The Amazing Crested Cactus

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One of the many great things about succulents is that they are a big clan which means you can have many options to choose what to grow. It ranges from cute little ones perfect for tabletops to a more defined and sophisticated type for gardens and around the corners of your house.

Crested Succulents occur when plants develop a mutation at their growth points. This leads to the plant appearing thinner and curling as it grows. The shape of its leaves alter and instead of being plump and in the shape of a rosette, Crested Succulents will have many smaller, thinner leaves that bunch together.

Crested Cactus’ Growth and Maintenance

Generally, Crested Cactus demands the same caring as their un-crested counterparts. However, they are more sensitive, given that they have genetic defects. That makes them more susceptible to splitting, rotting, and injuries compared to un-crested succulents.

Nevertheless, the growing and caring needs are the same. You will still observe important factors like soil, watering, lighting, and temperature.

1. Soil Requirements

When growing succulents, always use well-draining soil at all costs. Well-draining soil is non-negotiable especially if you have Crested Cactus.

Since Crested Cactus are more sensitive than their un-crested counterparts, it’s even more important that you should be careful when growing them.

A well-draining soil keeps them from being soaked in water but still holds moisture. Succulents are generally drought tolerant which means they are prone to survive in dry environments instead of wet ones.

Use a cactus potting mix because they are made to meet the needs of succulents in terms of soil. Just go to your nearest local garden store and buy enough for your succulents.

You can also add perlite or coarse sand to improve its drainage system. This is advisable in areas with high humidity to help balance the moisture in the soil.

Begin by mixing a 1:1 ratio of cactus potting mix and perlite or coarse sand.

Moreover, adding perlite or coarse sand is not necessary for places with low humidity and high temperatures.

Putting perlite or coarse sand will only dry out the moisture in the soil quickly. It is already enough to use cactus potting mix alone.

If you cannot find the cactus potting mix in your local garden stores, you can create an alternative by using the regular soil in your area.

Just mix it with perlite or coarse sand and gradually adjust the amount until it feels crumbly and does not hold like a ball when you squeeze it.

2. Watering Requirements

Alongside a well-draining soil is a proper watering cycle. Remember, succulents should not be overwatered, and you have to be more careful with the crested ones.

Typically, the Crested Cactus should receive less water and less fertilizer than the un-crested ones.

The watering cycle of succulents in general depends on the temperature of your area. In high humid places, you may have to water your Crested Cactus once every week depending on the moisture level of the soil.

In high-temperature areas, you might be watering them shorter than a week interval.

With that in mind, you must be familiar with the climate in your area most especially if you are growing a Crested Cactus.

Their roots are more sensitive to root rot and succulents usually get this when they are overwatered.

Before watering, always check the dryness of the soil first. If the dryness of is 2 to 3 inches deep from the surface, that is the time you need to apply water. You can use a stick to check the soil.

More importantly, make sure that the excess water drains freely from the bottom of the container. If you don’t see any drains, that could mean there is a problem with the soil’s draining system.

If that happens, immediately improve the draining system by adding perlite or coarse sand or you can replant the Crested Cactus in a new container.

3. Lighting Requirements

The lighting needs of the Crested Cactus are like that of un-crested succulents. They love a good exposure to sunlight during the day and a partial shade in the afternoon.

Different places have different temperatures so you have to be very careful when exposing them to sunlight otherwise they will get sunburn.

In summer, you must transfer them to an area with partial shade to protect them from the scorching heat of the summer season.

If you grow them indoors, you have to place them on a windowsill facing south or west. If you don’t have these options, place them anywhere in your house with enough access to sunlight.

However, do not forget to attend to them occasionally, to rotate the plant to give all sides equal sunlight.

Also, move the plant to a more shaded area if the sunlight becomes too hot and direct.

4. Temperature Requirements

It should be obvious already that the temperature of the Crested Cactus should not be at cold levels. Ideally, crest cactus will grow in the hardiness zones 10-11 and anything outside this scope is no longer safe for them.

Remember, crest cactus is sensitive thus they should be given the perfect condition at all costs.

In winter, you should transfer them indoors if you grow them outdoors and place them in an area with balanced temperatures.

If the temperatures indoors are not ideal, you may use a grow light because not only do they supplement lighting needs, but it provides warmth to the Crested Cactus as well.

Indeed, all these things make them harder to grow than the un-crested ones but they compensate for it by putting a smile on your face witnessing how beautiful they are.

