Top Maintenance Tips for the Ming Thing Cactus Succulent Plant

The Ming Thing Cactus is not something that you see in gardens every day. This peculiar succulent plant looks deformed, which should come as a nice find for plant parents who are into something out of the ordinary.

We don’t know where Ming Thing got its name from. However, it seems like a fitting name since it’s as strange as the monster in an old Kurt Russell movie, the Swamp Thing in DC comics, and the Man-Thing in Marvel comics. Its Latin name ‘Cereus Forbesii Monstrose’ further emphasizes its bizarre nature too. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, ‘monstrose’ in botany points to a plant that has abnormal, distorted, and disfigured growth.

The Ming Thing can grow up to 12 inches tall with proper care. It has bulbous stems clumped together, which forms its irregular shape.

Don’t let its appearance intimidate you though. Despite its exotic look, the Ming Thing is actually easy to maintain as long as you follow these simple but important tips:

1. Sunlight

Like all other cacti, the Ming Thing loves the sun. Make sure that it gets at least two to six hours of direct sunlight during the day. However, if you spend most of your day outside of your home and you don’t have time to check it every now and then, just place it in a partially shaded area that has the most exposure to the sun during the daytime.

2. Temperature

This succulent is cold-hardy because it can survive low temperatures around 25 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Just to be safe though, place it under a grow light when temperatures during the cold season are already close to zero to supplement the lack of sunlight.

3. Watering

As a cactus, the Ming Thing does not require much watering to survive. Just sprinkle some water on it using a mist spray bottle to maintain its moisture during warm weather at least once a day. If the plant starts looking too dry with light patches and cracks on its skin, shorten its watering intervals slightly or add more water into it if needed.

As much as possible, avoid watering it during the cold weather. Too much water can damage its roots and may cause them to rot. Signs of overwatering include soggy leaves and having a lot of dark patches on their surface.

4. Succulent Plant Pot

You can use clay, plastic, or ceramic pots for growing the Ming Thing. See to it that the container has holes at the bottom that serve as drainage for excess water to avoid soaking the roots for long periods. As mentioned earlier, the stagnation of water at the roots can lead to rot and decay if left unchecked.

5. Soil

A potting mix consisting of loam and sand is the ideal combination for the Ming Thing. This mixture ensures better airflow and water circulation especially in the roots of the plant.

Ming Thing Cactus Flowers

After all these have been said and done, owners of the Ming Thing can bear witness to its flowering. Depending on its variant, the cactus may produce funnel-shaped flowers with white petals and purple or lavender hues. The beautiful flowers provide a contrasting appeal to the alien-like form of the plant.

Sand Dollar Cactus Propagation Guide

The Sand Dollar Cactus is known for its scientific name Astrophytum asterias. It is known for its other names, including sea urchin cactus, star cactus, or star peyote because of its appearance. The exotic look of this succulent plant makes it very popular with collectors, but its huge demand is one of the reasons why its population is dwindling nowadays.

The Sand Dollar Cactus is native to the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas and northern Mexico. According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, the plant started becoming popular to collectors as early as the mid-1800s. However, the overcollection of the succulent, as well as overgrazing and fire suppression measures, have contributed to its scarcity.

Sand Dollar Cactus Astrophytum asterias

The succulent is characterized by its flat and dome-shaped features. It is a green spineless cactus that can grow up to 15 cm in diameter. The plant has white hairs dividing its sections or stems giving it an appearance similar to a pumpkin or sea urchin. With proper care, growers of the succulents are rewarded with 3-5 cm yellow flowers that have red to orange highlights between March and May.

Propagation

Like most succulents, the Sand Dollar Cactus is easy to propagate and maintain. It can be grown using its seeds or offsets.

1. Using Seeds

Start by spreading the seeds on a tray and wrap the container with a plastic cover on top. The cover will help maintain the moisture and heat of the seeds. In addition, this keeps them away from pests. After that, acclimate the seeds under direct sunlight for a few weeks before transferring them to a container partially filled potting mix.

