Beautifying one’s home doesn’t stop at renovation and adding more furniture and fixtures. Aside from these designing aspects, homeowners also start exploring flowers and succulent and cacti plants as complementary pieces to one’s existing interior design motif. You see, the good thing with adding decorative artificial succulents, plants, and flowers is that it doesn’t have to cost you a fortune to upgrade your home. Unlike home renovations, it would only cost you a few dollars to buy a cactus, repot it with the use of a fine-looking planter, and display the same.
Aside from being a cost-efficient design feature, cacti and succulents don’t need keen maintenance. For as long as you repot them in an adequately-sized planter and provide them with the right amount of sunlight, aeration, and water they need, it’s guaranteed that they’ll thrive. Then again, the fact that they don’t need strict maintenance doesn’t directly mean that you can just leave them high and dry.
For one, they need to be repotted as soon you buy and take them home in a garden bag. You also need to make sure that the planter or pot you’ll use for repotting is large enough to allow its roots to spread. Otherwise, you’ll only stunt the growth of your cacti. Next, you also need to use mix potting soil because this kind holds and drains water better. You see, cacti and other succulent plants are sensitive to moisture. When you overwater them, they’ll wilt. When they lack water, the leaves will also start to fall until you see their translucency begin to change. Lastly, you also need to repot them at least once every 12 to 18 months to keep them healthy.
If it’s your first time growing a cactus at home, don’t get overwhelmed but don’t be too complacent as well. Go through this guide diligently and see your cacti bloom and thrive.
What Are Cacti
Most people think that growing cactuses means having great additions to their homes because of their striking flowers, size, and shape. No two cactus plants are the same, which means that every plant you get gives your living space a unique decorative perspective.
A cactus is an excellent addition to the home, thanks to its striking shape, size, and flowers. Seeing as no cactus plant is the same, this houseplant is a unique, decorative way to add interest to your living space, whether it’s perched on your windowsill or styled on a shelf.
Cactus or Cactaceae originated from the Greek word ‘Kaktus’ that means ‘spiky plant.’ This plant is native to South and North America, heavily concentrated in Mexico. Since they don’t need much water to live and thrive, they are often found in the desert of other environments that are subject to intense heat. This explains why you could often see them in heated homes with dry and warm conditions.
This plant is perfect for avid plant lovers because even if you’re less green-fingered, you can make it grow. It’s better for this plant to be underwatered than being overwatered. They may also be slow-growing, but they are relatively self-sufficient since they store moisture in their stems, leaves, and roots. This storing process is how the plant regulates its food intake. They like warm, airy, and light spots. Remember, though they thrive in hot environments, it’s best to limit their external environment to at least 18 degrees Celsius. Plus, also take note that they cope well even if you expose them to direct sunlight.
People think that cactuses are indestructible because of how low-maintenaTheir. Unfortunately, they can still die, and the easiest way to do this is by repotting them with inappropriate compost and overwatering. If you use ordinary compost, they will not survive because this kind of soil offers poor drainage. You can use cactus soil if you want them to stay alive.
Lastly, people are also not sure whether or not cacti and succulents are the same. To set the record straight, all cactus plants are under the giant umbrella known as succulents. So, you can say that all cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti. These plants store water in their leaves as they use this to regulate their food during drought and hot weather.
Benefits of Growing Cacti
Cacti serve more than just improving your home’s aesthetics. Aside from being mere decors that could change the motif of the room, they also offer many benefits that can improve your mental and physical condition.
Cacti and other succulent plants are great additions to your home’s indoor plant displays, but they are also serving your family many different purposes. The next time someone asks you whether you benefit from cacti, answer them with a big, fat resounding yes. In fact, their benefits extend to you and your family’s health and overall well-being. First and foremost, with improved air quality, your breathing and lung health significantly improved. Aside from that, it can also improve your mood and productivity as you experience more of its therapeutic benefits. Here’s a rundown of the many benefits of cacti plants.
