Cactus Care 101: Everything You Need to Know About Having a Cactus
Updated: November 19, 2023
It's exciting to consider having cacti indoors, on your terrace, balcony, or in the garden. Your cactus will be gorgeous and healthy if you follow the advice below. Cactus plants are a type of succulent originating from dry, arid regions such as deserts. They're known for being low-maintenance plants that can survive in harsh conditions with little water. While cactus is often considered a desert plant, it can thrive indoors if given the proper care. Here are the important things you should know about caring for your own cactus plant.
Cactus Care Instructions
First, consider the size of the plant. Cacti come in all different sizes, from small varieties that can fit on your desk to large ones that will take up half of your room. Choose a size that's appropriate for the space you have available.
Second, think about the type of cactus you want. There are many kinds of cacti, each with its unique shape and appearance. Do some research to find a variety that appeals to you. Planet Desert has the largest selection of cactus in the world.
Third, consider the potting situation. Look for a cactus that comes in a self-contained pot if you don't have a lot of space. Otherwise, you'll need to find a big pot to accommodate the plant's root system.
Finally, take into account the cactus care instructions. Some varieties are more high-maintenance than others and will require more attention in terms of watering and sunlight. Ensure you're prepared to care for the type of cactus you choose.
There are a lot of places where you can buy the most cactus plants. Here at Planet Desert we offer many different rare and unique cactuses, like the Notocactus Scopa Inermis Crested Grafted Large and Notocactus Scopa Murrielli.
YOUR SOIL: SELECTION
Make sure you are aware of the different types of cactus' species and the kinds of conditions it requires to grow before you decide to buy one. You should purchase a potting mix suitable for cactus. The majority of garden centers offer the right kinds of the cactus mix. You may either purchase a specialized cactus potting mix locally or create your own mixture by adding some sand and grit to the compost portion of the soil to make it grainy and less tightly compacted.
Cacti thrive in aerated, well-draining, light soil. The ideal cactus soil mixture will retain exactly the right amount of moisture to feed the plant without overdoing it. The ideal potting soil combination is one that dries up rapidly after watering.
The soil's moisture content is quickly absorbed by cacti. Therefore, any excess moisture will start to result in dampness issues and produce mildew, fungus, or rot.
Planet Desert offers specially formulated cactus soil, which has been tested for years. Our blend includes an organic substrate with mycorrhizae to help develop the root system. We also added the amount of inorganic media needed to help with adequate drainage and ventilation.
In addition, our cactus soil also has a nutrient-rich mineral system perfect for enriching desert plants.
How to Water your Cactus
One of the most important aspects of cactus care is watering. Cacti are succulents, storing water in their leaves and stems. As a result, they don't require watering as often as other plants. You should generally only water your cactus weekly or biweekly.
When you water your cactus, ensure you're using room-temperature water. Don't use cold water because it can shock the plant and cause the roots to rot. Let the water seep slowly into the potting mix until it's evenly moistened; then empty any excess water from the saucer. Another thing you have to note is not to use chlorine water. Chlorine should be avoided when it comes to gardening because it can wipe out helpful microorganisms found in the soil, as well as harm the roots of your plants. Treated water usually contains chlorine, which is why some may worry about the effect on their garden. Fortunately, most tap water has harmless levels of chlorine - if you can smell it though, that means there is a higher concentration than average.
Tepid rainwater or filtered water should be used for watering, rather than tap water. This is because the minerals in tap water build up in the soil and can cause deposits on the leaves. Minerals also disrupt the flow of essential nutrients to the plant.
Watering Your Cactus In Spring & Summer
In the growing season, the plants should be watered at least once a week. When watering, the soil should be given a good soaking, allowing excess water to drain away. Allow the compost to dry out slightly between each watering.
Watering Your Cactus In Autumn & Winter
This is the time of year when the plants enter a rest period. Watering should be reduced so that the potting mix dries out between the watering. The regularity of watering is dependent on the environment they are in and the variety of succulents . Winter-flowering cacti need to be in the warmth and have regular watering at this time, but desert-dwellers can be left un-watered. You do not need to feed cacti or succulents during this period.
