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5 Care Tips to Keep Your Cactus Happy

Posted on April 15, 2021 in Indoor & Tropical Plant Care, Succulent Care & Inspiration

Written by West Coast Gardens

Cacti are some of the most unusual and elegant plants in the world, with bold shapes of all kinds and beautiful green colour variations. They fit into many different home decor styles, from minimalist to boho and of course anything with a touch of southwestern! Who hasn’t felt the call of the cactus, wanting to collect all the different mini-cactus plants on display and bring them home. Of course plants are more than static decor and once they have been adopted they need the proper TLC. Caring for cactus plants isn’t difficult, but it is a little unique, just like they are! Read our top five tips below.

Cactus care tips

1. Location Observation

Cactus generally come from desert climates, so you can guess what kind of location they like! Sun, sun and more sun. However, beware! Even cactus can burn, especially if they are in direct sunlight behind a glass window, as this magnifies the sun’s impact. A south facing window is ideal. If you see your cactus start to turn yellow or brown on the side facing the sun, then you might need to let it cool down in a different spot.

Keep your cactus in bright light, which can include artificial lamps indoors. During the summer months, you can keep your cacti outdoors on the patio to enjoy some bright summer sun. 

2. Hydration Fixation

Watering cacti plants has been a stressful idea for many plant owners. We know they need water because they’re plants, but at the same time we’ve been told not to give them too much water because they’re from the desert! The truth is that cacti need regular waterings, they just have a special ability to survive drought.

If you want your cacti to grow, then water is vitally important. In a sunny location, that gives them plenty of heat during the day, you can give them water every week. The only rule is: Make sure the soil is dry between waterings. This will stop the roots and lower edges of the plant from becoming waterlogged or rotting. 

During winter months you can cut back on the water, as cacti become dormant during this time with less sun and cooler night temperatures.

3. Flirt with the Dirt

Cactus gardens are very popular, where a number of different species of cacti grow together in one container garden to create an oasis of beautiful plants. Often this requires repotting the cacti! Besides always wearing thick gloves (or using salad tongs to pick up and hold the cacti), you also need to consider the kind of soil you’re using in the new container. Cactus enjoy their own unique flavour of dirt, and it needs to be very effective at draining excess H2O. Bags of cactus soil are sold in many nurseries or flower shops, and you’ll find it is sandier and rockier than regular potting soil. This is essential in making sure your water drains through and doesn’t keep your cactus feeling soggy. 

4. Plotted and Potted

Before repotting that cactus, take a look at the container you are choosing. Sure, a pot with drainage holes is the best solution because you don’t have to worry about stagnant water in the bottom. But cacti can be planted in containers without drainage holes as well, it just means a bit more care. Always make sure the soil is very dry all the way through between waterings. Another option is to measure the amount of water you use to make sure you’re not accidentally drowning your cacti. A 1/4 to 1/2 cup, every week or two, is enough for your cactus to thrive, depending on the season.

Cactus care tips

5. In the Mood for Food

Cactus can really benefit from fertilizer, and there are specialized ones with just the nutrients they need. (A 10-10-10 fertilizer is another good option for a balanced meal.) During the summer growth months you can fertilize them lightly with every watering, as they prefer to be fed small doses regularly. Taper off during the winter months to allow the plants to rest.

Cactus care tips
Cactus care tips

6. BONUS TIP  – Dress up Your Cacti

Although cacti are handsome fellows all on their own, it’s always fun to dress them up a bit! From a beautiful pot with added character to natural accents. Terra cotta and clay pots are traditional for these desert-dwelling plants, however a glass terrarium style planter or ceramic dish can work just as well. We love to use different sizes and colours of stones and pebbles on top of the soil. As well, we add in large rocks, wood, and sand. Make sure you can still check whether the soil is dry or not, either with your finger or a moisture metre.  

Take a look at our selection of cacti! We love to pot up beautiful planters full of various kinds of succulents and cacti, as well as celebrate the individuality of a single plant. 

Now that you’re an expert on caring for your cactus, don’t be afraid to adopt some of these amazing plants! Have fun choosing your favourites and bringing home new friends to create your own beautiful and happy cactus gardens. 

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