

Essential Care Tips for Coral Cactus

Coral cactus, also known as Euphorbia lactea crest, that resembles underwater coral formations. It is a graft of two different Euphorbias: the top ruffled part is the crest of Euphorbia lactea, while the green stem is Euphorbia neriifolia. Plus, this plant is popular among houseplant enthusiasts for its unique appearance and low-maintenance requirements. However, it still needs some specific care to thrive and stay healthy.

We have jotted down the essential care tips for coral cactus plants, which will help you maintain plant health.

1. Light

Light is an important factor in the growth and color of coral cactus. This plant prefers bright, indirect light to maintain its vibrant hues and prevent stretching. So, a sunny spot with ample natural light, such as near a south or west-facing window, is ideal for coral cactus. However, you should avoid exposing it to direct sunlight, especially during the hottest hours of the day, as it can burn its delicate branches.

essential care tips for coral cactus plant

If you cannot avoid direct sun exposure, you should provide some shading or move the plant to a cooler location.

2. Soil

This plant needs well-draining soil that does not retain too much moisture, as it can cause root rot and fungal infections. You can use a commercial cactus or succulent soil mix. Or make your own by adding some sand, perlite, or pumice to a regular potting soil. The ideal pH for coral cactus is slightly acidic to neutral, ranging from 6.0 to 7.0. You can test the pH of your soil with a kit or a meter and adjust it accordingly with lime or sulfur.

3. Water

Watering is one of the most common challenges when it comes to caring for coral cactus. This plant is drought-tolerant and does not need frequent watering, as it can store water in its stems and branches. However, it still needs some moisture to survive and grow. You can check the moisture level of the soil by inserting your finger or a wooden stick into it. If it feels dry, it is time to water.

4. Temperature and Humidity

Temperature and humidity are also important factors for coral cactus care. It likes warm and dry conditions, similar to its native habitat. However, it does not tolerate frost or freezing temperatures, which can damage its tissues and kill it. If you live in a cold climate, you should bring your coral cactus indoors.

coral cactus plant

As for humidity, coral cactus prefers low to moderate levels, making it suitable for indoor environments. However, if the air is too dry, it can cause the plant to lose moisture and become dehydrated. You can increase the humidity around the plant by misting it occasionally, placing it on a tray of pebbles and water, or using a humidifier.

5. Fertilizer

Fertilizer is not a necessity for coral cactus, but it can help boost its growth and health. You can feed your coral cactus once a month during the active growing season. From spring to summer, with a balanced or cactus-specific fertilizer, diluted to half-strength. You should avoid fertilizing the plant during the dormant season, from fall to winter, as it can cause excessive growth and weak stems.

By following these simple care tips, you can ensure that your coral cactus will thrive for years to come. Happy gardening! 😊

Steps to Propagate Coral Cactus Plant

Well, the coral cactus plant can only be propagated by another graft, not from cuttings or seeds. In other words, it means that you need to have two healthy Euphorbia plants that you want to combine and a sharp tool to make the cuts. Plus, you also need to be careful when handling the plants, as they have a toxic latex sap.

So, here are the steps to propagate the coral cactus plant by grafting:

  • Firstly, you need to cut off the top of the rootstock plant with the help of a sharp knife or scissors. You need to make a straight cut across the stem from the top.
  • Now, cut off the crest or the fan-shaped growth of the scion plant with the same knife or scissors. But, make a similar cut across the base of the crest or the fan, so that it matches the size and shape of the rootstock cut.
  • Place the scion on top of the rootstock, aligning the cuts as closely as possible. Press them firmly together, making sure there are no gaps or air pockets between them.
  • Once the graft is successful, you can remove the rubber band, the string, or the tape. You can also repot the plant in a larger container with well-draining soil.

Congratulations, you have propagated your coral cactus plant! Enjoy its unique appearance, and take good care of it. 😊

Common Problems With Coral Cactus

As we have an idea, coral plants belong to a succulent family and are a combination of two different Euphorbia species grafted together. Plus, if you take good care of coral cactus plants, it will add a touch of whimsy to your home garden. However, like any plant, it can also encounter some problems that may affect its health and appearance. For your reference, we have jotted down the two common issues with coral cactus and how to fix them.

1. Yellowing

One of the most common concerns with coral cactus is the yellowing of the crest or the stem. This can be caused by several factors, such as overwatering, underwatering, sunburn, nutrient deficiency, or pest infestation. To prevent and treat yellowing, you should:

  • Water your coral cactus only when the soil is completely dry, and avoid overwatering. As it can cause root rot and fungal infections that can turn the plant yellow.
  • On the other hand, underwatering can also cause yellowing, as the plant will lose its turgor and become dehydrated. So, it is advisable to make sure to water your coral cactus thoroughly and deeply when the soil is dry.
  • Protect your coral cactus from direct sunlight, especially during the hottest hours of the day. This is because sunburn can cause yellow or brown spots on the crest or the stem. So, it is better to prefer bright but indirect light and place it near a window with a sheer curtain or under a shade cloth.
common problems with coral cactus

2. Brown Spots

Another common problem with coral cactus is brown spots, which develop on the crest or the stem. This can be due to fungal or bacterial infections, physical damage, or cold stress. To prevent and treat brown spots, you should:

  • Avoid overwatering your coral cactus, as this can create a favorable environment for fungal or bacterial pathogens.
  • If you notice any brown spots with a soft or mushy texture, you should cut off the affected part with a sterile knife. Then apply some fungicide or neem oil to the wound. As this will help to prevent the infection from spreading and help the plant heal faster.
  • Keep your coral cactus away from cold drafts, heaters, or air conditioners, as these can cause temperature fluctuations that can stress the plant and cause brown spots.

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How do you care for a coral cactus?

To care for a coral cactus, you should provide it with bright but indirect light, well-draining soil, and moderate watering. It is better to water your coral cactus only when the top 2 inches of the soil are dry, and also fertilize it once a month during the growing season with a diluted liquid fertilizer.

Why is my coral cactus turning pink?

Your coral cactus may turn pink due to various stress factors, such as too much or too little water, sunburn, heat, cold, or nutrient deficiency. But, well, this is a normal response of the plant to protect itself or adapt to the environment. However, if the pink color is accompanied by softness, mushiness, or scabbing, it may indicate a fungal or bacterial infection or root rot.

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