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How to Care for Cactus and Succulents

How to Care For Cactus + Succulents - How To Plant Cactus

So you’re considering How to care for Cactus and Succulents! You’ve seen the pictures on Pinterest and love the arrangements – but you think,  “I’ve never owned any of these plants.” How will I know how to care for cacti indoors?

Growing cacti and succulents indoors is the perfect place to start for beginning gardeners. With proper cacti plant care, these hardy plants will thrive and generally require minimal care and maintenance.

Cactus and succulents are beautiful spiny plants that are very hardy, so a little neglect will not kill them. They can be grown outdoors or indoors, which is great for those who don’t live in the warmest climates.

If you’re thinking of adding a cactus or succulents to your home garden, here are some simple guidelines and tips on caring for cacti and succulents correctly.

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How to Grow Cactus and Succulents Indoors

Because of some of the considerations we point out below, cacti and succulent care indoors are the “ideal” location.  You have much more control over extreme shifts in heat/cold, dry/humid, and light/shade and, therefore, less concern about growing these beautiful plants.

Choosing the perfect plant

When planning to purchase a new plant, whether it is a cactus plant or succulent for your home or yard, you want to think about where you are going to put the plant. This will help determine which plant will thrive best in that “Space.” 

So after you’ve read through this article, get some plants and get growing!

Prepare ahead of Buying Cactus:

Is the room or garden too humid or too cold? Is there enough space for the plant to grow? How big will the cactus or succulent get? Does the room or yard have sufficient light?

Before purchasing a cactus or succulent, stand in the room or observe your garden several times throughout the day. This will help you determine how many hours of direct sunlight the cactus and succulent will get.

Once you have an idea of what you want, it is important to read the care labels of the plant in the store. You can also ask the retail staff any questions about cactus care. No one wants to come home and find out that what you thought was the perfect spot resulted in a dead or dying cactus or succulent.

Do cactus and succulents need sunlight?

Cacti and succulents love the light but not too much. Different cacti and succulents need different quantities of light, but typically they all need plenty of sunlight, but not necessarily 12 hours of direct sunlight.

It is best to place them near the south or east-facing window, where they will get multiple hours – usually, 4-6 hours of daylight daily.

When picking cactus plants or succulents to grow indoors, you want to look for ones that don’t need whole light. Succulents with bright colors will need more light, so they will thrive better in a garden or outside in temperate weather. Green succulents are better suited if you have to grow them indoors.

Plants that receive optimal light will flower. Not all cacti and succulents like direct sunlight, as they can become scorched. You can tell if a plant is getting too much sun if the foliage or branches are losing their pigmentation or, in other words, they are becoming bleached out.

How to Care for Cactus and Succulents 2019

If the plant is getting too little sun, you will see that the succulent or cactus will be drawn towards the light, almost as if the branches are reaching for it. If you notice your plant leaning toward the light, you will want to rotate the pot so that different parts of the plant get sunlight.

If you are having trouble finding sufficient light, you can supplement the lack of light with a grow light.

If you notice any of these signs, whether too much sun or too little sun, you can move the plant as necessary, so it will get the perfect amount of sunlight to grow.

What temperature is best for cactus plants and succulents?

Cactus plants and succulents prefer a dry and warm climate
However, you do not want to expose them to extreme heat. If your cactus or succulents are planted outside, you must provide shade to protect them.

You can do this with a cotton sheet, umbrella, or burlap. Cacti and succulents will rot if the temperature is too low.

Many ask, “how do you take care of succulents indoors“?  Well, for many reasons above; including temperature extremes, excess sunlight, and humidity – it is easier to grow succulents “indoors.”


The Best Types Of Pots for Cactus and Succulents

When picking the perfect spot, you want to ensure that you are picking a pot that will allow the soil to dry quickly and prevent the roots from rotting. You will want to provide at least one hole at the pot’s base to allow for sufficient drainage. It is also essential to consider the size and breathability of the pot.

Breathable pots are best, like clay, terracotta, or ceramic, but any pot will work well. Unglazed clay or ceramic is best, but plastic pots are also acceptable. Clay and ceramic pots are heavy, providing stability for larger cacti that are heavy with water.

Clay and ceramic pots are breathable and allow the soil to dry evenly. Plastic pots are light and easy to move and clean. The style of pot that you choose should be determined by the type of succulent or cactus you purchased.

If you find a pot that you love but does not have a hole in the bottom to allow for draining, you can consider drilling a hole. You can also place mesh tape above the hole to prevent the soil.

To add your drainage holes, you will need a drill and carbide or ceramic drill bit. One to two holes are usually adequate for small pots. You will need to apply firm pressure straight down but do not push too hard, as this may cause the pot’s base to crack or shatter.

Practice makes perfect, so practice drilling holes a few times on small pieces of clay or ceramic first.

Video: How to transplant Cactus (Without getting poked)?  

 

Avoid Glass pots for Cactus and Succulents.

Although they look pretty, succulents do not like glass pots, as they are non-breathable and lack drainage. It is best to avoid them and choose plastic, or better yet – clay or ceramic.

When considering the size of the pot, you will want the pot to be big enough to anticipate growth but not too big. If the pot is too big, it will prevent the succulent from growing much more extensive. The roots will spread out before the succulent has time to catch up.

You will need about 1/2 an inch of space for the roots and plant to grow. If your succulent is about 1 inch, you will want to plant it in a pot about 2 inches wide.

You must keep that in mind if you want to add more succulents. Some cacti have roots that will grow near the surface, so a tall narrow pot would not be a good choice.

Can I grow Multiple Succulents in one pot?

Here’s an awesome video with great tips on Growing Succulents!

