In our journey to discovering bizarre types of succulent plants, we recently came across the Mammillaria elongata ‘Cristata’ of the Brain Cactus. As its name says, it looks like the gray matter found inside your skull.
The Brain Cactus may not appeal to everyone because of the way it looks, which is somewhere in between creepy and weird levels. However, it makes a nice Halloween succulent plant decor. You can place it on top of a hollowed pumpkin, or a human skull-inspired pot for zombie-themed parties—just because this undead creature simply loves brains. Despite its appearance, growers of this plant are rewarded with little blooms during summers.
What gives the cactus a brain-like arrangement is a mutation in its cell that occurs during the plant’s development. Somewhere along the young stage of the cactus, a sort of damage happens that causes the cells at the injury site to multiply at a faster rate. As a result, the pads end up curling or twisting.
Brain Cactus can be grown in many ways. This can be made through its seeds, stem cuttings, and offsets. All the said methods are easy but propagation from seeds can take a lot of time that’s why we always prefer doing it using the other two alternatives.
We recommend buying a full-grown or near mature version of the Brain Cactus. This will be your source of cuttings or offsets.
For the cuttings, start by identifying the healthiest part of the succulent. It should be free from signs of withering, dryness, or pest infestation.
Next, sterilize a pair of scissors or pruning shears to make sure that they will not introduce foreign elements or harmful organisms into the wound of the plant. Using the tool, cut the stem of the succulent, and let it callus for at least a week.
After that, fill up a succulent plant pot with a horticultural mix. The compound is made of three parts potting soil with the same proportion of coarse sand or gravel, and two parts of perlite or pumice. When the cutting has already healed up, transfer it to the potting mixture.
The same process can be used when propagating using offsets. Just separate the offset from the mother plant by cutting the lateral stem connecting the two, and repeat the mentioned planting methods.
The Brain Cactus is native to the wilds of Central Mexico. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Plant Hardiness Zone Map, the plant can survive along the 10 and 11 regions. That means the succulent can take temperatures as low as 30 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Like most succulent plants, the Brain Cactus is sensitive to overwatering. Doing so can cause soggy leaves or rot. Therefore, only apply water when its soil starts getting dry to the touch.
The water should also be directed towards the base because the stem of the cactus tends to trap moisture in its folds, which may attract gnats, mold, and mildew that can kill it if left unattended.
Lastly, see to it that the container or pot you are using has holes at the bottom that will serve as drainage for excess water.