How To Grow Cactus : The Ultimate Guide

How To Grow Cactus: The Ultimate Guide

Cacti make amazing indoor house plants, thanks to their impeccable beauty and low maintenance. Although these prickly pears add charm to the household, it is not very easy to grow them.

Especially if you’re an aspiring horticulturist, you may find it tricky to grow cacti indoors. So, how to grow Cactus from scratch?

You can grow cacti through different methods, including propagation by stem cuttings, seeds, offshoots, and even grafting. All you will need is a sunlit spot, some cactus compost, and patience.

So, if you’re interested in discovering about growing cacti indoors in full swing, keep reading till the end!

Where to Grow Cactus?

Do you know where cacti grow the most? Deserts!

Where to Grow Cactus

Cacti are the most common xerophytic plants that exist in the world. They belong to the Cactaceae plant family, which is popular for growing in arid environments.

Most cacti species grow in regions with insufficient rainfall, plenty of sunlight, minimum moisture, and high temperatures.

However, you will find some members of the succulent family growing in rainforests and humid environments. Cacti also require strong drainage to thrive.

So, if you’re planning to plant a cactus indoors, you need to pick a place where you can provide all the mentioned facilities in some way. An ideal pick would be a windowsill, preferably one which faces the south or east.

Keep the plant at a moderate distance where enough light can enter- not too low and not too high. Remember that putting them under direct sunlight can be bad for the plant, so refrain from doing so.

When Is Cactus Growing Season?

The Cactus is a summer plant. The ideal growing period for cacti is from March to September.

When Is Cactus Growing Season

Cacti growth remains highly accelerated during these months. On the other hand, these plants become dormant in the colder months, i.e., during fall and winter.

However, even during the colder months, they should be given minimum water to prevent them from shriveling.

Cacti favor hot temperatures, ranging from 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit with a humidity level of 40-60%. In the winter, they can withstand temperatures up to 37 degrees. Some species can adapt to 35 degrees Fahrenheit as well!

How to Grow Cactus from Seed

If you’re wondering how to grow Cactus indoors from seeds, here are some easy steps:

How to Grow Cactus from Seed

Step 1: Prepare the Pot

Take a porous pot and replenish it with moist, sandy compost to plant the cactus seeds. Flatten the surface and make it even before scattering your cactus seeds on that.

Step 2: Secure and Moisture the Seeds

Take some vermiculite and smear a fine layer over the surface where you’ve planted the seeds. Do not leave any space within the sandy compost, and level the surface with your hands properly.

Place the pot on a windowsill, preferably facing south, and enclose it with a transparent plastic bag. This will secure your plant and allow moisture to lock in.

Step 3: Monitor and Maintain

It will take 3-4 weeks at least for the seedlings to emerge. Check the compost every week to make sure it has dried down. Once it’s dry, spray some water regularly until the seedlings develop completely.

Step 4: Safely Transfer Seedlings to Individual Pots

Once the seedlings have popped up, take them out separately with the help of a spoon and move them to their respective pots.

Make sure you wear gloves when you’re doing this step, as you might hurt your fingers by catching those sharp spikes.

Step 5: Create the Best Environment

Take more porous pots and fill them with compost mixed with sand, gravel, and pumice. You can customize your cactus compost however you want; just make sure that it is free-draining. Smoothen out the surface and plant the cactus seedlings in a suitable position.

Water them adequately and place them on a windowsill where they can get enough sunlight. And your cacti are ready to flourish!

How to Grow Cactus from Cuttings

Although most people prefer growing cacti through seeds, an alternative option is to grow them from stem cuttings. Let’s have a look at how to grow Cactus outdoors as well as indoors through cuttings-

How to Grow Cactus from Cuttings

Step 1: Prepare the Stem Cutting

Select a healthy stem cutting from an existing plant and allow it to dry and harden down. Once it’s callous, clean it properly and leave them on a window ledge to allow the healing of the cut margins.

Step 2: Plant the Stem Cutting

Take a porous pot and fill it with mixed cactus compost. Place the base of the stem cutting and shove it to a depth of 2-2.5 cm. Keep it at an upright position and smoothen the surface of the compost around it.

Step 3: Watering and Maintenance

Provide abundant water to the planted stem and place it on a windowsill facing east or south. Unlike the former method, refrain from covering it with a plastic bag. Check the compost regularly to see if it’s dry, and water every now and then to keep it moist. Once the cuttings start to root, water them liberally.

