How to look after a cactus: 6 key tips

Credits: iStock
5/5 - (1 vote)

If you want to add a touch of green to your home without having too much work to do in terms of watering plants, a cactus is the thing for you! However, cacti are fairly sensitive as regards the climate in which they grow. Whether they are kept outdoors or indoors, in a dry or humid climate, in the heat or the cold, here are all the tips you need to know for your cactus to flourish. 

1/ The ideal climate

Cacti come from very hot and dry areas of the American deserts. If you live in a hot area, with mild winters, in which the temperature rarely goes below zero, you can easily grow a cactus in the earth outdoors.

However, if you live in an area with a temperate climate, with cold winter temperatures, it is recommended that you grow your cactus in a pot, so that you can put it outside in hot weather, and bring it inside when the temperatures drop. Cacti cannot tolerate temperatures below zero.

Credits: Flickr Lourdes

The required living conditions for a cactus and its ability to acclimatise to an environment can vary depending on the species of cactus. It is therefore recommended that you ask the advice of your local provider.

2/ Environmental humidity

Cacti are highly sensitive to environmental humidity. For certain species of cactus, the humidity factor is crucial, as some cacti cannot survive in a humid environment. Cacti with a downy or furry exterior do badly in humid air, as this tends to invite insects (beetles) or can lead to the plant rotting. The cereus cactus, the echinopsis chamaecereus, the ferocactus, the melon cactus, the bilberry cactus and the prickly pear all belong to this category.

On the other hand, there are also species which can do well in a humid environment: Echinopsis oxygona, Acanthocalycium, etc.

3/ Light

Depending on the species, a cactus will grow to varying extents. Certain species need direct sun exposure, such as the Acanthocalycium, the Echinopsis oxygona or the Espostoa lanata. Other species cannot tolerate the sun, particularly during the hottest hours of the day: Epiphyllum, Echinofossulocactus, etc.

Credits: Wikipedia

4/ What to plant them in

In general, all cacti need a substrate that drains and airs them. Soil, sand and gravel mixes are therefore ideal for cacti to grow and flourish. Regularly adding cactus fertiliser is a plus.

5/ Watering the cactus

In winter, it is important not to water your cactus, as this dehydration allows for the plant to flower in spring time. In summer, it is recommended that you water the cactus around the root ball, usually once every week to two weeks. Watering your plant too often can lead to the appearance of insects and rot.

6/ Re-potting your cactus

It is recommended that you re-pot your cactus every two to three years. Cacti like to live in cramped areas, and you should therefore use a pot that is just a hair’s width wider than the root ball.

Related articles:

One basic cooking ingredient to reinvigorate your plants

A genius technique for easily re-potting a plant

How to get rid of ants on flowers?