Improved Home Air Quality
It’s common knowledge that when we breathe, oxygen gets converted into carbon dioxide. The latter is a kind of toxin our body expels and also the one that thrives on plants as they convert this back into breathable air.
A small cactus plant can absorb these carbon dioxide particles that are released into the air. They are also responsible for reverting these toxins into clean, fresh oxygen that you and your whole family can breathe. Without an iota of doubt, this is a great incentive for your and your loved one’s health, considering that indoor air is two to five times more toxic and polluted than outdoor air.
These plants can also significantly reduce home pollutants like benzene and nitrogen dioxide. This only means that the more cacti you have at home, the better your environment’s air quality will be.
Make You Happier
If you’re down, visit gardens and shop for succulents and cacti. You can also visit flower fairs since succulents shows and sales are an excellent place to find rare succulents. They’ll instantly make you feel better!
Cacti plants can make one feel calm, relaxed, and happy! Our homes are made of wood, concrete, or a combination of both. The furniture and fixtures we add are also made of the same seemingly lifeless elements. As such, it’s difficult to feel lively living inside these confining walls. Having plants inside your home adds a hint of nature into your living space. Seeing greens and other lively-colored plants inside your boxed area can instantly lighten your mood and make you feel happier.
You see, this isn’t just a theory. Studies have proven that cacti’s colorful and cutesy appearance lessens one’s stress levels and significantly decreases feelings associated with stress-induced depression. These cacti help their owner by absorbing these negative emotions and reverting happy hormones.
Rearing cacti can also significantly strengthen your bond with your family members if you’re growing them together. The reason behind this is the fact that caring for your plants brings out your empathetic side, just like how you care for your loved one.
Make You Productive
Try planting succulents that are great for ground covers. If not, also try growing premium flowering succulents. By merely acting on these desires to plant, you’re automatically productive.
Owning a plant makes you feel that you’re obligated towards them. This feeling keeps you from being lazy. Instead of lounging more on your bed in the morning or during your break time, you’re forced to get up because you have to check your plant and give them some tender loving care. Also, since they can keep you focused, you even end up finishing more work than usual. With the extra energy boost they give, you’re more than ready to take on whatever challenges the day throws at you.
Children who spend more time with indoor plants like cacti also tend to be better at learning. Since they can focus more on their schoolwork, they even end up more productive.
Help Develop Behavioral Skills
Kids can develop specific behavioral skills and learn how to be responsible for taking care of cacti. Growing them can give your child that opportunity to work on something with their bare hands. It also teaches them the value of investing time and effort into something that they want to grow. When they see their plant bloom, later on, they’ll realize how satisfying it would be to allow something to thrive from scratch.
Watering your cacti and making sure that they get the right amount of sunlight they need brings out a child’s nurturing nature. This can prepare them when they will grow a pet or attend school later on. If you have not tried taking care of a plant before and you’re looking for experience to broaden your knowledge in gardening, start with cacti. Since they don’t need that much effort to care for, they’ll be good subjects to hone your gardening skills. And since they’re not demanding, you can fully enjoy the whole gardening experience.
Provide a Healing Experience
Though this benefit may not apply to every household, it’s still worthy of mentioning that cacti plants placed indoors can help someone sick recover fast. Studies reveal that cacti plants in hospital rooms helped patients heal quicker because of their stress-reducing properties and soothing effects. If you recently underwent a medical procedure, bringing in a cactus indoor can help you recover faster.
Provides Relief to Those Who Experienced Trauma
If you’ve been through any kind of trauma, know that taking care of a cactus will be therapeutic for you. Instead of focusing on the events that lead to your trauma, you focus more on the plant that you’re rearing.
Lessen Indoor or Outdoor Background Noise
Flora is known to lessen the noise you hear within your garden. Likewise, cacti plants brought indoors can also significantly reducing the noise inside. When you want to relax, having these plants nearby can keep the environment quiet as they bounce noise off away from the surface and you. Ideally, place your cacti around your comfort room, in your workspace, windows, and doors. They can tame the environment while also inducing a calming effect.
