Home Photo Gallery Care Links Books Forum About Contact

Cactus growing info

Cacti are not very demanding plants compared to other in- and outdoor plants. The most important thing to know is that they are water storing plants (like all succulents) and as such, have a special relation with water. Most people think that this means a cactus should not be watered. This is, of course, not true because nothing lives without water (at least on our planet).

I'm not intending here to provide detailed information about cactus care. A lot of things I have read in books or other websites, where not right for the location I am living. So, you should consult a subject related book and, most important, watch your plants and with time you should be able to understand their special needs.

Cacti are very lovely plants that take not much space (of course if you cannot stop buying new ones - you will need some extra space!). Caring for them is something you improve with time and the more you have, the more you learn about them and the more you know that there is a lot you don't know. You can say it is actually a journey, where you discover that each one has it's own preferences. It is important to know the natural habitat of each cactus in order to provide similar conditions. So, this means you should find the name of your cactus. This will help you find species related information on other cactus websites and books.

What are cacti?

Cacti are succulents (water storing plants). There are other succulents as well, but not all succulents are cacti. Cacti occur only on the continent of America, while other succulents might come from Africa etc. Why are they storing water? The rainfall in the regions they naturally occur is not frequent, so they adapted to be able to survive long periods of dryness.
So, 1st important rule: Cacti would not be the most happy plants if you don't water them at all, but they might die if you water them a lot (or as you water your other houseplants).

An interplay of factors

Watering alone means nothing. You should think about what it means to pour water on a plant soil or on sand: The soil stays much more wet in different kind of substrates. 2nd important rule: Cacti need a soil that has a good drainage. If they stay for very long in a wet soil their roots may rot and you would be unhappy because you have lost your plant.
Only a portion of water is used by the plant every time you water the pot. Another portion is drained out of the pot through the holes at the pot bottom. Yet, another portion of water evaporates because of the heat. This means the soil stays longer wet when the weather is wet and cold and/or the humidity evaporates from the soil more rapidly when the weather is dry and hot. 3rd important rule: Watering depends on the season and/or weather conditions.
Summing up, cactus happiness depends on all the three above.
How much water you give them.
On what soil you have planted them in.
What the climate conditions are.

Cactus seasons
If you have ever grown other plants, you will know that all plants have a cycle in their life which depends on the season: They grow in spring, produce flowers, maybe fruits in summer, drop the leaves in autumn and rest in winter. This is what happens with cacti too.
This means you should do some different things through the year:
Give them more water, fertilize, repot in spring, water more often when the temperatures rise in summer, halt a bit with watering when heat is extreme and when autumn approaches and let them on dry soil and cool (not freezing) temperatures in winter.