Caring for your Cactus
Hardly anyone is a stranger to (ironically) one of the cutest plants around - the Cactus! Despite their general spiky appearance, the miniature size of most homegrown varieties makes them ideal plants to spruce up your desk. Although often associated with the desert, Cacti fall into 2 broad groups - desert cacti, which are usually covered in spines, and rainforest cacti, which do not have spines and are epiphytic in nature. As such, not all Cacti will thrive in the exact same environment, but once you've managed to figure it out, your Cactus will be a loyal prickly companion for years!
As most Cacti originate from deserts, it's no surprise that they love the sun! They do well in ample sunlight, however there is a possibility that they might get scorched. If so, just turn them around so allow the scorched side to recover, or move them to an area with more shade.
It's a common misconception that Cacti do not need to be watered much. Water is paramount to a Cactus' growth, although they can be relatively drought-resistant. As a general guide, water your Cactus weekly if you live in a bright sunny climate. Just ensure that the soil has a chance to dry out between each watering, and that the pot you choose allows for good drainage. If the soil does not drain well or is kept waterlogged, root rot will start to manifest, which will be very troublesome to deal with.
Cacti do not need to be repotted frequently, but you should repot them when their roots start sticking out of their drainage holes. This would normally take about 2 years for fast-growing varieties and 3 years for slow-growing ones.
If your Cactus is spiky and can possibly pierce your skin, a safe option would be to use kitchen tongs to gently handle it. It's easiest to repot when the soil is dry so that everything slips out of the pot easily. Dust off the soil and place your Cactus in fresh Cacti potting mix at the same depth it was at before. Remember to use a pot that's at least 2 inches larger in diameter, so that your Cactus' roots have space to grow.
If you're not confident in doing this yourself, or want it in a fresh new fancy pot, you can engage a repotting service.
If you'd like to get your cactus growing, fertiliser can help it go a long way. You can incorporate fertiliser into regular watering when you're trying to encourage growth, giving it a break and slowly reducing its incorporation when its growth plateaus. There are special fertilisers for Cacti, but you can also use regular fertiliser if you can't get your hands on any.
There are many different ways to propagate Cacti. You can grow Cacti from seeds, however this is a tedious and long-drawn process. Most commonly, home plant owners propagate their Cacti via stem-cutting or offshoots (buds).
Stem-cutting involves cutting parts of the stem of your Cactus and allowing it to dry, which is when roots will start to grow from the cut end. When roots have grown, you can pot them as per usual.
Alternatively, offshoots (buds) of Cacti can simply be removed to be placed in new potting mix, and it will start to grow on its own. Different types of Cacti require different propagation methods, so it's best to find information specific to the Cactus that you have.
Turning yellow or brown on the side facing the sun: Scorched by the sun! Let it cool down in a different spot.
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