How Do Cacti Work
Making the most of your cacti plants is easy. First and foremost, the easiest way to enjoy them is by taking advantage of their aesthetic value to your home. They’re not only ideal as indoor ornamental plants, but they’re also pretty to look at outdoors. If you have a garden and you like to beautify them, cacti plants are the answer. You can be liberal in how you position and play with the design. If you have many cacti and succulents, you can even make an arrangement to show your ingenuity in coming up with the design.
You can also use the fact that you’re growing a cactus to show your growing pot collection. You see, when you start planting your cacti, you begin collecting pots and use these pots to complete the whole look of your plant. You can even use your pot to compliment the look and motif of the room you’re displaying your cacti. Especially in modern rustic and Scandinavian homes, cacti are often added to achieve that simple, vintage-like, and clean look. Because they’re usually lush green, they pair well with polished woodwork.
Especially now that most people work from home, the idea of having your own home office is more than lucrative. If you already have your own working space at home, spice them up with some cacti! A cactus here and there won’t hurt. When the numerous benefits they offer, they should be more than welcome in your personal space. If it’s your first time to own and take care of a cactus, you can go with the cheap ones first, have them repotted, and practice taking care of them by letting them thrive in your home office. The key here is to put them in an area where there’s more sunlight. They’ll love that, so never deprive them of the joy in basking under the sun. As you enter your office, you could check on them, see if their roots are stable and if insects are pestering them.
Since they offer many benefits, they’re best in that home space where you spend the most time. When you’re working, they can lessen the background noise in your external environment, allowing you to work in peace. If you need to get things done fast, they’ll help you focus. Plus, you don’t have to worry about allergens and toxins in the air because your cacti plants will take care of them.
When you’re on a break in between tasks, you can get up, stretch, and talk to your cacti. They’re good listeners because they just allow you to vent as they look back at you, seemingly telling you that it’s all going to be okay.
Pros and Cons of Cacti
Diminish the Background Noise
As mentioned above, cacti plants offer many benefits that range from simple facade uplift to profound benefits like relieving stress and trauma, helping a person build better behavioral skills, making one more caring and nurturing, and helping one become more productive. These benefits are more than enough reason why you have to have them in your home.
It’s beneficial for people working at home, kids being taught the value of responsibilities, and avid cactus lovers. For people working at home, owning cacti plants is advantageous because, firstly, these plants can effectively diminish the amount of background noise you’ll hear.
So, when you’re gearing up for a Zoom call, or you’re merely calling a client from your phone, you don’t have to worry about interruptions and noises that might disrupt your meeting or call. Additionally, since these plants keep your work zone quieter than usual, you can also focus more. Getting things done is easier when you have laser eye focus.
Clean the Air
You also need them indoors because they clean the air you’re breathing. You see, contrary to popular belief, indoor air is actually more polluted than outdoor air. Outdoor spaces are usually open, so air can just freely circulate without leaving you suffocated. Homes with less than strategic placements of windows typically suffer from poor air circulation. And since every living person in the room exhales carbon dioxide, if the air doesn’t circulate that much, it’s like inhaling the very same toxins you breathe out.
Add that to the smell of molds, fungi, and oil from frying; you can expect a foul-smelling indoor environment. This can be remedied by having indoor plants like cacti at home. They can breathe in the toxins you exhale and revert them into clean, breathable air. This benefit and advantage work like magic every single time.
Teaches You to Be More Caring
If you have kids at home, it’s a good idea to teach them the value of patience and caring by allowing them to grow cacti. Who knows, in the process of teaching them these virtues, you’ll also find out that they have a green thumb. Choose a cheap cactus for them, teach them how to plant it, and tell them that they’re responsible for growing the plant. As they tend to their cactus plant, explain to them why they have to take care of it. Watch your child develop to be more caring by giving this responsibility.