Propagating the plant via its seeds can be challenging though because the seeds are quite fragile and have a short shelf life. Therefore, they should be replanted as quickly as possible after harvesting.

Be patient if you have chosen to grow the Sand Dollar Cactus through seeds because it usually takes years until they develop into flowering plants.

2. Using Offsets

An easier method of propagating the Sand Dollar Cactus is through its offsets. These are basically the small clumps that have similar features as the parent plant.

Begin by simply separating the offset with the mother plant by cutting the lateral stem connecting them near the roots. See to it that the cutting tool you are using has been sterilized properly to prevent bacterial or fungal infection in the open wound of the plant. Be careful when removing the offset, too, so its roots won’t be damaged.

Upon the separation of the offset from the mother plant, just repot the former in a container that’s partly filled with potting mix.

Maintenance

The Sand Dollar Cactus does not require too much water to survive. Thus, water it only when its soil is already dry to the touch, or when the color of its stem starts getting lighter. Also, ensure that the pot you are using has small holes at the bottom to serve as drainage of excess water to avoid soaking the roots of the succulent, which may lead to overwatering and rotting.

Reminder

As a responsible plant parent, make sure that you source your succulents, especially the endangered ones, from legal sellers so you won’t be contributing to their extinction. Here at Cal Farms, we only get our products from legitimate sources. Therefore, if you are looking to add more succulent plants into your collection, feel free to chat or Contact Us to send in your inquiries or orders.

3 Delicious Succulent Cactus Recipes Everyone Can Enjoy

In Mexico, when you say nopales, Mexicans immediately think of good food. Either sautéed, grilled, and sometimes fried. Nopales means cactus leaves, and these are usually found in Mexican markets and in some specialized stores in Southeast Asia. Not many people know that succulents like cactus and CAL Farms Beautiful 36 of 2″ Assorted Succulents are not only great decorative pieces, but they are also edible and makes for salads, dips, salsa, and even soups.

Curious how this can be done? It is important to note that only the most learned in cooking should prepare a cactus recipe. Before actually grilling or sautéing the nopales, you have to make sure that the needles have been removed. Most nopales that you can purchase in grocery stores and ready and prepared for cooking. However, it would still be prudent of you to check if all needles and other prickly things on the cactus have already been removed. Move your hand on the leaf to feel that all areas are smooth.

1. Cactus Salsa

First, you need to preheat your griller or broiler. While it is preheating, place the cactus paddles, approximately 1 1/2 pounds, in a bowl and mix it with 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Marinate the nopales in the mixture for at least 30 minutes before putting it on the griller. Turn the paddles to the other side once there are grill marks and the paddles have turned dark green. Set aside and let cool. You can cover it and chill it from two to four hours to overnight in the chiller. After which, you can slice the cactus in 1/2-inch pieces and combine them with about four diced Italian tomatoes, 1/2 diced onion, 1 diced and seeded chile, 2 bunches of chopped cilantro, and 1/2 cup finely grated Cotija cheese.

In a separate bowl, combine 1/2 cup red wine, 1/2 cup olive oil, and 1 teaspoon salt and pepper.

2. Cactus Soup

You can choose to use jarred nopales or you can make your own by pickling the cactus leaves or grilling them. First, pour one jar of Morelos cooking sauce and 3 cups of chicken broth in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to boil and simmer down to medium heat. Add 4 springs of chopped cilantro and 1 jar of nopales. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

You can serve this cactus soup with tortillas on the side and some diced avocados on top.

3. Nopales Tacos

Grill 3 to 4 nopales around 15 minutes in total. Make sure the grill marks are present and both sides are evenly grilled. Chop the cactus in 1/4-inch thick before seasoning it with some salt and pepper and a bit of lime juice. Afterwards, you can put it in a taco shell and top it with your favorite tomato salsa recipe, as well as guacamole. For the tomato salsa, you simply have to chop off tomatoes, onions, and mix them with cilantro, oregano, chiles, salt and pepper, and extra virgin olive oil. As for the guacamole, either you use something store bought or you can dice some avocados and mix it with jalapeño peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, and lime juice.

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