Large cactus against terracotta wall

Cacti Tips and Care Guide

Let’s speak about the perfect plants for a busy schedule: here are my go-to cacti tips and care guide.

You want to have some green around but you just don’t have the time or patience to care for plants?

Even considering getting some plastic plants just to spark up your place?

Please don’t… Fake plants look so… fake!

Well, if you like them go ahead, but I would like to suggest a beautiful alternative: get yourself a cactus collection! They won’t require a lot from you and you will learn to enjoy being surrounded by greenery and spikes.

 

Plant ID:

Cactus, cacti, is a member of the Cactaceae plant family.

My Collection:

I prefer cacti specifically within the succulent category of plants and, as I write this journal, have gathered 11 different species on my south-facing window sill.

 

Cacti collection on window sill
cactus collection

 

Plant Origin:

Mostly desert and rocky areas! So do have that in mind 😉

Difficulty Level:

Easy.

Growth:

Slow grower.

Light:

Cati love sunlight and normally the more exposure you can provide them with, the better, although some species may do well in indirect to partial shade (not that common though).

Just make sure that you are watering them according to the amount of sun and heat they are receiving.

And I would also strongly recommend that you rotate and turn your cacti every so often…

  • not only to give them the chance of receiving different light conditions in case you are not able to have them all in direct sunlight,
  • but also for the growth to be even and for them to get sunlight all around them.

Mine for example are all gathered in the same south window sill and there they stay. I live in a cold country and this is the spot in my house that will give them their best chance of thriving.

I still do swap them around so that the ones at the back get the chance to be right in front of the window and also rotate them in place, as some may start to lean toward the light source.

I have this routine on my watering day and rotate them about a quarter of the way whenever I am spending a moment with these spiky mates.

Temperature:

Over 15 degrees and up to approximately 35 would be great.

Water:

One of the most critical topics to talk about when caring for a cactus is indeed the watering.

The frequency of watering is of course related to the amount of light the plant lives in. But cacti are very sensitive to overwatering and in their specific case, less is more!

The more light it gets, the more often you want to water it. The less light it gets, the less often you want to water it. It’s as simple as that!

You can water it as infrequently as once a month or as frequently as once a week.

This will all depend on your conditions. For me, while in The Netherlands for instance, once a week never happened, even during the warmest summertime.

But for cacti to be on the dry side is your best bet. So when unsure, let it be. It might not grow as quickly, but it won’t die on you either!

From October/November to March/April (referring to the northern hemisphere), you will want to step back from watering completely and no growth whatsoever is going to occur.

Cactus will go dormant during winter…

…and you most probably won’t need to water them at all during the cooler periods.

But when you do decide to give them some water, do it thoroughly until water comes all the way down and drips off the drainage holes.

 

Varied cactus in plant store - cacti tips and care guide
Cacti at the plant store.

 

Fertilizing:

Mostly any plant will need to be fertilized during the growing season. And that includes your cacti!

You will want to have a special cacti fertilizer or even a homemade alternative that will be 100% natural.

While it is not absolutely necessary, cactus will appreciate its seldom feed, perhaps as little as twice during the growing season.

Soil:

As said, cacti are prone to root rot and you will want to give them a well-draining soil that won’t retain moisture for long.

There are plenty of cacti soil mixes ready-made to purchase on the market but certainly don’t go for a regular houseplant potting mix.

I even like to mix the cacti soil with perlite for extra drainage… just in case.

Pot:

It is recommendable to pot cacti in terracotta or another porous type of container that will allow water to evaporate faster and prevent wet feet.

Also, don’t be afraid to keep it small: cactus will not grow as fast as other houseplants, and the smaller amount of soil medium, the better to avoid sogginess around the roots.

The pot size should be just the same or slightly bigger than the plant itself.

Pet Safe:

While most are pet-safe (Yeaaah!!)

…and most probably your pet won’t even try to get to them and get hurt…

the sap of some cactus is highly poisonous to your furry friends and you should keep an eye and monitor your pet’s interest for them.

 

Please be aware that this journal is a general guide that should get you well started but if you are getting into cacti now, you should also know requirements may slightly vary according to the cactus species. Research the specific specimen you have brought home as well.

 

we stick together - picture of cacti - cacti tips and care guide


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