Do you secretly yearn to live in the desert? Plant a cactus to begin your path toward your dream. In regions where they can withstand freezing temperatures, these low-maintenance plants make beautiful landscape plants as well as ideal houseplants. You did read that correctly, There are a ton of cold-tolerant cactus species! For instance, prickly pear cacti may survive rather far north. Giving a cactus what it wants in terms of light, soil, water, and food can ensure its success in any location.
Where to Grow a Cactus
Cactus plants come in a wide variety, some of which even grow in trees! However, the majority of individuals either grow theirs inside as houseplants or outdoors in the landscape. Always read the plant tags for precise information, but in general, cacti want full light and soil that drains quickly. This calls for growing close to a window that faces south or west indoors.
When the nighttime temperature is at least 65 degrees F throughout the summer, you can bring indoor cactus plants outside. Move them to an area with more sun after they have spent some time outside in a protected area getting accustomed to it. If you intend to transport plants between indoors and outdoors, morning sun is optimal.
When to Plant a Cactus
Try to put a cactus outside in the late spring or early summer while the plants are actively growing. They’ll start off more smoothly and swiftly put down roots.
How to Plant a Cactus Outside
1. Most cactus plants require light, permeable soil. Mix native soil and Miracle-Gro Garden Soil for Cactus, Palm & Citrus in equal parts to prepare the soil in the planting location. The cactus is protected by Moisture Control technology against both over- and under-watering, both of which can be problematic.
2. Create a hole that is 11/2 times as big and as deep as the stem or root ball of the plant (some transplanted cacti don’t have large root balls).
3. Position the plant in the hole so that its north side faces that direction. If there isn’t a flag or chalk marking this side, make sure to inquire before you leave the garden center. Here’s why it’s significant: The more sun-exposed south side of the plant typically produces tougher skin that is more resistant to sunburn. On the other hand, the north side might not be able to withstand the sun as well.
4. Add more soil mixture to the area around the root ball and gently pat it down.
5. Lightly water.
6. To acclimate a cactus to the intense outdoor sun before planting one that was produced in an outdoor greenhouse, cover it with a little amount of shade cloth for a few weeks.
How to Plant a Cactus Indoors
1. Choose a container that is 112 times as broad as the stem or root ball of the cactus. You might want to use an unglazed container because it will dry out more rapidly if your environment is humid or you have a tendency to water plants excessively.
2. Add fast-draining to the pot until it is 1/3 full. The perfect nutrients are included in Miracle-Gro Cactus, Palm & Citrus Potting Mix to give your cactus a head start.
3. Set the cactus in the pot with the stem or root ball at the same depth as it was before being moved. To protect your hands, put on gloves or cover them with many layers of newspaper.
4. Fill in the area around the rootball, leaving a space of about an inch between the soil’s top and the container’s rim.
5. Lightly water the soil until it resembles a wrung-out sponge.
How to Water a Cactus
It may come as no surprise to find that under-watering is the second most prevalent reason for cactus plant deaths, even though over-watering is the most common cause. Finding the sweet spot can be challenging because it differs in the summer when plants are actively developing from the winter when they are more passive. A decent rule of thumb is to water your cactus when the top 3 inches of soil are dry if you’re growing it indoors. This might imply a few times every week during the summer and just once every four to six weeks throughout the winter. Watch out for your plants: They likely need water if they start to appear a little wilted. However, unless there hasn’t been any rain in your region for several months, you shouldn’t need to water your cactus at all outside.
How to Feed a Cactus
Cacti may not require a lot of water, but they do require food. If you used Miracle-Gro Garden Soil for Cactus, Palm & Citrus to prepare the soil before planting your cactus outdoors, you should begin feeding it Miracle-Gro Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food a month after planting. This will provide your prickly baby quick nutrients. Meals should start for potted cactus plants approximately a month after planting. Apply Miracle-Gro Succulent Plant Food directly to the soil, then water as usual to feed your succulent plants. Make sure you read the instructions before using any type of plant food.
How to Prune a Cactus
Put simply, don’t! If you do, all you’ll get is a cut-site area of corky, dried-out scar tissue. The best course of action if your cactus outgrows your living space is to give it to a friend who has more room and get a new, smaller specimen for yourself.
