Monilaria Moniliforme (The Bunny Succulent) – Ultimate Care Guide
Succulents are one of mother nature’s unique and wonderful creations. They come in crazy shapes and sizes, with distinctive characteristics and survival techniques. And the Monilaria Moniliforme (also affectionately known as the bunny succulent) definitely fits in with its unique appearance.
It’s easy to see why so many succulent fans are obsessed with these adorable looking cacti. To be honest, you don’t even have to be a succulent enthusiast to want one in your garden.
With fronds growing in pairs out of each main stem resembling miniature rabbit ears, they make for a great indoor plant or an addition to a carefully manicured cacti garden.
Today, at the Garden Bench Top, we will be exploring everything there is to know about Monilaria Moniliforme, including:
- the background and interesting facts about this unique plant,
- how to care for them,
- how to propagate them using various techniques and
- answering your frequently asked questions.
So if you’re ready, whack on your sun hat, pull up your garden gloves, and let’s dig in.
Monilaria Moniliforme Facts Guide
This section is for those cacti fanatics that want to learn everything they can about these wonderful plants.
Call us old school.
At the Garden Bench Top, we like to refer to different species of plants by their botanical name. So if you have read this far, you will already be familiar with their official classification, Monilaria Moniliforme.
Another long form of the scientific name is Mesembryanthemum moniliforme, however this name is less commonly used.
The not so formal names this plant can go by are:
- the bunny ear succulent (or an even shorter version ‘the bunny succulent’),
- beaded ice plant,
- string of pearls,
- beaded vygie, and
The first thing that will catch your eye when you look at a monilaria moniliforme are the distinct green pairs of leaves of the succulent growing out of each main branch. This growth pattern is unique to the monilaria family, and makes for an interesting addition to any home garden.
The main stems of the plant appear brown and dry. If you look closely, you will be able to see the previous growing seasons, much like the rings in the trunk of a tree.
At the end of each season, the current years’ growth will die back, adding another segment to each branch. This process repeats over and over, eventually giving the branches the appearance of a pearl necklace, hence the informal names ‘string of pearls‘ and ‘beaded ice plant‘.
Monilaria moniliforme are generally small in stature, growing to around 6-7 inches (15 centimeters) high. The main stems of the plant range between 1-1.5 inches thick (3-4 centimeters), and the cushion and bunny ears (or leaves of the plant) are shades of green.
The bunny succulent is known to produce white flowers with a yellow center, with one flower per stem. However, not all stems will produce a flower each season.
Origin of Monilaria Moniliforme
If you want to see the monilaria moniliforme in the wild, you will have to travel to the Western Cape of South Africa.
You will find their original habitat is typical of a cactis’ habitat, being dry and mostly consisting of rocks and quartz.
The South African name for the plant is knopiesvygie (in Afrikaans), which explains another one of its informal names, ‘beaded vygie‘.
Monilaria Moniliforme Care Instructions
If you are looking to add this unique succulent to your home garden, there are a few things to know about how to care for the plant. Let’s take a closer look at how to successfully care for the monilaria moniliforme.
Growing Patterns & Conditions
Interestingly, these plants are cold growing cacti. Their growing seasons are in the Winter and Autumn months.
This means, they actually prefer cooler growing zones, between 30-50 degrees Fahrenheit (0-10 degrees Celcius).
This may contradict everything you thought you knew about growing cacti, and may be challenging to manage if you were planning on adding the monilaria moniliforme to a communal cacti garden.
In fact, you may be better off using a solitary planter for this project, where you are able to create its own unique habitat, away from the typical hot, drier conditions other cacti prefer.
We mentioned earlier, the leaves of the monilaria moniliforme die back in the dormant months (Spring and Summer). The plant will appear lifeless, but it is important to note it is simply hibernating. DO NOT assume it is dead and discard it!
Care Difficulty of Monilaria Moniliforme
We know it sounds obvious, but caring for monilaria moniliforme is easy if you know what these unique cacti require.
What we mean is, it would be a huge mistake to assume the bunny succulent is just like any other cactus. Unfortunately, the usual rules of cacti care do not apply here.
As we have already seen, they grow in the cooler months, so researching and understanding their requirements is highly recommended.
Monilaria Moniliforme will thrive in a position that enjoys plenty of sunlight and fresh air.
Even though they originate in largely dry conditions, don’t let this fool you into thinking it doesn’t require much water. In fact, we recommend providing regular watering of small amounts in the growing months (Autumn and Winter).
As with most cacti, your success with cultivating a long and healthy plant lies in the growing medium you choose.
We recommend using compost that is soft and damp to the touch, but drains well. This is usually referred to as a ‘loamy compost’ or ‘loamy soil’. The usual makeup of loam-based compost is 50% sand, 30% silt and 20% clay.
The advantage of using this mixture is that it drains well, yet holds a certain amount of moisture for the plants to survive on.
