So you’re new to the world of cacti? Get ready to get obsessed. You’ll purchase one, then another, and then another. However, before you go completely cactus crazy, you need to learn a few cactus care tips for beginners so that your plants stay healthy, happy, and gorgeous.
Cacti are wonderful since they are low-maintenance and require little upkeep. As a result, they make excellent beginner houseplants. They’re categorized as succulents, which means their stems can hold a lot of water, which explains why they can live in hot climes and have lush appearances.
We’ve compiled our top 8 key cactus care guidelines for beginners to help you get started on your cactus travels. If you’re looking for little cactus care, you can also read our post on how to care for miniature cactus!
If you’re looking for novice succulent care or Christmas cactus care, we’ve got you covered!
Beginner’s guide on cactus maintenance
Most of you will probably choose a tiny cactus because they are cute and can be used both inside and outside the house. The basic cactus growth recommendations will remain the same regardless of the size of the plant you purchase.
Choose the best cactus containers
To begin our beginner’s cactus care advice, we’ll start at the beginning with selecting the best cactus pots. You might be as startled as we were to learn that the sort of pot you choose to grow your cactus in requires some thinking. Primarily, you’ll want to consider two factors: material and size. After you’ve worked everything out, you can start thinking about aesthetics.
So, what is the finest material for a cactus pot?
Clay is a natural material
Because clay pots drain rapidly, they are always a winner. Cactuses absorb water, but it must be allowed to drain so that the water does not harm or rot the roots. Clay pots also make it simple to evaluate the moisture content of the soil since the pot darkens as the water is absorbed. Clay planters are frequently less expensive than other types of planters, and they come in a range of colors to complement your home style.
If you have an outside cactus, wooden planters are ideal since they can store water for lengthy periods of time and do not rot in cold weather. They’re also lovely in the garden. The main disadvantage of a wooden cactus planter is that it is susceptible to decay over time, which might harm your lovely cacti. However, this may be readily remedied by enclosing your planter with a plastic sheet.
Use Plastic Material
Plastic pots are a fantastic medium to put your cactus in since they are convenient, inexpensive, and commonly accessible. Plastic pots are available in a wide range of colors, designs, and sizes, and they look great in any house. They may be used again and again, and they survive longer than clay or wood pots. The only disadvantage is that they might discolor if left out in the sun. We recommend applying it just for indoor plants.
After you’ve decided on a material, you may start thinking about the size
What size cactus pot should I buy?
Fortunately, when you buy a cactus, it generally comes with a sticker on the side that tells you how big of a planter you’ll need. They do this because there should still be enough area in the pot for natural development.
You don’t want a cactus pot that is too small to allow the roots to grow freely, but you also don’t want one that is too huge to cause overwatering. As a general guideline, the distance between the main body of the cactus and the end of the pot’s rim should be 14 inches. When picking a cactus pot, size and depth are also important factors to consider.
You should leave just a tiny amount of additional room on each side and roughly 1 – 2 inches at the bottom for development. A container that is too large may weaken the roots, causing your cactus to droop or shrink, prompting you to wonder, “why has my cactus gone floppy?” or “why is my cactus squishy?”
Tips for novices on how to care for cactus plants and how to choose plant pots
Choose the best cactus potting soil
So you’ve got your planter figured out. Choosing the ideal potting soil for your cactus is the next step in our cactus care guidelines. You’ll need soil that drains well while also providing all of the nutrients your plants require.
A mixture of porous inorganic material and a smaller proportion of fast-drying organic media will provide the finest potting soil for cactus. The first will ensure drainage, while the second will provide water and nutrients to the roots when they are required.
Sand is a popular drainage soil, but you may also use gravel, grit, or granite as an alternative. We recommend coco coir or peat moss for organic media.
If you don’t feel like making your own cactus soil, there are lots of nutritious, ready-to-use cactus soil options available — just check for the elements listed above, and you’ll be fine. It’s also critical to have well-draining soil, otherwise, you risk attracting pests and parasites
When should you water your cactus?
Now for the third and maybe most misunderstood cactus care advice. Many people assume that you can leave your cactus without water for months, but this is just not true. Even while cacti and succulents’ stems and leaves are intended to absorb water, it doesn’t imply they can survive without it.
In fact, there’s a good chance they won’t. Overwatering may stunt growth or kill your cactus, while underwatering will cause shriveling. You must strike a balance between doing too little and too much.
Summer and spring
Water your houseplant once a week throughout the warmer months. Soak your potting soil well before allowing the excess water to drain. Before rewatering, let the soil dry out gradually. You don’t want it to be entirely dry. The majority of cacti flower in the spring, but how often do they bloom?
Autumn and winter are two distinct seasons
You’ll want to give your cactus a break throughout the winter and autumn. Make sure that the soil is entirely dry in between waterings. Depending on the climate, this might take anywhere from two weeks to a month.
Use the finest cactus fertilizer
Cacti don’t need to be fed very often, but when they do, you’ll want to use the best cactus fertilizer available. Strong fertilizers may create difficulties, so use a quarter or half-strength fertilizer instead. Make sure it’s low in nitrogen and soluble in water.