It's also essential to make sure your cactus is getting enough drainage. If the pot doesn't have drainage holes, the roots will sit in water and rot. To prevent this, add some rocks or gravel to the bottom of the pot first and then add the potting mix.
The Ideal Pots For Cactus Plants
At Planet Desert, we understand the importance of pots for cacti and succulents. That's why our high-quality pots can be trusted to provide your plants with the best drainage possible. The porous clay helps absorb water, which prevents it from staying around your plant’s roots. We also stock a range of stylish and unique pots that will make a beautiful addition to your home or garden. So, you don’t have to compromise on style when caring for your cacti. With Planet Desert, you can be sure your plants get the attention they deserve with our quality selections. Shop our pots now and keep your cactus happy all year round!
How Much Sunlight Does a Cactus Need?
Cacti need plenty of bright, indirect sunlight to thrive. Your cactus should be receiving around 10-14 hours of sunlight per day. If your cactus is placed in a spot that doesn't get enough light, it will stretch and become leggy. This is known as "etiolation."
To avoid etiolation, place your cactus near a south- or west-facing window. If you don't have a spot like this in your home, you can also use grow lights to provide the plant with the light it needs.
The Right Kind of Cactus Soil Is Highly Important for Optimal Growth
When it comes to cactus soil, the right kind of potting mix is essential for your plant's health and growth. Planet Desert offers specially formulated cactus soil, which has been created and tested for years in the making.
It's the ultimate potting mix, designed to help your plants bloom to their fullest beauty, maintain health and color, and keep growing to their maximum potential. Our blend includes an organic substrate with mycorrhizae to help develop the root system. We also added the amount of inorganic media needed to help with adequate drainage and ventilation.
In addition, our cactus soil also has a nutrient-rich mineral system perfect for enriching desert plants.
Benefits of Cactus Soil:
- Dries out more frequently than general-purpose, peat-based mixes
- Well suited for low-light growing conditions & high humidity
- Less challenging to overwater crops
- Reduces incidence of water-related problems (root diseases, algae, and fungus gnats)
How to Repot Your Cactus
If your cactus is starting to outgrow its pot, you'll need to repot it into a larger container. Use a pot that's only 2-3 inches wider than the current one; any bigger and the roots won't have enough space to spread out.
- To repot your cactus, remove it from its current pot to place it in the new one. Gently remove it by grabbing around the base of the plant and pulling the pot down.
- Then, backfill the pot with fresh soil mix. Planet Desert creates potting mix specially formulated for the health of cactus plants, with
- Place your cactus in the new pot and fill it with more cactus mix, making sure not to compact the roots. You will “build up” the roots by holding the plant in place and placing soil around the roots without crushing them.
- Water your cactus, and then allow the soil to dry completely before watering it again.
How to Keep Your Cactus Away from Pests
You can opt to use neem oil to control pests such as aphids, mealybugs, and scale insects. These solutions should be applied every 7-10 days until the problem is under control.
Neem oil solution can be applied to the cactus either for prevention or treatment by using three methods: direct spraying, soil drenching, and deep soaking. Always test a small portion of the cacti before using the solution to the whole plant to check if it can cause damage.
The mixture should only contain 0.5 to 1% of crude neem oil to prevent the burning effect on the plant caused by too much azadirachtin. However, if you use a refined neem oil (lesser azadirachtin content), you can mix up to a 2% solution (6 tbsp neem oil) to get the same effect.
Another helpful tip to prevent pests is, it's essential to quarantine new plants before you add them to your collection. This will help prevent the spread of pests and diseases. Place new plants in a separate room or area for at least 2-3 weeks before giving them the all-clear.
Cactus Care Tips
- Cacti need plenty of bright light to be healthy. They need between 4-6 hours of sunlight each day to fully thrive. If your cactus is placed in a spot that doesn't get enough light, it will stretch and become leggy.
