How to Take Care of Cactus?

If you’re wondering How you can take care of your cactus plant, you have come to the right place. Cactus plants have grown extremely popular in the past few decades, and we must recognize why the cactus plant has always been extremely popular.

This fact has much to do with how recognizable cactus plants are. They’re extremely popular in media, TV, and the internet. So, it’s sometimes difficult to take care of them if you have never done so before.

Things go south when you don’t have the tools and information to ensure that the plant grows


Therefore, you need to take proper care of your cactus plants.

One of the major reasons for the rise in cactus plants over the fire year is that more people recognize they can take care of cactus plants with relative ease.

We see that the popularity has much to do with how hardy cactus plants are.

These plants don’t require you to put in an extreme amount of effort. All you need to do is recognize the requirements for these plants, and you’re good to go.

Regardless of how hardy the plants are, you have to put in some effort regardless of how hardy some plants are. In the article below, we’ll discuss all the ways you can, and you must take care of your plants so they can grow.

When taking care of a cactus plant, you must consider its natural habitat. A cactus plant is used in the dry conditions of a desert. Thus, you must replicate most of these settings as well.

Factors to Consider When Taking Care of Cactus

We know now that it’s necessary to take care of the cactus plants in every way possible. However, you would need to consider some parameters to properly take care of a cactus plant. The factors that you must consider are as follows:

1.   Light, Temperature, and Ventilation

One of the most important aspects to balance is the light you provide to your plant. You must understand that the Cacti and succulents are used in bright and sunny places.

This fact means that they’re likely to thrive in places with a lot of sun. If you’re planning on keeping your plants indoors, you’ll want to look for places in your house that receive sunlight throughout the day.

Generally, for plants, a south-facing position gives them a better light. However, even with cactus seedlings and plants, you don’t want to keep them in direct sunlight. Direct sunlight can be extremely harsh and can cause your cactus plants to yellow over some time.

The optimum light for your plants can allow them to thrive without reducing any of the chlorophyll in the plant.

Each species of cactus plants and succulents has a network and history behind the amount of sunlight that works easily for their growth. Some plants need a lot of light, while others need greater shade.

Cactus plants also need the right temperature to function, so you need to ensure that wherever you’re keeping your cactus plant is warm but away from an intense amount of heat.

A place for your plants that’s too cold is also less than ideal because your plants may achieve dormancy, and that’s the last thing you want for your cactus plants.

If you live in extreme temperatures, you may consider keeping your plants indoors and away from environments you can’t control.

During the cold winter and autumn months, you may consider keeping your plants inside so they can thrive inside when it gets too cold outside.

If you plan on keeping your plants indoors, you should also do your best to provide them with ventilation. Ventilation and proper airflow keep plants going, and they are likely to grow more consistently in an environment that provides all three.

2. Compost

You must ensure that your plant’s soil has enough nutrients to aid your plant’s growth. However, there has to be a certain feature in the mix with cactus plants so that the compost can be beneficial for them.

This feature has much to do with the fact that the compost must be well-draining. The better the compost can drain, the better it can provide fertility to the plant for growth.

Compost also provides the right amount of nutrients to the plant, which is why you should apply this to the plants as often as you can.

However, too much application of compost at earlier stages in your care of the Cactus can lead to more damage than good.

You may find that a lot more foliage will pop up when you have added an exceptional amount of compost. You can even add more perlite for cactus plants for proper drainage features.

3. Watering

In cactus plants, watering is perhaps the act of care that requires your greatest attention. You have to ensure that your cactus plant is getting the right amount of water. It can’t be too much, and it can’t be too less.

If you pour in too little of the water, you will find that the plant doesn’t grow quite as much as you want it to. Underwatering deprives the plants of the water to carry out photosynthesis and grow.

Lucky for you, cactus plants don’t need much water to grow. So the amount you provide must be okay.

Worse than underwatering your plants is when you overwater them. Overwatering your plants is one of the most horrible things you can do to them.

Most people believe that since cactus plants can store a lot of water, it’s okay to over or underwater them. However, that isn’t the case.

Thus, when taking care of a cactus plant, you must ensure that the liquid going into the plant is enough to let the plant thrive instead of stunting it.

Watering is an essential part of your plant’s growth which is why you should ensure that you maintain a proper schedule for watering to get it right.

Overwatering can cause growth to stop, but the plant is likely to shrivel up as it loses all of its water. People also believe that you should use temperate rainwater instead of just tap water when you’re watering your plants.

If you don’t have rainwater available, you can use tap water. However, tap water has minerals in it that can cause a significant amount of blockage in the soil and leaves of the plant, which is why it’s better to be wary of tap water.

