Why is my cactus dropping buds ?

Why is My Cactus dropping Buds ?

Hi Guys ๐Ÿ˜€ 

I hope you are enjoying the Summer growing season this year and I hope that many of you will be enjoying seeing your Cacti coming into bud and bloom, but what happens if your Cactus is growing buds but they fall off ? It can be very disappointing when we are so looking forward to seeing the blooms especially if its a cactus that will be the first time blooming for you, but its very common for the buds to grow so far and then drop off, there are quite a few reasons why this can happen and In this Article I will be talking about the reasons why your Cactus is dropping buds.

Why is my cactus dropping buds ?
Why is your Cactus dropping Buds ? read this Article to find out.

I have made a special video on my Cacti and Succulent You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on Why Your Cactus is dropping Buds ? and I will include this video at the end of this Article.

Here are the most common reasons why your Cactus is dropping Buds.


Cactus blooms
Days of warm sunny weather followed by days of overcast cool weather can encourage developing buds to fall off.

Here in Ireland and the U.K we all love to talk about the weather haha, but this Summer has been very much a talking point as it has been one of the hottest Summers on record with temperatures way above the average for many parts of the U.K and Europe as well as the U.S and other parts of the world. Many people will think of Cacti as plants that enjoy basking in the hot dry desert sun, but in reality excess sun and especially excess heat can make developing cactus buds drop off suddenly, remember cacti in their natural habitats can enjoy the sunshine and high temperatures as they have been grown there and they also have fresh air and ventilation around them, but cacti growing in cultivation on our hot sunny windowsills and hot sunny greenhouses/polytunnels don’t have the natural outside air that Cacti growing outside in their natural habitats have, Cactus plants in cultivation are almost always nursery grown and can not tolerate the excess heat and sun in a indoor environment especially during an unusually hot Heatwave. I know of many growers who have told me their cacti have dropped quite a few buds this Summer due to the 2022 Summer Heatwave. 

Cactus bud drop can also commonly happen when we have quite a few days of good sunshine followed by days of grey cloudy weather, I always have a battle with this living in Northern Ireland with our wet and rainy Summers haha, we can get a few good days of very sunny weather and then days of grey skies and rain. Sunshine will help the cacti to produce their buds, but if the weather changes and you get a week or two of grey skies and cool temperatures the buds can dry up and fall off, unfortunately we cant control the weather and it is something we cant prevent, and with global warming on the increase heatwaves could become a much more common occurrence, and all I can say is to provide shade cover for cacti in excessive high heat during a heatwave and install a fan/s to keep the air circulation in your greenhouse/polytunnel moving, this may not prevent your cacti from dropping buds but it will definitely help to protect your cacti from any sun and heat damage.


Watering Cacti
Both over watering and under watering can cause cactus bud drop.

Cactus bud drop can often happen if you are either over watering or not watering your cacti enough, desert cacti like to dry out in between watering them, and if a desert cactus is sitting in wet soil 24/7 this can make your cactus stressed and drop their buds as well as cause rot and fungus issues especially in high heat, as can keeping a desert cactus that is coming into bud too dry with little to no watering during the growing season. A cactus that is kept too dry over the growing season will become stressed and may drop any developing buds, during the active growing Season in Spring and Summer you should water your desert cactus once the soil has dried out in their pots, the exception to this would be the Rainforest Epiphytic cacti like the Epiphyllums, Rhipsalis and Schlumbergera ( Christmas and Thanksgiving Cacti ) this is because the Epiphytic cacti like to be kept well watered in moist soil during the Spring and Summer months, these Epiphytic cacti do not like to go too long without water during the growing season. With both the Desert cacti and the Epiphytic cacti always make sure all of your cacti are planted in a very well draining soil mix so the excess water can freely run out. 


growing cacti outdoors
Moving your Cactus to a different position can cause the buds to drop off

