How to take care of Cacti Plants?
Every Essential Question Answered

Cacti are a popular succulent choice. And even though they prfer dry atmosphere, you have to take good care of them!

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Jimena Bolívar

May 02, 2021


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Introduction

Big or small, cacti can fit in any space at all. No wonder it makes them such a popular indoor plant choice. Not only do they shine in the sun, but they can thrive indoors too. They’re my ultimate choice for home decor. There are so many to choose from.

Cacti plants grow well in a temperature ranging between 45-85 degrees F (7-29 degrees C). They require bright light, minimum water, and 45-60% humidity. Indirect light is sufficient for cacti that grow indoors.

If you’ve been looking for cacti plants for your home, this one here is your best bet!

A Set of 5 Distinct Cacti

These wonderful 5 mini cacti are planted in 2-inch pots. They can fit anywhere!

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Cacti Plants 101

Cacti plants are a family of more than 2000 beautiful species. They can be found in a variety of sizes in the hotter regions of the world. Curious to know about the biggest cacti species out there? Well, have a look at the iconic Saguaro Cactus at NPS.

Cacti of different sizes

  • Scientific name: Cactaceae
  • Family: Cactaceae Juss
  • Genus: Acanthocereus
  • Plant Type: Caryophyllales
  • Native Country: Americas, some are also found in Sri Lanka and Africa
  • Flowering: Produce blooms outdoors in full sunshine
  • Hardiness: USDA zones 4,6 and 9

Caring for the Cacti Plant

  • Ideal soil: Requires well-balanced soil of organic and inorganic contents.
  • Drainage Needs: Proper drainage is required with the help of rocks and gravel. Improper drainage can cause rotting.
  • Water Requirements: Very low. Only need water when the base of the soil runs dry.
  • Sunlight Requirements: Indirect but bright sunlight for cactus grown indoors.
  • Temperature: 45-85 degrees Fahrenheit (7-29 degrees celsius)
  • Humidity: Between 40-60%
  • Ideal pH: 5-6.5 pH (Acidic)
  • Frost-Resistance: Low, should be brought indoors when it is cold outside.
  • Fertilizer: Very less need, only during the growing season.
  • Pruning: Easily tear off offsets or pups, or use a trimmer. Use a sharp knife to cut the main stalk.
  • Propagation: Easily propagated using their pups, cutting and grafting.
  • Repotting: Use a slightly bigger pot than the cactus plant.
  • Toxicity: Some species can be poisonous but usually cacti are not toxic.

1. What is the Ideal Soil for the Cactus?

Give your cacti plants well-drained, acidic soil. They'll thank you for it!

Cacti plants thrive well in well-drained soil. The perfect soil mix for a cactus is half organic and half inorganic. It will need a mixture that is both sandy and slightly moist.

Inorganic substances help keep the soil less moist and drier. For instance, perlite can offer more drainage and keep the soil airy too. You can also use the regular potting mix and fill it with inorganic material. However, it is not recommended.

Pro-Tip

Cover the bottom of the top with rocks and gravel. This will help drain water faster.

2. What are the Sunlight Requirements of the Cacti Plants?

Cacti love light but be careful not to give them too much of it!

Cacti plants are best kept in a well-lit space. However, direct sunshine should be avoided at all costs. Depending upon the species, some cacti even thrive in partial shade.

Cacti indoors in bright light by the window

You may be tempted to place your cacti in direct sunshine. After all, they’re desert plants, right? But they can get sunburnt. Desert cacti have different conditions that help them survive in the harsh sun. For your cacti plants, the situation can be very different.

Pro-Tip

Cacti can only thrive in full sunshine if there is plenty of air around too!

3. What is the Humidity Requirement of Cacti Plants?

You may have to adjust the humidity levels for your cacti plants to thrive!

Cacti need humidity levels between 40-60% to flourish. If you live in a region with lower humidity, keep misting your plant.

Warning

Water your plant carefully to maintain humidity!

Remember that cacti plants are a fan of dry soil. The best way to control humidity is only by misting. Do not attempt to water your plant to make it moister!

4. How Should I Water Cacti Plants?

Your cacti plants need minimum water, only when they run dry!

Cacti plants are known to thrive in the hottest temperatures. Neither water them too much, nor too little. Always check the base soil to see when you should water the next.

For Summer: Your cacti plants need to be watered after every 10 days or two weeks. Once a week is fine too.

For Winter: You don’t need to water much. Do it only if you notice a change in the plant’s shape. You can also keep a check on the soil instead. Slightly mist or water a bit when the base is completely dry.

Pro-Tip

Check the soil before you water.

Always check the base of the soil to know that it is completely dry!

Warning

This is when you must water your cactus!

Check the bottom of your cactus plant to see if it’s running too dry. If it’s withering, then you may need to give more water than usual.

5. How to Fertilize Cacti Plants?

Cacti plants do not need fertilizers except in the growing season!

If you’re using fertilizer, make a schedule for it. Once a year at most. Or if you want, you can make it seasonal too. For instance, once in the summer and once in the winter. This will make it twice a year!

You should only fertilize your cacti during the growth season. I personally recommend that you use this fertiliser for your cacti.

Miracle Gro Succulent Plant

This is a very easy-to-use fertiliser for all types of cacti plants!

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6. How to Prune the Cacti Plants?

Cacti plants do not always require pruning unless there’s a reason!