Fertilizing your cactus is only necessary during the growing season, and even then, it should be done sparingly. You should only fertilize your plant once, either immediately before or at the start of the growing season. If you’re wondering how to make cactus grow quicker, fertilizing can assist!
A good cactus care tip is to keep in mind that too much fertilizer can actually do more harm than good, so be cautious. To make a gallon of water, combine one teaspoon of your cactus-feeding mixture with one gallon of water. Start slowly, and if you don’t get any results, you may always add a little more fertilizer later.
Is it necessary for a cactus to receive sunlight?
If you’re wondering whether or not a cactus need sunshine, the answer is yes! Another helpful cactus tidbit. Because most cacti are native to hot desert climates, you’ll want to make sure your indoor plant is getting enough sunshine to develop and bloom. Sunburn, on the other hand, can cause your cactus to become white if it receives too much sunshine. If your plant is near a window, it should be rotated on a regular basis.
A south-facing window is great since it provides the most sunshine to the cactus. If a cactus doesn’t get enough light, it might develop a variety of issues. Discoloration is one of the most common telltale indicators.
The purple, yellow, and pink cactus will return to plain green, while the magnificent deep green cactus will start to turn light green. You’ll also observe unusual growth patterns, which may appear to be smaller than the rest of the plant. This is referred to as etiolation.
If your cactus is becoming black, it might be due to temperature shock as well! If you want your cactus to grow, you should give it at least 4 to 6 hours of sunshine every day.
On the cactus, there are pests
You can notice that your houseplant has been afflicted with bugs on occasion. Mealybugs and spider mites are the most frequent pests you’ll discover on your cactus. Because these pests are tiny and hide in locations where they are difficult to observe, controlling and removing them from assaults can be challenging. To keep them safe, they’ll usually be covered in cotton.
So, what cactus care advice do you have for keeping your plant pest-free?
Mealybugs travel quickly from plant to plant, so once you’ve seen them, you’ll want to act quickly to get rid of them for good. They like to eat your cacti’s new growth, and you’ll find them in all the nooks and crevices of your plant. They have a whitish substance to them and are difficult to see. We can’t say for sure what attracts mealybugs to cactus, but we do know that overwatering and overfertilizing have an impact.
Try dabbing the white material and bugs with a cotton bud covered in denatured alcohol if you’re seeking for a natural way to get rid of mealybugs. Do this as often as necessary to eliminate all of the bugs, with a check every three weeks.
Imidacloprid, on the other hand, is a fantastic chemical solution. This chemical is less hazardous to animals than other choices and is effective against mealybugs. During vigorous development, you should hydrate your cactus with Imidacloprid once every few months.
If you have spider mites on your cactus, you’ll notice that they limit development and harm the plant by draining the fluids. They are small brown insects that resemble brown dust to the naked eye. They’re difficult to spot since they’re so little. You’ll find them in colonies, and you’ll probably notice the little webs they spin to keep predators at bay before you discover the mite itself.
To get rid of spider mites, use a decent miticide and carefully follow the directions. If you’re seeking a natural cure, neem oil is a good option. Neem oil must be applied as well because spider mites get under the plants.
Tips for growing cactus
Although cactuses are low-maintenance and don’t require frequent repotting, it’s crucial to know when you’ll need to do so. The most typical reasons for repotting your cactus are soil replenishment and the requirement for a larger pot.
If you’re unsure when to repot a cactus, a good rule of thumb is to repot when the roots begin to emerge from the bottom of the container. When you see roots, it’s time to move on to the next pot size. Cactus want to be tucked away and may thrive for years in the same container, so be sure you’re just moving up one size.
When your cactus is actively growing, it is the optimum time to repot it. If you don’t use fertilizer, you should consider repotting every two years to replenish the soil.
There are several cactus care advice available, but one thing to keep in mind is to always use gloves while repotting a cactus. You don’t want your spiky pal to cause you any harm.
Perhaps not care advice per, but if you have a cactus plant, propagation should be front of mind! Plant propagation is the process of propagating your cactus by cuttings. It’s a fantastic way to expand your collection while also saving money.
The nice thing about cactus is that it is well renowned for their ease of propagation. Cactus propagation is simple and may be accomplished in a variety of ways, including division and cuttings.
If you simply want to replicate a few plants or if the plant has grown overloaded, the division is a fantastic option. It’s simply the process of dividing and repotting your present plant with the root ball.
Because most succulents root easily from their leaves, cuttings are the most frequent method of replication. Cutting occurs when a section of the plant’s root, stem, or leaf is removed and encouraged to develop in favorable conditions. Before replanting, make sure the cutting is completely dried. This is popular since it is inexpensive, effective, and produces effects rapidly.
So there you have it, the eight most important cactus care advice for newbies. I understand that this is a lot of information, but if you follow these guidelines, your cactus collection will quickly develop and flourish into something lovely. Cactus are excellent houseplants for beginners since they require little upkeep and are simple to care for.