Plantshed Blog

Nurture Your Nature: Cacti

Nurture Your Nature: Cacti

Author: C. W.

The striking cactus needs no introduction. It’s renowned for its fleshy appearance, and it also happens to make an incredible houseplant. Cacti are low-maintenance plants, making them ideal even for novices. Adding a touch of eclecticism and bohemian charm to any living space, they evoke a sense of tranquility and have the potential to last for years and years.

Even better? From a decorative standpoint, they add character to any space. Some are downright prickly characters, with their telltale spiny segments, while some have decidedly smoother finishes that make them a friendlier choice for parents and pet owners.

Cacti are succulents, distinguishable for their moisture-loving roots, leaves, and stems. Because they’re so good at holding onto water, they don’t require much rain to survive — so in a desert-dry environment, yours is sure to hold up well so long as you provide it with some occasional TLC.

Bring the Heat

It’s the unique structure of the cactus that makes it perform so well in arid climates. Those thick and abundant stems have tough, waxy, highly durable skin. Because they’re so rigid, they prevent evaporation. Your job is simply to nurture them by creating an environment that replicates their natural desert home. That begins with an ample dose of sunlight. Your cactus will soak it up!

But exert some caution, too — for all of the sun time that cacti crave, they can also suffer burns if they spend too much time in direct light behind the glass. You can usually tell that’s the case if your plant starts to display signs of brown or yellow discoloration in the affected area. Move the plant away temporarily so that it can cool off.

The Moisture Factor

Just how much water does a plant that already stores so much in its structure need? Turns out you need to strike the right balance to keep your cactus happy. Water your plant regularly — weekly is best when it’s appropriately positioned in a suitably sunny spot. Before you do, though, check the condition of the soil by pressing your finger into the material. It should be completely dry so that the roots don’t suffer oversaturation, which could ultimately lead to rot.

As a general rule of thumb, the soil should be a bit drier. Keep up this routine during the warmer months, but slow it down during wintertime, when the plant enters its dormant period. During this time of year, make sure that your plant continues to receive enough sunlight, but avoid overwatering.

A Little Love

Plants are a little like people. They thrive under the right conditions, and some extra love can go a long way in helping them soar. That includes a nutritious diet — but do you really need to fertilize your cactus? It’s a good idea if you want to keep that beauty in great shape for years to come. Just as you would any other houseplant, add some fertilizer to keep it strong, healthy, and vital.

Look for a product that contains higher phosphorus content; it will contribute to more powerful roots that allow your plant to thrive. Balance is the key; an all-around 5-10-5 fertilizer provides just what it needs. Applying it at least annually is a safe bet. Just as you avoid overwatering, do the same where your fertilizer is concerned. Too much of anything can be detrimental to the cactus. With just a little effort on your part, your prickly plant has the potential to last for years.