Fun to Plant and Grow
Growing a cactus is also beneficial for avid cacti growers because it fuels their passion and makes it fun to plant and grow it. Because they’re already convinced of its importance and advantages, you don’t have to have a particular reason to persuade them to give growing it a try. The sheer joy in the act and sense of accomplishment they get once they marvel at the beauty of their cacti collection is more than enough reason for them to stick to this hobby.
They Can Die If You Don’t Care for Them
The only disadvantage in growing cacti plants at home is the possibility of them dying because you missed on some factors while caring for them. Unlike succulents, cacti plants need more sunlight and less water. While you water your succulents three times a week, cacti only need watering once a week and only when the medium is dry.
Like succulents, they can die when you disturb their roots and overwater them. And because they’re one of the most low-key and low-maintenance plants out there, killing them only means you deprived them of their most basic needs. For some people, this can be off-putting that they’ll distance themselves from planting any succulent or cacti ever.
Types of Cacti
As its name suggests, the desert cactus is a succulent plant group that originated from areas with arid, dry, and hot environmental conditions. They are native to the Americans and are usually found thriving in Southern Canada down to Patagonia’s furthest areas. They thrive in grasslands, mountainsides, dry shrubland, and semi-deserts. These areas lose more soil moisture by evaporation more often than they receive rain every year. With this fact alone, you can say that this plant has an amazing ability to adapt. Add that to another astonishing fact that they can live and thrive for hundreds of years; you get the perfect plant that could even pass as a family heirloom.
Here are some cacti plants that belong to the Desert Cacti species:
Tree-like cacti: This category is so vast that it even includes most of the cacti belonging to the Opuntia genus. All the cacti that belong to this species have a wide array of forms that you can say that there’s none like them.
- Beaver Tail (Opuntia basilaris)
- Creeping Devil (Stenocereus aruca)
- Elephant cactus (Pachycereus pringlei)
- Engelmann’s Prickly Pear (Opuntia englemannis)
- Eve’s Needle (Austrocylindropuntia subulate)
- Giant Barrell (Echinocactus platyacanthus)
Columnar Cacti: These cacti are usually erect and have stems that are cylindrical in shape. Sometimes they are branches; some other times, they’re not.
- Candelabra (Myrtillocactus cochal)
- Night Blooming Cereus (Cereus repandus)
- Old Man cacti (Cephalocereus senilis)
- Saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea)
- Senita (Pachycereus schottii)
Globular Cacti: These are more compact yet shorter cacti that also have columnar varieties. They are often found growing by themselves, but some also grow in clusters, forming more enormous plant mounds that share one root.
- Devil’s Tounge (Ferocactus latispinus)
- Golden Barrel (Echinocactus grusonii)
- San Pedro Macho (Echinopsis peruviana)
- Balloon Cacti (Parodia magnifica)
Shrubby succulents resembling cacti: Under this type are Euphorbia succulents that have a shrubby appearance. They include the following:
- Candelilla (Euphorbia antisyphilitica)
- Lady Slipper (Euphorbia macrocarpus)
- Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milli)
- Gopher Plant (Euphorbia rigida)
- Churee (Euphorbia royleana)
This type of cactus grows in a completely different condition and environment than the Desert species. For one, they grow mostly as epiphytes in shaded forests. As you know, epiphytes are considered as plants growing in other plants. They’re not parasitic, though. They don’t grow and feed on the host plant, causing them harm or damage. Instead, they only use them as their growing structure. Lithophytic cacti also belong to this category, but they grow in rocks found in the lower ground.
Unlike desert varieties, forest cacti grow and thrive in sub-tropical nature like the humid tropical rainforests in Northern, Central, and Southern America. You can also find them in the Caribbean Islands and areas with year-round warmth.
