When I was little I remember my mom told me that cactus is so easy to take care of, but somehow, over the years I’ve managed to lose my fair share of them. Eventually, I learned that the advice “you need to water your cactus once a month” that I would get from everyone – was a really bad one.
In this post I’m going to cover how and when you need to water your cacti as well as lighting requirements, fertilization, and some interesting info about them.
How and when you should water your cacti?
Forget about “the rule” that you should water your cacti once a month. As I explained in the article – 7 factors that affect your houseplant watering frequency – it all depends on the conditions you are providing for your cactus.
However, there is a rule of WHEN you should water them – only when the soil has completely dried out. Because cacti don’t like to sit in soggy soil, I prefer to have them in terracotta pots that provide better air circulation and faster water evaporation.
Water your cacti only when the soil is completely dry!
When will the soil dry out, it’s difficult to tell. It could be every 5 days, but it could also be every 20 – 30 days.
Here’s an interesting fact when it comes to watering cacti: don’t water them during winter. They are not active during winter and because of their anatomy that allows them to withhold water, they won’t need any additional water during the winter months (from December to March).
Essentially – watering them during winter could probably cause them to rot.
After the soil has dried out completely, give it a thorough soak. Pour water until you see it coming out of the drainage holes and then throw that excess water away.
How much light do cacti need?
The cactus is probably going to be the houseplant that needs the most light out of all your other houseplants.
You can place your cactus on an east, west or south facing window. Avoid the north window, as your cactus won’t get the necessary light it needs on that orientation.
Do you need to fertilize cacti?
As with all your other houseplants, you fertilize cacti during the growing season. So, somewhere from April until October – and you do it once a month.
To fertilize your cactus use a diluted liquid cacti fertilizer (follow the label instructions).
Now that we covered the most important things for cacti care, let’s talk about some interesting facts about them!
Cactus unique characteristics
One unique characteristic of the Cactus family are areoles. Areoles are spots on the cactus from which spikes and flowers come out. Even Cacti without spikes have areoles.
What image first pops in your mind when you hear the word cactus? I always imagine those tall ones “with arms” from Loonie tunes cartoons. You can divide the Cactus family in 3 major categories depending on their shape: Cereus, Opuntia and Mammillaria. Let’s see which one you like the best!