How to care
for your Cactus
Cacti are members of the Cactaceae family – boasting thousands of species that have made their way into people’s homes one way or another. The most popular Cacti houseplants are categorized into two distinct groups – desert cacti and forest cacti. The former are the spiky ones that Wile E Coyote has a love-hate relationship with, while the latter are ones that grow in rain forests and look quite different than their usually spikey aplomb (i.e., Christmas Cactus). Desert Cacti are the toughest of houseplants – like cockroaches, they’d probably survive nuclear doom – but let’s not find out. Unusual, unique and elegant, you’ll encounter cacti of all shapes and sizes, and they make for lovely housewarming gifts for the novice plant daddy/mommy in the making.
Care Level : Beginner, Expert or Somewhere in the middle.
Cacti – both desert and forest – are easy to care for plants. They’re able to store water in their fleshy tissue (stems, roots or leaves), so they can withstand a lot of neglect.
Desert cacti require strong light to thrive. Some varietals can withstand the full blast of the sun, but we recommend you still place your cacti in an area where it’ll receive a steady stream of bright, indirect light. Forest cacti also like bright indirect light, and you’ll want to be much more mindful of keeping these forest creatures out of direct sun. If your cactus start to yellow, then it’s a clear sign of too much light.
You might think Cacti don’t need much water – but you’re wrong! No gold stars for you. They do have water-storing characteristics that lets them survive in dry habitats, but they still need regular once-a-week watering over their growth months. Let the soil dry out before you give it water. During the winter, you can stop watering Cacti completely until they start showing visible signs of shrivelling – that’s when you should water. Overwatering will stunt their growth, underwatering will cause them to shrink and shrivel. Cacti can also be sensitive to tap water, so we recommend you collect tepid rainwater, use filtered water or leave your tap water out overnight before watering your Cactus.
Cacti prefer low humidity conditions, so it’s unlikely you’ll need to do anything extra here. Just don’t take it with you in the shower and you should be okay.
During their growth period, Cacti prefer hot and dry environments ranging from 21 – 26°C. In the winter, Cacti prefer a cooler environment, withstanding temperatures as low as 12°C. Forest Cacti are more tolerable with their temperature range – they’re comfortable in anything between 12 – 21°C
Cacti are not toxic to pets, but some varietals are very spikey … which should speak for itself.
Other fun facts:
- Ready to learn another Greek word? Cactus originates from the Greek name Kaktos. Kaktos is a Spanish artichoke or the “prickly plant of Sicily” as many in Greece call it.
- Cacti don’t produce leaves, they produce spines! They’re highly modified leaves that prevent water loss by reducing air flow close to the cactus while providing them extra shade.
- Cacti can survive for decades, so if you want a shelf-long reminder of how old you are, consider getting a cactus.
- American rapper, Travis Scott loves Cacti. He launched a new beverage, a Cacti Agave Spiked Seltzer and he has a record label called “Cactus Jack Records”.