Here are some cacti plants that belong to the Forest Cacti species:
- Barbed wire cacti (Acanthocereus)
- Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera truncate)
- Easter Cactus (Hatiora gaertneri )
- Mistletoe cacti (Rhipsalis neves-armondii)
- Queen of the Night (Epiphyllum oxypetalum)
- Rattail cacti (Aporocactus flagelliformis)
- Vanilla cacti (Selenicereus grandifloras)
Things You Should Know About Cacti Care
Light, Temperature and Ventilation
The key to making your cactus plant grow healthy is by emulating the environment in which they thrive. Say, for instance, you’re growing desert cacti, you have to recreate the desert environment to ensure that they’ll stay healthy while growing. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you blast your home heating system to copy the intense desert enough. It’s enough that you give your desert cacti more sunlight exposure. Hence, it would help if you place them in areas near your window or under your skyline. On the other hand, if you have forest cacti, room temperature would be enough to keep them well.
With cacti and other succulents, you need a kind of soil that has excellent water draining capacity. As you already know, overwatering can kill cacti more than underwatering it. The soil plays a significant role in every cactus plant’s growth. To see whether you already need to water your cactus, look at the soil using a stick to check its dryness. When it’s cracking on the surface and dry underneath, it means the ground needs watering.
When you repot your cacti plant, don’t use just ordinary soil. Cacti require sandy, pebbly, and porous soil. They also need a potting mix that can meet the cactus’ nutritional needs. Go for one with pumice. These soil types offer just the right aeration and water drainage for the plant since they keep it from holding too much water. Overwatering and more water retention can rot the cactus’ root.
A vast majority of succulents and cacti don’t require a specific fertilizer blend for them to thrive. They grow happy and healthy when they’re fed with highly-diluted mixtures of all-purpose fertilizers. Then again, if you’re looking for one that’s best suited to them, go for water-soluble, low-nitrogen varieties of all-purpose fertilizers. Try to dilute 10-10-10 or 5-10-10 blend to 1/14th strength.
Watering and Feeding
As mentioned above, cacti plants require less watering compared to succulents. This means that when you water your succulents twice or thrice a week, your cacti can grow well if you water them once a week or once every two to three weeks. They will thrive better if you water them sparingly. Overwatering can rot the roots, easily killing your cacti.
Pots and Potting
Repotting your cacti can cause them stress; that’s why it’s advisable that you only do this when you want to transfer them from the garden bag, and only after every 12 to 18 months. Choose a more prominent planter when you pot them to allow its roots to grow and spread. Otherwise, your cacti will suffer from stunted growth.
Though fungal and bacterial diseases caused by overwatering are the common problem of cacti plants, they can occasionally suffer from pests. Most of the time, any cactus pest problem often involves fungus gnats, spider mites, scale, and mealybugs. To make sure that your cacti plants don’t get infested, practice good and sound cultural techniques. Make sure that your plants get adequate sunlight, proper aeration, and good drainage. Also, keep spent flowers and dead leaves off the pot. When bringing in new cacti, make sure to quarantine the newcomers first before mixing them with the ‘long-term residents.’ You can also use insecticides like pyrethrins or Neem if you must. Just check the label if they’re plant-friendly.
7 Best Cacti for Beginners
Cereus Family of Cacti
This cactus species is native to the Southern parts of America, considered a striking plant. It has unique spiny ribs, a bluish-green hue, and can grow as high as a tree. They love plenty of light, dry environments with less water and warm areas. This is a type of desert cactus that blooms cactus-like in well-lit conditions, so when you bring them home, make sure to place them near your window where they get more direct sunlight. You can also try to position them west or southward because these are the brightest areas. They are not tolerable to low lighting conditions.
Echinopsis – “Hedgehog Cacti”
This variety has its roots in South America, often referred to as the hedgehog cactus, sea-urchin cactus, or Easter lily cactus. You can distinguish this variety from others by its prickly or spiky appearance, as suggested by its nicknames. This plant is unbelievably densely covered with a lot of spines.
