With pandemic-induced lockdowns grounding people in their homes and blurring the lines between life and work, many have developed a green thumb to de-stress and slow down. Among the assortment of house plants, the cactus is high on the sought-after list and it’s easy to understand why. These peculiar-looking succulents come in all shapes and sizes with varying styles of thorns covering them. Some even boast brightly coloured flowers. That said, do you know how to take care of a cactus?
Although cacti are known for their hardiness and longevity, they require the right amount of care and love, so they can live happy and healthy lives! Whether you’re a seasoned cactus parent or have just gotten your first prickly companion, here are some useful tips to go by when caring for your cactus.
How To Take Care Of Your Cactus: What You Should Do
Do Make Sure They Get Enough Sunlight
How to properly take care of cactus plants starts with this important step: give them enough sunlight! Like honey to a bee, cacti love the sun. After all, they’ve adapted to live in the desert where there’s hardly any shade. Generally, cacti do well with at least six hours of daily sunlight. However, do note that long hours of direct sunlight can damage them, so it’s advisable to put them in bright-indirect sunlight areas like a window with a sheer curtain over it or a well-lit work desk. Alternatively, you can shadow them under taller plants before exposing them to more direct sunlight.
Do Plant Them In Well-Draining Soil
The camel of plants, cacti store moisture in their stems to tide through long droughts. Because of that, their roots don’t respond well to constant moisture. Thus, how to take care of a cactus’ stems involves using well-draining soil. You have the choice of buying ready-made cactus potting soil or making your own, which is fun and easy with just a handful of materials you can easily find in your garden. A simple mixture consisting of sand, perlite, and normal soil will do the trick.
Do Use Pots With Proper Drainage
This ties in with the previous point of how to take care of your cactus’ soil base. As moisture trickles through the soil, there should be drainage holes at the bottom of the pot for excess water to escape, preventing waterlogged soil from occurring. If your pot doesn’t have holes, you can poke a few using a drill. In terms of materials, terracotta pots are great for indicating soil moisture as they turn a darker shade when there’s too much moisture present. If you’d prefer a pot that adds elegance to your home, a Nordic ceramic option will fit right in with the rest of your furniture.
Do Water Them
Yes, despite their barren heritage, you still need to water your cacti! There’s no set watering schedule as different specifications—such as the size of the cactus, the type of pot, and humidity—all determine how much water these succulents need. As a general rule of thumb, if the soil is dry and your cacti are losing their vibrant colour, it’s time to hydrate them.
You can check the soil at the bottom of the pot for dryness in a few ways. For example, gently push a bamboo stick to the bottom of the soil mixture and leave it for a few minutes. Take it out and examine if the stick is moist or dry. Alternatively, use your finger to poke into the top few inches of the soil. If the soil sticks to your fingers, it’s likely still moist and doesn’t require hydration.
How To Take Care Of Your Cactus: What You Shouldn’t Do
Don’t Mist Them
Unlike their leafy cousins, cacti aren’t exactly keen on spray showers. How you should take care of them is by watering the soil, not the plant. This is because misting can spawn mould in between the leaves and thorns, which can cause the cactus to wither. When it’s time for watering, place them under a sink faucet to get the soil thoroughly soaked until water is running through the holes at the bottom of the pot. So, ditch the spray bottle and tackle the soil the next time!
Don’t Fertilise Them Too Often
Fertilisers provide essential nutrients crucial for a plant’s growth. Similarly, fertilising helps your cacti adapt quickly to their new environment. Besides, it also encourages brighter colours and flowers to bloom. However, they don’t require as much fertilising as one or two rounds of fertilising a year should be enough. When shopping for fertilisers, ensure that the mixture is low on nitrogen but high in phosphorus. These two components are crucial to help your cacti maintain their striking good looks.
Knowing How To Take Care Of Your Cactus Is Very Important
With its spiky skin and twisty contours, a cactus isn’t just a plant, it’s a sculpture! Because of this, you’ll undoubtedly find one that not only suits your home aesthetic but also looks great just about anywhere you place it. From the dining table to the bathroom shelf, having a cactus brings life to otherwise mundane areas in your home.
While it’s relatively easy to care for, we hope you took notes of the aforementioned tips on how to take care of a cactus. Treat it well and it’ll stay by your side for months—even years—to come. Cactus care can also be a family affair, so don’t hesitate to get your kids involved! As they say, it’s good to start them young. But if they’d prefer other indoor activities to cultivate their motor and thinking skills, these activities will keep them entertained for hours on end.