 

We’ve all seen those beautiful potted succulent plants on Pinterest. The different shapes and colors intertwine together. Here are a few guidelines on how to care for succulents so you, too, can grow beautiful succulents.

How to Care for Cactus and Succulents 2019There is a fine balance to growing multiple succulents in one pot. 

If you plant succulents close together, they will grow more slowly, creating an exotic arrangement. However, it does become more difficult to water, as it will be harder for the water to reach the soil.

If the water pools over the edge of the pot, the leaves will rot. The more space they have in between, the easier it is to water. Typically, 1/2 an inch between fully grown plants will allow for easy watering and proper growth.

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Different Cactus Varieties, Sizes, and Cost

It is estimated that there are about 2,000 varieties of Cactus in the world, making them highly sought after and even “collectible” to many people.

Check out this Beautiful Candelabra Cactus, which can grow to heights of 10 ft. This fantastic-looking 3ft. specimen is on sale at our local nursery in Arizona for $400.

How to Care for Cactus and Succulents 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mighty Giant Saguaro Cactus

The Giant Saguaro Cactus – Hailed as the largest in the Cactus family can grow up to 75 feet tall and live for up to 200 years. (I don’t think they make a pot big enough to hold this one)

How to Care for Cactus and Succulents 2019

While most Succulents are inexpensive, cacti such as the Giant Saguaro are found only in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, most of Baja California, and half the state of Sonora, Mexico – can be quite costly.

Because of their slow growth rate of about 1 foot every ten years, Saguaro Cactus are generally the most expensive cactus you can buy the older Giant Saguaro pictured above are pretty scarce, which can lead to restrictions for their sale In many parts of the U.S.

How expensive, you ask? Well, you’re likely to pay as much as $100/foot or more for a giant Saguaro.

Because of their weight of 100 lbs/foot, and the prickly spines, they are normally left to the professionals to install, adding to the overall purchase. So a 7-foot cactus at $700 or higher and labor to install of $100-$200 will set you back close to a grand!

Fun fact: Saguaro Cactus don’t grow their first “arm” until they are approximately 70 years old, about 7 feet tall!


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Growing Cactus

 

Does it matter what type of soil I use?

Yes. Special soil for cacti and succulents can be purchased commercially. However, you can make your own. The soil should be coarse and sandy, you can mix houseplant soil with sand.

The soil must allow for quick drainage. You don’t want the roots to become too saturated with water, which will cause them to rot.

You should also add fertilizer each time you water when cacti and succulents are in their growing period. You don’t need to add fertilizer during the dormant period.

How much water does my cactus or succulent need?

Like sunlight, the amount of water a cactus or succulents needs varies from plant to plant. Make sure you read the care label carefully. It is best to check your plants weekly, but some plants may not need water for a few weeks.

If the soil is dry, you should add enough water so that the soil is saturated but do not overfill the pot. If the soil is damp, you can wait a little while before watering again. The worst thing you can do is over-water.

Make sure you allow the soil to dry between watering. If you find the leaves of the succulents are drying out, but the soil is still moist, a misting bottle can be used to keep the tops moist in between waterings.

Cactus and Succulents will want more water during their blooming period, which is April to September, and they will require less water during their dormant period, which is September to April. It is important to fertilize your cactus or succulent at least once a year during the blooming season.

The great thing about succulents is that once they start to grow, you can cut off the tops and replant them in new pots to create new arrangements. You can design different arrangements and give them as gifts.

How to Care for Cactus and Succulents 2019

Do I need to re-pot my cactus?

Yes, cacti and succulents should be repotted nearly every year. Replanting cacti can be tricky. Here are some tips to help you through this prickly task.

You will want to prepare the new pot in advance. Make sure the pot is big enough to accommodate further growth. You don’t want to have to re-pot in a few months. Add half the soil and sand, and ensure enough drainage.

You must wear heavy-duty gardening gloves when dealing with a particularly prickly cactus. You can wrap the cactus with newspaper, paper towel, or foam to protect your arms from the quills.

Tilt the pot to one side and pull the pot away from the plant. If you are having trouble getting the cactus out, you can tap the pot to try to loosen it or you can break the pot if you are not planning on reusing it for a different plant. Dust away the soil and inspect for insects and rot.

Place the cactus in the new pot and add the remaining fertilizer, soil and sand, and water. Replanting is essential in cactus plant care, it also allows you to inspect the cactus for rot and pests.

Do I need to worry about getting bugs on the cactus?

Like any other plant, succulents and plants get pests. Two very common pests to watch out for are gnats and mealy bugs. Gnats can infest when the soil is too wet, giving you another reason to make sure you don’t overwater.

The easiest way to get rid of them is to re-pot the plant. Dust off the gnats and allow the soil to dry. To get rid of mealybugs, you must spray them with rubbing alcohol.

Although it may seem like a lot of work to grow cacti and succulents, once you have done the base work, they are easy to grow and enjoy. Most of the work is done when you plant them, and then once a year when you need to re-pot.

You can admire your cactus plant and succulents as they grow and flourish the rest of the year. You will not have to worry about your cactus or succulent if you go away on vacation for a week. Growing cacti and succulents are a great hobby. If you enjoy it, the possibilities are endless.

Looking for some exciting new Outdoor Space? Check out our article:  “How to build a freestanding wood pergola.”

Thanks for visiting, and make sure to check out our other “How-To Guides” at BestHomeGear.Com!

References & Further Reading:

Kevin
Kevin
Kevin is the author and editor for Best Home Gear. In addition to his work in publishing, Kevin enjoys exploring the Outdoors in Michigan and Arizona, Hiking, Cycling, Fishing, Reading, and Completing Projects for the Home and Garden.

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