Moving your cactus to a different location or turning your cacti around to face the direction of the sun once it is developing buds can be a very common cause of bud drop, it can be tempting to move a cactus in bud into a position where you will be able to enjoy the flowers better, but it really is best to leave a cactus that is in bud in the same position until it has finished flowering, many cacti can be very prone to dropping buds if they are even slightly moved or turned around, Echinopsis and Schlumbergera ( Christmas and Thanksgiving Cactus ) are extremely prone to this. Many cacti are often sold for sale in the shops while in bud, these cacti have often been grown in large nurseries under powerful grow lights to encourage buds, and although its still very possible that cacti for sale in the shops can still flower once you have bought them, it can be more likely they will drop their buds before you get to see the flowers, however I have noticed that if you get a new cactus and it is in very early bud development then it can often still go on to flower for you, it seems to be the middle to later stages of the bud development that causes cacti to drop buds when newly purchased or moved. I also want to mention if you buy a cactus that is in flower already and the flowers seem to be lasting a very very long time, then its very possible that they are straw fake flowers, many newbies to the hobby get caught out by thinking they are buying a flowering cactus when really the flowers are straw fake flowers that have been glued onto the cactus. 


Mealy bugs on cactus
Mealy Bugs on Cactus and Thrips and other pests love to hide at the base and tip of the developing buds causing the developing buds to drop off, if pests are seen remove them immediately with a brush or q tip dipped in rubbing alcohol 

Insect pests can be a real pain for the developing cactus buds as many pests can hide on and in the buds, Mealy Bugs and Aphids are the most common pests of cactus buds, Mealy bugs love to hide at the base of the bud where you can’t see them causing damage to the growing bud/s making them drop, Aphids may not be as common as Mealy Bugs especially on cacti, but they can still attack the buds especially in the later stages of the bud development, I had quite a few Aphids attack my Epiphyllum buds this Spring, just like Mealy Bugs Aphids can be tiny and are very good at hiding and camouflaging themselves on cactus buds and they can be very hard to spot on your buds until its too late. If you notice your cactus buds seem to have stopped growing or are starting to shrivel up, put on your strongest glasses or get a strong magnifying mirror and check for insect pests, if pests are seen then remove them immediately by dabbing the pests with a little brush or q tip dabbed in rubbing alcohol/isopropyl alcohol, but be very gentle when doing this so not to harm the buds. Its best to avoid using chemical pest insecticides on the buds as this can harm the developing buds and disfigure the flowers and may also cause bud drop too.


Cactus plants for sale
Buying a new Cactus that is already in bud at the store may not go on to flower once you have brought it home.

Buying a new cactus that is already in bud in the shop is a common cause of the buds dropping off once you have brought your new cactus home, as mentioned before, a change of position for cacti can definitely cause bud drop and this is very common for Echinopsis cacti often seen for sale in the Summer months already in bud. Cacti that are less likely to drop their buds and are commonly seen for sale would be Mammillaria, Mammillaria cacti are one of the few types of cactus that will often still keep their buds and go on to flower when you bring them home. Schlumbergera  (Christmas and Thanksgiving Cacti ) are nearly always sold around the November -December time in bud and its very common for some if not all of the buds to drop off a week or two after you have them. Schlumbergera buckleyi ( True Christmas Cactus ) is much more sensitive to bud drop than the Schlumbergera truncata ( Thanksgiving Cactus ) and this is why you nearly always see Sclumbergera truncata for sale over the Christmas Holiday period than Schlumbergera buckleyi. The good news is any cactus that drops buds once you have brought it home will still go on to flower for you the following year once it has acclimatised and as long as you are growing it correctly.


How to repot a cactus
Its best to wait until your cactus has finished flowering before repotting

The best time to re pot a cactus is during the growing season which would be Spring and Summer or early Fall/ Autumn, but the problem with that is this can be the time your cactus may also be coming into bud, I always say that Spring and Summer and early Fall/Autumn is the best time to repot, however if you see any signs of buds developing its best to hold off repotting until your cactus has finished flowering, the reasons for this is because Cacti can suffer from stress just like people do, and repotting your cactus and changing the soil and handling the roots etc can cause stress to your cactus and this can definitely cause any developing buds to drop off prematurely, its best to wait until your cactus has finished flowering before you repot. 

I hope you enjoyed reading this Article and I have made a video for my Cactus and Succulent You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on ‘Why is my Cactus dropping Buds ?‘ and you can watch this video below.

Please don’t forget to Subscribe to my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon for regular videos on Tips and Tricks on How to Care for your Cacti and Succulents.

