Cactus Care 101
I recently became the mother to fraternal twin cacti, Rouge and Fuchsia. I brought them home, put them on my windowsill and immediately realized I didn’t know how to care for them. Naturally, I did what any new mother would do, I turned to Instagram and the world wide web for the answers. In the past I’ve managed to kill almost every “you can’t possibly kill it” plant that I’ve had (fake plants can die, right?). I think I suffer from being a bit of an overbearing plant mom, because what I’ve learned is that you really don’t need to do much at all. Here are some highlights:
Cacti, just like in the desert, store water in their leaves, stems and roots. They are very low maintenance and have adapted to having little water. While your cactus can survive with little care, it does not thrive. Cacti need a little more TLC during growing season, Spring through Fall. During this growing period, you should water your cactus once a week (make sure it’s living in a pot with drainage holes, to prevent rot). You can completely soak the soil and allow it to drain. Once it gets colder out, your cactus enters a rest period (lol, same). During this period, you only water your cactus when the soil is completely dry or when your cactus looks like it’s thirsty. Note: If the heat in your home is drying, you may need to water your cactus a little more frequently.
Most cacti like bright light but direct sunlight with lots of heat can actually “sunburn” your cactus. It’s recommended to keep your cactus on a bright, south facing window. If your cactus isn’t getting enough sun, it will start to look like it’s reaching toward the light. That’s a sign to move it to a sunnier spot. If your cactus is getting too much sun, it’s color can start to change, making it look “bleached”, yellow or orange. This is a sign to move your cactus to a more indirect light source. Thankfully these cacti are pretty good at communicating their needs.
Cacti like soil that is fast draining and well aerated. Soil that is mixed with pumice or perlite (stones that help to lighten the soil) allows air around the roots and help to retain water and improve drainage. This is a great one! Note: Regular potting soil can hold on to too much water and kill your cactus!
Typically, pots are made from clay, ceramic or plastic. Clay pots seem to be a cacti favorite, because they allow for faster drying soil and the cactus can breathe better. Make sure to get a pot that has a hole in the bottom, which allows for faster drainage. Also, some cacti like to be watered from the bottom up so place your potted cactus in a dish with water and allow it to drink the water from the roots up. The size of the pot you choose can determine how big it will grow. Be careful not to go too small as this can suffocate its roots. Cacti need to be transplanted to a bigger pot to help promote growth. The best time to transplant your cactus is after the Winter season, before it’s growth period in the warmer months.
Now that I know a little bit more about how to care for my new cacti daughters, I can’t wait to bring home even more plant babies! Having plants around helps filter the air and add oxygen to your home. Also, they’re pretty cute.