While I was buying some organic fertilizer recently at my local farmer’s market, I noticed the most amazing cactus. It looked quite deformed and sad, sitting in a dark spot. I asked the expert about it and was told that it has the strange name of Ming Thing Cactus.
Well, the name is quite fitting, as it certainly is a strange ‘Thing’. But, I could not leave without taking it home with me.
The Ming Thing Cactus exhibits natural mutant-growth with strange club-like shapes. It is dark blue-green in color with short black spines, woolly areoles, and occasional white flowers.
This is not a cactus that attracts love, but I am determined to make it a happy plant in my apartment!
The Latin name is Cereus Forbesii Monstrose. I learned that monstrose means that it will develop random growth points all over the plant.
These growths create the knobby, lumpy asymmetrical shape.
The plant is native to Bolivia and Argentina where it can grow up to 6 feet (2m) tall in the outdoors.
Let us take a closer look at how to care for these strange little plants.
- 1 Ming Thing Cactus Care
- 2 Ming Thing Cactus in-depth Propagation Guide
- 3 Common problems with Ming Thing Cactus
- 4 Tips to grow Ming Thing Cactus problem-free
- 5 Frequently asked questions about Ming Thing Cactus
- 6 Conclusion
Ming Thing Cactus Care
Ming Thing Cactus does best in a cactus-mix soil that is well-draining and well aerated. It must be allowed to dry out between waterings. Fertilize infrequently only during the growing season. Cereus Forbesii Monstrose does not want full sun all day. 2 to 3 hours of direct sun is sufficient. It will also tolerate more shady spots of dappled sunlight. Temperatures are best when they are between 70°F and 80°F (21°C to 27°C). It will not tolerate frost and is not happy in humid conditions.
The Ming Thing Cactus comes from a desert habitat and enjoys well draining soil that will dry out completely between waterings.
If you are purchasing soil from your local nursery, ask for a cactus mix or a succulent mix. These soils have the correct balance of clay, sand, and silt. The best combination is 20% clay, 40% sand, and 40% silt.
I like to make my own cactus mix which seems to work well because the cactus plants don’t die! I use a mix of 50% peat and 50% perlite. I also throw in some mulch, organic manure, and pumice if I have some available.
Like most cactus plants, Ming Thing Cactus enjoys slightly acidic to neutral soil with a PH value between 5.0 and 7.0.
Ming Thing Cactus soil tip: If you want to increase drainage in your soil and also allow better aeration, adding some coco husk chips will do the trick.
As you have seen, the Ming Thing Cactus is a strange plant. Unlike most cactus plants that want 6 hours of sunlight per day, the Ming Thing can survive with much less. In fact, it can even do well in a darker shadier spot, suited to its weird and spooky nature.
That being said, don’t deprive your plant of sunshine. Dappled sunlight is great. If you are handy with DIY, you can create dappled sunlight by putting up a canopy that allows light to filter through.
For indoor plants, try to give your Ming Thing Cactus a spot with at least 2 to 3 hours of direct sunlight every day. For the rest of the day, it will be happy with partial shade.
Don’t place it on a windowsill that gets direct sun all day. It will be happier standing on a shelf or table a little distance away from the window.
Ming Thing Cactus light tip: If you live in a city apartment that gets little direct sun, the Ming Thing Cactus may be just the plant you need.
For best watering care, you need to give it the soak-and-dry treatment. Drench it well and then allow it to dry out completely.
Ming Thing is not happy if the roots stand in water. They will rot and your plant will eventually die. Most plant containers have drainage holes at the base. Ensure that they are not blocked and that the excess water can flow out.
Also remember to empty out the catch tray under your container. If you don’t, the water may be absorbed back up into the pot.
During Spring and Summer, the growing season, water your plant once every 2 to 4 weeks and only when the soil is dry. In Winter, reduce watering to only once a month or even less.
Remember this Ming Thing Cactus water care tip: The type of container you choose will affect the drainage and amount of water in the soil.
Plastic pots trap water for much longer. Terracotta or clay pots allow moisture to evaporate through the sides of the pot and your soil will dry out faster.
The Ming Thing Cactus enjoys warm temperatures. Think hot desert!
