Cacti are known to be sturdy plants that may seem almost indestructible at times. Commonly associated with deserts and arid areas, these plants have adapted well to drought by collecting water from wider areas. But even though many cacti prefer dry soil, watering is still an important part of keeping your indoor cactus plants in good health. How often do you have to water cacti? And what are the best conditions for your cactus to keep growing optimally?
Watering cacti isn’t exactly rocket science, but there are still a few things you should know. If you’ve ever come across a broken or cut cactus, you’ve noticed that they’re quite moist on the inside. That’s because the plant stores moisture as a way to adapt to very dry environmental conditions. This makes them potentially great house plants for people who don’t have much time for plant maintenance, but still would like to enjoy some green in their homes.
Different types of cacti will show different signs of distress when water is running too low. This is an indicator that it’s time to water. It’s important that you check the type of cactus you’ve got and follow watering instructions. For example, a barrel cactus only requires watering once every two to three months, while a bunny ear cactus should be watered lightly every three to four weeks. A Christmas cactus may need to be watered once a week.
During the summer months you may need to water a little more often as this tends to be growing season for many cacti. Fall and winter tend to be times during which cactus plants can get by on very little watering.
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How frequently you water your cactus plants depends on where you’ve put them. If your cactus is in a very sunny spot where it attracts a lot of direct sunlight, you’ll need to water it a little more frequently. Similarly, if you’re keeping your plants near radiators, the soil will dry out quicker because of the added heat and you’ll need to water more often.
If you’re unsure whether you should water a cactus, it’s best to touch the top soil. If it’s completely dry, a little watering may not hurt.
Cacti that aren’t getting enough water will look a little pale, while those that are getting too much will look plump.
First things first: Check your soil because it’s an important part of watering. The right soil for cacti should be able to drain easily and quickly. To this end, make sure that the pots you’re using have holes in the bottom. Most cacti require a soil mix that’s sandy and porous.
You should not mist cacti with the exception of some exotic variants. There are two ways to water a cactus:
- Add the water to the surface soil until it runs through and out of the plant pot drainage holes. Drain the excess water afterward.
- Add water to the saucer and allow the cactus to take it up from the bottom.
If you’re new to cactus watering or you recently added a new plant to your household, keep monitoring the plant and touch the soil. They’re the best indicators for when it’s time to water again.
The signs of an underwatered cactus include:
- Discolouration. The cactus will look paler than usual
- Withering and wilting of leaves
- The plant and soil become dry
- The plant pot will feel lighter
The signs of an overwatered cactus are:
- Rotting or decaying of the cactus
- Leaves and stems will turn brown
If you detect under- or overwatering, there are things you can do to rescue the plant. In case of underwatering, add water according to the instructions above. When your plant’s roots are rotting because of overwatering, it’s best to take them out of the soil, chop off the rotten root pieces and repot them.
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