Fuzz-covered cactus plants are really eye-catching and extremely easy to look after.
But when most people are asked about their hair-covered cactus, they simply don’t have any answers to offer.
In this article, we are going to look at why some cacti are covered in hair, where they come from, and how to best look after them.
Why Is My Cactus Hairy?
The hairs on your cactus are types of modified spines that have evolved to protect it from sunburn and frost.
This soft, fuzzy hair can help a cactus to survive for longer by helping it to retain moisture and protect its stem from extreme hot and cold conditions.
If your cactus has this protective white fuzzy hair covering it, it is probably native to an environment that experiences extreme weather conditions.
For example, the “Old Man Cactus” is covered in this fuzzy protective hair and a native to the mountains of Mexico where nights can be freezing and daytime temperatures can be scorching.
The finely packed hair traps air between the cactus’s spines and stem, keeping it cool during the hot days.
And during the freezing nights that same layer of fine hair holds on to heat from the day to help provide insulation from the frost.
How Do You Take Care Of A Hairy Cactus?
If your cactus has lots of white fuzzy hair all over it, it’s a strong indication that it is tolerant to strong direct sunlight and cold temperatures.
Many types of hair-covered cacti can withstand strong ultraviolet rays and temperatures that dip well below freezing.
Caring For Your Hairy Cactus During The Summer
Lots Of Bright Light
There are many types of hairy cacti and the exact care needs of one may not be identical to that of another.
If possible, you should try to identify the exact species of cactus you have so that you can care for it precisely.
However, if your cactus is covered in white fuzzy hair it is most certainly a lover of direct sunlight.
The best place for your hairy cactus will be outside in the sunniest spot in your yard or right in front of the sunniest window you have.
In a really sunny location, you may need to water it once or twice per week.
But, instead of guessing or watering on a schedule, it’s safer to let your cactus tell you when it needs a drink.
Allow the top 1 or 2 inches of soil in the pot to completely dry out before giving water.
This type of cactus loves the sun and during the summer months give it as much of it as you can.
Just be careful about moving it from the shade into direct sunlight.
If you’ve been keeping your cactus in a shady area for some time, it can get sunburned if it isn’t slowly introduced to full sun.
If keeping your cactus outdoors, keep a close eye on the weather.
If it is hot then the odd, light rain shower shouldn’t be of any concern.
If it’s cool and dry your cactus should also do fine.
The danger is when it’s cold and wet.
Cacti can take a bit of outdoor rain but you want there to be a good bit of heat and sun at the same time so that they can dry off again quickly.
If the temperature is low, there’s not much sun and it’s raining, your cactus needs to come back inside until the weather improves.
If it cannot dry off quickly and is remaining wet for too long, it may soon begin to rot.
Related Article: Will A Cactus Survive In The Rainforest? (Explained)
Soil And Watering
Just like other cacti, hairy cactus plants like rich well-drained soil and only need to be watered when their soil has completely dried out.
Any good pre-bagged cactus potting mix should work well.
Test the top couple of inches of soil with your finger and when it feels very dry you can give some water.
Cacti are super sensitive to having their roots continuously wet, so you’ll also want to use a pot with good drainage.
Caring For Your Hairy Cactus During The Winter
During the winter months, you’ll want to allow your cactus to go into a state of dormancy.
(From about early September to late March)
Provide A Cool, Low-Light Environment
To encourage this, you will need to keep your cactus in a cool place that gets a low amount of light.
Somewhere like a basement or storage room will work well.
As long as there’s a small window to provide a bit of indirect sunlight.
Don’t Water During Dormancy
Hairy cacti are especially prone to rot during the winter months when they are not growing.
As long as your cactus is being kept in cool, low-light conditions, you won’t need to give it any water at all.
The only exception to this is if your cactus starts getting a lot of sun for some reason.
Then you may need to give a little water to stop it from drying out too much.
The perfect temperature range for the winter months would be between 47 and 54 degrees F.
But hairy cactus plants can tolerate temperatures right down to freezing and below, as long as they are being kept in low light and not watered.
Gradually Reintroduce Your Cactus To Direct Sunlight
When spring comes back around and the days are getting hotter, you won’t want to move your cactus from its cool dry place straight back into the full intense sun.
If you do this your plant is going to get sunburned.
Instead, take some time to reintroduce your cactus to sunlight and warmer temperatures.
Give it plenty of bright indirect sunlight at first.
Then introduce it to some weaker morning sunlight.
And gradually introduce it to the hot afternoon sun.
Can You Touch A Hairy Cactus?
You can touch a hairy cactus and it won’t do any damage to the hair, as long as you are gentle.
But, you need to take great care because there may be thick, sharp spines hiding beneath the surface of the fuzz.
So never press too hard or grab a hairy cactus by its trunk to pick it up.
Are Hairy Cacti Able To Regrow Their Hair?
Yes, hairy cactus plants can regrow their hair.
To encourage hair growth, expose your cactus to as much bright direct sunlight as possible.
Essentially, there’s very little difference between a hairy cactus and a regular spiny one.
It’s just more likely that your hair-covered cactus will be more tolerant to strong, direct sunlight and freezing temperatures.