I was today years old when I learned that cacti also need to be watered to grow as healthy plants. Do you also get surprised by this fact like me? I hope you do, too, because I don’t want to be the only one in this learning season.
It is very tricky to water cacti, but as your cacti become thirstier, it becomes more important to check the soil.
A healthy cactus generally requires watering once to twice a week during the growing season. A three- to four-week schedule is followed during the inactive season. Dig in to find out more about cacti.
Table of Contents
Why is watering cacti tricky?
Despite being hardy houseplants, cacti require different watering requirements than spider plants and pothos. You can easily overwater or underwater cacti if you’re not used to caring for them since they don’t require as much water as other plants.
However, it’s important to understand their preferences to avoid drowning your plants and overwatering them to the point where they fade.
How Much Water Do Cacti Need?
Cacti are very sensitive to drought conditions. If you live in a dry climate, you may have to water your cacti more frequently than in areas with year-round rainfall. Even though many people who buy cacti from stores assume that they require little or no attention, most cacti prefer moist, well-drained soils.
They will tolerate drier soils but won’t flourish if the soil is completely dry. Your cacti will tell you how much water they need. The best way to determine whether or not your cacti need additional moisture is to observe them closely. When you see the leaves droop, wilt, or begin to turn yellowish brown, it’s time to give your cactus some extra TLC.
How often should you water cacti?
Watering cacti can be challenging because each one is unique and will respond differently to water. Understanding how your cactus responds to water is important to keep it healthy and thriving.
Cacti tolerate water neglect, but too much will result in pale or yellow leaves. Generally, cacti need water every two weeks during the growing season (March to September), but the frequency will vary depending on the cactus type and many factors. Such as:
1. The size of the cactus
Larger cactuses require more water, so you might expect them to need it more frequently. But that isn’t necessarily true. A young, small cactus typically grows rapidly and requires more water than a larger cactus.
Additionally, larger cacti tend to have a smaller surface area to volumetric ratio, which decreases water evaporation of the cacti’s surface. This makes large cacti less likely to dry out quickly.
2. Size Of Pot
In large pots, cacti must absorb more moisture in the potting medium or dry out more slowly due to the larger amount of soil in the pot. Smaller pots have smaller surface area-to-volume ratios. This means there is less room for air circulation around the plant’s roots.
As a result, cacti planted in a large pot might need to be watered every four to six weeks or more, while cacti planted in a very small pot might need to be fed once a week or less often.
Most cacti do best in smaller pots because they don’t like being in the water for too long, and larger pots mean the roots sit in water for much longer. If you’re having trouble watering your cactus regularly, try repotting it into a smaller pot. Also, you can check how often should you water a cactus.
3. Type Of Pot And Drainage
Providing high water content and letting excess water drain quickly is the best strategy for cacti. I doubt that plastic pots will dry out your potting medium faster since they trap a lot of moisture and take longer to dry out.
Due to terracotta’s porous nature, water from the potting media gradually seeps through its walls. It evaporates into the air, reducing how long it takes for the media to dry.
The potting media drains more quickly from pots with plenty of drainage holes, so these are the best pots for potting media. It is generally impossible to grow cacti in pots without holes.
There is a possibility of stem and root rot. However, it is much more likely to occur than root rot. Having experienced bitterness myself, I can speak with authority.
4. Media Types
It is important to ensure the potting medium drains quickly when growing cacti. Commercial cactus mixes do the trick, or you can make your own with potting soil, coarse sand, and perlite.
It is very important to choose a well-draining mix so that excess water can drain easily and the soil can dry quickly. Undoubtedly, this will require more frequent watering, but your cactus will certainly thank you for it.
5. Cacti watering depends on humidity
Humidity affects how often you should water cacti. Cacti generally thrive in drier environments, while succulents thrive in moist settings. Therefore, a rule of thumb is to water cacti every two weeks during summer and about once monthly during winter.
But there are exceptions to this rule, especially if you live in an area where rain falls infrequently. For example, desert dwellers might need to water twice a week during summer.
Humidity is one of those things we tend to overlook when it comes to indoor plant care. But too little moisture can cause problems like leaf burn and root rot, while too much can lead to mold growth.
Here are the signs of overwatering cacti
One of the most important things to remember when caring for a cactus is not to overwater it. Overwatering can lead to the plant losing moisture, color, and texture. It can also cause the cactus to rot and die.
Key signs of overwatering include:
- The leaves or stems are browning or blackening.
- The plant’s base is browning or blackening.
- A mushy plant or leaks.
- A plant rots in front of your eyes.
Here are the signs of underwatering cacti:
It’s easier for a cactus to regain its normal state when it’s been underwatered than when it’s been overwatered. Overwatering is much more severe and can cause irreversible damage to a cactus. Here are some signs of underwater:
- It feels soft on the leaves.
- From top to bottom, the soil is totally dry.
- A cactus plant that is limp or bent.
- Brown leaf tips are caused by wilting.
- A brittle root system.
- The spines are falling off.
Are there any special considerations for watering during the winter months?
Yes, when watering cacti during winter, there are a few things to remember. First, indoor houseplants will typically need less water once temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit or if you don’t see any growth on their spines after two weeks.
In addition, reduce watering times during winter if any conditions apply. For example, if you’re in a dry climate or your home is heated with forced air.
Most cacti go dormant during the winter, but this doesn’t mean you should stop watering them. Cacti still need moisture to survive – they just won’t be growing as much new tissue.
Ensure the soil dries out completely before watering again – if not, roots could rot and kill off some cacti plants.
Do I need to watch out for pests or diseases with my cactus?
Yes, there are a few pests and diseases you must watch out for when growing succulents or cacti in soil. The most common is root rot, which can be caused by either over-watering or under-watering the plant. Root rot symptoms include wilting plants, yellow leaves, and brown roots.
Another common pest is mealybugs, which can be treated with a pesticide spray. Be sure to read the instructions carefully before using any pesticide.
Finally, watch out for fungal infections, which can be treated with a fungicide spray. But, again, always read the instructions carefully before using any chemical spray on your plants.
What type of potting mix is best for cacti?
Regarding potting mix, cacti prefer a fast-draining mix that will allow the soil to dry quickly. If you want to grow cactus, mix sand, perlite, and soil using a mix of soil, sand, and peat. Another option is to use a succulent potting mix available at most garden stores.
Cacti should be watered when the soil is dry and between watering periods. There are a few methods for checking if the soil is dry enough to water cacti: one is to feel the soil; if it feels moist, wait longer before watering.
On the other hand, water can be added if the soil feels dry right at the top. Another method is to look at the color of the soil; if it’s light brown or tan, it’s time to water.
Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]
1. Soak And Dry: What Are The Steps?
By watering the mix thoroughly and waiting until it almost completely dries before watering again, soak and dry methods encourage the soil to be thoroughly moistened before being dried.
2. If My Water Runs Out, What Should I Do?
As long as it is done correctly, the method will make it possible for the plants to survive a period of underwatering, even if they have to leave home or travel or if they get busy and forget to water.
3. Under LED Lights, Can Cacti Grow?
A fluorescent bulb or tube (or even a compact bulb) or an LED grow light like this is the best artificial light for cacti. Incandescent bulbs and mercury vapor should be avoided. An area of approximately 5-10 square feet can be covered by 75w grow lights.
4. Should I Spray My Cactus With Water?
Spraying a cactus with water is never a good idea. Humidity is very low, and moisture left on them can cause rot.
Overall, watering cacti can be tricky and varies depending on the species. Generally, you should water cacti once every two weeks in the summer and every 4-8 weeks in the winter. Be mindful of the environment around your cactus and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.