Wishing you all an AMAZING Plant Powered day or evening.


Cephalocereus senilis, Cephalocereus, hairy cacti, hairy cactus, woolly cacti, cacti that have hair, hairy cactus plants,

Why do some Cacti have Hair ?

Hi Guys ๐Ÿ˜€ 

In todays article I am going to be talking about the hairy cacti and why do some Cacti have Hair ?

I have also made a very special video for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on ‘Why do some Cacti have Hair ?’ and you can watch this video below or by clicking HERE:

We have all seen those hairy cacti that are often seen in Cactus growers collections and often sold for sale at most Cactus nurseries and garden shops, these hairy and wacky looking cactus plants are often called ‘old Man’ or ‘old Lady Cactus’ and you have one or two or more of these hairy cactus plants already in your collection, but have you ever wondered why these cactus plants have hair ? and why do only some cacti have hair and not the others ? 

Well in this article I will be explaining the reasons why, but first I am going to mention the most common types of Cacti that you often see that are ‘Hairy’.


Espostoa with lots of woven woolly hair
Espostoa with lots of woven woolly hair

Espostoa are a genus of columnar cacti and there is 16 different types if species that in their natural habitats come from the Andes of southern Ecuador and Peru. Espostoa grows at an altitude of between 800m and 2500m. The genus is named after Nicolas E. Esposto, a renowned botanist from Lim.



Cephalocereus senilis
Cephalocereus senilis with lots of wild and wacky white hair.

Cephalocereus are a genus of columnar cacti of which there is said to be over 100 different species but only 5 are accepted. Cephalocereus are native to central and southern Mexico, in its natural habitat it is threatened by extinction but is a very common cactus in cultivation. The genus  comes from the Greek word “kephale” meaning “head”and the Latin word”cereus”meaning “wax taper (a candle) or torch


Oreocereus produce white woolly hair
Oreocereus produce white woolly hair

Oreocereus are a genus of columnar cacti from high altitudes of the Andes in south America. This cactus is most commonly known as ‘The Old Man of the Andes’. The name Oreocereus means “mountain cereus”, formed from the Greek prefix oreo- and the New Latin ‘cereus’ meaning wax taper ( a candle) or torch.


Cleistocactus colademononis Cactus,Cleistocactus colademononis flowers, Cleistocactus colademononis blooms,
Cleistocactus colademononis in flower, this wacky Cactus produces lots of trailing stems full of white fluffy hair.
Cleistocactus Seedlings with woolly hair
Cleistocactus Seedlings with woolly hair.

Cleistocactus are mostly columnar Cacti native to the mountainous regions of South America. Although most Cleistocactus are columnar growers some Cleistocactus will be ‘hairy’ such as Cleistocactus colademononsis and Cleistocactus winterii these Cleistocacti are trailing cacti. Clesitocactus are found in Uruguay, Bolivia, Argentina, and Peru. The name Cleistocactus comes from the Greek ‘kleistos’ meaning closed due to the tubular flowers that do not open up like other cactus flowers and instead remain thin and tubular to attract small humming birds as well as bees to pollinate the flowers. 

5, MAMMILLARIA ( some but not all ) 

Mammillaria bocasana Cactus, Mammillaria bocasana flowers, hairy cacti, hairy cactus hairy Mammillarias,
The Mammillaria bocasana cactus produces white fluffy hair.
Mammillaria glassii with white fluffy hair in stunning pink bloom
Mammillaria glassii with white fluffy hair in stunning pink bloom, 

Mammillarias are small cacti often globular or short with cylindrical stems growing either soliatory or in clumps ( pups ) Some Mammillaria will be ‘hairy’ like the Mammillaria bocasana and Mammillaria glassii and Mammillaria Senilis. Mammillaria are the largest genus of the Cactus family, there are around 250 different species of Mammillarias that come from Mexico and in southwest USA.  The name Mammillaria comes from Latin mammilla meaning “nipple”, referring to the tubercles that are a very distinctive feature of the genus. 

So then Why Do Some Cacti have Hair ? 