Different Types of Indoor Cactus Plants

There are different varieties of indoor cactus plants to choose from. Here are some of the most beautiful and popular ones that homeowners can plant in their homes:

1. ‘Opuntia Albispina’ (Bunny Ears or Angel Wings Cactus)

The Bunny Ears or Angel Wings Cactus is the most common indoor Cactus that most people like planting in their living spaces.

Opuntia Albispina

It is usually 2-3 feet in height and can be accommodated in the living room or by the work desk. Its stunning features include faded yellow flowers and pale red fruits.

2. ‘Mammillaria Plumosa’ (Feather Cactus)

If you want something different for your home, the feather cactus can be an excellent choice.

Mammillaria Plumosa

Known for its stunning feather-like spines, this plant is an incredible flowering plant. It has pale white flowers with specks of yellow that make it look like clouds with sunshine peeping through.

 3. ‘Schlumbergera Buckley’ (Christmas Cactus)

The Christmas cactus is one of the prettiest houseplants out there owing to its beautiful tubular flowers that come in pink, orange, and white colors. It is devoid of spikes and has stunning leaves, making it a unique indoor plant.

Schlumbergera Buckley

4. ‘Carnegiea Gigantea’ (Saguaro Cactus)

If you want a large cactus houseplant to make a bold expression, this one is a catch. It grows more than 8 meters in terms of height and has wide branches that make it look exquisite.

Carnegiea Gigantea

Are Cacti Easy to Take Care Of?

Unlike other houseplants, cacti do not take much of your time for grooming. Caring for a cactus can be an easy job if you make sure that it has been placed in a favorable environment.

Are Cacti Easy to Take Care Of

A well-built pot with sufficient drainage holes, effective soil mix, watering, moderate lighting, and fertilization with the right balance of NPK will do the job.

Cacti pick up dirt and grime from time to time, so it does require a bit of weekly cleaning. Just wipe the dust off the stems and leaves with a clean, dry cloth, and you’re good to go.

Bugs and mites can also be a nuisance when you have a succulent houseplant. These insects can be detrimental to the plant and should be thus taken care of immediately.

Talk to your local pest control and introduce a safe and effective pesticide ideal for your Cactus.

Apart from taking care of its surroundings, you should also pay attention to the plant itself.

Adopting a plant is a big responsibility, and you should devote your time and attention to finding out what your plant is like. Before buying a cactus, try to discover what species it belongs to, as each species has its own requirements.

Once you start learning what each species of Cactus is like, the entire process will become easier for you.

Some species prefer more ventilation, while some favor higher temperatures to thrive. You can take better care of your succulent friends once you get to know what they’re like.

What Do Cactuses Need to Survive?

Just like any other houseplant, a cactus needs the basics to go on. Here are some of the essentials that cacti need to survive as an indoor houseplant-

What Do Cactuses Need to Survive

1.   Light

A cactus cannot grow well without sunlight. The amount of light it needs varies from one species to another.

However, it is advisable to keep these succulents under moderate sunlight as exposure to high-intensity light for a long time can be detrimental to the plant.

2.   Air

No plant can survive without adequate ventilation. The same applies to cacti. A cactus can thrive well in an aerated space where it can consume carbon dioxide and release oxygen unchallenged.

3.   Water

Most people assume that cacti are desert plants, so they do not require watering at all. This is a wrong concept, and it can cause the death of your succulent in a short time.

Cacti need just as much watering as any other plant to stay vibrant and alive. However, too much watering can also cause the roots to decay rapidly. So, make sure that you’re underwatering or overwatering your cacti.

Once a week or in 10 days during the warmer seasons and once every 2 weeks during the colder seasons is good.

4.   Drainage

Without sufficient drainage facilities, your Cactus cannot survive. Just make sure to introduce a pot with drainage holes at its base to ensure adequate drainage.

5.   Nutrients

Like most houseplants, cacti also need abundant fertilizers to grow well. Just stick to fertilizing your succulents during their growth phase, and you’ll be good to go.

Final Words

Bringing it to an end, it can be said that no plant can grow without love, patience, and time.

The same applies to cacti. If you’re capable of providing a favorable environment for cacti to germinate, they will grow beautifully and emerge as the most charming houseplants ever.

References:

  • https://aggie-hort.tamu.edu/databases/cactus/growingcactus/

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