Cacti are typically associated with arid desert plants. However, this isn’t always the case because one can find cacti in various habitats. Cacti are highly valued because they are tolerant of abuse and have a laid-back disposition.
Owning a cactus is one way I add more green to my home and workplace. If you’re like me, you might still make a few mistakes or get confused when watering cactus plants. However, this guide will help you. The best types of water to use, the essential considerations, when to water, how to water, and cures for over- and under-watered cacti are all covered.
Factors To Consider Before Watering Your Cactus
There is a misconception that cacti don’t need water, but the reverse is the case. A cactus plant needs proper watering to thrive, which is essential to its growth. Although watering is a simple process, you need to pay attention to when, how, and factors to consider before watering to hydrate your cacti properly and have them thrive without plant diseases.
When you know the factors to consider, you could grow more beautiful and healthy plants in your home or workplace. The factors you should consider are:
- Size Of Potting Container
The amount of watering succulents depends on the size of your potting container. Small, shallow pots typically evaporate and drain water more quickly than larger, wider ones. Cacti placed in small containers require more regular watering than in larger pots.
Another element that strongly influences how to water cacti is drainage. The optimum soil for growing cacti has excellent drainage. With proper drainage, overwatering won’t be a problem too often because the earth can remove any extra moisture.
- Humidity And Temperature
The moisture and temperature contribute so much to the needs of a potted cactus plant. High temperatures make the soil dry out quickly, but lower temperatures allow the soil to retain moisture. The faster your soil dries, the sooner you need water.
- Light Conditions
Cacti placed under direct sunlight have different watering needs than their counterparts in shades. When you place your plants in direct sunlight, the soil dries out quickly, which requires more watering. But plants that you put in shades tend to have a lesser watering need as the soil does retain moisture.
- Location Of Your Plant
People overlook this significant factor in watering plants. Indoor Cactus plants have a lower watering need when compared to plants situated outdoors.
- Cactus Type
Different species of cacti exist. Most don’t have true leaves, while others have. They vary in size as well. Some species need watering constantly (e.g., succulent plant Christmas cactus), and others require infrequent watering (e.g., fishbone cactus). These differences affect the way you water your cacti.
A cactus with thinner leaves needs more watering than one with thick leaves. More miniature cacti also need lesser watering compared to bigger ones. Pay attention to these details so you’d know which type of cactus you own and its watering needs.
Most plants (cacti inclusive) tend to grow more actively during the warmer seasons (this is known as the growing season). This makes them need a deep soak to stay vibrant as they grow. During the colder seasons, also known as the resting or dormant period, most cacti are not growing actively. This makes them need occasional watering or when the soil has dried out completely.
When To Water Your Cactus Plant
The differences in cacti’s characteristics and external factors make it hard to know when to water them. But luckily for us, some general rules are applicable when it comes to watering cacti. You must water your cactus plant when the soil is 90% dry. You must monitor the soil’s dryness and the plant’s condition to determine when to water it. You can use a moisture probe or your fingers to assess the soil’s moisture level.
Another rule is that you are to water your plant in the morning. It allows for the reduction of excessive moisture at night, which helps to prevent plant diseases.
How To Water Your Cactus Plant
There are several methods for you to choose from when watering your cactus, but the best is deep watering. Here, you soak the soil thoroughly till water starts draining out from the drainage holes in the pot. If your pot doesn’t have drainage holes, you must re-pot, as cacti are meant to be planted in pots with drainage holes to let the excess water drain out rapidly.
Another method you can apply is watering from the bottom. This technique involves placing your pot in a saucer or any container filled with water. The soil would absorb the water from the bottom and hydrate the roots thoroughly. Leave it for 30 minutes or until the soil is soaked. You can see the moist soil from the top.
No matter the method you use, do not mist your cactus. Cacti don’t like humidity collecting on modified leaves. Water at the base, avoiding watering overhead to prevent plant disease formation.
How Much Water Does Your Cactus Plant Need?
The factors to be considered are what you should be mindful of as it allows you to know the amount of water your plant needs. These factors include humidity and temperature, cactus type and light condition. Pay attention to the factors listed above correctly and water your cactus accordingly. Also, when it comes to the type of water your Cactus needs, not all types of water are best for the plant.
Not all types of water are suitable for a cactus plant. The best option for your cacti is rainwater and distilled water. This type of water has the right amount of minerals in which your plant would thrive. Other types of water also have minerals in them, but they can build up in the soil and affect your plant’s health.
How Often Should You Water Your Plant?
Water the cactus when the soil dries out completely to promote plant growth. You could do this every 10 – 14 days in the warmer seasons. In the colder seasons, potting soil may take longer to dry out completely. Since the plant could be in a resting period, watering should be done every 4 to 6 weeks.
Overwatering And Underwatering Your Plants
This is usually a common issue encountered by beginners, especially overwatering. It occurs because they are unsure about how much water the plant needs. Therefore, it leads to unwanted results that could cause your plant’s demise. Underwatered plants have the following symptoms; pale, dryness in appearance, discolored leaves, withered leaves, and lighter pot weight. When you notice all these, you must water your plants thoroughly, wait for a few days, and watch them return to life.
Overwatered plants have rotting or decayed roots, brown or black leaves, and pump plant appearance. Waterlogging is the effect of overwatering, which isn’t good for plant health.