Cacti and succulents are interesting plants that can be extremely beautiful and easy to grow. While low maintenance, their care is a bit different from traditional plants and this can throw off some new to growing them. Here, we break down 6 essential cactus gardening tips that will help you grow these beautiful plants inside your own home. By the end, you’ll have the info you need to start your very own cactus or succulent garden both indoors or out.
Start With The Right Soil
One of the most important aspects of cacti and succulent growing is their soil. Cacti need special soil that is extremely fast draining or they risk getting waterlogged and dying.
If you just use normal potting soil with a cactus you’ll likely end up with a dead plant fairly quickly. Standard potting soil is too compact for a cacti, and will hold water for too long. Cacti hate sitting in moist soil, and want their soil to dry out fairly quickly.
You can see this for yourself if you take a handful of each type of soil. You’ll notice that the cacti soil is much looser and has larger chunks of material. This ends up holding less water and drains quicker, which is exactly what cacti and succulents want.
And The Right Container
Moving on from soil, you also want to make sure that you have the right container. While cacti can grow in almost any container, the easiest ones to grow in are going to be those that have proper drainage. You want to make sure that at the very least your chosen container has drainage holes to give excess water a place to go.
This is essential as cacti and succulents are very susceptible to root rot if left in soil that maintains too much moisture. Root rot is a serious problem, and will kill plants if left unaddressed.
For easiest growing, choose clay pots. This material is naturally porous and will whisk away water from the soil. This helps prevent overwatering, which is one of the biggest issues for failed cacti and succulents.
Mind The Sunlight
The vast majority of cacti varieties are sunlight lovers and need lots of bright light to thrive. At a minimum, look to get 4 hours of bright sunlight, but more is often better.
Signs of lack of light are stems stretching, slow growth, and discoloration. If you notice any of these you likely need to increase the amount of light your plant is getting.
For those that need more light, getting a set of grow lights is a good option. This is especially true in the winter months when sunlight is less intense. It can be difficult to get enough light to your plants naturally when the days are short and gloomy.
Choose a Good Location
While sunlight is a prime consideration for your location there are other factors to keep in mind. Namely temperature and humidity.
Cacti and succulents are typically warm weather plants, so you’ll want to avoid placing them in locations that get cold. This is often an issue near drafty windows or poorly insulated exterior walls. These areas can often experience drastic temperature changes, and this can damage your plant. Look for signs of stress on your plant like dying leaves, muted colors, and lack of growth.
You also want to avoid exposing them to any freezing conditions if growing outside. While some varieties are frost and cold tolerant, you need to be very careful as many aren’t.
You’ll also want to make sure you provide the correct humidity levels around your plant. This is often an issue in the winter when the air naturally drier and is made only more so from a furnace’s hot, dry air.
An easy tip here is to simply mist your cactus every other day. This helps maintain local moisture without the risk of overwatering. For more humidity related tips check out our article.
Don’t Overdo The Water
Overwatering is one of the leading causes of failed cacti and succulents and that’s because these plants generally need very little water. If you water them a similar amount to other plants you’re likely giving them far too much water.
Cacti and succulents generally only need to be watered very infrequently. Depending on the variety this can range from once per week to as little as once a month. Make sure to research your specific variety and stick to its preferred watering schedule.
When watering, it’s best to completely soak the soil until you see water begin to leak from the drainage holes. This tends to mimic the natural environment where a cacti might go some time without water only to get a lot all at once. As noted above, learn about your particular cacti first to ensure this lines up with their proper care.
It’s Okay To Partner Up
Lastly, many cacti grow perfectly well together and can be planted together. Cacti and succulents are not well known for being aggressive growers, and this generally means they place nice in close proximity to other plants.
This gives gardeners a lot of options in how they layout their garden. Couple that with the small size of lots of cacti varieties and you can really let your creativity shine. Pairing multiple, vibrant cacti together can create a striking display that is also healthy and easy to care for.
Cactus Gardening Tips
Cacti are an excellent indoor plant that can be extremely low maintenance and no less beautiful than any other plant. They are a great choice for even beginner gardeners, and hopefully these tips will help you grow beautiful cacti all your own.