During the day, it is happiest in a temperature range of 70°F to 80°F (21°C to 27°C). It will tolerate slightly cooler temperatures.
Your plant can withstand lower night temperatures down to 50°F (10°C). In Winter, only water during the day and try to ensure that your plant is dry at night. Cold water on the plant will cause scarring and may permanently damage it.
Ming Thing Cactus temperature care tip: This plant will not tolerate frost. It needs to be adequately covered if you are growing it outdoors. If you can bring it indoors during Winter, that will be ideal.
Deserts are hot and dry with a very low humidity. So, that is what your weird little Ming Thing Cactus wants. Hot damp tropical conditions are not good for this plant. That being said, a home with an average humidity of around 40% will be fine.
Very humid homes will benefit from airflow. Open windows and allow the air to circulate if possible, but try not to create a draught.
Most plants do not enjoy draughty spots. This also applies to air conditioners that may be blowing out a stream of hot or cold air directly onto your plants. Try to direct the flow away from the plants.
I must admit that before I became a bit more savvy with my house plants, I tended to over-fertilize. I soon discovered that this is not a good thing to do.
When I fertilize, I prefer to use a natural organic mix. Since I am trying to maintain a go-green lifestyle, using a chemical fertilizer is a no-go.
Only fertilize during Spring and Summer, the growing season. Do not feed your plant in Winter.
You can buy a Cactus Fertilizer mix or you can make your own. Nursery fertilizers contain a mix of potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus.
Home-made compost is also great for your Ming Thing. I like to use a mix of mulch, perlite, pumice, crushed bark, peat, and some coco husks.
Add your fertilizer to the soil before potting a new plant. For an existing plant, add the fertilizer to the soil in the pot, give it a good watering and allow it to dry out completely.
Care tip for feeding Ming Thing Cactus: Over fertilizing can make plants weak and vulnerable to disease and pests.
The Cereus Forbesii Monstrose Cactus can be propagated from seeds or offsets.
Seeds take longer and require a lot more patience and care. I prefer to use the offset method. Offsets or cuttings can be taken from the main plant and replanted. In this way, you can create many spooky ‘monster plants’ that you can give to family and friends as a gift.
Further on, you will find my detailed guide on how to propagate your Ming Thing Cactus from cuttings.
This unusual plant grows in a naturally mutant fashion. It produces outgrowths at random growth points all over the plant. The name Montrose describes this strange phenomenon.
It offers copious lumpy, club-like stems that are a rich blue-green color and have short black spines and woolly areoles. Some people describe the shapes as clenched fists. Whatever you call them, this plant is sure to be a conversation starter when guests come to visit.
Indoors, your Ming Thing Cactus can grow to a height of around 12 inches (30cm) and as wide as 6 inches to 12 inches (15 cm to 30cm).
The growth is slow, but you may find that you will need to repot into a larger pot from time to time. You can also trim some of the growth if you prefer to keep it smaller.
If planted outdoors, they will grow much taller and wider, and can even reach heights of up to 6 feet (2m).
The plant may produce flowers when it is mature, but this can be unreliable. If it does, they are a lovely white color with hints of pink. The flowers do not have a fragrance.
If you allow your Ming Thing to grow taller, it provides a great background height for an arrangement of cacti.
Ming Thing Cactus growth tip: Do not fertilize during the Winter season. From November to March, the plant is dormant. It has a better chance of producing flowers if it is left completely alone during this time.
If you enjoy a retro and way-cool décor theme, your Ming Thing Cactus looks great in a spooky pot shaped like a skull. If that is not your style, a decorative terracotta or clay pot will be just as awesome.
Prepare your pot with a Cactus Mix. I like to place a layer of small pebbles at the base. They will help with water drainage and also stops the drainage holes from getting clogged up by sand.
Create a hole in the substrate in the middle of the container. Place the plant gently into the opening. Use a spoon or scoop to fill soil around the plant to cover all the roots. Don’t push the roots too close to the base, they will need space to spread and grow.
Your Ming Thing Cactus can outgrow a small pot and you may have to repot it. Wear a pair of rubber gloves to prevent getting spiked. Allow the soil to dry out completely.
