Caring for a cactus

Cacti (Cactaceae) are one of the most popular plants for decorating both gardens and interiors, and it is that it is a whole family of succulents that is very striking due to their particular shapes. Cacti have their origin in America and Africa and their size is as diverse as their shapes, from the huge saguaros to the tiny Blossfeldia liliputana . However, almost all cacti agree on one thing: how resistant they are and how undemanding they are with their care. Thanks to these characteristics, practically anyone can have a cactus at home or in the garden: you just have to find the right place and species.

If you want to learn more about how to care for a cactus or if you are wondering how to make a cactus grow, join us in this article where you will see our cactus care guide.

Cactus characteristics

The cactus or cactus plants are among its main features its roots and thorny stems and leaves that either do not exist or are very small or shaped spine. They are plants with roots that cover large areas, usually at a shallow depth, in order to absorb as much moisture as possible due to the low rainfall in their most common environments.

Some cacti do not have spines as such, developing instead beards or sharp hairs that do the same function. In addition, cactus flowers tend to be very showy and large in relation to the plant, usually being single and isolated flowers.

They are undemanding plants in their care, but it is still better to know them well since they differ considerably from the more common plants in some of their needs.

Cactus Care - Cactus Characteristics

Climate and location for cacti

If you are wondering how to care for cacti indoors , keep in mind that they are not very different from caring for cacti outdoors : they need dry climates in the vast majority of cases, with as much sunlight as possible and with very well-drained soils and substrates. . Thus, when it comes to knowing where to put the cacti , the most important thing is that they are very illuminated areas , with little humidity and protected from the cold, since these plants generally do not tolerate prolonged low temperatures.

Regarding light, some species need direct sunlight for all possible hours, while others may prefer indirect light, especially in climates with intense sun. You will have to inform yourself about the specific needs of the species of your specific cactus.

How to water cacti

Knowing when to water a cactus is another of the most important problems in the care of cacti in pots or in the garden. The roots of these plants extend a lot, but at the same time, they are fine and very sensitive to rot: an excess of humidity has a good chance of making your cactus sick, in some cases, it is necessary to prune affected areas to save it. 

The water needs of these plants are much lower, so water only when the substrate has completely dried even below the surface. This will generally occur once or twice a week in warm months, and up to every 15 days in cold months. Some cacti can even stop being watered altogether during winter.

If you ask yourself ” how do I know if my cactus needs water ?”, The answer is easy to see by looking at its stem or its base. If it is wrinkled or looks deflated instead of smooth, the plant is consuming its water reserves and needs more watering.

Cactus Care - How to Water Cacti

What substrate to use for cacti

This is, along with irrigation, another of the vital points of the care of a cactus . Cacti do not need soils rich in organic matter, but they do require that their soil has an especially good drainage so that it does not accumulate moisture, which can rot the plant.

There are specific substrates for cacti, but you can prepare yours with a sandy base, adding a bed of gravel to the bottom of the pot and enriching it with perlite. If you want to keep moisture away from the aerial part of the plant, you can add another thin layer of gravel on the surface, around the stem.

Cactus Care - What substrate to use for cacti

How to transplant a cactus

On some occasions these plants, like all plants, require a transplant, especially if we grow them in pots. Most cacti are slow growing and will not need an annual transplant, but in a space of two or three years we may see how their roots show through the drainage holes of the pot, or that we want to transplant it because it is in a little recommended location.

In any of these cases, it is necessary to take into account when a cactus can be transplanted , which must be done during the summer or some especially dry season, since in this way the plant is less in danger of being attacked by fungi or suffering more stress than necessary during the process.

It is also important to wear gardening gloves, or thick enough so as not to hurt us with their thorns, and to remove the soil from the roots of the cactus, being very careful not to damage them. You can help yourself with water with little pressure for this. This method is also very valid for transplanting those suckers that many cacti produce and which are an excellent way to reproduce them easily and quickly.

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