How Often to Water Cactus Plants: The Ultimate Cactus Watering Guide

Because cactus plants don’t need much water, they are a simple houseplant to grow. Cactus, like all indoor plants, need water to survive of course. Cactus plants, on the other hand, may survive for weeks without water after being soaked in potting soil. When the soil gets too dry, you should water a cactus.

The plant family Cactaceae includes the cactus, which is a type of succulent. The stems of cacti are thick and hold moisture. Because of their capacity to hold water, they can endure periods of no watering and even drought. When they are watered, their shallow root system quickly absorbs moisture.

If you want to know how often you should water a cactus, keep reading. In addition, there are a few indoor care tips and tricks.

How Often to Water Cactus

When you should only water a cactus plant when the potting soil has completely dried out, there is no specific watering schedule. Cactus plants’ watering frequency is determined by such factors as the size of the cactus plant, the type of container, season, humidity, and amount of sunlight it receives. You risk watering your cactus plant too often if you water it on a set schedule. Water is used more often in the summer than in the winter.

Many factors, such as the dimensions of the succulent plant, the kind of pot, and how much light it gets, must be taken into account when deciding when to water a cactus. Cactus species that are thirsty require watering more frequently than cactus species that aren’t. Wait until your cactus plants are dry before watering them extensively. This is a general rule to follow. Let’s take a closer look at the factors that influence when and how often you should water your desert plant.

Size of cactus

Little cactus plants, in particular, need watering more often than bigger ones. Since their roots absorb moisture quickly, small cacti have a quicker development rate and need more watering. However, when you drench the soil, big cacti generally need more water.

Water cactus plants whenever the soil becomes dry, no matter what. Not watering small cactus varieties is a difficulty in their development. Small cactus may succumb to root rot since they need to be watered more often. As a result, avoid any illness or pest problems by not giving them too much water.

Type of pot

For cultivating cactus or succulents, terracotta pots are the best option. The pots are made of a permeable material and moisture to escape. Soil dries out quickly as a result of faster evaporation, which benefits cacti. Because the soil dries more evenly when cacti are planted in terracotta pots, you can water at regular intervals.

One drainage hole should be present in your terracotta cactus pot. When you soak the potting mix, holes in the bottom of the pot allow excess water to escape. Make sure that excess water does not collect in the drip tray after watering your plant to avoid the soil becoming too soggy.

Succulents and house cacti do not prefer plastic or ceramic pots. These pots are prone to retain too much moisture, which may harm cactus health. It’s also more difficult to water a cactus.

Size of pot

The watering frequency can also be affected by the size of the cactus pot. A big cactus in a big pot may need watering every four to six weeks since large pots hold more moisture than smaller ones. Every one to two weeks, a cactus plant in a small container should be watered.

The size of the cactus determines the appropriate pot size. You will seldom have to water the plant if the pot is too big for the cactus. Your cactus, on the other hand, may get soil mold or diseased roots since the soil stays moist for longer. For your cactus, try to choose the tiniest pot that offers adequate growth space and support.

Getting the right soil for indoor cactus houseplants

Cactus plants need a potting soil that has enough drainage. To properly water your cactus, water should flow quickly through the soil and dry quickly. Cactus potting soil is available for purchase. Alternatively, you may make suitable cactus soil by combining potting soil, perlite, and coarse sand.

You’ll need to water your cactus more often when you’ve got fast draining soil in your pot. House cacti, on the other hand, can survive many years in well-draining soil that receives adequate watering.

Temperature, humidity, and airflow for indoor cacti

Cactus have to be watered more often because of the heat and good ventilation. Cacti, for example, transpire more when the soil is hotter and drier out quicker. That’s great because it means your cacti are in good health and are doing well. To see if you should water the plant, check the soil every few days.

Your cactus, of course, requires less water in colder weather such as fall and winter. House cactus does not need regular watering during the winter because its development slows. In reality, every one or two months during the winter might be enough to water a cactus.

The fact that these drought-tolerant plants prefer low humidity is one of their greatest characteristics. Cactus thrives in dry indoor air. What are the ideal humidity levels for indoor cactus growing? Try to attain a humidity level of 20 to 30%. No need to muddle cactus stems. They only need to be watered occasionally and have enough sunlight.


Water house cactus is more common in the summer than it is in the winter, for the most part. Healthy cactus plants grow vigorously in the spring and summer, apart from the heat causing the soil to dry out. Succulent plants may need watering once a week during these months. Growth slows down in the autumn and winter, so they should only be watered occasionally and never fed. Before thoroughly watering the house cacti, make sure the soil is absolutely dry.

Light requirements to grow cactus plants

The frequency with which you must water your cactus will depend on how much sunlight they receive. Cactus plants need at least 12 hours of sunlight every day. Cactus soil is quickly dried out by bright sunlight. Every two or three days, check the soil to see if it needs water.

A south-facing window is the best spot for cactus to grow. It will do well in full sun and frequent watering here. In less intense light, such as a north-facing room, cactus can also grow. You’ll also have to reduce the frequency with which you water the plants.