The minerals can also stop the process of plants receiving essential nutrients with ease.

You can stick to a schedule when it comes to watering. However, there are certain changes that you will have to keep making as the weather changes.

The warmer it gets, the more water your plant will use. Hence, you need to know how much your cactus plants will use and how much you need to provide them.

In the warmer seasons like spring and summer, plants dedicate themselves to their growth. This fact means that there’s much that they need to accomplish in a small window of time which is why they need quite a bit of water within this time.

You have to water your cactus plants in the warmer seasons at least once a week. If your plants face rainfall and the amount of water is enough for them, then you can conduct a few checks to know whether you should water your plants or not.

When you’re watering the plants, you want to ensure that you give the soil a good soak. Watering the plants isn’t something you should repeatedly do in a short time. You need to be thorough whenever you manage to water your plants.

The pot and the potting mix should be well-draining which means that you should allow it to drain away so that the root network on your plant isn’t destroyed.

You should also ensure that you let the compost dry out after every watering, so you don’t have to worry about getting too much water into the mix. Too much water can lead to problems as the water table rises, and the soil may become waterlogged.

The persistence of water in the soil can cause the root network to die out. If the water is covered in water, it won’t receive oxygen. Once it doesn’t receive oxygen, the roots will stop growing and die out.

Since the root network is responsible for carrying water and minerals to the rest of the plant, it can affect the whole plant and cause it to die.

It would be best if you also fed your plants a proper diet so they may grow. Some of the most important things you need to feed them are compost or nutrients.

The nutrients are necessary for your plants to grow as they give the plants the essential energy to grow and thrive. If you feel like your plant is slowing down or not growing as fast as you would like, you may need to apply some layers of compost or fertilizer to it.

The market also has a cactus feed that you can apply to your plants instead. If you feel like going for a more natural route, you can do that too.

Compost tea always helps provide the plants with a natural way to gain nutrients. However, compost tea is not immediately effective and can take its time. So if you need a quick fix, you’re better off buying an inorganic fertilizer to aid you better.

In resting periods of autumn and winter, your plants have different needs altogether. They tend to enter their rest period at this point and thus are unlikely to have a great need for water.

Since the temperatures are also low this season, there’s not a lot of evapotranspiration that occurs on the surface, which means that the plant also loses less water.

It would be best to reduce the watering frequency, so the soil dries out between each watering. The regularity with which you want to water your plants has much to do with the cactus species and the time of the year.

Many cactus plants find it very difficult to persist in this weather, which is why they enter a mode of dormancy. Dormancy means that they no longer grow or need nutrients, but rather the cold makes them reset all their systems.

Many desert dwellers such as the Cactus and succulents can be left without water for the winter months as they don’t require it once they achieve a state of dormancy.

4. Repotting

Another factor that you will have to take care of is the repotting of your cactus plant. If your Cactus is present in a pot and it seems like it’s outgrown its environment, it may be time for you to repot the plant. Many things go into the repotting of the plant.

Firstly, you have to be sure that you want to repot the plant at all. Repotting is a great idea if you think the plant has done growing within the container and can move to a bigger pot to grow.

However, if you feel like your cactus seedling is only developing and forming roots and uproot the plant only to repot it, the cactus plant will lose some progress.

To repot the plant, you will have to take the following measures:

  1. Water the plant and let the water drain in the older pot before you remove it carefully from the pot. You want to ensure that you don’t get hurt in the process since the cactus spines can be extremely dangerous. Use protective gloves.
  2. You can clear away any old soil from the plant’s roots as you don’t even want a little bit of the older roots and soil. Dust off the soil so you can inspect the roots for any damage before you report it.
  3. Get another slightly bigger pot in diameter than your first one and move the plant into it.
  4. Before you add the plant to it, you will have to ensure that there’s a layer of potting mix at the base of the plant.
  5. You can fill the rest of the pot with the potting mixture and firm it down.
  6. Do not water for a few days after you have completed the above steps.

Maintaining these conditions allows you to have the best possible outcome regarding your cactus plants and all the requirements they have.

Watering Tips for Cactus Plants

This article has talked about how important it is that your cactus plant has the right amount of water in its system.

Both underwatering and overwatering can be detrimental to the plant’s growth, which is why you need to take care of watering your plants. However, there are certain measures you can take to ensure that you water your plants well.

We have stated some of the watering tips that will guide you below:

1.   The Cactus Size

You may think that a bigger-sized cactus will mean that you must water the Cactus to a greater extent. However, this isn’t the case.

