Tips for Caring for Cacti & Succulents
Cacti & Succulents are some of the easiest plants to care for in the home. Here are some tips to help keep your desert dwelling friends happy and thriving all year long:
Light & Location
- Minimum 4 hours of bright, direct sunlight per day, the more the better. Ideally a south or west facing window or an insulated sunroom.
- Place your pots outdoors for July and August; slowly introduce them to the elements to reduce the risk of sunburn or stress.
- 18 to 20°C (average home temperature) is ideal.
- Can tolerate up to 32°C or as low as 15°C; change your watering schedule accordingly.
- Let Cacti and Succulents dry out very well between waterings.
- Soil should be very light in colour, even breaking away from the edge of its pot.
- Pot sizes, light, and temperature will affect your watering schedule; check your pots often.
- Water thoroughly and deeply, ensuring that water comes out the bottom of the pot.
- You may have to water a few times to allow the soil to absorb the moisture.
- Remove any excess water from the saucer within 5 minutes.
1” to 3” pots: ¼ cup of water every 10 to 14 days
6” to 10” pots: About 4 to 6 cups of water once a month
12” pots & larger: 2 to 3 litres of water once a month from March to November, then every 6 to 8 weeks in winter months – check your pots often.
Dish Gardens: Slowly water around each individual plant to ensure all get a good deep drink. Some dish gardens do not have drainage holes so water carefully!
The most common issue for cacti and succulents is over-watering.
Never allow Cacti or Succulents to sit in water.
- Once in spring, once in summer (during their growing seasons).
- Use Cactus fertilizer or an all-purpose fertilizer used at half-strength.
- Prune when Cacti or Succulents get too tall/too leggy/become top-heavy.
- Always use a sharp, clean knife or pruners.
- Cut will bleed white sap which contains latex; wear protection and exercise caution when handling cuttings.
- Cut will scab over, and future branches or “arms” can eventually appear at the site.
- Cacti & Succulents grow best when pot-bound; too large a pot can cause root rot as soil will not dry out evenly.
- Ideal time to repot is during Spring and Summer when Cacti & Succulents are actively growing.
- When there is more root than soil, go up by 1 pot size and ensure new pot has drainage hole.
- Lay Cacti on its side on top of layers of newspaper.
- Use barbeque tongs to avoid spines, and gently ease the plant out of its pot.
- Place new pot upright, add a few inches of Succulent and Cactus soil to the bottom.
- Using tongs/multiple layers of newspaper/protective gloves, lift your Cactus into the new pot, ensuring it is centered and stable; may need to add or take away Cactus soil.
- Hold Cactus upright with one hand (with tongs/gloves) and use other to fill in spaces with Succulent and Cactus soil, packing down as you go.
- Place pot back in its bright, direct light location and water in thoroughly.
- Same steps as Cacti, less need for tongs or other protective equipment.
- For trailing Succulents (Burro’s Tail, String of Pearls, etc.) ensure plants are very very dry before repotting; reduces risk of excessive leaf droppage.