All Posts   Posted:   February 21, 2019

As far as indoor plants are concerned, succulents have been very popular for quite some time now; finally, we are seeing their spiny relatives begin to share the spotlight – Cool, crazy looking cactus varieties are becoming more readily available at our garden centers! Cacti are a type of succulent and require similar conditions and care – the most important elements for indoor cactus & succulent survival comes down to bright light and mostly dry, well-draining soil with only occasional watering. Few types are considered tolerant of partial sun or low-light conditions (Aloe, Haworthia, Gasteria & Rhipsalis) such as a north facing windowsill however most plants will perform better if grown with a southern exposure (especially during winter months); east or west-facing windows are also good spots for succulents & cactus.

Honestly, growing indoor cacti and succulents can either be the easiest or most difficult thing for a plant-lover to do… mostly because the best thing to do is practically nothing.

These plants come from extreme environments and are adapted to harsh desert conditions so naturally in your house they thrive with very little care from you at all. If given adequate lighting and watered sparingly, many cactus plants will live for decades – giving you years of enjoyment and providing your home with a unique and living piece of art.

Basic care needs for most indoor Cacti & Succulents:

  • Light: bright light/southern exposure. Many cactus/succulent plants will benefit from spending time outdoors during mild summer months and will often thank you by flowering once they are brought back in the house before cold temps return; if taking plants outside, be sure to acclimate them slowly to outdoor conditions especially full sun to avoid sunburn and keep it from getting regular soakings from rain or landscape irrigation sprinklers. Root-rot is the most common cause of death for most cactus and succulents usually done-in by good intentions and our love of watering combined with lack of light.
  • Soil: fast-draining potting soil is essential (look for specialized potting mix for Cactus & Succulents) or add generous amounts of pumice to potting soil
  • Water: allow soil to dry out between watering, do not allow plant to sit in water; average watering March-September (active growth season) should be about twice a month, October-February should be done about once per month (even less frequently if in lower light or higher humidity); many succulents will show their need for water by developing a slightly puckered leaf when dry – leaves may look mushy or darker colored if overwatered.
  • Fertilizer: only occasional fertilizing may be necessary if at all; be sure to use fertilizer formulated specifically for cacti or at least one with low nitrogen levels and always dilute to about ½ strength or less (feed only March-Sept)
  • Container:
    • Ideal container should have at least one drainage hole – un-glazed ceramic pots will also allow soil moisture to evaporate more quickly than completely glazed pots; if container has no drainage hole use rocks and charcoal in bottom of pot and water with extreme reservation – do not allow roots to sit in water or soggy-soil!
    • Instead of using a drainage saucer underneath the pot I like to use low-profile cork mats, consider moving the plant to a sink for its monthly or bi-monthly watering and setting it on a cork surface protector once it has dripped dry and returned to its normal location
    • Most cacti have small, shallow roots so there is no need for them to be potted into very large containers; it is often best to wait until spring before repotting and then only increase pot size by 1-2” depth/diameter if necessary
  • Pests: Although these plants are amazingly tough, there are still a few pests and diseases that can cause concern:Common pests are mealybugs, scale and spider mites (all pests that can also bother other indoor plants so you may already be familiar with them); it is wise to inspect your plants regularly to be able to catch a potential problem early and have the best chance of overcoming it. I often use a bright flashlight and a large magnifying glass to inspect my plants for insects – it might sound extreme, but I highly recommend it – if you think plants look cool from a distance, you have got to see them through magnification! Wow, cactus spines, wow!! 
  • Handle with Care: Some cactus spines are sharper than others and some are even hooked or barbed at the end; they can be painful and difficult to extract from you your child or your pet! I am not sure why, but children are drawn to cactus plants; many have been tempted to test the sharpness of spines with their tiny tender fingertips which ultimately leads to tears and a good lesson. If you need to handle your cactus plant for the purpose of repotting or some other reason use extreme caution and heavy protection. In addition to thorn-proof gloves you can wrap a heavy cloth (like canvas or old denim) around larger cactus or, for smaller plants, try folding up several layers of sturdy paper towel to give you enough length to wrap around the sharp plant, twist towel ends together to hold on securely while you work with the plant.

The diverse world of cacti offers a wide range of plant shapes, colors, habits and bloom styles as well as spines of many different shapes, colors or arrangements. Many cactus types are slow-growing but some grow more rapidly, and several can reach heights of 4-6’ or even up to 8 feet indoors. If you are interested in starting a cactus garden indoors or adding to your current collection, our selection changes constantly so it is best to stop in often to see what has newly arrived!