Smaller cacti are on the brink of greater growth which is why they need more water as they grow up. Smaller cacti have more of a capacity for growth, so they need more water. It would help if you watered these smaller plants more often than the others.

2. Size of the Pot

Small pots are pretty ideal when it comes to cactus plants. We find that cactus plants tend not to like sitting in water as this can cause root rot and ultimately destroy the intricate network that cactus plants have made for their growth.

Thus, the smaller pots mean water will decrease more easily as drainage is possible with relative ease.

If you place a smaller cactus in a large container, then we note that larger containers take more time to drain their water.

The longer something takes to drain, the less frequently you will water it. This means you know how to correct the process if you find that the cactus plant isn’t quite the way you want.

3. The Type of Pot You Use

you must know the type of pot you want to use and how that impacts the amount of watering you conduct. You may be thinking about the kind of pot that is ideal for growing cactuses. However, the biggest aspect is that container must aerate the soil.

You can use any pots you want. You can use plastic pots instead of terra cotta ones. However, these take more time to dry out.

Most experts say that terra cotta ones are the best for cactus plants, making water drainage and drying easier.

Terra Cotta plants allow for air movement and drain excess water much faster. This feature reduces the risk of rotting roots and makes matters much easier for you to handle.

When buying a pot for your Cactus, you have to ensure that the drainage is proper and allows for air circulation, as these two are some of the most pertinent features in cactus growth.

Care Against Pests

We have looked at all the ways to care for cactus plants regarding their requirements. However, it’s also necessary to note that your cactus plant needs care against other pests that may restrict its growth.

You have to know that pests such as mealybugs or aphids may attack the cactus plants once in a while. When this happens, you must know the measures that you will have to take against these pests so your cactus plant may thrive.

We will look into some of the most common pests and inform you how to ward off all these pests.

1. Mealybugs and Scale

These are two of the most common insects you can encounter in any plant, especially the Cactus. These insects are different because they get past all the cactus spines and damage the plant, leading to its demise.

Cactus plants require a significant amount of work, so you don’t want this to happen.

The most important thing to do when caring for cactus plants is to be aware of them. There may be pests on your cactus plant at all times.

However, you may not be close to recognizing them when they are right in front of you.

Mealybugs show up in clusters. They are white, fuzzy, and have a cotton-like appearance that helps them stand out.

They can be difficult to spot because they’re good at remaining hidden from the naked eye. However, you can spot them easily if you know where to look.

You can find them on the underside of leaves and in joint areas. So, if your Cactus is becoming less vibrant or things seem slightly off, you might need to investigate your plants.

A thorough inspection will cause pests to reveal themselves to you. Mealybugs and scale are most likely to attack the leaves and stems, and some can attack roots.

However, they damage the plants by sucking the juice from their roots in bacterial infection. Once the roots are destroyed, the plant is left defenseless and will likely die.

Scale insects have a circular, dome-like shape to them. They also attack the leaves and stems.

2. Spider Mites

Apart from scale and mealybugs, you also must ensure that the Cactus is protected from spider mites.

The easiest way to know when spider mites have attacked your Cactus is by analyzing some webs that may appear on the cactus body.

If webs start appearing, your Cactus might have some spider mites. If some brown dots appear on your Cactus, that’s also an indication something’s gone wrong. These brown spots aren’t extremely visible.

However, they are only noticeable when you push on them with a piece of paper. You may also think that the brown spits dust due to how they conduct themselves.

However, when spider mites start leaving indicators about their general demeanor, you have to act factually and try your best to get rid of them.

3. Fungus Gnats

You may have difficulty deciphering these pests because they closely resemble mosquitoes. However, they tend to float and fly above the soil.

Its larva lives in the soil and can eat organic matter, which means the cactus plants get none of the nutrients they need.

Fungus Gnats work by depriving the plant of its nutrients, so it has difficulty growing and thriving. Fungus Gants can be extremely problematic in cactus seedlings as these can not grow at all due to nutrient deprivation.

Managing the Pests

Now that you know that it is a problem, you can manage the pests too. Managing the pest means making sure they don’t cause further damage to the cactus plants you’ve taken care of so carefully. There may be many factors you need to take care of when managing pests.

Managing pests comes first and foremost from ensuring you’re aware of them. You will likely have to check your cactus plant in extreme detail.

If you feel your cactus plant is not growing in the ways you want, you will have to check all the ways that there may be something wrong. One of the most common reasons is that there are pests in your cactus plant that you must tackle.

Here is a way that you can manage all of the pests we have stated above:

1. Practice Measures to Prevent Pests

How you take care of your plants will contribute to their health. You have to ensure that your plant is getting the right amount of water, sunlight, and air to create a strong defense mechanism against all the pests it may encounter.

