Cactus plants add novelty and personality to your houseplant collection. Whether you grow spiky barrels or fuzzy old man cacti, they need good cactus care to thrive. Here are tips for growing healthy cactus.
Put your cactus plants in the sunniest possible spot. Don't crowd them in with other houseplants, though, as they need some air flow around them. Cactus can tolerate temperatures from the 50's to the 90's. They can't handle freezing temperatures, nor temperatures above the mid 90's.
Under watering your cactus is better than over watering it. These plants store water, and are from arid desert climates, after all. Put enough water in to thoroughly wet the soil. Water in the morning. Water a little more in the summer than in other seasons. Let the soil dry completely in between waterings. Check it with your finger (Don't get stuck!) about an inch into the dirt to make sure it needs water, or just use a moisture meter. The soil should feel dry.
Combine half and half amounts of regular potting soil and a gritty cactus dirt. Make sure your planting pot has good drainage. Place a thin layer of some of the gritty soil or some fine gravel stones on top of the dirt around your cactus. Any kind of planting container will work, but drainage is key!
Use fertilizer with any of the following numbers on the label: 5-10-5, 10-20-10, or 5-10-10. Fertilize twice a year, once at the beginning of summer, and once at the end. Make sure you don't fertilize a new cactus right away. Wait a couple of months, because the cactus plant might have already been fertilized right before you bought it.
Don't over water your cactus! If it looks sickly, it might have a common houseplant pest on it. It might have aphids or mealy bugs or scale. Ask for the right insecticide at your local garden center. cactus like to be root-bound, but when it comes time to transplant to a bigger pot, be sure to handle your cactus with care. Use thick rose grower gloves, or roll newspaper around it to handle the plant safely without getting stuck.
Cactus care is pretty simple once you know what to do. Go out and get a cactus or two. We can all appreciate some spiky buddies on the windowsill.
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