How Often Should A Small Cactus Be Watered

  • Watering cacti should only be done when the potting soil is at least 90% dry.
  • Small to medium-sized indoor cacti, which are succulent plants, often require watering every 10 days or more during the spring or summer and every 4 to 6 weeks during the winter.
  • The ideal way to water cacti is to completely saturate the soil with rainwater or distilled water, and then to stop when water begins to drain from the drainage hole in the potting container.

How often should a little cactus be watered?

The majority of desert cactus can survive without water for up to two years. For indoor cactus, however, this isn’t true because of the drastically different environmental factors.

Cactus plants in small pots can last up to a month without water. It’s better not to leave them go for too long, though, as if left neglected for too long, they could dry out and perish.

Make sure to hydrate your small cacti well once or twice a week in order for them to thrive.

Despite being drought-tolerant plants, cactus still require watering to survive.

What signs do a cactus show when it needs water?

Fair enough, it can be challenging to make the appropriate decision. Everyone will give you different recommendations because there is so much conflicting information available. Additionally, many plants have various preferences. How do you even begin?

But the story doesn’t end there. You know, a number of things might impact how frequently you should water. To name a few:

  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • composition of the soil
  • Light intensity
  • Season
  • Dormancy
  • Species
  • Outdoors versus Indoors

There are other others, but we won’t go into them now. The most crucial thing to keep in mind is that, even though 10 days is a solid guideline, you should constantly be aware of the shifting circumstances. You should adjust your watering schedule to account for them.

For instance, it’s well known that throughout the summer, you should water your plants more frequently. It is, after all, much hotter. Water evaporates more quickly, and your plants do too!

Arizona experiences intensely hot and arid summers. Your succulents will need water as frequently as possible if they are in a climate like that. You should water them every day or every other day in those conditions, believe it or not.

The East Coast, including Virginia, can have extremely hot summers. The humidity, nevertheless, is also quite high. Evaporation proceeds far more slowly here than it would in Arizona since the air is already so heavily laden with water. In this situation, we advise watering every five to six days.

Naturally, winters are the opposite. Days get shorter, the sun shines less, and the temperature drops. Some of your plants enter a dormant state (much like a bear hibernating).

You water significantly less regularly throughout the winter (especially for outdoor plants). Depending on how often I remember, I water my indoor plants once every two to three weeks. Sedum and Sempervivum are examples of outdoor, cold-tolerant plants that may never need watering since the odd snow or sleet is more than enough.

Root Rot

The risk of root rot is the primary reason we lay such a strong focus on watering regularly.

The quiet killer that kills the majority of succulents and cacti is root rot. Because it takes place underneath the soil’s surface, you won’t even notice anything is amiss until the plant topples over due to a rotting core.

Why does root rot occur? In a nutshell, roots will begin to decay if they are left in water for an extended period of time. This is due to the fact that plants actually breathe through their roots and that air does not travel well through water.

The succulent essentially drowns. It also doesn’t need to be a lot of water. Root rot can develop only from being damp or moist for an extended period of time.

Because of this, frequency of watering is more crucial than quantity. Giving the succulent adequate time to dry out in between waterings is essential.

How to Know if the Soil is Dry

The first step in keeping your plant dry is to have a fast-draining soil that is primarily formed of inorganic components. Step two involves watering only when the plant has completely dried.

It is simple to determine whether the soil is dry. The simplest method is to just insert your finger into the saucepan. A minimum depth of two inches is required since sometimes the surface may be dry but the ground beneath may not be. Don’t water if it feels damp, wet, or even a touch colder than the surface. Allow a few days.

To check, you can also use a soil moisture meter. These tools are extremely helpful for inspecting numerous plants, however the less expensive models can be somewhat incorrect.

Finally, just watch for your succulent or cacti’s leaves to wrinkle. Though it seems frightening, the plant is not actually damaged. Instead of erring on the side of wet, choose dry.

How frequently do cacti need watering?

The most frequent reason for cacti failure is improper watering, whether it is done too much or too little. Cacti have evolved to store water for extended periods of time and can maintain moisture through droughts because they are endemic to arid regions and dry temperatures. They have a limited capacity, which is why over-watering can result in a variety of issues.

When it comes to regularity, watering your cacti will largely depend on the season but also on the variety. Checking the soil is the easiest technique to determine whether your cactus needs water: It’s time for a drink if the top inch is dry. That entails applying the “soak and dry procedure” on cactus.

What is the soak and dry method?

