If you have enough light, cacti are some of the most rewarding houseplants. Few blooms can match them in terms of color, size, or beauty. Space is typically not an issue because most cacti grow slowly. They are extremely resilient and flexible. They do not “thrive on neglect,” unlike what the general public thinks. They “thrive on gentle loving care, like most plants, but they will at least “survive on neglect.”
Except for epiphytic (tree-dwelling) cacti and succulents like the Christmas cactus, rhipsalis, and orchid cacti, which demand less sunlight, greater humidity, and more watering than other species, the general care instructions below apply for cacti and most other succulent plants. They also prefer fertilizer with a higher nitrogen content. Compared to other species, add less sand to your potting mixture. Other succulents such as haworthias likewise favor brilliant indirect light over direct sunlight.
Give cacti and other succulent plants the brightest or most sunny windows you have indoors (four to six hours of direct sun). They will grow abnormally long and thin in low light conditions. Your plants will benefit greatly from spending the summer outdoors in the morning or late afternoon sun, when there is greater air movement and light. The majority of succulents can withstand intense outdoor sun, but they must get used to it. When putting plants outside, place them in partial shade or shadow at first and gradually expose them over the course of a few weeks to the strong late spring and summer sun.
Spiny and woolly species need the greatest sunlight, whilst spineless species typically need shade during the midday hours. If your plant has a reddish tint, it may be because the amount of sun it can withstand is reached or exceeded.
When you water, make sure to water well and wait until the soil has dried before doing so again. In particular, succulents are vulnerable to rot from excessive watering. If the earth around your plant is already moist, NEVER water it. Pots that are dry weigh less than wet ones. When the soil inside clay pots is moist, they feel chilly and damp to the touch. When the soil has enough moisture for the plant, succulent leaves are solid and plump.
The majority of cacti and several other succulents prefer to maintain a significant amount of dryness during the cooler months of the year (usually October through April). Over this time, drink less water than usual. To encourage new growth in the spring, spray your plants in the early morning hours of warm days. The spines of plants will allow them to absorb moisture. In order to prevent new roots from being stifled by excessively damp soil during the early spring, we also advise watering plants from the bottom of the pot. Fill the plant’s saucer with water, give the soil, pot, and plant around 30 minutes to absorb the moisture, and then drain the extra.
If you embed your plants in a mixture of 50% coarse builder’s sand and 50% peat, they will grow to their fullest capacity if they are in clay pots. This stops the soil from drying out too quickly and enables the roots to grow in the consistent wetness that the peat/sand mixture creates. Make sure there is excellent drainage in the tray that contains the peat/sand mixture.
Keep succulents and cacti above freezing in the winter. Some plants require a temperature range of 35 to 40 °F at night (some cacti and other succulents can endure temperatures well below freezing if kept absolutely dry.) A minimum temperature of 50–60 degrees is preferred for more tropical succulents like adeniums, euphorbias, lithops, and stapeliads.
Plants need to be shielded from intense heat in the summer since potted plants’ root systems are more susceptible to harm. Good air circulation and cautious watering will prevent fungal and rot issues in humid and hot conditions.
From May to September, feed your plants once per month using a fertilizer that contains low nitrogen (10% or less), such as 5-10-5 or 10-30-20. Nitrogen overload promotes excessively quick green but weak development. As the majority of cacti have evolved to thrive in nutrient-deficient soils, always dilute the fertilizer more than the label recommendations suggest.
In the spring or early summer, repotte. When young, most plants like annual repotting with just one pot size increase. Without relocating the plant to a larger pot, you can carefully remove the top inch or two of soil after you reach roughly a 6-pot size and replace it with fresh mix. Since succulents are typically heavy plants, especially when potted in clay, moving them into ever bigger containers can be challenging.
Steer clear of soils that contain a lot of peat moss. Peat retains moisture for too long and is difficult to remoisten after being fully dried (a frequent occurrence with most succulents). You can add some coarse builder’s sand to the soil to promote drainage and a tiny amount of peat to the soil to improve texture. As much as 40% sand is appreciated by stapeliads, wooly cactus, and lithops (living stones). The base of the plant should have a top dressing of fine gravel since it encourages greater water absorption into the soil, shields it from excess moisture, and looks good too. For every 3 inches of pot size, add a tablespoon of gypsum and bone meal, if possible.
Use a pair of wooden tongs or a piece of newspaper that has been rolled up to help plants with a lot of spin out of their pots. If the plant is resistant, resist the urge to pull it out because doing so will harm the roots. Try again by striking a hard surface with the pot. As much soil as you can take out without harming the root ball. To prevent rot, always repot the plant at or higher than the prior soil level. You might need to stake species of columns. To give new root hairs time to grow after repotting, wait a week or two before watering.
In the winter, can I put my cactus outside?
Cactus plants that thrive in cold climates prefer many of the same environmental factors as their southern cousins, such as lots of light. Some of the most typical maintenance needs for cold-weather cacti are listed below.
