Cactus Care Guide: Watering, Sunlight, Soil and More

Succulents that prefer indoor cactus plants are simple to maintain. The plant family Cactaceae includes cactus plants. The succulent plants have fat leaves or stems that hold a lot of moisture. Because of their thick succulent stems, cactus need less watering than other houseplants. Some cactus species look like spherical fuzzy balls with spiky ends, while others are tall with stalks that climb upward. There are approximately 1,750 cactus species.

How to care for cacti: When the potting mix dries out, water cactus plants in fast-draining soil. Cacti thrive in direct sunlight for up to 12 hours a day. Cactus plants may need watering every week in the summer and every four to six weeks in the winter. Cacti thrive in temperatures of 65°F to 80°F (18°C to 27°), with little humidity, and require two or three feedings throughout the growing season.

Cacti are tough indoor houseplants that can handle a wide range of conditions. A cactus may live for many decades if you treat it well. Outdoor cactus species may live from 20 to 200 years in the wild. The cactus needs constant watering whenever the soil becomes dry, in order to survive long.

Cacti, like most succulents, take a long time to grow indoors in pots. Cactus plants only grow a few centimeters during the first two or three years. Plants generally grow between 0.5″ and 1″ (1 – 3 cm) each year when grown in optimum conditions and get enough water. Cacti don’t need a lot of feeding because to their sluggish development rate. A comprehensive guide to caring for a cactus indoors can be found in this article. Let’s start with learning more about indoor succulents.

About Cactus Plants

Cacti are succulent plants that may be grown indoors as houseplants or out in the sun as drought-tolerant plants. Desert cactus and forest cactus plants are the two types of cactus plants.

Desert cacti Drought-tolerant plants that can go for weeks without requiring water. Bright light is required for most cactus types to flourish. Spiky spines and ribbed stems characterise most desert cacti. Tall and long stalks, or short and globular stalks, may be found.

Forest cactus Epiphytes absorb moisture through their aerial roots and leaves, making them epiphytes. Native cacti from rainforests can endure low light. They do, however, prefer to grow in bright, indirect light. Cacti and succulents have low moisture needs when compared to other houseplants.

Your cactus will grow for years if you give them enough water when the potting soil gets dry and then allow the water to run out.

How Often to Water a Cactus

Rather of watering your cactus on a set schedule,water it when the potting mix is completely dry. To check for moisture, you may press the soil. It’s time to water the plant if there’s no evidence of moisture in the potting medium. A cactus may need watering once a week in the summer. Maybe once a month during the winter.

Cacti require frequent watering to thrive. Because a big cactus in a big pot doesn’t need watering as often as a little cactus, it’s less likely to die. In fact, smaller cactus might need watering more often than bigger ones. The size of the pot, the type of cactus, and the type of potting mix all influence how much water is needed.

Remember— Cactus should only be watered when it is thirsty. This means watering the plant thoroughly until all of the water drains out at the bottom, which takes a long time.

Take the side of caution and don’t water your cactus too often when deciding when to water it. Cacti are well-known for their ability to survive lengthy periods without rain. Nonetheless, neglect will kill an indoor house cactus. How can you tell if you’re watering your succulent plants enough?

Signs that a cactus needs water include Shriveled, puckered, or weak-looking stems. The plant is forced to use up its reserves of water to stay alive due to a lack of moisture. A pale and maybe even browning cactus will also seem underwatered. Bone-dry soil will almost always accompany these signs.

Signs that you are overwatering your cactus The stems or leaves generally turn brown, black, and mushy after a while. Since the plant absorbs too much moisture, an over-watered cactus will also appear swollen and overweight. Roots will have started to decay in the wet soil if you remove the plant from the soil.

It’s much simpler to resurrect an underwatered cactus than it is to water one that’s been watered too often. Saturating the soil with a lot of water should suffice if your cactus has been surviving in drought-like circumstances. Nevertheless, if waterlogged soil is the cause of your cactus’ weak growth and soft leaves, it’s in severe danger. Learn how to resurrect an over watered cactus later in the article.

