How To Care For Cactus Plants

Learn how to grow and care for a cactus plant. Includes tips on climate, watering and fertilizing.

Cactus plants, cacti in plural form, come in various shapes and sizes. People are drawn to cactus plants because they are quite easy to care for and do not require much attention Cactus plants are succulents,which means they store water in their thick, fleshy leaves. When choosing a cactus plant for your home you

need to know the growing conditions and water needs. Other things to know are how to plant and propagate the cacti. It is easy to learn how to care for a cactus plant.

Cactus plants should be planted in a shallow clay pot. Use a sandy soil. Potting soil can be used, but must have sand added to make it more sand than soil. Re-potting should be done in the spring and is necessary if roots are coming out of the bottom of the pot. The cactus can also be re-potted if it is getting too big. The new pot should still be rather shallow and made of clay. Planting is the beginning of introducing the cactus into your home and any mistakes could have an impact on its growth.

Cactus plants need dry air, making them ideal for the low humidity climates of homes with central heating. Keep the cactus in a sunny area where the temperature is fairly warm. At night cacti can stand a temperature as low as 40 to 45 degrees F. Remember that the cactus is native to desert areas that have dry heat during the day and cooler nights. Try to simulate these conditions and the cactus plant will grow good.

Being a plant that self stores water, cacti do not need a lot of water. For those people who easily forget to water their houseplants the cactus is great. They only need occasional watering. During their growth period in the spring and summer the cactus should be watered good to encourage blooming. Let the plant dry out

before watering again. Do not use water that has been run through a softening system as the cactus can not stand salt that will dry it up. In the winter do not water unless the cactus gets a dry, wrinkled look; then water lightly.

Feeding the cactus is also an easy task. Cactus plants need fed a low-nitrogen liquid fertilizer. Do not feed the cactus during its first year of growth. After that first year just add the fertilizer as you would water. Feed it once a month during the growth periods of spring and summer. In the winter dormant period do not

feed at all. Follow the directions on the fertilizer bottle for amounts. Keeping the cactus well-fed will produce a healthier plant with beautiful blooms.

Propagation can be done to give a friend part of your plant or if the cactus is getting overcrowed. To propagate a cactus dig up the smaller growths, called offsets, that have established their own roots. Re-pot

the offset as a new plant. One cactus can become a whole cacti garden with propagation.

As far as houseplants go the cactus is low maintenance. They look wonderful when in bloom and not in bloom. Cactus plants can even be placed outside in the summer months, just watch that the night time temperatures do not get too low. One last tip- remember cacti are prickly so keep them up out of reach of house pets and children. Follow these simple guidelines and you can have a lovely cactus plant in your


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