The soak and dry technique is thoroughly wetting the soil until part of it begins to flow out the drainage hole, then waiting until the mixture is nearly dry before wetting it once more. If done properly, this strategy will help them endure a period of under-watering should you need to travel or leave the house because it takes use of their natural tendency to store water (or if you just get busy and watering falls to the wayside, as happens to all of us now and again).

Watering during the growing season versus the inactive season

Like with many houseplants, the season affects how frequently you need water. It becomes more crucial that you get in the habit of examining the soil to determine whether your cacti are thirsty. A healthy cactus needs watering every one to two weeks during the growing season, according to general wisdom. The frequency changes to once every three to four weeks during the off-season.

Even then, it’s crucial to examine the soil. The same way that not all interior spaces and not all cacti are alike. The only way to be certain that your cactus require watering is to carefully examine the soil to determine how dry it is because there are so many different factors.

How is a little cactus maintained indoors?

Let them have adequate light.

As long as they are placed in an area that receives at least 4 to 6 hours of sunshine every day, cacti can be cultivated indoors. To ensure they are etiolated, we advise rotating them daily in your brightest windowsill, which is typically a southeast-facing window.

How should a small cactus be cared for?

Give them a drink, but not too much, and take long intermissions. “Because they store water in their stems, cacti are famed for surviving with little to no watering. That doesn’t imply they don’t require any watering, either. Make sure to inspect the soil periodically. It’s time to water the plant if the top two to three inches of soil are dry “says Palomares.

Thon reiterates Palomares’ counsel and adds: “The temptation to over-water cactus can cause root rot and scab, which manifests as rusty-colored, corky regions on the stems, which is why most people fail at growing cacti. My recommendation is to under-water; you can typically bring them back from the dehydration stage without any problems.”

My miniature cactus is dying; why?

Any home gardener will be excited to bring a new cactus home, but it may be disappointing when it starts to die for no obvious reason. Fortunately, there are approaches to identify the cause of your cactus’ problems and deal with it to restore its health.

How come your cactus is dying then? Since cacti are often hardy plants, poor maintenance or severe surroundings are the main causes of dying cacti. The following are the three reasons your cactus might be dying:

  • Your cactus is being overwatered (or underwatered).
  • Your cactus isn’t receiving the appropriate amount of sunshine each day.
  • Your cactus needs better soil drainage, unfortunately.

Do I need to water my cactus?

The watering needs of cacti and succulents varies slightly from those of other plants.

Succulents and cacti don’t need as much water to survive as other types of houseplants because they resemble desert plants.

That does not imply that you should skip watering dried-out succulents. But many individuals question if misting succulent and cactus plants occasionally is appropriate.

Succulents and cacti shouldn’t be misted when being watered because it can weaken the roots and promote fungus. Do not shower succulents and cacti with a spray bottle. Spray misting is not only insufficient in terms of water supply; it also runs the risk of making the plants rot.

While it is not advised to spray these plants, there are a few circumstances in which you should sprinkle cacti and succulents.

My cactus: Is it too dry or too wet?

You may have spent a lot of time and work on your little plant because cactus grow very slowly. Unfortunately, by overwatering our cactus, many of us kill them unintentionally. This is the main cause of a house cactus that is having trouble. They do an excellent job of letting you know when you are doing this, which is a blessing.

  • Your cactus breaks apart.
  • Your cactus is puckered and squishy.
  • The moisture in your soil remains too long.
  • In the winter, your cactus is starting to wither.
  • Your cactus is fading, especially at the base, becoming black or brown.

Your Cactus Splits

Perhaps you took a long vacation or temporarily forgot about your cactus. The soil appeared to be extremely dry when you returned, so you poured a lot of water on it. The cactus’ skin begins to split the next thing you know.

When a cactus absorbs too much water at once, this happens. These plants draw in more water than other home plants because they are very effective at absorbing and storing it. Although they are intended to expand when it rains, too much expansion might be dangerous. This is what separates them.

Additionally, if they have been too dry for too long, the plant has probably shrunk in order to survive the dry environment. If it has been a while since your plant last had water, you should reintroduce water carefully to allow it to grow and expand at its own pace.

Be at ease, though! The plant is not permanently harmed by splitting. By forming a callus and enclosing the region, cacti have evolved to repair themselves from this kind of harm. Your plant should continue to develop normally if you just keep watering it lightly.

Your Cactus is Mushy & Puckered

Too little or too much water can cause puckered succulent leaves or cactus, which is an issue.

