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Dog Tail Cactus Vs Rat Tail Cactus (Key Differences)

How do you differentiate between dog tail cactus vs rat tail cactus? Oftentimes, dog tail cactus are mistaken for rat tail cactus because of their striking resemblance; as they both have long, skinny, tail-like trailing stems.

Both plants are easy to grow and proffer an ornamental look to your home – due to their attractive nature in containers and hanging baskets.

This guide would provide value for you if you’re looking to know the differences or similarities between dog tail cactus and rat tail cactus before making a purchase.

What is Dog Tail Cactus?

Dog tail cactus with the scientific name strophocactus testudo belongs to a polymorphic species and is native to tropical rainforests of South America.

Dog tail cactus is one of the most popular plants to grow both indoors and outdoors and can do extremely well even with less attention.

The plant is an epiphytic cacti due to its ability to grow hanging on trees or baskets. It majorly consumes nutrients from the air directly and if hung where it can receive good sunlight then it blooms to perfection.

Dog Tail Cactus Overview

Botanical name:Strophocactus testudo
Common name:Dog tail cactus
Plant Type:Perennial succulent
Size:3 meters
Sun exposure:Full to partial shade
Soil type:Tolerates varieties
Soil pH:Varieties; especially slightly acidic to neutral.
Bloom time:Summer
Flower color:White
Hardiness zone:Hardy to zone 7-11
Humidity:50% maximum
Temperature requirement:39°F to 80°F

Growth Requirements for Dog Tail Cactus

Dog tail cactus when grown in a befitting environment, preferably soil mixture of sandy, peat, and organic matter with the pH level; slightly acidic and neutral will do exceedingly well.

Plant the Dog tail cactus in a small container. Starting with seed preferably, and then ensure a space ranging from 15 to 24 inches or 38 to 61 cm.

Also, do not water regularly to avoid dampness and root rot.

You don’t have to worry about overgrowth because during this stage the plant grows slowly and will only need a container change when rapid growth starts.

Any temperature higher than 85°F can damage your plant.

Dog tail cactus is a great plant, highly recommended for first-time planters as growing it requires little or no experience.

What Is Rat Tail Cactus?

Rat Tail Cactus with scientific name – Aporocactus Flagelliformis is a showy cactus that is endemic to Mexico and Central America.

It’s a houseplant that can easily be grown as an ornamental potted plant. For this reason, it is the most popularly cultivated cacti.

While other plants might need maximum attention it only requires less making it a great choice for busy gardeners.

Rat tail cactus is a common name for several members of the cactus family;

  • Cylindropuntia leptocaulis
  • Cleistocactus winteri ( Golden rat tail)
  • Discocactus flagelliformis

Let’s see the short description that differentiates it from dog tail cactus:

Rat Tail Cactus Overview

Common name: Rat tail cactus
Botanical name:Aporocactus flagelliformis
Plant type:Succulent
Mature size:2 to 6 meters
Sun exposure:Full sun
Soil type:Rich organic potting soil
Soil pH:N/A
Bloom time:Spring to early summer
Flower color:Violet-red, pink, orange
Nature Area:Mexico, Central

Growth Requirement of Rat tail cactus

Considered lithophytic or epiphytic. Rat tail cactus is a flowering plant that can either be grown on the ground or larger structures like trees.

This rat tail cactus displays its best when it is grown in a hanging basket, because of its trailing stems which can grow up to 1 foot in length per year.

Caring for your rat tail cactus doesn’t have to be a burden. Here’s how to do it right;

Start by finding a conducive growing environment for your plant, preferably cacti potting mix.

If exposed to the right proportion of these elements; light, water, temperature, fertilizer, soil, etc. they can grow either indoors or outdoors.

For outdoor planters, warmers zones are likened to help your plant fit in.

Note: They can be found growing in rocks and hanging from trees in the very dry forest.

Rat tail cactus can thrive in bright direct sunlight, place in a south or west-facing window to receive direct sun.

Regular room temperature is nice for the spring-summer and fall. It will only require a temperature; 50% during winter to let the plant cool, due to its hardiness it can tolerate temperatures ranging between 40°F to 90°F.

If you wish to propagate, cut the stems and let the parts dry for some days to form callus, then repot in clear organic soil.

In some cases, Rat tail cactus would grow faster than dog tail cactus.

Dog Tail Cactus Vs Rat Tail Cactus | Key Similarities

Below are some of the major similarities between dog tail cactus vs rat tail cactus:

  • Both are drought tolerant
  • Both plants need less attention than any other plant
  • Both can be considered epiphytic
  • They can resist pests and disease will be attacked by some pests. Use insecticides to keep them at bay!


Without much research, you will find it hard to know which to choose between dog tail cactus vs rat tail cactus.

Luckily this guide has provided you with not only specifications of the plants but tips on how best to grow them for a rewarding result. Be sure to refer back to this guide once you experience difficulty along the way.

Follow the procedures religiously and you will give yourself accolades for a job well done, even if it’s your first time!

Hopefully, you make a good choice between dog tail cactus vs rat tail cactus.

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