Remove the plant from its container and check the root system. Tease them apart if they are tightly twisted. Prune off any roots that are dead or rotten.
Put your plant into the new container. Fill in the spaces around the cactus with cactus mix. I like to put a layer of small granite chips on top for decoration.
Do not water for a week. Keeping it dry will greatly reduce the chance of root rot. After a week, start your soak-and-dry routine.
I prefer to use terracotta or clay pots in place of plastic. They allow water to evaporate much faster through the sides of the container.
Ming Thing Cactus potting care tip: For best cactus care, choose a smaller rather than a larger pot. Larger pots hold water for longer which is not what you want.
Ming Thing Cactus in-depth Propagation Guide
Propagate Ming Thing Cactus from cuttings
- Propagation is best done in early Spring to late Summer
- Prepare your workspace
- You need a plate, paper towels, a sterile knife, and gloves
- Allow your mother plant to dry out completely
- You can leave the mother plant in its container
- Gently take hold of the plant with your gloved hands
- Using the knife, cut off a healthy stem close to the base
- Place the cutting onto the dry plate or paper towel
- Cut off as many as you require, each one will become a new plant
- Allow the offsets to dry out in a warm place
- After a few days, you will see that a callus forms over the cut section
- Wait until the callus becomes quite dry
- Plant the cutting into a container filled with a suitable cactus mix
- To help the plant stand upright, you can use toothpicks or foam supports
- Water well and stand in a warm spot until new roots emerge
Common problems with Ming Thing Cactus
Despite its spooky appearance, pests may not have a problem attacking your Cereus Forbesii Monstrose Cactus. A common pest to look out for is the scale insect. Scales attach themselves to the stems and lay eggs, which hatch and suck the juices out of the plant.
Spraying with a solution of diluted rubbing alcohol will help to loosen the scales. You can also pull them off with tweezers or by brushing with a stiff paintbrush. When you are done, give your plant a good wash with a hosepipe or under a tap if you are indoors.
Plant turns brown
This is a sign of over watering. Ming Thing cactus does not enjoy too much water and will die if the roots are left to rot. Try to save your plant by removing it from the pot and allowing the roots to dry out. Repot into a new container and leave for a few days before lightly watering.
Plant looks unhealthy
This could be for two reasons. The first is that your pot is too small and the roots have become clogged. They will not be able to absorb enough water even though you are following a correct watering plan. The second is the opposite. The container is too big and water is remaining in the soil for too long.
Tips to grow Ming Thing Cactus problem-free
- Do not over water, soak and allow to dry out fully
- Roots must not stand in water for long periods of time
- Use a cactus soil mix, not your regular potting soil
- Ming Thing does not want full sun all day
- Find a spot with light and 2 to 3 hours of direct sun
- Do not expose to frost
- Only fertilize during Spring and Summer
- Do not give it a humid environment
- Terracotta or clay pots are best as they allow water to evaporate
Frequently asked questions about Ming Thing Cactus
Is it easy to care for Ming Thing Cactus?
This cactus is a great choice for beginners as it requires little care and attention. The Ming Thing Cactus can survive with minimal water. It needs a bright spot, 2 to 3 hours of direct sun, and occasional feeding during the growing period.
Can Ming Thing Cactus grow indoors?
Yes, it can. This strange plant looks great as part of a cactus collection. It is definitely a conversation starter. You can also allow it to grow taller than your other cacti, creating an interesting contrast to smaller plants in front of it.
Is Ming Thing Cactus toxic?
No, it is not toxic. It may look toxic, but it is harmless. There are some spikes on the stems, so it should be kept away from smaller children.
If you enjoy a plant that is different, the Cereus Forbesii Monstrose is for you. It has a weird mutant shape with strange growths that look like clenched fists.
The plant will add a new dimension to any cactus collection. I love the blue-green color of the stems and the black spikes that make it look super-cool.
I have placed by Ming Thing next to a Faucaria tigrina ‘Tiger Jaws’. This is a dark green succulent with stacked, triangular leaves. It fits in with the spooky-theme. It has mean-looking spines, but they are actually soft and harmless.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.