How to Water a Cactus

When the plant soil is dry, soaking your cactus in water is a good idea. Do not allow the cactus to sit in a glass of water after watering. The concept is the same regardless of the size of the cactus: big, little, or micro. Wait until the earth is completely dry before moving on. Next, fill the pot with enough water to pour out. Before the next deep watering, leave until the soil is completely dry.

It is preferable to water cacti infrequently and thoroughly rather than watering them frequently. Roots get enough moisture and nutrients when deep watering happens less frequently.

If you’re cautious, you may also water cactus from the ground. The bottom of the soil is an advantage since it better nourishes the roots. Soil mold and fungus gnats, which typically affect the top section of the soil, are also aided by bottom watering.

To water cactus from the bottom, Wait until the soil is totally dry before watering. Pour 0.5″ (1 cm) of water into the dish from a saucer. Wait until the liquid has been ingested by the cactus. There should be enough water now. Keep repeating the process until the succulent stops absorbing. Remove the saucer and set it on a dry drip tray.

For caring for globular spikey cactus, watering from the bottom is ideal since it’s difficult to water from the top. You might refine your skills and be able to water a group of cacti with this technique as you gain experience.

A word of warning: Don’t let a cactus sit in a tray of water for many hours. Avoid this by filling the tray with water first. The cactus houseplant is vulnerable to root rot if it is watered from the bottom.

How to Transplant a Cactus

When the crown of your cactus touches the pot edge or becomes rootbound, transplant it. The goal of transferring the plant to a new pot is to provide room for roots to develop. Cactus thrives best in tiny pots and may root itself after a few years.

Because you’ll see roots protrudeing from the drainage holes, you can tell when a cactus needs repotting. Because of the thick roots, water takes a long time to drain out of the pot, which you may also notice. When the crown of your ball-shaped cactus reaches the pot border, it needs repotting.

A tiny cactus garden in a huge pot can also be created by transplanting. You’ll need a bigger container than the one you have now, protective gloves, and sterile tools to repot a cactus. Up to halfway full, fill the new pot with cactus potting soil. Carefully remove the cactus from its present pot with a clean trowel. Use protective gloves if the plant is particularly sharp. Place the cactus in a new pot that is a few inches below the rim. Fill in the remaining area with new potting soil.

When transferring a cactus, don’t water it for two weeks, which is an important tip to remember. If the potting mix had dried out, allow the plant to settle in before watering it thoroughly.

How to Take Care of a Cactus

What else would you do to encourage a cactus to grow at home? You’ll need to understand about your plant’s light requirements, potting mix type, and feeding methods in addition to watering it properly.

Cactus Light Requirements

Make sure your indoor cactus gets enough bright light to take care of itself. A south-facing windowsill is the ideal environment for any type of desert cactus. Cacti of certain varieties may thrive in low-light situations. Choose an appropriate species of cactus if you can’t get enough sunlight.

It’s critical to recall that, even for a cactus, the scorching summer sun streaming through a window all day might be quite severe. The sun could scorch the succulent stems, apart from drying out the soil very quickly. Move the plant out of the direct sunlight and into some partial shade if it begins to yellow.

Remember to check your plant every other day during the hot summer sun for watering. More evaporation from the succulent plant is caused by heat and a lot of sunlight. Therefore, throughout the summer, water more often to avoid signs of underwatering.

Best Potting Soil for Cacti

For your indoor cactus to thrive, excellent soil drainage is critical. Just enough moisture will be retained in the best cactus soil combination to sustain the plant without causing harm. Ideally, a potting soil combination should dry out fast after watering. The moisture required by cactus is quickly absorbed by the soil. As a result, mold, fungus disease, or rot will develop if there is any excess moisture left.

Cactus mixtures are available in most garden shops. Succulents and cactus may also be potted in a suitable potting medium. Mixing five parts potting soil, two parts pumice stones, and one part coconut coir will give you your own superior cactus mix. The optimum environment for creating suitable soil for succulents that drains well should be provided by this type of cactus mix.