Dealing with Cactus Problems
If you don’t submerge your cactus, it should continue to thrive with little trouble. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to prevent rot problems caused by overwatering besides starting over.
When is it too chilly outside for cacti?
You might be surprised to learn that cacti are among the best-known warm-weather plants and can suffer freezing damage. However, even in Arizona’s hot and dry summers, wintertime lows of 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius) are not uncommon. Cactus may suffer freezing damage as a result of this. You’ll need to know how to care for a frozen cactus if you discover that your cactus is harmed after a cold spell. Can you revive a frozen cactus? How can a frozen cactus be revived? For advice on helping a cactus harmed by cold, continue reading.
What degree of heat can a cactus withstand?
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. Most cactus grow slowly, so space is typically not a concern. 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.
Do cacti enjoy the outdoors?
In the summer, a cactus may survive in a warm, sunny location, even outside on a patio or balcony. However, the location should be cooler and lighter in the winter.
Does a cactus flower?
All cacti are flowering plants, although some have more noticeable flowers than others, and some, like Mammillaria, Gymnocalycium, and Parodia, produce magnificent, colorful displays when they flower.
How do you get a cactus to flower?
Cacti only flower on new growth, thus it’s quite improbable that your plant will bloom if it remains dormant year after year. Get the plant to follow its natural growth cycle is what you should do. It must hibernate during the winter and reawaken in the spring. Put it somewhere dry, cool, but not dark, and cease watering completely throughout the winter. Give it as much sunshine as you can in the spring and start watering it.
So how often should you water a cactus?
Giving more water in the spring and summer and less in the winter is recommended. Remind yourself not to overwater. Before watering the plant once more, it is preferable to let the soil dry out a little.
And what are the best varieties for beginners?
Gymnocalycium, or the moon cactus, has highly colorful tops that are typically red or yellow. The color is present all year long because these are not flowers. The polka dot or bunny ear cactus (Opuntia) has golden bristle dots against a green background, giving it a contemporary, geometric appearance. Furthermore, the spiky Pincushion cactus (Mammillaria) is simple to grow and sports adorable small pink flowers.
Can cacti in pots remain outside in the winter?
Will your cactus endure the winter? It can, indeed! Despite their well-deserved reputation as tough plants, cacti can certainly struggle during the winter, especially if they spend the most of the year outside.
When should I bring indoor cacti?
In their natural environments, which are primarily in North and South America, cacti experience torrid summers with little to no precipitation. As a result, they cease growing in the summer (dormancy) and resume it in the middle of the fall, when the rainy seasons begin.
The majority of cactus owners keep their plants indoors, so they have hot, humid summers but chilly winters. In this situation, winter is the time to start your cactus’ dormancy (mid October-end February).
It’s crucial to let your cactus hibernate throughout the winter if you keep them indoors. Cacti can “relax,” produce flower buds, and get ready for summer growth during dormancy.
Do all cacti need a dormancy period?
No, not all cacti require a time of hibernation. Cacti in the desert will benefit from a dormant time indoors. Tropical cacti, including those of the Rhipsalis, Schlumbergera, or Epiphyllum genera, do not require a period of dormancy.
Please make sure that temperatures are a little warmer for tropical cactus during the dormant season. Wintertime temperatures for tropical cactus should be between 54 and 59 F. (12-15 C).
Higher humidity is something that tropical cactus enjoy and actually experience in their natural habitat. So you may sprinkle the plants from the top while they are dormant.
Step 1: Reducing watering frequency
Reduce how frequently you water your cacti as the first stage in beginning your cactus dormant period. This is crucial since reducing watering will help prevent the roots of your cacti from drying out and dying.
Additionally, since water evaporation would be less at cooler temperatures, it will aid in preventing rot (next step). Be sure to cut it back gradually. If you were watering your cacti every two weeks throughout the summer, cut down to every three weeks in the early fall and then just once every four to six weeks during the winter.
Never completely cease watering dormant cacti; doing so will cause root loss and stunted development. Your cactus will survive the winter with a little light watering. A soil meter similar to this one can be used to measure the soil’s moisture content.