5 Things Cacti Love But Newbie Gardeners Never Do

OK, let's say you bought a cactus, made its pot look adorable, kept it alive for a few months, but somehow it died anyway.

What went wrong, you say? How can someone kill a plant that lives in the desert and doesn't need constant watering?

Well, the answers are fairly straightforward because a cactus needs love too. It's a mistake to merely leave the plant to its own devices and see whether or not it holds up.

Honestly, cacti can take a beating, but they can't stand up to sheer neglect.

So, here's what you can do to make your cacti happy and thrive as long as you remember to keep up with these essential tips.

 

1 – Watering cacti are still required...even though they're desert plants

Yes, cacti are desert plants, but that doesn't mean that you don't have to water indoor cacti at all! The opposite is true: they need just as much watering every ten days or so like a standard succulent plant.

Some websites say that you can get away with watering indoor cacti once a month, but that's simply not accurate. The trick is to water cacti when the soil feels dry to the touch and drains out completely.

After all, the number one cause of root rot in cacti is repeated watering before the soil dries out enough.

2 – Keep them moving, keep them from scorching

Along those lines, another myth about raising cacti is that they need direct, scorching sunlight 24/7. What they do need is about 10-12 hours of daylight, but the rays don't have to fall directly on the cacti; they'll do fine in a well-lit area of the home near a window.

Also, placing a cactus in direct sunlight dries out the soil faster and raises the likelihood of over-watering because it'll look like the cactus is "thirsty."

3 – Level-up cacti style with different types of pots

Most often, people buy a cactus and never take it out of its original pot. Whether it's a large cactus or a tiny one, it's OK – if not wholly preferable – to level up its style and place it in a new pot.

You don't necessarily need to use a pot with drainage holes if you keep in mind the watering tips we already mentioned. Some gardeners grow cacti well without using pots with drainage.

Indeed, plants are living organisms, too, so they will respond to changes in their environment, and one of the easiest ways to make them happy is a quick makeover.

4 – Cactus soil matters

Up to this point, we've mentioned how it's important to remember that desert plants aren't invincible; they simply evolved to survive harsh conditions in a worst-case scenario.

Still, dry-weather plants like cacti prefer to grow in a natural medium other than the standard potting soil you'd use for succulents. Cacti need a growing medium that resembles their natural environment, so gardeners often use a ground that's more porous and sandy to keep their plants healthy and happy.

5 – Feed me, Seymour, feed me! Just not too often

Lastly, cacti need to eat too! But you don't need to feed it like the 1980's classic film Little Shop of Horrors. Still, the trick is that ordinary plant food doesn't work well on cacti, so take care to only feed them fertilizer explicitly made for cacti.

Yes, cacti reside in nearly every desert on the planet, but they don't go without eating altogether. As we mentioned above, cacti thrive in more rocky and sandy soil than typical potting soil. That's just how these plants like to live.

In the end, by following these five tips, you can ensure that your cacti stay happy, watered, and well-fed.

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