As far as indoor plants are concerned, succulents have been very popular for quite some time now; finally, we are seeing their spiny relatives begin to share the spotlight – Cool, crazy looking cactus varieties are becoming more readily available at our garden centers! Cacti are a type of succulent and require similar conditions and care – the most important elements for indoor cactus & succulent survival comes down to bright light and mostly dry, well-draining soil with only occasional watering. Few types are considered tolerant of partial sun or low-light conditions (Aloe, Haworthia, Gasteria & Rhipsalis) such as a north facing windowsill however most plants will perform better if grown with a southern exposure (especially during winter months); east or west-facing windows are also good spots for succulents & cactus.

Honestly, growing indoor cacti and succulents can either be the easiest or most difficult thing for a plant-lover to do… mostly because the best thing to do is practically nothing.

These plants come from extreme environments and are adapted to harsh desert conditions so naturally in your house they thrive with very little care from you at all. If given adequate lighting and watered sparingly, many cactus plants will live for decades – giving you years of enjoyment and providing your home with a unique and living piece of art.

Basic care needs for most indoor Cacti & Succulents:

  • Light: bright light/southern exposure. Many cactus/succulent plants will benefit from spending time outdoors during mild summer months and will often thank you by flowering once they are brought back in the house before cold temps return; if taking plants outside, be sure to acclimate them slowly to outdoor conditions especially full sun to avoid sunburn and keep it from getting regular soakings from rain or landscape irrigation sprinklers. Root-rot is the most common cause of death for most cactus and succulents usually done-in by good intentions and our love of watering combined with lack of light.
  • Soil: fast-draining potting soil is essential (look for specialized potting mix for Cactus & Succulents) or add generous amounts of pumice to potting soil
  • Water: allow soil to dry out between watering, do not allow plant to sit in water; average watering March-September (active growth season) should be about twice a month, October-February should be done about once per month (even less frequently if in lower light or higher humidity); many succulents will show their need for water by developing a slightly puckered leaf when dry – leaves may look mushy or darker colored if overwatered.
  • Fertilizer: only occasional fertilizing may be necessary if at all; be sure to use fertilizer formulated specifically for cacti or at least one with low nitrogen levels and always dilute to about ½ strength or less (feed only March-Sept)
  • Container:
    • Ideal container should have at least one drainage hole – un-glazed ceramic pots will also allow soil moisture to evaporate more quickly than completely glazed pots; if container has no drainage hole use rocks and charcoal in bottom of pot and water with extreme reservation – do not allow roots to sit in water or soggy-soil!
    • Instead of using a drainage saucer underneath the pot I like to use low-profile cork mats, consider moving the plant to a sink for its monthly or bi-monthly watering and setting it on a cork surface protector once it has dripped dry and returned to its normal location
    • Most cacti have small, shallow roots so there is no need for them to be potted into very large containers; it is often best to wait until spring before repotting and then only increase pot size by 1-2” depth/diameter if necessary
  • Pests: Although these plants are amazingly tough, there are still a few pests and diseases that can cause concern:Common pests are mealybugs, scale and spider mites (all pests that can also bother other indoor plants so you may already be familiar with them); it is wise to inspect your plants regularly to be able to catch a potential problem early and have the best chance of overcoming it. I often use a bright flashlight and a large magnifying glass to inspect my plants for insects – it might sound extreme, but I highly recommend it – if you think plants look cool from a distance, you have got to see them through magnification! Wow, cactus spines, wow!! 
  • Handle with Care: Some cactus spines are sharper than others and some are even hooked or barbed at the end; they can be painful and difficult to extract from you your child or your pet! I am not sure why, but children are drawn to cactus plants; many have been tempted to test the sharpness of spines with their tiny tender fingertips which ultimately leads to tears and a good lesson. If you need to handle your cactus plant for the purpose of repotting or some other reason use extreme caution and heavy protection. In addition to thorn-proof gloves you can wrap a heavy cloth (like canvas or old denim) around larger cactus or, for smaller plants, try folding up several layers of sturdy paper towel to give you enough length to wrap around the sharp plant, twist towel ends together to hold on securely while you work with the plant.

The diverse world of cacti offers a wide range of plant shapes, colors, habits and bloom styles as well as spines of many different shapes, colors or arrangements. Many cactus types are slow-growing but some grow more rapidly, and several can reach heights of 4-6’ or even up to 8 feet indoors. If you are interested in starting a cactus garden indoors or adding to your current collection, our selection changes constantly so it is best to stop in often to see what has newly arrived!