Cacti are the family of succulent plants characterized by, among other things, their resistance to drought and their thorns. These plants, whose scientific name is Cactaceae, are almost entirely native to America, and are very popular in gardening and decoration due to their exotic shapes and great resistance. However, despite requiring very little care, irrigation is a vital point in its cultivation. Most of them tolerate drought exceptionally well, but overwatering cacti can prove fatal.
If you want to learn how often and how to water the cacti to take care of yours correctly, join us in this article where you can learn a practical guide on watering these popular plants.
How often to water the cacti
There is never an exact answer when it comes to knowing how often to water cacti , it depends not only on the type of cactus, but also on the substrate and the climate, among other factors. Let’s see the main factors to take into account:
- Cactus size: like all succulent plants, cacti have the ability to store water inside. This means that the larger the cactus, the more water it is able to retain, and therefore the longer it is able to resist without irrigation.
- Container Material: Not all materials retain moisture in the same way. A plastic pot or container, especially if it is partially or completely transparent, lets in the sun’s rays and retains much less moisture. The mud, on the other hand, is porous and favors perspiration, but does not allow the sun to pass through, so watering will be necessary less frequently.
- Climate: Obviously, the local climate is one of the most influential factors. The intensity of the sun’s rays, the environmental humidity and the temperature are decisive when it comes to seeing how much moisture the cactus loses. In hot climates you will need to water your cactus more often, while climates with high humidity will help the substrate retain it for longer, making you water less.
In conclusion, we can say that you should water a cactus only when the substrate has dried beyond the surface layer, since the roots do not tolerate being always wet, and in case of high humidity they will rot. This can mean from watering once a month in the winter months for large cacti, to up to twice a week in the warm months and for small cacti exposed to the sun.
If your plant begins to wrinkle, losing volume as if it were deflated, it is an unequivocal symptom of lack of watering in cactus, so you will have to water it a little more.
How to water cacti – tips
Take note of these tips to water the cacti correctly and get them to be healthy and grow well.
- When watering cacti, it is always preferable to use a watering can, if possible with a flower or small tip, which does not disperse the water too much.
- Water trying to wet the substrate around the cactus , but not the plant itself. This will allow moisture to penetrate under the surface without accumulating directly on the plant itself, which could attract fungal attack.
- With cacti, it is vital that the container they are in has drainage holes so that excess moisture can escape through them. Ideally, you should not put a plate under the pot or planter, but if necessary, remove the excess water 10 minutes after you have watered.
- If you ever opt for immersion irrigation for a cactus , remember to submerge the base of the pot in water for only 10 minutes and then leave the pot upright so that any excess water can drain off well.
- Water slowly and at most until the water starts to drip down the drain. Do not pour large amounts of water at once, or the ground will puddle and you will have watered too much by the time you see the water seep in.
- It is also important never to water at times when the sun is directly shining on the cactus, as the drops of water can have a magnifying effect and cause the sun to burn the plant.
- The best time to water is, as with most plants, first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon .
- Always use a suitable irrigation water for cacti, as we will explain below.
What water to use for watering cacti – the best
Some cacti can be watered with tap water without problems, while others will not tolerate very hard or mineral laden waters. This depends mainly on the type of plant and, of course, the type of running water in your area. If you see that your cactus begins to show some whitish spots, it is that the irrigation water you use is not suitable for it. What, then, is the best water for irrigation of cacti ?
- The most natural is always better, so the water that is best for you is rain, unless you live in a city with a lot of pollution and to use it before you have to filter it.
- If you can’t collect rainwater , it’s best to turn to weakly mineralized bottled water .
- If this is not possible either, you should at least let the tap water stand for 24 to 48 hours before using it to water your cacti and remember not to pour it out completely, but to leave the bottom part in the shower or bucket without using it.