When a cactus plant is thriving, it is less likely to come face-to-face with a pest attack. Thus, in this case, the offense is the best defense. You should also ensure that there isn’t any organic matter in the close vicinity of a cactus plant.

Organic matter makes it very easy for ants, aphids, and mealybugs to attack. Thus, preventative measures will stop you from inviting pests.

2. Control the New Cacti Plants

Sometimes, you may find that new cacti plants come from old cacti plants. Old cacti plants can get infected for whatever reason, and if you keep newer cactus plants in proximity to the older ones, this might affect them too.

The pests can trickle from old cactus plants to newer cactus plants and cause damage to them too. If you have an older infected cactus plant, you can quarantine them until they confirm they have no pests.

If the tactic doesn’t work, then you may as well just remove the cactus plant from your home altogether as these cactus plants become breeding grounds for pests in cactus plants.

3. Use Cotton Swabs For Mealy Bugs

The way to deal with mealybugs is by firstly removing the insects from the plant. The way to do this is by dipping cotton swabs in alcohol.

Once you dip them, you can then use these cotton swabs to remove the mealybugs then one by one. It might get difficult to do this repeatedly as it’s a labor-intensive method. However, it is thorough, and you don’t have to do it in one sitting.

Some people think they can get rid of mealybugs by spraying the plants with alcohol. However, we find that spraying the plant with alcohol can cause many problems in the plant’s epidermis. You can use diluted alcohol instead.

However, even with diluted alcohol, it’s better first to spray it in a small area to eliminate the mealybugs. Spraying the Cactus with alcohol helps thoroughly eliminate the mealybugs and any unnoticed bugs.

4. Eliminate Spider Mites

With spider mites, you can remove the webs they may form. You can physically remove spider mites, i.e., you don’t have to use any chemical spray on them.

Instead, you can wash away the spider mites. You don’t even have to use any extra material. You can just use water instead. You don’t want to overwater the plant, which means covering the plant as you’re trying to get rid of the spider mites.

5. Apply Insect Soap

There are a lot of insect soaps that are available on the market. You can use this soap to remove the insects that may find their way to the cactus plants.

One of the major issues is that the soap can break the wax seal on the plant. You don’t want to destroy the Cactus in the process of saving it from insects and pests, which is why you should check the label before ensuring the soap is safe for cactus use.

6. Using Safe Insecticides

You can also use insecticides. However, you should use these chemicals sparingly. You have to look at the label to see if the insecticides are safe for Cactus plants so they can thrive.

There are different insecticides available in the market to meet your requirement. There are also oil-based insecticides that can leave a mark on your Cactus.

These oil-based insecticides have residues that can dry out on the cactus plant if you keep it in the sun. Thus, it would help to move it to a shadier place instead.

7. Profile Your Plants

Another way to take care of your plants is by ensuring that you set them apart. Different cactus species and succulents have different requirements.

If you keep all your plants in one place, you’re going to overwhelm yourself and the plants as well. Categorizing helps you get an idea of the requirements of all the different plants. Thus, the sooner you do this, the more easily you can deal with your plants.

Final Thoughts

Cactus plants require all sorts of care to be afforded to them. However, taking care of them is relatively easy once you have information on their workings and mechanisms.

Therefore, you should gather as much information about them before you start taking care of them.

There is no one right way to take care of a cactus, but there are several wrong ways. You can waste your time, your money, and even risk your cactus. It’s best to follow a few basic guidelines and you’ll have a happy and healthy cactus.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is Cactus Fruit or Vegetable?

Cactus fruit is part of the cactus plant and is fleshy. Cactus plants are a type of succulent. In culinary use, cactus fruit refers to the fruit of cactus plants in the genera Opuntia, particularly when used for food. Its flavor can be likened to a mix of apple and pear.

How long do Cactus live?

A desert cactus can be expected to live for 12 to 20 years. Some species of cactus can live up to 150 years, while some desert plants live up to 200 years. Cactus has the ability to survive in harsh climates.

How much light do cactus need?

To determine how much light a cactus needs, you must begin by considering the plant’s natural environment.

Desert cacti are native to very sandy, dry regions where they are exposed to intense sunlight. Some cacti grow in rain forests, while others live in volcanic areas that are much darker.

Can we keep the cactus on the balcony?

You can keep the cactus on the balcony. You should place the cactus in a spot that gets plenty of natural light. It is not easy to give cactus light. Generally speaking, the cactus does not need light.

The cactus on the balcony can be given light for a short time (for example, in winter, at night) because the cactus needs light in summer and spring, but the cactus needs light for a short time in winter.