Propagation of Monilaria Moniliforme
One of the joys of owning cacti (or any plant for that matter), is the fun of trying to propagate new plants to grow your collection, or gifting them to other gardening enthusiasts.
Below, we will explore the many methods you can cultivate new monilaria moniliforme plants from your mother plant.
Growing new plants from the bunny ears (or leaves)
The first method we will look at for cultivating new plants is with the bunny ears themselves.
Follow these simple steps:
- Identify a healthy, vibrant looking stem from the mother plant
- With a sterilized knife, carefully cut away the healthy stem as close to the mother plant as possible
- Place in seeding dish with a loam-based soil
- Make sure you water the soil so that it is wet, but not soaked
- Cover the seeding plate with plastic wrap to maintain the moisture and humidity
- Leave for 10 – 14 days, periodically checking on it to ensure the moisture levels are okay
- Once you observe the beginnings of fine roots developing, plant the stem in some pre-prepared substrate and generously water.
Growing new plants by splitting your main plant
Another way to create multiple monilaria moniliforme plants is to split your mother plant.
The difference between this method and the one we mentioned above is that you are splitting your mother plant into two or three smaller plants.
Some believe this method is generally more successful, because more of the plant stays intact, and therefore has a better chance of survival.
The only drawback is you need to wait until your initial plant is large enough to be split.
To propagate using the splitting method:
- carefully dig up your mother plant (or remove from the pot)
- gently shake off any excess dirt from the roots
- find a natural split in the plant and carefully pull it apart to create two new plants (note – the two plants do not need to be equal size)
- leave the plants out for a few days to allow the fresh split to air dry and heal
- while your plants are healing, prepare pots with loamy soil
- once the plants have healed, presoak the loamy soil before planting the split monilaria moniliforme plants
- place in a sunlit space and water regularly
Cultivating new plants from seeds
The last method we are going to discuss is the more traditional form of growing new plants, sowing from seeds.
Yes, growing a plant from seeds does take a little longer, but the reward of knowing you have grown a new living organism from its first existence has some intrinsic personal gratification.
Plus you know your new plants will be pest and disease free, giving you a better chance of succeeding in the long term.
The only challenge of growing from seed is sourcing a reputable supply of the seeds. You should be able to source seeds from various online sources, however we do recommend you do your research before committing to the purchase.
To grow new plants from seeds, follow these steps:
- To provide your seeds the best opportunity to germinate, you will need to create the best conditions at the right time. Monilaria moniliforme tend to do most of their growing in the cooler months, therefore sowing your seeds at the beginning of Autumn will give you the best chance of success.
- Use a purpose made seed raising mix that allows for moisture retention, but also good drainage (a loam based soil).
- Find and fill a pot(s) around 4 inches (10 centimeters) deep
- Sow 2-4 seeds in each pot and cover with a light sprinkling of the same soil
- Place the pots in a well lit space around 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit (20-22 degrees Celsius) to stimulate germination
- Weekly maintenance includes maintaining moisture in the soil using a spray bottle for light spritzing.
You should be able to observe your new plants growing with the trademark bunny ears springing from the soil.
For a visual demonstration of growing monilaria monilformis from seeds, check out this video by Bernee Bee
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Bunny Succulent
Here is where we answer all those common questions about the monilaria moniliformis plants.
If you have any questions, and you don’t find your answer here, do reach out to us via our contact page or leave a comment below. Your questions don’t necessarily have to be related to growing, as long as they are related to the topic of the day.
Are bunny succulents real?
It is easy to mistake these weirdly adorable cacti for plastic faux plant, built purely for display purposes. However, we can wholeheartedly say, bunny succulents are real! And we are very glad that they exist. It just shows the resilience and creativity these plants have to survive in a variety of conditions around the earth.
The good news is their popularity is increasing in different countries as a cultivated indoor plant. Especially since their care requirements are quite unique to those of your usual cacti plant. You should be able to source them from your local nursery, or you can try growing them from seeds by ordering online.
My bunny succulent is drooping – what is the matter?
If you ever notice the main stems of the plant beginning to droop, the plant is telling you that it needs some water. We’d recommend immediately giving it a good watering, providing you have the plant in a soil that drains well.
It is important to note, these plants drink quite a bit of water when growing. So the days after the main watering, you should closely monitor the soil and moisture content, and provide lighter watering to maintain the moisture.
How long do bunny succulents take to grow?
Monilaria moniliforme plants are slow growers. You can tell by the fact that each nodule on their main stems are the previous years’ growth. So, if you are looking for a plant that will quickly grow into a centerpiece, you may want to look elsewhere.
On the other hand, planting multiples of these plants will provide some low level contrasting textures within a cacti garden. Especially in the winter months when other cacti tend to go dormant.
There you have it – our rundown of the wonderful and quirky monilaria moniliform (bunny succulent) cacti plant.
Once you are familiar with the care requirements for these unique plants, they really are an easy plant to maintain.
We have provided many methods of cultivating your very own plants, so what are you waiting for? You have the tools and knowledge right now to begin your gardening journey!