Hurricane Cactus (Lepismium Cruciforme) Full Care Guide

The Hurricane Cactus, or Lepismium cruciforme, is a popular houseplant. Its long stems can grow over 20 inches (50 cm) long and tend to fall downwards, making it ideal for hanging baskets or trailing over a wall.

A mature Hurricane Cactus plant usually has many stems appearing in a cluster.

It is an epiphytic cactus, which means it is a plant that can grow on another plant and gets moisture and nutrients from the air and rain. Hurricane cacti are native to rainforests of South America, where they grow in tree crevices finding nutrients from rotting vegetation caught in the crevices of the tree. They can also grow perfectly happily in the ground or in pots.

Hurricane Cactus Lepismium Cruciforme Everything You Need To Know

The stems are thick and fleshy and green in color, although they will turn purple or red if stressed by too much sunlight. There a multiple areoles along the edges of the stems which sprout soft, white spikes. When in bloom, small flowers that can be white, cream or magenta appear from the areole.

There is also a spiral variety, Lepismium cruciforme f. spiralis, where the stems grow in a twisted spiral.

The interesting thing about the Hurricane Cactus, or Lepismium cruciforme, variety of cactus is that it doesn’t require hot weather, or full sun, to thrive.

This is because, unlike most cactus varieties, which are native to desert regions, this particular plant is native to tropical areas with high rainfall. It is a jungle cactus. This does mean it requires careful watering and is slightly higher maintenance than many other succulents and cacti.

Below, we’ve compiled this handy guide to help you care for a Hurricane Cactus.

The Habitat Of The Hurricane Cactus

The hurricane cactus is native to Central America and the subtropical climates of Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil.

This plant is, therefore, not considered to be a desert plant. Its native rainforest regions receive high rainfall levels, with up to 155 inches (almost 4m) of rainfall in an average year.

How To Care For A Hurricane Cactus

In this Hurricane Cactus care guide, we’ve compiled everything from correct lighting conditions to watering, soil and temperature, so you’re completely prepared.

If you’ve owned succulents in the past, you won’t find it difficult to care for the hurricane cactus, as it’s pretty similar in terms of care.

This plant will survive with very little care, but if you want it to grow and thrive, there are some instructions you need to follow.

The Best Light For Your Hurricane Cactus

Unlike most other cactus varieties, which thrive in sunlight, the Hurricane Cactus prefers bright, indirect light. Being native to the rainforests of South America, it has evolved to thrive in the dappled light of the rainforest canopy.

Too much sunlight could harm your hurricane cactus and burn its leaves.

So, how do you find the right balance for your hurricane cactus? It really needs somewhere with bright, indirect light or partial shade.

If indoors, a sun-facing windowsill is not the right place for this plant. However, a windowsill that does not face the sun would be suitable. It doesn’t like too much shade either, so somewhere bright but without direct sunlight would be perfect.

If planted outdoors, it needs a spot that is partially shaded for most of the day. It can take some early morning sun but does need to be shaded from the heat and rays of the midday sun.

How Can I Tell If My Hurricane Cactus Has Been Exposed To Too Much Sun?

Too much sunlight can cause the leaves to dry out and wither. To check out whether or not your hurricane cactus is getting too much sunlight, take careful note of the surface of the leaves.

A healthy, thriving hurricane cactus will have long, thick stems with a vibrant green color.

When these leaves are exposed to too much direct sunlight, the tips of the leaves will begin to take on a reddish tinge.

If you notice this happening, try to move your plant to an area that receives more shade.

Hurricane Cactus Lepismium cruciforme

Watering Your Hurricane Cactus

The Hurricane Cactus is not a drought-resistant plant and requires careful watering to thrive. It has evolved in a rainforest environment with a plentiful, constant supply of water.

Having said that, it can suffer from rot and fungal diseases if overwatered, so there is a fine balance to maintain.

The easiest guide to watering a hurricane cactus is to allow the top couple of inches of soil to dry completely before watering again. If grown in a pot, don’t allow all the soil, to the full depth of the pot, to dry completely before watering again. Once the soil is dry to the first knuckle of your forefinger, it’s time to water again.

As Hurricane Cactus isn’t resistant to drought, so you need to make sure that you’re not leaving it for prolonged periods without watering.

During the spring and summer months, when the plant is in its growth phase, you’ll need to water it on a more frequent basis.

Its dormant phase is winter, when you won’t need to water your cactus as often.

It loves atmospheres that are humid in spring and summer and you can mist the plant during these seasons. If in a pot, you can place the pot on a tray of pebbles half-covered with water. The heat of the day will allow the water the evaporate, providing some humidity just around the plant. The water level surrounding the pebbles should be low enough that the bottom of the pot is not sitting in water.

You can keep your Hurricane Cactus in a greenhouse which will provide a humid atmosphere, particularly in spring and summer. But if you do this, you’ll need to reduce how often you water the plant, as it will be drawing moisture from its humid environment and will need less water from the soil.

