Cacti enthusiasts are already aware that these desert plants can withstand the most extreme weather conditions. This does not imply that they are safe from illness, pest, or animal attacks. Cactus may tolerate some neglect, but it requires adequate care to be strong and flourish. A healthy cactus indicates strong chances and promise for future reproduction.
So how do I determine the health of my cactus? The physical characteristics of a cactus will show whether it is healthy. A healthy cactus has a robust, succulent stem, upright leaves, an equally green appearance, and strong roots, to name a few. A healthy cactus will be able to store a sizable amount of water without showing any indications of deterioration and will consistently produce brightly coloured flowers during each flowering season.
The traits that distinguish a healthy cactus will be examined in this article. It will go over how to maintain the plant’s health and how to recognise any symptoms of ill health.
How can you tell if a cactus is in good health?
You must be aware of the fundamental indications of a balanced plant if you want to recognise a healthy cactus.
Although cactus plants can grow in a variety of ways, there are certain common signs to check for to see if your cactus is in good condition.
The Cactus Has a Healthy, Green Color
It could not be healthy if the cactus is paler than usual or has brown areas.
It is frequently an indication that they are not receiving enough light or water when cactus start to lose their colour.
The Cactus Is Growing New Spines
The cactus will produce new spines if it is healthy. This is an indication of the plant’s health and growth.
The absence of new spines or the loss of existing ones on the cactus could indicate a problem with the plant.
The Cactus Has a Healthy Root System
Brown or mushy roots could indicate that the cactus has received too much water.
It may indicate that the cactus is waterlogged if the roots are dry and brittle.
The Cactus Has Firm, Intact Skin
The cactus may not be receiving enough water if the skin is damaged or peeling.
Additionally, keep an eye out for diseases and pests. Any of these issues indicate that the cactus is unwell and needs to be handled.
The Cactus Is Producing Flowers
When cacti are in good health, they can blossom. It’s a positive sign if the cactus is flowering.
The absence of blossoms indicates that the cactus lacks the energy to do so, which could indicate that something is amiss.
The Cactus Is Standing Upright
A cactus in good health will be erect. A symptom that something may be wrong with the cactus is if it is slanting to one side or is not standing up straight.
The Cactus Is Not Rotting
There is a problem with the plant and it needs to be treated if the cactus is rotting.
Black stains on the skin, white mould, and mushy or soft tissue are a few indications of rot.
What does a cactus that isn’t healthy look like?
Openings in the flesh allow bacteria and fungi to enter the plant. The exposed sections may have been damaged by inanimate things, insects, or animals, or by severe weather, such hail. Injury’s physical manifestation is unimportant; what matters is fungal or bacterial damage.
Fungi and bacteria both produce more spores more quickly in warm, damp environments. When the organism establishes itself in your plant, the cactus will become mushy and soft. Small sunken places, discoloured scabs, spherical soft areas encircled by fruiting bodies, and black or other coloured specks on the cacti’s skin are signs to look out for. You might even see your cactus plants oozing a little bit.
How do you recognise a stressed cactus?
Other clues can help you determine whether your cactus is dying if you miss the early warnings. It’s crucial to be aware of these symptoms so that you can act quickly to help your cactus.
The colour of many cactus changes when they are under stress. Typically, it begins at the plant’s stem or top. To prevent matters from growing worse, you must look into the origin of the discoloration and take action.
Cacti with fungal diseases should be avoided. A fungal infection on your cactus will have tears in the tissue, which makes it easy to see.
Gray spots around the base of the cactus are possible, but they don’t necessarily indicate that the plant is in danger. Only wounds that directly affect your plant should be a source of concern. These abrasions can be managed with the use of a spray-based fungicide.
To sanitise the region affected by a fungal infection, use rubbing alcohol with other cleaning agents.
Another method to help manage fungus infections is cactus surgery. Cacti surgery involves simply chopping away the parts of the plant that are infected with fungus.