This plant also represents one of the most prominent genus, with over 120 species. Under this are plants of different sizes. What’s common among them are the beautiful flowers they have. The ginormous ones are usually four to six inches in height and are generally multi-colored.
Ferocactus – “Barrel Cacti”
This cactus has been the stereotype for the whole cacti family because of its barrel shape. This cactus is also often referred to as The Traveler’s Friend because of the belief that inside its barrel-shaped body are water reservoirs that travelers in hot and arid deserts can tap into to survive and quench their thirst.
Mammillaria – “Pincushion Cacti”
This is considered one of the most charming and sweetest cactus varieties because of its small and clustered appearance and its frequency of being utilized as a house plant. They are natives of Mexico and possess a distinctive shape that resembles a nipple. Because of its appearance, its Latin name directly translates to ‘nipple.’ They grow and thrive in environments where they get the right soil nutrients, more sunlight, and enjoy warm temperatures.
Opuntia – “Prickly Pearls”
‘Prickly Pearls belong to the subgroup of Opuntia, and they’re often characterized by its flat, comprehensive, and branching pads. They are also often referred to as paddle or nopal cactus. Most of the varieties belonging to this subgroup have barbed bristle tops and detachable spines that can cause specific allergic reactions. They are often found in dry and warm areas like the Southwest, though they can also thrive in the Eastern parts of the world.
Parodia Family of Cacti
Cacti in this genus usually have a globulous shape or appear like short cylinders that grow solitude or clumps. Their stems are often ribbed, but they can also be tuberculate. Its spines can also be stiff, dense, or thin. When in the wild, Parodia, as a genus, grows in the Eastern parts of South America, densely covering a wide array of locations and habitats.
Rebutia Family of Cacti
This cacti family is currently one of the more famous cacti in cultivation. They often thrive in commercial gardens all around the world. They are flat-globose, globose, or small plants that grow in clumps. They also have tuberculate stems in not well-defined ribs. These cacti are native to the mountains of Bolivia and Argentina.
How to Grow Cacti for Beginners
Step 1 – Prepare all your gardening tools
It’s best to start gardening when all the essential tools are within reach. So, before you plant your first-ever cactus plant, make sure that your pot, trowel, gravel or pebbles, potting mix, and water sprayer are present.
Step 2 – Prepare for potting
For your potting container, choose a shallow one since the roots of the cactus grows slowly. Stay away from oversized ones because you’ll only eat space. Once you have already selected a container, start spreading a thin layer of gravel and small pebbles at the said container’s bottom. On top of it, pour a generous amount of cacti-designed potting mix. Don’t use ordinary potting mixes because they hold too much water, letting the residue and moisture rest in the cacti stem.
Step 3 – Arrange your cacti plants
Don’t let being a novice rob you of your creativity. Experiment by arranging your cacti in any way you want it. There’s no hard and fast rule for cacti arrangement, so you can go all out in designing them. Eventually, the more frequently you work on them, the faster you’ll get the hang of it. As soon as you have figured out the arrangement you like, prepare to make holes in your potting mix. When you remove the cactus from its original garden bag, wear a pair of thick gloves to keep the thorns from pricking your fingers.
Step 4 – Plot the cactus and firm the soil
With your thick gloves on, plot the cactus according to the arrangement you planned. When they’re in place, cover them with the potting mix and firm the soil. Make sure that the roots don’t stick out and that your plant is stable in position. Water them lightly. Add decorative pebbles for the extra bling.
How to Keep the Pests Away From Your Cacti
Step 1 – Go for natural methods
The first thing to do when you opt for this method is to remove the pests that infested your cactus physically. After that, aim your water hose at your plant and stream away. Make sure that your hose is only set at a stream setting to avoid damaging your plant. If you see longhorn beetles in your plant, pick them up with the use of tweezers. To catch fungus gnats, stick yellow traps on the pot.
