Do You Water Cactus From The Top Or Bottom? Here Is The Right Answer!

Do You Water Cactus From The Top Or Bottom

When watering cacti, there is often a debate on whether it’s best to water from the top or the bottom. So, do you water cactus from the top or bottom? Also, what are the benefits of watering cactus from top and bottom and their disadvantages?

While both methods have their merits, bottom watering is considered beneficial for cacti. It involves placing the cactus pot in a tray or saucer filled with water. It allows the plant to soak up the moisture from the bottom.

Bottom water is ideal to avoid overwatering, it promotes deep route for cactus and is easy to perform.

Now, let’s explore top watering vs. bottom watering debate for cactus in today’s article. We will also show you the right way to use bottom watering method for cactus.

What Is Top Watering?

Top watering involves pouring water directly onto the soil surface of the cactus from above. Although it is a convenient method, it can lead to overwatering. Also, it is responsible for mist development and shallow root growth.

What Is Top Watering

Unfortunately, both are detrimental to cacti. The excess water may not be able to drain properly, increasing the risk of root rot and fungal diseases.

What Is Bottom Watering?

On the other hand, in bottom watering you place the cactus pot in a tray or saucer. The tray is filled with water.

What Is Bottom Watering

As a result, the plant draws water through the drainage holes at its own pace. It prevents overwatering as it allows the soil to dry out between watering.

This watering method will mimic the natural conditions of desert environments where cacti thrive. As a result, cactus prefers this natural bottom watering method more.

Top Watering Vs. Bottom Watering: Table With Detail Discussion

Comparative PointTop WateringBottom Watering
Water distributionWater is poured from the top, and excess water drains through the bottom of the pot.Water is absorbed by the roots from the bottom of the pot.
Risk of overwateringHigher risk, as it is harder to gauge the amount of water needed.Lower risk, as excess water drains away.
Root developmentRoots tend to grow shallow, as the water is readily available near the surface.Roots grow deep in search of moisture, resulting in a stronger root system.
Fungal infectionsIncreased risk, as water can splash onto the foliage and create a moist environment.Reduced risk, as water is absorbed from the bottom, keeping the foliage dry.
Mineral buildupMore likely, as water evaporates from the surface, leaving behind mineral deposits.Less likely, as water is absorbed directly into the roots.

Let’s read in detail why Bottom watering is a beneficial technique for cacti –

Promotes healthy root growth

Bottom watering encourages the cactus roots to grow deeper and develop a strong root system. When the water is provided at the bottom, the roots are encouraged to reach down.

It will, thus, absorb moisture from the soil as they naturally would in their native habitats.

Reduces the risk of fungal diseases

 Watering from the bottom minimizes direct contact between the cactus’s stem and moisture, reducing the chances of fungal infections. Fungal diseases can be detrimental to cacti and may lead to rotting if the stem remains moist for extended periods.

Enhances nutrient uptake

It allows water to be absorbed from the bottom. So, the cactus roots can effectively take up nutrients present in the soil. This promotes better nutrient absorption and overall plant health.

Prevents overwatering

Cacti are adapted to arid environments and have specialized water storage structures, such as thick stems or leaves, that help them survive in dry conditions.

Bottom watering allows the cactus to take up only the amount of water it needs, preventing overwatering and the associated issues like root rot.

Preserves the aesthetic appeal

Cacti often have unique and visually appealing features, such as spines, flowers, or intricate shapes. Bottom watering helps maintain the cleanliness and appearance of the cactus by minimizing water contact with the above-ground parts.

It reduces the likelihood of water spots or damage to sensitive structures.

How Do You Bottom Water Your Cactus – Step By Step

Already you know that, bottom watering is preferable over top watering for cactus. Now, let’s see the way to water the cactus from its bottom.

How Do You Bottom Water Your Cactus – Step By Step

Step-1: Select a tray or saucer

Choose a shallow tray or saucer that is larger than the pot your cactus is planted in. Make sure it has drainage holes to prevent water from pooling.

Step-2: Prepare the tray

Place the tray on a flat surface where you can easily access it. Clean the tray thoroughly to remove any dirt or debris.

Step-3: Fill the tray with water

Pour water into the tray, ensuring that it’s deep enough to submerge the base of the cactus pot. However, make sure the water level doesn’t exceed the height of the pot.

Step-4: Place the cactus pot in the tray

Gently place the pot containing the cactus into the tray, ensuring that the water doesn’t overflow. The water should come in contact with the bottom of the pot but not reach the top.

Step-5: Let the cactus soak up water

Allow the cactus to sit in the water for about 30 minutes to an hour. During this time, the soil will gradually absorb the moisture from the bottom through the drainage holes.

Step-6: Remove the cactus from the tray

After the designated time has passed, carefully lift the cactus pot out of the tray. Be cautious not to jostle or damage the plant during the process.

Step-7: Drain excess water

Allow any excess water in the tray to drain away or pour it out. It’s important to avoid leaving the cactus sitting in standing water as it can lead to root rot.

Step-8: Let the soil dry

Place the cactus in a well-ventilated area and allow the soil to dry completely before watering again. Cacti prefer infrequent watering, so ensure the top inch or two of soil is dry before repeating the bottom watering process.

Note:  Remember, different cactus species have varying watering requirements. So, it’s essential to consider the specific needs of your cactus when determining the frequency of bottom watering.


Bottom watering is preferable for its convenience and promotion to cactus health. It will also ensure that cacti are unharmed and grow with minimal maintenance.

So, you should always place the cactus over a pot full of water and let it soak water through its roots. You will love how cactus thrives with this convenient bottom watering method.

However, if you have too many cacti plants, you can choose top watering method. It will ease out your watering labor as you can directly water the cacti soil.




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