Cactus Care: The Right Humidity for Cactus

The majority of cactus plants flourish in dry environments with low humidity. Growing cactus plants indoors is incredibly simple because household air is usually drier than outdoors. Cactus thrives in conditions with humidity of around 20 or 30%. As a result, you should never spray cactus stems with water. To keep moisture levels consistent, simply measure them on a regular basis.

Cactus that enjoy high humidity may be found. A blooming cactus that thrives in shaded areas and warm, humid conditions, for example, is the Christmas cactus. A Christmas cactus might be the ideal shower plant if you have a bathroom with a window.

How to Propagate Cactus Plants

Offshoots of cactus and succulents may be used to propagate bunny ears cactus. You may remove offsets from certain cactus species and place them in a small pot to grow a little cactus. Stem cuttings are a simple way to grow other types of cactus. Another way to create unique houseplants is by grafting.

How to propagate cactus from offshoots: On the stems of certain cactus, new growths develop. Remove the tiny mini cactus from its container and place it in a suitable container with cactus soil. It should begin to grow slowly. Bunny ears cactus, for example, is a cactus that readily multiplies offshoots.

How to propagate cactus from cuttings: Cut a stem from an existing cactus plant and use it. Place a paper towel over the stem for five days to dry. Small roots are starting to develop, which you may see. Place stem cuttings in a cactus soil mix in a small container.

How Often Should You Fertilize a Cactus Plant

Cactus plants don’t need a lot of attention, as they grow at a leisurely pace. They, on the other hand, grow healthily with diluted houseplant fertilizer. Under the right circumstances, a half-strength, balanced fertilizer will assist your cacti flourish and even bloom.

Throughout the growing season, you should fertilize a cactus two or three times. Don’t fertilize cactus or succulents in the late autumn and winter. Cacti only require watering on rare occasions in the winter, and only when the soil is completely dry.

Disease and Pests that Affect Cactus Plants

Fungal and bacterial infections can affect cacti if you do not care for them properly. Scale, spider mites, and mealybugs are examples of pests that may infect cactus plants. Most cactus growth problems can usually be avoided with care. It is, however, possible to encounter difficulties.

There are three things that you need to remember in order to prevent diseases that affect house cactus. This technique may help you keep your cactus alive for many years:

  • In well-draining soil, grow cactus plants.
  • The potting material must be completely dry before water is added.
  • Put it in the brightest location you can find.

So, if you discover insect larvae on your cactus, what can you do? The following are a few techniques to identify and eliminate houseplant pests:

  • Scale–Small dome-shaped shells cover the surface of cactus plants. To avoid plant damage, scrape them off. These pests are also killed by rubbing alcohol when it comes into contact with them.
  • Mealybugs—These pests appear as cotton fluffy bits on veins and spines. For these typical houseplant pests, use a natural neem oil solution.
  • Fungus gnats—Cactus soil flies, which reside in tiny black insects, are often spotted hovering above the plant. Fungus gnats are a bothersome insect, even if they don’t do much harm.
  • Spider mites—Web-like structures on the cactus stems are the first indicators of these pests. Little brown dots, which are spiders, may be seen on close inspection.

Caring for Cactus in Winter

The hot, bright environment of cactus plants is perfect. However, winter isn’t difficult when it comes to caring for them. In the winter months, cactus go into hibernation and require very little attention. The cacti should be given around three to four hours of sunlight. Keep watering to a bare minimum, and only water them when the soil is completely dry.

FAQs on Caring for Cactus Plants Indoors

You may still have questions despite the fact that cactus are simple houseplants to maintain. Some frequent cactus care concerns are addressed here.

Will my cactus flower?

Cactus plants should begin to bloom after about two to three years of establishment. Cactus needs sun and nutrients throughout its growing season to bloom indoors. If there is adequate light, they will bloom in the winter at colder temperatures.

Why is my cactus growing tall and spindly?

Cacti usually grow spindly as a result of insufficient sunlight. To promote development, shift the potted plant to a more prospering spot.

Are cacti good terrarium plants?

Cactus don’t like humidity and require a lot of air to survive, so they aren’t ideal plants for closed terrariums. In an open terracotta pot with sandy soil, you may grow tiny cacti and succulents together. You may thus create a stunning cactus garden in this manner.

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