How to Water a Cactus

thoroughly saturate the soil with water until it drains from the bottom when you water a cactus. This appears to be a lot of water, doesn’t it? The roots will get enough water if the soil is saturated. While cactus may endure droughts, they flourish when their dry potting soil gets a little dampness on occasion.

Remember to water your cactus when the potting soil gets dry, rather than before. The best way to water the plant is to pour plenty of water through dry soil. The succulent maintains its bright, healthy look as the cactus roots absorb the moisture.

How Do You Know When a Cactus Needs Water?

Your cactus will wilt and lose its stiffness if you under-water it. The cactus loses its vibrant color and starts to fade when the plant-soil has been arid for too long. It’s time to soak the soil thoroughly to revive a wilting cactus if you see indications of an under-watered cactus.

The belief that indoor cacti may survive for many months without water is a misconception. Desert plants, such as succulents and cacti, can survive for a long time without receiving rain. Outdoor cactus, on the other hand, are better able to retain water and take in more from the soil.

The classic signs of under-watering a cactus

  • The appearance of limp, withered green stems or leaves
  • It’s possible that the plant will start to lean.
  • Cacti that have not received enough water become paler.
  • The pads of the cactus are succulent, and they have a dimple pattern.
  • The cactus has a velvety feel to it.

If you haven’t watered your cactus in weeks, don’t be afraid. These tough houseplants are generally forgiving and will mostly recover from shallow watering. Check the soil for dryness every few days in the spring and summer, and every few weeks in the winter, when the cactus starts to grow healthily.

How to Tell If You Overwatered a Cactus

Overwatering your cactus will make the fleshy stems appear swollen and full, as a result of over watering. Roots can be severely damaged by damp, soggy, or waterlogged soil. Leaves that turn black, yellow, or fall off the plant are visible symptoms of root rot.

The leaves might become transparent and mushy as well. Overwatering cactus plants is more harmful than underwatering because it involves excessive enthusiasm. It may be difficult to save an overwatered cactus if the root damage is significant. The plant might experience a variety of fungal or bacterial problems, in addition to mushy roots unable to absorb moisture.

Because of its delicate root system, you should never water a cactus too much. Succulents’ roots are delicate and shallow, making them susceptible to damage. Recognizing the early symptoms of overwatering is also tough. The roots of the cactus may be rotting away in wet soil, despite the fact that it appears plump and healthy.

However, it may be too late to save the succulent cactus once you understand there are watering concerns.

How to Spot Signs of Root Rot Due to Overwatering a Cactus

  • Plump and swollen looking leaves or stems develop on the fleshy leaves or stems.
  • The leaves begin to brown or blacken.
  • Leaves can get mushy and transparent, which is a sign of age.
  • Leaf drop
  • The cactus stem begins to fracture due to the pressure.
  • Black and mushy roots

How to Save a Dying Cactus Plant

It’s crucial to immediately stop watering if you notice indications of overwatering. The roots of the cactus should be examined after it has been removed from the pot.

Cactus roots that are healthy are white and robust, and they don’t break easily. If you want to preserve the cactus, any mushy brown or black roots must be removed. Cut off all decaying plant matter with sterile shears. Before watering, repot in dry fresh potting soil for one week. Only water the cactus when the soil is bone dry in the future.

How to Fertilize a Cactus Plant Indoors

Although cactus don’t require a lot of food, they appreciate occasional feeding. Succulent plants do. Every two to three years, you may fertilize a cactus by spring, summer, and then autumn. If you dilute it by half, regular low-nitrogen houseplant fertilizer is fine.

Cacti are thought to only flourish in hot, dry environments, and they receive a torrential downpour every so often. Indoor cactus need a little more care than outdoor cactus, nevertheless they flourish in desert settings. Remember that overfeeding is equivalent to too much water when feeding cactus plants.

Other Cactus Growing Tips

When caring for house cacti, knowing when to water a cactus is key. What else should you know about indoor cactus care? Following are some tips for growing these tough houseplants:

Type of cacti—Cactus plants may be found in deserts or in woods, and some cactus species are found only in forests. Cacti native to the desert need direct sunlight for photosynthesis. Bright, but indirect light is preferred by forest cacti. Some cactus species, such as the moon cactus, are among the most unusual houseplants available.

Temperature—Between 70°F and 80°F (21°C and 27°C), desert cacti prefer hot, dry conditions. At temperatures of 55°F to 70°F (12°C – 21°C), forest cacti thrive indoors. Succulents prefer temperatures between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit (10 and 12 degrees Celsius) during the winter. Cacti may even bloom indoors if you take care of them.

Soil—Cacti thrive in well-draining, sandy soil. Between 5.5 and 7 is ideal for pH levels.

Pests—Cacti may be susceptible to pests, much as any other houseplant. Scale, mealybugs, fungus gnats, and spider mites are some of the most common pests that infest cactus plants. Learn how to get rid of indoor plant bugs here.


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