Cacti produce hair to protect themselves from the elements in their natural habitats, including the harsh intense suns rays and also to protect themselves from the cold nights that can sometimes drop to below freezing, the difference in cultivation is that these Cacti would not be exposed to such extreme temperature drops from over 100F during the day to below zero at night, well hopefully not in our homes and greenhouses anyway haha.

Cactus Plants that don’t produce hair or only produce very little hair are Cactus plants that can tolerate the harsh sunshine levels or they may grow naturally in their habitats surrounded and sheltered by vegetation that protect them.

Some cacti also produce hair to capture what little moisture and dew may be in the air especially in the early mornings, some Cacti can actually absorb water from the hair-like wool and needles.

There are some species of Cacti that don’t have hair on their plant bodies will produce hair when they are producing flower buds, Cactus varieties such as Echinopsis and Trichocereus will do this, they produce the hair on their buds to protect the developing bud from excess sun.

Other Cacti like Pilosocereus and other types of columnar Cacti from all over South America, develop the woolly/ hairy, โ€œcephaliumโ€ when they have reached maturity to flower, they produce this woolly hair at the area where the Cactus is going to bloom, the ‘hairy’ cephalium helps to protect the developing buds from harsh intense sunshine.

There are also some other Genus of Cacti that produce white hair too such as some of the Opuntia ‘Prickly Pear Cacti like Opuntia Polyacantha erinacea  

Some Cacti produce 'Hairy' buds
Some Cacti like Echinopsis produce ‘hairy’ buds, this hair helps to protect the developing buds from strong sunshine.
Pilosocereus produce white hair when they are mature enough to flower
Pilosocereus columnar Cacti produce a Cephalium with white hair when they are mature enough to flower, this woolly Cephalium helps to protect future buds from the strong intense sunshine.

Is Cactus Hair really Hair ?

Cactus hair may look like hair and even feel like hair but is Cactus hair really hair ? well the answer to this is no, and that is because real hair as in Human and animal hair is made up of a protein called ‘Keratin’ and Cactus hair is actually modified spines that develop from a group of cells called ‘Spine Primordia’

But what if my Cactus isn’t meant to be hairy but has bits of white woolly hair on it ? 

Now if you are sure that your cactus is not one of these ‘hairy’ ones then you may have a problem and thats because there is something else that can be mistaken for hair and that is the dreaded Mealy Bug ‘Beasties’, these pests will produce white woolly nests on your cactus plants and love to hide their woolly nests in between the spines and often on the areoles ( the area where spines emerge ) where they are very hide to see, if mealy bugs are the reason your none hairy cactus is suddenly getting ‘hairy’ then you will need to take immediate action and isolate the cactus/s from your other collection and remove any bugs and their woolly nests with rubbing alcohol and a brush and treat with either repeated weekly treatments with horticultural Neem oil mixed with a horticultural soap or use a Systemic insecticide for dealing with Mealy Bugs. If you have a greenhouse/polytunnel you can also use the predatory mite Ladybug called Cryptolaemus montrouzieri, but these predatory Ladybugs need a warm tropical temperature of at least 16c / 60F to reproduce, but these predatory Cryptolaemus montrouzieri Ladybugs can still be very effective against Mealy Bugs if they are used during the warm Summer months in a greenhouse /glasshouse /polytunnel. I have made a video on my Cactus and Succulent You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on How to treat Mealy Bugs on Cactus, including a special video on ‘How to treat Mealy Bugs on very hairy and or spiny Cacti‘ and you can watch this video by clicking HERE:   

Mealy Bugs on a Ferocactus
Mealy Bugs on a Ferocactus, If you notice woolly nests on your none ‘Hairy’ cactus it could be Mealy Bugs and you need to act fast.

I hope you enjoyed this Article on ‘Hairy Cactus plants’ and if you don’t have any hairy cacti in your collection then why not add one of these beauties to your collection.

If you want to have a look at the different types of ‘Hairy’ Cacti that I have in my Cactus Collection then please do check out the video below that I have made for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon.

If you have always wondered why Cacti have Spines ? then please do check out the video I have made for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on ‘Why do Cacti have Spines ? ‘

For lots more Tips and Tricks on How you can care for and grow your Cacti and Succulents then please do check out my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon and please do Subscribe ๐Ÿ˜€