Because of the water it has stored inside, a healthy cactus will be rounded and firm. These warehouses act as reserves for periods when fresh water is in short supply. The cactus will start to draw on these stores as it dries up in order to survive. The skin starts to pull inward as water volume is lost if it sucks too much from them. This is a symptom of insufficient water and typically starts at the base of the plant.

On the other hand, if the cactus takes in too much water, the available space will be depleted. The plant stores water in its cells, but if these cells become overly full, they will rupture and the plant will literally disintegrate from the inside out. As a result, the plant becomes puckered and mushy.

In order to establish whether you are under- or over-watering your cactus, you need be mindful of your watering practices. In order to fix this, gradually increase the amount of water you add or decrease how often you water the plant.

Do you believe your plant is through one of these conditions? Check at the pictures in this article from Pistils Nursery if you’re unsure of what to look for in terms of mush or puckering. There are several nice illustrations of how these signals typically appear.

Your Soil Stays Moist for Too Long

Although you might be tempted, you shouldn’t plant your new cactus in regular potting soil or compost. The purpose of typical potting soil is to keep moisture near the plant. This is due to the fact that cactus are better than other houseplants at swiftly absorbing water.

Water is a luxury for cacti. In other words, they quickly absorb as much water as they can. This is due to the inherently dry and poor soil in which these plants are found. Any rainfall is not expected to last for very long, whether it evaporates or drains through runoff. This implies the cactus must acquire it quickly before it disappears.

Therefore, if the soil around the roots is left moist for an extended period of time, your cactus will continue to drink it until it becomes too saturated; it won’t know when to stop! And to make matters worse, this oversaturation may cause root rot and other issues.

You can replace your potting medium to a cactus-specific soil that is gritty and poor in nutrients to avoid this. This soil usually has equal amounts of:

  • Sand
  • Soil
  • Unsmooth mixture (pebbles or pot shards)

some mixtures even include:

  • Peat
  • Pumice
  • Coir
  • Pearlite
  • Limestone
  • fibrous coconut

Read the directions carefully since the need for these extra components will mostly rely on the sort of cactus you have. For instance, peat can be helpful if you live in a very dry region. Although it is made to keep moisture, if you let it become overly dry, it will be difficult to rehydrate.

Making your own or purchasing a commercial cactus mix has the advantage of draining more quickly and promoting evaporation. After changing the potting media, be sure to give it plenty of time to completely dry out before watering again. Additionally, if there is a drainage saucer, remember to empty it!

Your Cactus is Starting to Die in the Winter

Because you are currently experiencing the coldest months of the year, you could believe that your cactus is dying. Although these plants prefer warm weather and sunlight, they are accustomed to cold nights because they live in the desert. So, it’s doubtful that the winter weather is killing your cactus if you keep it indoors and it’s not right next to a cold window.

Cacti go dormant or semi-dormant in the winter, much like all other plants. Their growth is far slower, and their soil does not typically dry out as quickly. This implies that they normally use less water than they would in the summer. Therefore, if you have continued to water your cactus on a regular basis as the days get shorter, you might be doing it too frequently.

Cacti are no different from other plants in that they all require less water throughout the winter. In the summer, you might water your cactus once a week (or more if you let it spend time outside in the blazing sun), but in the winter, it might be too much. Try to mimic the cactus’ natural environment.

The majority of plant specialists advise watering the cactus just twice or three times over the entire winter season. When you do, be sure to follow the first step listed above and avoid giving it too much water at once.

Your Cactus is Turning Black or Brown

Another indication of either under- or over-watering is discoloration. Understanding the differences between various hues and textures that could show up as a result of how you water your cactus is crucial.

If a cactus is excessively dry, the tips may be turning brown and crunchy. These resemble sunburns or calluses. If your cactus exhibits this symptom, try providing it with more water; eventually, the harm will be repaired. But make sure the ground is completely permeable!

On the other hand, over watering could cause root rot if the leaves or stems are turning black or dark brown. These dark patches typically appear on the lower leaves or plant parts, or near the base of the plant. They are drenched and sometimes even gushing or leaking. This indicates that there is so much water in your plant that it has accumulated in the roots.

If you have a suspicion that this is the case, carefully remove your succulent from its container and look at the root system. Your plant may survive if the root network is extensive and appears healthy. Repot it in new, dry soil and water it less frequently.

The succulent is in jeopardy if the roots appear dead or browned. Most likely, in order to maintain it growing well, you will need to make an effort to save some of its healthier areas.

Not sure whether your cactus has dryness or root rot? To compare your plant to, look at the photo examples from this page on Pistils Nursery.