Botanical Name — Hildewintera colademononis reclassified as Cleistocactus winteri subsp. colademononis
Common Name — Monkey's tail
Plant Family — Cactaceae
Hildewintera colademononis was reclassified to Cleistocactus winteri subsp. Colademononis. It is native to Bolivia and is an epilithic plant which grows hanging from steep rock faces protruding above the surrounding jungle. It has very long white and soft, hairlike spines. The common name “monkey's tail” refers to the appearance of the hairy stems. The flowers are large bright red blooms . Growth starts as upright and then hangs.
Monkey tails grow best in bright indirect light but can take full direct sun or light shade. Avoid intense afternoon sun since that can sunburn the stems.
Monkey tails like room temperatures around 65 to 80 F. Night time temperatures can go down to 60 F.
During the winter, they prefer cooler temperatures between 50 to 55 F. The cooler temperature will encourage flowers. They can tolerate light frost down to 28 F.
Cleistocactus winteri subsp. Colademononis prefers to stay on the dry side. In the summer, water them only when the soil has dried out completely. Always err on the side of underwatering. They are built to withstand drought, and overwatering is one of the quickest ways to kill them.
During the winter water very infrequently, if at all. It’s safe to cut back on watering entirely. Water should be restricted to only enough to keep the stems and branches from shrivelling.
These plants prefer a sandy, sharply draining mix. Cacti or succulent potting mix is great. You can amend a regular potting soil with sand or pumice up to 50% to improve grittiness and drainage.
Can flower in the Spring and summer months. The flower is a large and bright red. Can produce a reddish fruit.
These plants do not require fertilizer though it can be added to give container grown plants a boost or to supplement poor soil. Apply a water-soluble, balanced fertilizer monthly, diluted at half strength during the summer months.
Easy to propagate from seeds, cuttings and offsets.
Take cuttings in spring and let callus for a couple of weeks. Then plant them in fresh cactus soil that is slightly moist, and keep it that way till they root.
Offsets can be separated from the plant and be replanted.
The most common insect pests for the monkey tail in homes are scale, mealybugs and spider mites.
Overwatering can cause root rot.
Maintenance (pruning, legginess, repotting)
Repot when the plant has outgrown its planter. Can be 1 to 2” larger than its current planter. They are fast growers so this may be done every other year..
Cleistocactus winteri subsp. Colademononis are toxic to humans and pets. These should not be digested.