How can you tell whether a cactus requires 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:
- composition of the soil
- Light intensity
- 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.
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 metre. 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 to be watered?
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 can cacti be kept in good health?
With their striking shapes of all kinds and stunning colour variations, cacti are among the world’s most distinctive and lovely plants. They go well with a variety of home decor themes, including minimalist, boho, and, of course, anything with a southwestern influence! Who hasn’t had the need to collect each and every one of the miniature cactus plants on display and take them home? Plants require proper care once they have been adopted because they are more than just static decoration. Cactus plant care isn’t tough, but it is a little special, just like the plants themselves! Below are our top five suggestions.
You may probably imagine what type of environment cactus prefer since they typically grow in desert climates! Sunlight in plenty. But take care! Even cactus can burn, particularly if they are in full sunshine and positioned behind a glass window, which intensifies the effects of the sun. The best window is one that faces south. You may need to move your cactus to a cooler location if you see that the side facing the sun is beginning to turn yellow or brown.
Keep your cactus in a bright area of the house, such as one with artificial lighting. You can put your cactus outside on the patio throughout the summer to take advantage of the intense summer sun.
For many plant owners, watering cacti plants has been a worrying thought. We are aware that they require water because they are plants, but we have also been warned about providing them with excessive amounts of water because they originate from the desert. Cacti actually require regular waterings; they only have a particular defence against drought.
The need of water cannot be overstated if you want your cactus to grow. You can feed them water once a week if they are in a sunny area with good daytime heat. The sole need is that the soil be completely dry between waterings. This will prevent the plant’s bottom margins and roots from rotting or becoming wet.
You can use less water in the winter because there is less sun and it gets colder at night during this season, which causes cactus to go dormant.
Flirt with the Dirt
A variety of cacti species are grown together in a container garden to create an oasis of lovely plants, and these gardens are highly popular. This frequently necessitates repotting the cacti! Consider the type of soil you’re using in the new container in addition to constantly wearing thick gloves (or using salad tongs to pick up and handle the cactus). Cacti prefer their own distinctive flavour of dirt, thus it must be highly efficient at draining surplus water. Many nurseries and flower stores sell bags of cactus soil, which is sandier and rockier than standard potting soil. This is necessary to ensure that the water drains and doesn’t keep the cactus damp.
Plotted and Potted
Take a close look at the container you are selecting before you repot the cactus. The best option is undoubtedly a container with drainage holes, as you won’t have to worry about the bottom collecting water. Cacti can, however, also be grown in containers without drainage holes; it just requires a little more attention. Always check the soil before watering to make sure it is completely dry. To avoid unintentionally drowning your cacti, another alternative is to metre the water you use. Depending on the season, a 1/4 to 1/2 cup per week or two is sufficient to ensure the health of your cactus.
In the Mood for Food
Fertilizer can be quite beneficial for cacti, and there are specific types with the nutrients they require. (An additional excellent alternative for a well-balanced supper is a 10-10-10 fertiliser.) Since they love to be fed in little quantities frequently, you can fertilise them sparingly with each watering during the summer growing season. In the winter, decrease your efforts to give the plants time to recuperate.
BONUS TIPDress up Your Cacti
Cacti are lovely guys on their own, but it’s always fun to give them a little makeover! From a lovely pot with extra personality to organic accents. Traditional containers for these desert-dwelling plants are made of terra cotta or clay, although a glass terrarium-style planter or ceramic dish can also be used. We enjoy placing stones and pebbles of various sizes and colours on top of the ground. We also include wood, sand, and big rocks. Make sure you can still use a finger or a moisture metre to determine if the soil is dry or not.
Browse through our collection of cactus! We enjoy potting up lovely planters filled with varied succulent and cactus species and celebrating the uniqueness of each individual plant.
Don’t be reluctant to adopt some of these beautiful plants now that you are an authority on cactus maintenance! Have fun picking out your favourites and bringing new companions home to make your own lovely and joyful cactus gardens.