The Perfect Temperature For A Hurricane Cactus

The hurricane cactus is native to tropical regions and thrives in a temperature range of 60 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit (15 – 24 degrees Celsius).

It prefers to be at the lower end of this temperature range during its dormant phase in winter, but it does not like temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius). If you have your plant outdoors and you live in an area where temperatures can drop lower than this, you should ideally move it indoors for the winter. If you can’t move your plant indoors, protect it from frosts with a frost cloth or similar. Frost damage is irreversible and will kill your plant.

The Correct Soil

While Hurricane Cactus thrives in a humid environment, it does not like to have its roots sitting in water. This can lead to root rot, which can kill your plant.

It needs a well-draining soil – preferably one that is specifically for cacti. If potted, a container with drainage holes at the bottom is best, as this allows any excess water to escape from the pot.

You can improve the drainage of the soil further by mixing through crushed granite, bark chippings or pumice to provide additional aeration.

Fertilizing

Fertilizer isn’t needed by your hurricane cactus, but if you want to give it an added boost, you can put a drop or two in the plant’s soil.

The best time to give your hurricane cactus fertilizer is summer. During this time period, you can give them fertilizer approximately once a week.

Choose a cactus-specific fertilizer and follow the instructions provided on the packaging carefully.

Is Lepismium Cruciforme Toxic To Pets

Lepismium cruciforme, Hurricane Cactus, is not thought to be toxic to cats, dogs or other pets.

The name is sometimes confused with the Hurricane Plant – commonly known as Swiss Cheese Plant, Mexican Breadfruit (Scientific Name: Monstera deliciosa) – which is toxic to pets.

Is The Hurricane Cactus Subject To Any Pests?

The Hurricane Cactus is prone to mealybugs that affect most cacti.

When these infest your plant, they spread incredibly quickly and will attack all the leaves.

If your plant has become infected, you’ll notice a whitish film over the surface of the leaves.

Neem oil and insecticides suitable for cacti should help get rid of the infestation.

How To Repot

A thriving Hurricane Cactus can grow fairly rapidly and may need repotting every couple of years. Thankfully, it’s quite an easy one to report.

Repotting any plant can cause damage, to the roots in particular, so you should only repot when necessary. To check if your cactus needs repotting, look to see if there are any roots poking out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot or roots appearing out of the soil at the top of the pot.

When choosing a new pot for your plant that is wide but not too deep and only a little bit larger than its current pot. The Hurricane cactus does not have deep roots. A pot with drainage holes is best.

Try to use a ceramic or plastic pot. Metal pots can rust and leach into the soil.

To repot, fill your new pot to about half-full with cactus soil mixed with pumice. Put on some gardening gloves to protect your hands and remove your cactus from its old pot and gently remove the old soil from around the roots. Place the plant into the new pot and fill around the plant with additional soil. Press down firmly around the base of the plant to fix the plant in place. But be careful to not compact the soil too much. Just press down enough to ensure the plant is secure. Water the plant lightly and leave it to rest until the next day when you can water it more thoroughly.

How To Propagate A Hurricane Cactus

The easiest way to propagate a hurricane cactus is simply by taking some cuttings from the stems. This is a very straightforward method that usually yields good results.

You’ll need a clean pair of gardening scissors. We can’t stress enough how important it is to clean your scissors beforehand because if you use a dirty pair of scissors, you can transplant bacteria onto your cactus that could cause it to become infected and die.

Locate a healthy, robust-looking stem. Then make a clean cut, as near to the base as you can.

Then leave the cut stem to dry for a few days on a clean paper towel to allow the cut end to callous over.

When you think it’s ready to be potted, transfer the cutting to a small pot filled with cactus soil. Create a small hole in the soil in the center of the pot. Place your cactus stem, calloused end in the soil, and gently press the soil down around the stem so it stands firmly in the soil. Water lightly but frequently, approximately every 2-3 days, until the new plant starts to grow. You can then reduce your watering, only watering when the top inch or two of soil is dry.

Once your new plant has outgrown its pot, you’ll need to repot into a slightly larger one.

Can I Grow My Hurricane Cactus From Seed?

Like any plant, you can grow your Lepismium cruciforme from seed. However, growing your hurricane cactus from seed is a difficult and unreliable process. Taking stem cuttings is a far easier and more successful propagation method.

Final Thoughts

To sum up, the hurricane cactus is a fairly straightforward plant to take care of. It is beautiful in a hanging basket or trailing from a shelf or wall and, if the conditions are right, will bloom with pretty white or pink flowers. It prefers indirect light or dappled sun and needs a bit more water than most cacti.

If you like plants that hang or trail, but don’t want a spiky cactus, see our post on Amazing Cacti And Succulents That Trail Or Hang.

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