Step 2 – Use chemical treatments
When you’re done with the natural methods, but you still see pests coming back, it’s time to upgrade your strategy by using chemical treatments. You can start by damping cotton with alcohol and clean the stems with it. Mix one part of water to three parts of alcohol. Rub alcohol solution in all areas that were infested by bugs. If the problem isn’t solved with this, go for soap insecticide — a softer and gentler type of insecticide for cacti pests. Refer to the product instruction for a guide. If your problem involves mealybugs, use systemic insecticide instead. If you can’t remedy the plant despite all these steps, it’s best to destroy it rather than risking other plants from getting infected.
Step 3 – Take measures to prevent pest infestation
When bringing in new cacti species at home, make sure to quarantine them before mixing them with your old cacti varieties. To do this, simply leave them outdoors or in your main garden for three weeks. Check it daily for any kind of infestation. Treat the infestation as soon as you see the symptoms. After three weeks and you know that they’re physically okay, you can take them indoors to ‘mingle’ with your other cacti. It would also help if you always keep the surface of the pot clean. Remove any dead leaf or wilted flower.
How to Repot Your Cacti
Step 1 – Prepare all your repotting tools
Just like planting cactus for the first time, it’s best to start gardening when all the essential tools are within reach. So, before you repot your first-ever cactus plant, make sure that your pot, trowel, gravel or pebbles, potting mix, and water sprayer are present.
Step 2 – Prepare for potting
Remove your cactus from its old container or gardening bag. For your potting container, choose a shallow one since the roots of the cactus grow slowly. Stay away from oversized ones because you’ll only eat space. Once you have already selected a container, start spreading a thin layer of gravel and small pebbles at the said container’s bottom. On top of it, pour a generous amount of cacti-designed potting mix. Don’t use ordinary potting mixes because they hold too much water, letting the residue and moisture rest in the cacti stem.
Step 3 – Plot the cactus and firm the soil
With your thick gloves on, plot the cactus according to the arrangement you planned. When they’re in place, cover them with the potting mix and firm the soil. Make sure that the roots don’t stick out and that your plant is stable in position. Water them lightly. Add decorative pebbles for the extra bling.
How to Care for Your Cacti
Step 1 – Make sure that they’re correctly planted
The potting mix and container matter most. Go for cacti-friendly potting mixes and choose shallow containers that are made of clay. They are great for draining water, keeping your cacti free from overwatering.
Step 2 – Give your cactus what they need
Aside from your love and time, they also need more sunlight, aeration, and enough water. It’s best to position them near your window, where they’ll be exposed to natural elements that can help them grow.
Step 3 – Repot them when necessary
When you first bring them home, take that opportunity to repot them. You see, cacti can also get stressed due to frequent movement and repotting, so you might as well stress them once than continually moving them after you bring them home. After your first repotting, wait for at least 12 to 18 months before repotting them again.
Mistakes to Avoid When Growing Cacti
Cacti only need to be watered sparingly. Otherwise, the extra moisture will stay and get absorbed by its stem, quickly rotting its roots. When the roots rot, your cactus could die.
Though less lethal than overwatering, underwatering can also deprive your cacti of the essentials they need to survive. The soil needs water to continually feed the roots with the nutrients the plant needs to grow. If deprived, your cactus can also wilt and soon die.
Not Providing Enough Light
Cacti love sunlight. They need light to grow and flourish. If you deprive them of natural sunlight, they can quickly wilt, become more translucent in color, and eventually refuse to develop further.
Not Using a Proper Soil Mix
The ratio behind the right potting mix is the ability of the soil to hold and drain water. You see, ordinary potting mixes are very good at retaining moisture. In this case, the roots would quickly rot, leaving the plant to die prematurely.
Leaving Plants Root-Bound Too Long
Though the roots of cacti plants grow slowly, they still grow more significantly and more prolonged. If you keep them in the container for a long time despite their apparent increase in size, the roots could no longer expand, thus stunting your plant’s growth.
