How to Care for a Straw Flower Cactus Plant

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Things You'll Need

  • Water

  • Cactus fertilizer or 5-10-5 fertilizer

Genuine cactus flowers bloom for only a day or two.

A straw flower cactus is a cactus that has a straw flower (or strawflower) attached to it, either with hot glue or a pin. The flower is the bract of Xerochrysum bracteatum and is named for its papery, straw-like texture. The flowers are used to "dress up" the cactus, usually to enhance sales. Many home gardeners are fooled into believing that the attached flowers are the actual flowers of the cactus. Straw flowers have the unusual ability to open and close, even though dead, in response to the level of humidity in the air. Although this action may seem lifelike, the flowers require no extra care beyond what you give the cactus.

Step 1

Place your cactus near a window that gets bright but indirect light. Do not place it directly in the hot sun. Most potted cacti were either raised indoors or in a greenhouse and can sunburn, according to information published by Texas A&M University. In addition, the straw flowers fade in the sun. If you want to set your cactus outside, place it in a location that receives partial shade and gradually move it into a sunnier location.

Step 2

Feed your cactus soon after you bring it home. Potted plants need a dose of nutrients added to the soil now and then. Once every six months use a water-soluble, slow-release fertilizer formulated for cacti and succulents. Alternatively, give the cactus a low dose of 5-10-5 fertilizer once in the spring, summer and again in the fall.

Step 3

Water your cactus when the soil dries out. Cacti are drought-tolerant plants and can be left without water for several weeks. In general, water once a month, or when a stick inserted to the bottom of the pot is still dry when pulled out.


If you wish to remove the flowers from your cactus, do it with care. Those that are glued may not come off easily without damaging the flesh of the cactus. Straw flowers attached with pins can be easily removed.


April Sanders

April Sanders is a writer, teacher and the mother of three boys. Raised on an organic farm, she is an avid gardener and believes that good growth starts with a rich, supportive foundation -- a philosophy that serves her well in both gardening and teaching. Sanders has written for Nickelodeon, Warner Brothers, Smarted Balanced, PARCC and others.