Pruning is not generally required for cacti. If you see your cactus dying, you should immediately prune its pups.

Cactus ready for pruning

7. How to Repot Cacti Plants?

Cacti plants need to be repotted if they’re getting larger than their current pot!

Repot your container when the roots begin to outgrow the container. Never let your cactus grow bigger than its pot. This can cause rootbound. You can use an old container but use a new and fresh soil mix.

Carefully take your cactus out of the pot. If it doesn’t come out easily, you can use a spade. Once the plant is out of its pot, you will have to remove the soil. Again, you can use a spade or a trowel if the plant resists. But remember to be gentle!

When you have the plant in your hand, put it into the new container. Do not water the plant immediately. Let it become familiar with the new soil first. It is best to wait for a couple of days before you begin to water your cactus.

Pro-tip

Repot when the soil is dry!

It’s easier to take a cactus out of its pot if the soil is dry. You will not need extra tools for this.

Things You Should Know About Cacti Plants

1. How to Propagate Cacti Plants?

There are many simple ways to propagate cacti plants. Depending on the species and growth of your plant, choose the right one!

Using Pups and Offshoots

Your cacti plant pups are the baby cacti you see growing at the top. They can also be surrounding your cacti plants. Here’s the good news. You can propagate each pup! Place each pup in a pot containing a cactus mix. These pups don’t have to be rooted deep. They will reach out for the soil themselves.

A cactus with many offsets

The Cutting Method

This works best if your cactus is tall. Cut with a sharp knife. Plant the freshly cut cactus into another soil. New pups will root out from where you have sliced the parent cactus. As for the new one, wait and watch till it grows tall!

Grafting

Not all cacti plants are propagated by cutting or using pups. For instance, moon cacti need can only be propagated by grafting. For grafting the moon cactus, you remove the upper portions. These pups cannot be planted on their own.

You will need to slice another cactus in half. Then place these pups on top of them. This is because the moon cactus flowers cannot make their food. They need a stem to survive!

Pro-tip

Do not water tiny pups immediately.

Always mist before you begin to water recently planted pups.

Warning

Be clear about where you are making the cut!

Some cacti pups come out easily using the hand. But it’s recommended to use a sharp knife to cut them off. Make sure you don’t harm the parent plant! Always cut at a slanted angle.

2. How Toxic are Cacti Plants?

Not all cacti plants can be toxic, save a few!

Some cacti species can be poisonous. They produce sap that can irritate both your skin and eyes. But all in all, cacti are safe for you and your pets.

Cactus with a cat nearby

The good news is that not all cacti species are poisonous. You may find that there are only a number of them. For the safe cacti plants, you can even eat their fruits (Or drink their juice too!)

Warning

Handle cacti with care when you are touching them!

The spines and thorns of your cacti plants may carry bacteria. If your skin gets punctured, you may catch an infection!

3. What are Common Issues with Cacti Plants?

Keep an eye on the color of your cactus, it will speak volumes to you!

A cactus begins to bend if a part of its stem has become infected. You can use a stone to support a cactus that has started to lean. It may retain its shape but the problem can be serious if the infection spreads!

When Your Cactus Begins to Decay or Rot

If your cactus is rotting, it’s either getting no water or too much of it. Your cactus may also appear shaky like it’s about to fall. Gently touch to see if the cactus is shaking.

When Your Cactus Starts Turning Red

Your cacti plants can get burnt from the sun. When that happens, the cactus starts turning red. If you notice a tinge of red, move your cactus to a new spot immediately.

When Your Cactus Starts Turning Yellow or Brown

This is one of the major issues of cacti. If your cactus is turning yellow or brown, it needs light. Move your cactus to a space where there is bright light. Remember that this needs to be indirect.

Pro-tip

Recognizing the ‘brown’ of your cactus!

Not every brown color means that your cactus is dying. It may be aging instead. A cactus that’s growing old will also have a greyish tone to its skin.

Diseases and Infections Caused by Pests

Make sure you keep a check on pests. Some pests that love to attack cacti are scales, mealy bugs and root mealy bugs.

Scales can be removed instantly. With their hard shells, they can even look like snails. So try to spot them out well!

Can you see white long strips running across the soil of your cactus? Those are mealybugs. Both mealybugs and scales can be removed using alcohol.

Spider mites can also take your cacti down. They suck out all the juice, making the cactus weak. You can use a strip of paper to get rid of dust and these mites.

Pro-tip

It’s easy to make your very own pest disinfectant!

You can also use a dish detergent with water to remove all types of pests.

Conclusion

While there are many cacti species, their caring factors are quite common. Keep your cacti plants in a bright space with indirect sunlight. Water them only when its base soil is dry to the touch. If humidity is lower than 40 percent, moist your cactus. And remember that they thrive in a temperature ranging between 45-85 degrees F (7-29 degrees C).

Feeling caught up? Don’t stress out. Here is howyou can catch up on tips to water your charming cacti plants!

Jimena Bolívar Picture

By Jimena Bolívar

Easy Succulents Founder

My name is Jimena and I'm the the founder of Easy Succulents! I'm fascinated by this wonderful plants and I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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Jimena Bolívar Picture

Jimena Bolívar

Easy Succulents Founder

My name is Jimena and I'm the the founder of Easy Succulents! I'm fascinated by this wonderful plants and I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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