The Complete Cactus Care Guide
These prickly plants flourish in harsh conditions like deserts but with the right care, you can build a beautiful cactus oasis of your own! With their gorgeous and unique blooms and fascinating variety of shapes and sizes, cacti are the perfect way to spruce up your home. Growing cacti is not difficult as they are among the toughest of all houseplants.
There are two types of cacti: Desert Cacti and Forest Cacti
Desert cacti are the more "traditional" cacti, usually covered with spines or hair and often growing in clumps, balls, or columns. Forest cacti, also knowns as jungle or tropical cacti, grow in wooded areas, ranging from temperate forests to subtropical and tropical regions. Desert cacti varieties include:
Forest cacti don’t have spines and aren’t able to survive in hostile desert environments. They are often climbing or epiphytic plants that cling to trees and can make excellent hanging plants. The Christmas Cactus, Schlumbergera truncata, is a well-known forest cactus, for example. Jungle cacti varieties include:
- Schlumbergera Truncata (Christmas Cactus)
- Disocactus Anguliger (Zig zag cactus)
Being native to the desert, it’s obvious that desert cacti need lots of light, especially in the winter. In the summer, they should be acclimatized to blazing sun with periodic and gradually increased exposure or else they may get sun burned.
Forest cacti should be treated like tropical plants, enjoying a bright space but not necessarily too much direct sunlight.
During their summer growth period, desert cacti prefer hot and dry conditions. In the winter, when they go dormant, they can handle cooler temperatures, as low as 15 degrees Celsius.
Forest cacti are less finicky with temperature. They’re happy between 15 and 22 Celsius in summer and as low as 12 Celsius in winter.
Desert cacti are actively growing and blooming in the spring and summer time. Water them thoroughly when the soil is completely dry. In the winter, they enter a period of rest. You can pretty much stop watering them in winter. Keep an eye on them and only add water if you see the plants begin to get wrinkly. The most common and deadliest mistake with desert cacti is overwatering in the wintertime.
Treat your Forest cacti pretty much like a tropical plant, watering it normally in summer. During the winter resting period, water it lightly when the top 2-3 cm of soil is dry to the touch.
Desert cacti require fast-draining cactus soil mixture. You can use standard cactus and succulent soil or mix it with substrates like turface, chabasai, perlite, akadama, red lava rocks, black lava rocks and pumice. Set the bottom of your pot with clay pellets or small river stones. You can use cacti fertilizer during the growing season.
Forest cacti can simply use off-the-shelf cactus and succulent soil. You can use cacti fertilizer during the growing season.
It’s important to set up the right environment for your cacti to prosper. Luckily, in your home, it’s easy to set up the right soil, lighting, and temperature right from the start. These easy-care plants will give you years of horticultural pleasure. :-)