Understanding Crested Cactus

While it may be true that Crested Cactus are attractive and breathtaking, it is a product of a genetic defect – bizarre yet beautiful in its own way!

An average plant grows through the power of meristem tissue, which is like a stem cell for plants. They are created from immature cells that can develop according to the plant’s desire starting from roots, stems, and leaves.

In the meristem tissue lies what is called the apical meristem tissue which is found at the tips of roots and shoots.

The apical meristem tissue is responsible for the primary growth of the succulents making them taller and develop more leaves. All these growths are done with the help of photosynthesis.

Moreover, the apical meristem tissue is also responsible for the root growth of succulents so they can access more water to sustain their growing body. In other words, apical meristem tissue is the overall driving factor for the development of the plant.

Meristem tissue, on the other hand, is the one responsible for growth under the right condition and they work hand in hand with apical meristem tissue to grow a plant.

Interestingly, the Crested Cactus have defects in their apical meristem tissue. This makes them develop the kind of unique appearance compared to normal succulents in their clan.

When a cactus crests, the apical meristem tissue no longer develops in its original and single point but grows in different points along a single line which makes Crested Cactus have broad lines.

For example, a normal Saguaro Cactus grows vertically forming a columnar shape that continues to reach the sky. Although they develop branches but only on occasions and it is not due to the apical meristem tissue defect.

When Saguaro crests, the vertical growth of the plant becomes distorted along the line and will curl up towards their body as they grow taller.

In this segment, we feature one of the most alluring varieties in its clan—the Crested Cactus. It’s a highly unusual and striking succulent. The top part of the Crested Cactus is oddly wide and complemented with curvatures with spikes all over it. They are the crown of the succulents, and this is the primary attribute that makes the Crested Cactus amazing.

This clan alone has over 95 members – so we will not be listing any botanic names in this article!

Furthermore, it is expected already that you are curious, especially beginners, as to why they look the way they look. Also, understanding the nature of the Crested Cactus is the first step of its appreciation.

For that matter, let us know more about the details of this amazing plant.

What Causes the Succulent to Crest?

Even though cresting is a product of genetic defects, they are not inheritable. That is, the factors that cause succulents to crest are due to environmental conditions.

In general, a Crested Cactus is the result of an apical meristem tissue injury that happens when they are still young.

Sometimes, the injury is due to wind, insects, weather, bird, insects, and other animals. Nutritional deficiency or hormonal imbalance can also be a cause of cresting.

The nutritional deficiency or hormonal imbalance of the plant can result in disease or infection and plant cells responds to this to survive thereby forming a crest in their growth.

Cresting isn’t exclusive to succulents and cacti only because other plants can develop it as well. Although they are more common among succulents and cacti.

The durable nature of succulents enables them to survive genetic defects that other plants find impossible to do.

At first, cresting is a genetic defect of a plant but this makes crested succulents a beautiful disaster. Later, growers adopt the Crested Cactus as part of their whole clan with the same energy and respect.

Nowadays, Crested Cactus has important roles to play in decorative and recreational purposes.

Final Thoughts

Can Crested Succulents Revert Back?

Yes, they can. When the leaves of the plant commence to grow and create thicker sections, parts of this Succulent are able to revert back to normal growth (called defasciation).

If you decide you want to keep the crested look, then remove the normal growth because it will take over the crested art ‘til your plant looks normal!

Contrariwise, a normal succulent suddenly developing a crest at any point in its life, isn’t unusual.

If you’ve thought of owning one – get it now for your collection – you’ll be pleased you did. It’s great to have something that gives you a little unusual visual effect.

Quite a few members of the Green Garden Tribe have developed quite attractive but different types of collections – all of them fascinating and all of them somewhat coveted!

Neighbors and other gardening friends are invariably spellbound. Then, of course, because you’re the first one, there’s always the bragging rights. You can think ‘Us? We never brag!’ but, we hate to tell you……..

Jenny Marie
Tribal Writer

Edited By
Patricia Godwin

Patricia Godwin

Patricia has many years of experience as a content writer on various subjects, but her first love is gardening. She’s never met a plant she didn’t like and, consequently, she writes about every type of plant you can think of. Once an avid gardener with a herb garden, a succulent rockery, and a rose garden – to mention a few. Nowadays, she’s constantly on the move searching for interesting plants to bring to your attention; and explain to you all the details you need to grow, care and maintain these plants.

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