People need vitamins to grow stronger and develop better immunity. The same principle applies to plants. They need fertilizing to help them bulk up. Fertilizers act as added nutrients to the soil. As the plant feeds on the roots, the latter will absorb the fertilizer’s nutrients, effectively distributing it to the whole plant.
Ignoring the Plant’s Requirement to Grow
Cacti need water, sunlight, air, and nutrients to grow. If you deprive them of these essentials, it’s akin to saying that you’re letting them die a natural death. Though they won’t die immediately, you’ll slowly see them weaken through the leaves’ wilting, drying of the soil, and breaking of the roots.
Burning Plants Due to Phototoxicity
If you expose your cactus to toxic chemicals like soil drench and chemical foliar spray, they could get damaged. Though this can be remedied by allowing water to drain through the potting mix or plain repotting, it’s better to keep your plants from toxic chemicals to keep them from getting burned.
Do’s and Don’ts With Cacti for Beginners
- Choose a pot with a drainage hole when repotting succulents.
- Give your cacti all the essentials for their growth and flourishing.
- Know the basics when caring for the type of cactus you decide to plant.
- Learn more about the best cacti varieties that grow well in your chosen environment.
- Quarantine new cacti for three weeks in your main garden before bringing them in and mixing them with your old cacti.
- Repot your cactus as soon as you bring them home from the shop.
- Thoroughly water your succulents.
- Try to mix your own soil at home.
- Use the best hanging succulents.
- Overwater or underwater your cactus.
- Deprive them of nutrients.
- Let the roots grow without repotting.
- Forget to check your cactus for fungus, bacteria, or pests.
- Leave them in a sunlight-deprived area for a long time.
FAQ About Cacti for Beginners
What is the easiest cactus to take care of?
If it’s your first time planting a cactus or you don’t have the time and expertise to raise one, go for the Cereus species as they’re the easiest to take care of. As stated above, this cactus species is native to the Southern parts of America, where it’s considered a striking plant. They love plenty of light, dry environments with less water and warm areas. This is a type of desert cactus that blooms in well-lit conditions, so when you bring them home, make sure to place them near your window where they get more direct sunlight. You can also try to position them west or southward because these are the brightest areas.
How do you root a broken piece of cactus?
If it’s broken or crooked, get a knife and make a fresh cut. Make sure to even the cacti end out. Shelf the damaged piece for a few days and let the wound callous over before rooting them. Before you root, ensure that the end is sealed over and dry.
Can a broken cactus be fixed?
You can follow the tip for rooting a broken cactus piece to fix a broken cactus.
How do you transplant a cactus without getting poked?
When you remove the the cactus from its original garden bag, wear a pair of thick gloves to keep the thorns from pricking your fingers.
When can I transplant cactus?
Transplant your cactus mid-spring because this is the time when they are in their active growth period. This means that they already have the energy to acclimatize and recover from being introduced into a new environment.
Can you cut off a piece of cactus and plant it?
Yes, you can do so. Just like replanting a broken stem, you can just cut any part, wait for them to dry and callous over before replanting them. Growing succulents from seed take a long time, so you can simply cut off a piece of the cultivated plant and have it replanted.
Do cactus like small pots?
They like shallow pots and containers because their roots grow slowly. However, this doesn’t mean that you can just allow them to root-bound without repotting. When they’ve overgrown their container, repot them to a bigger one.
Growing and allowing your cacti to flourish is fun, but it isn’t for those who refuse to learn the basics. You need to know the variety of the plant to understand how to handle them properly. You also need to figure out their needs so that you won’t keep them in an environment where they won’t thrive. Yes, they require effort even if they’re low-maintenance. When you see them thrive and be at their best and most vivid color, you can say that you did your best, and you’re now a certified cacti grower.
Photos from: IgorVetushko / depositphotos.com, simonapilolla / depositphotos.com, krim.bux.gmail.com / depositphotos.com, rinzz.hotmail.com / depositphotos.com and Sabina-Fedmann / depositphotos.com.