How to Plant Cacti
Cacti need soil that drains fast, but pure sand shouldn’t be used because it doesn’t contain enough nutrients to support their growth. It is recommended to combine typical garden soil or topsoil with 40 to 60 percent coarse sand and up to 10 percent compost for a nutrient-rich, quick-draining mix when growing cacti. Fine-grain sand should be avoided since it can clog soil instead of improving drainage. Cactus plants should not have the soil around their shallow roots disturbed after planting. Pea gravel or other small rock mulch helps control weed growth, keeps the soil temperature constant, and protects soil from blowing away.
In order to offer optimum drainage, raised beds are advised. You need more drainage the more rain your area receives. Cacti should be grown in pots under cover, such as a roof overhang, in extremely moist areas. Cacti should never be planted on normal or clay soil since they are easily overwatered and will perish.
In the winter or fall, refrain from watering cacti. To get ready for the upcoming weather, cactus plants start to contract and seem withered and unappealing. This is a typical phase of their hibernating process; but, if you water them at this time, the extra water may freeze and destroy the plant.
The best strategy is typically to let Mother Nature take care of watering your cactus over the rest of the year. You can feel free to water your cactus, though, if there are several weeks in a row of hot, dry weather without any rain. The plants are probably trying to notify you they need water if the soil is completely dry and they appear limp or are starting to droop. Avoid watering the plant directly and properly soak the soil for the greatest effects.
In-ground cactus plants don’t require a lot of fertilizer, although they can benefit from spring applications of compost or a liquid fertilizer made for use on vegetables or bulbs. Avoid fertilizers that contain a lot of nitrogen (the first number of the three shown on the package). Nitrogen promotes quick growth, but it can also make a plant too delicate and prone to winter damage, especially later in the growing season.
Protecting Cactus Plants
Contrary to popular belief, cold-hardy cacti can thrive in regions with a lot of snow. Cacti can, however, suffer from frostbite in regions with cold temperatures and strong winds but minimal snowfall. As late in the growing season as feasible, carefully wrap the plants in burlap to prevent damage. The burlap shields the plants from the sun, cold, and wind while allowing them to breathe. In order to protect the cactus plants from too much moisture during warmer winters, carefully erect a structure over them, such as a canvas tent.
How much nighttime cold can cacti stand?
Holiday cacti are common indoor plants with the name of the holiday in bloom. Around the winter, Christmas cacti typically bloom with vivid, abundant pink blossoms. They can only be grown outdoors in zones 9 to 11 according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Can Christmas cactus survive extreme cold? Christmas cacti are more cold-hardy than other cacti, but they are tropical. Frost is intolerable to them, but low temperatures are necessary to force blossoms.
Christmas cacti prefer warm, balmy temperatures, moderate to low amounts of moisture, and strong sunlight because they are tropical plants. Although it enjoys warmth, you should keep the plant away from sources of severe heat or cold, like heaters and fireplaces. Temperatures between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal at night (15-18 C.).
Place the cactus in a cooler location in October where the temperature is around 50 degrees Fahrenheit to force flowering (10 C.). Avoid rapid temperature changes once the plants are in bloom since they can cause Christmas cacti to lose their blossoms.
Taking the plant outside in the summer, first in a spot with dappled light and protection from any wind, is entirely acceptable. Christmas cactus cold damage is likely if you leave it outside for an extended period of time in the fall.
What degree of heat can cacti withstand outside?
Cactus and succulent plants require the right temperature and volume of air circulation to survive, as you are surely aware. Depending on the type, plants might differ greatly from one another.
You can typically tell a lot about a plant’s preferred temperature and air flow from where it came from.
The majority of succulents are very tolerant as long as they are dry. As long as they are dry, they can tolerate temperatures between 45 and 85 F without complaining.
Even in Canada and Alaska, there are cactus that can live outside all year long. When they are damp, succulents dislike stuffy settings much more.
Give plants lots of space between them and plenty of air. Most succulents need less than 12 hours of sunshine each day and temperatures below 65°F at night to bloom.
The night temperature is more crucial to a plant’s growth than the daytime temperature, which is what most plants desire.
Common terms used to describe different types of temperature and air include “cold,” “cool,” “house,” “dry,” and “circulating.” These definitions mean as follows:
Cool. Temps at night between 50 and 55 F. There are a lot of traditional favorites in this group. These plants most likely had a rough night if they appear listless and underwhelming.
House. 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit at night. These plants were once referred to as stovehouse or hothouse plants.
Dry. The average modern home, apartment, or workplace only has half the amount of moisture that the Sahara has.
Cacti and succulents are among the plants that can occasionally benefit from a fertilizer treatment. Learn more about the cactus and succulent plant’s fertilization needs in the next section.
How cold is 40 degrees for cacti?
Winter is on its way. For many of us, that entails covering up with coats and sweaters in order to stay warm.
Cacti can survive in frigid climates, thus the answer is yes. But not all cactus species can withstand extreme cold.
Cactus plants can typically withstand temperatures as low as 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, some organisms that can withstand cold can survive in temperatures as low as 20 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.
Since most cacti are found in desert areas, they are used to hot, dry weather.
Some cactus, though, can withstand the cold. By picking the appropriate variety of cactus for your region, you can grow cacti even if you reside in a region with a chilly environment.
This article will examine whether cactus can survive in cold climates and offer some advice on how to keep them healthy in the chilly winter months.