- Make sure that your cactus has good drainage. A good rule of thumb is to make sure your pot has at least one decent drainage hole.
- Most Cacti don’t need a lot of fertilizer; in fact, too much fertilizer can harm the plant. Fertilize your cactus once a month during the growing season using a half-strength solution of liquid fertilizer. Cacti plants grow to be healthy and happy when fed a highly-diluted all purpose fertilizer. However, with a low-nitrogen content, water-soluble fertilizer is best suited for the job. In the fall and winter, when the plant is dormant, you can reduce the frequency of fertilization to every other month or even once every three months.
- Always keep your plant clean. Wipe your cactus with a damp cloth every few weeks to remove any dust or debris.
Cactus Types For Every Climate
There are all sorts of different cacti that you can choose from, depending on the climate you live in. Here at Planet Desert, we offer the widest selection of cactus plants worldwide, with over 1,200 types to choose from. They are high-quality, healthy, and easy to ship to your home. Some of the most popular types of cacti include:
Molted Candlestick Tree
The Molted Candlestick Tree, also known as the Echinocereus pectinatus rubispinus, is a cactus with pink blooming flowers that brightens up a room in vivid color. It can reach up to the height of 15 cm and enter dormancy in winter. This stunning branching cylindrical-shaped cactus has short reddish-purple spines and dark lobes. It originates from Asia and belongs to the Cactaceae family.
Sea Urchin Cactus
The Sea Urchin Cactus, sometimes called the Astrophytum Asterias Nudum cactus, is native to the coasts of Mexico and Honduras. They're well-suited to areas with warm climates and high humidity. They're also relatively small, so they are for those who don't have a lot of space to spare.
Prickly Pear Cactus
The Prickly Pear Cactus is another good option for people who live in warm climates. There are over 1,000 varieties of this cactus, but the most popular is the Prickly Pear. They are natives of Mexico and are known for their large, flat pads. This beautiful plant can grow up as long as 6 feet tall and have an extremely memorable look.
Rat Tail Cactus
Rat Tail Cactus is native to Mexico and the southwestern United States, and as such, they prefer hot, dry climates. They get their name from their long, thin stems, which resemble rat tails. They're also known for their small, white flowers.
Golden Barrel Cactus
Golden Barrel Cactus, also known as the Echinocactus grusonii, can grow up to 90 cm in height and 180 cm spread. It may produce offspring plants with advanced age and a few multiples occur even at small sizes. Their name is from their shape, which resembles a barrel. They're also known for their large, bright yellow flowers.
Common Problems with Cactus
One very common problem amongst cactus plants is root rot, often caused by insufficient soil, which affects the development of the cactus. After many years of experience, Planet Desert has developed a premium soil mix that is ideal for growing strong and healthy cacti. Our mix includes an organic substrate with mycorrhizae to help with the growth of the root system. In addition, it includes the exact amount of inorganic media needed to help with adequate drainage and ventilation.
Another common problem with cacti is pests. Aphids, mealybugs, and scale insects are all common pests that can infest cacti. The best way to control these pests is to keep the plant clean simply. Wipe the cactus down with a damp cloth every few weeks to remove any dust or debris. You can also use insecticidal soap to control pests.
Cacti are also susceptible to pests, the most common of which is powdery mildew. This is a fungus that can cause the plant's leaves to turn white and powdery. Keep the plant clean and dry to control powdery mildew. Wipe the cactus down with a damp cloth every few weeks to remove any dust or debris. You can also use a fungicide to control powdery mildew.
Finally, cacti are also susceptible to sunburn. This is caused by too much direct sunlight, which can often be fatal to the plant. If you think your cactus is sunburned, then it's crucial to move it to a shady spot. You can also use a sunshade to protect the plant from direct sunlight.
Shop For a Cactus Online Today
If you are looking for the ultimate online selection of cactus plants and cactus accessories online, Planet Desert has the largest online Cactus store worldwide. Caring for a cactus plant can brighten your mood, improve your air quality, and tastefully dash any room with color. Start shopping now to conveniently deliver a cactus to your home!