Get Your Indoor Cactus Home Now with these Expert Tips
The best types of plants are those that thrive with little care. After all, who doesn’t want to be free of forgetful watering duties and yet still have a blooming plant indoors. Eminent among such kinds of plants is the Cactus.
Known to survive the harshest conditions
Native to desert regions, the Cactus is a rather popular plant as it is easy to grow and care for. All the types and varieties of plants are members of the Cactaceae family, mostly known for their ability to survive even the harshest of conditions.
Known for surviving the hottest seasons, many varieties of cactus can even survive the harshest winters. The Cactus family has thousands of different non-flowering and flowering Cactus.
Top 4 Cactus Plant Benefits
Offers a host of benefits
Unknown to many, the Cactus plant has many benefits to offer. The Cactus has several health benefits to offer, also helping in several other physical and mental aspects. Yes, Cacti are more than just a pretty decoration piece.
Here are some of the many benefits of the Cactus plant.
Better Air Quality: The Cactus, just like other green plants, helps to improve the air quality by absorbing carbon dioxide from the environment and generating oxygen. A study by NASA has also proved that the plant helps to get rid of harmful toxins.
Positive Vibes and Energy: Cacti plants generate positive energy and good vibes in the space that they are placed in. The plant also grows fast, and that too with little care, gives us a feeling of accomplishment, thus making us happier.
Reduces Stress: Having a Cactus plant around helps a person to battle stress. Many studies have proved that indoor cacti plants help to deal with anxiety, dejection, depression, feelings of anger and hostility.
Therapeutic Properties: As most of us already know, talking to plants is a very calming and therapeutic exercise. This plant also benefits from this conversation. As we talk, the plant can easily absorb the carbon dioxide released by us and speed up its growth.
What are the Methods for Cactus Adaptations?
Mostly known for their ability to be able to survive in deserts, Cacti are generally very different in structure from other plants. This happens because the Cacti are more used to the desert environment and thus, are structured to adapt to grow smoothly in the desert region.
Here’s how the Cactus plant can survive in the harshest of conditions, especially deserts.
Not Leaves but Spines: Like the other plants, a Cactus does not have leaves. Instead, the leaves on a Cactus are modified into spines- the prickly stuff on the Cactus. These spines help the plant in a lot of ways, like storing water and preventing it from herbivores.
Specialized Roots: The Cactus plant has shallow roots that allow it to absorb water from the ground easily in deserts. Moreover, tiny roots grow fast during rains to collect water. Any extra water is transported to the stem for storage.
Water Storage: In a Cactus, the function of storing water is mostly performed by the stem. The roots help to collect water from the ground and send the extra water for storage to the stem. The spines prevent the water from evaporating and thus, helps in water retention.
4 Types of Cacti
Popular belief identifies Cactus as being of two different types- desert Cactus and forest Cactus. Yes, that’s pretty accurate but there’s a lot more Cacti varieties.
Here are some of the common types of cactus that are easily found around the world.
- Golden Barrel Cactus
Has a crown on the top
Scientifically referred to as the Echinocactus grusonii, the Golden Barrel Cactus resembles the shape of a globe. The plant also has a crown at the top with woollen whitish hair. The Golden Barrel Cactus grows 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide.
- Prickly Pear Cactus
Known as Opuntia
Hailing from one of the largest Cactus families, the Prickly Pear Cactus is more commonly known as Opuntia. This variety of the Cactus has flat, wide, branching pads that are edible. Hence, it is also known as Paddle Cactus.
- Saguaro Cactus
Native to Sonoran desert
Also known as Carnegiea Gigantea, the Saguaro Cactus originates from the Sonoran desert. The plant is composed of a stem that grows up to 18 to 24 inches in width and can thrive for as long as 200 years, but only with proper care.
- Rhipsalis Cactus
Known as Mistletoe cactus
The Rhipsalis Cactus is popularly known as the Mistletoe Cactus. The plant is generally native to tropical rainforests and is primarily an epiphyte. However, some varieties of this plant are lithophytic, that is, they can grow on rocks.
Other common varieties of Cactus are Bunny Ears Cactus, Christmas Cactus, Fishbone Cactus, Moon Cactus, Pencil Cactus, etc.
Cactus: Characteristics of Leaves
Helpful to retain water
The Cactus doesn’t have leaves, but spines. These spines form a protective layer around the plant, protecting it from being the food of various herbivores. These spines also help to cease evaporation and thus, help the plant retain water
How is Cactus Adapted?
Requires little care to grow
As we know, the Cactus thrives with the littlest care and doesn’t require a lot of our attention. However, here are some conditions that we should ensure for our Cactus to adapt well to the environment indoors.
Potting Soil: The Cactus prefers some well-draining soil to grow in. For this, use some porous soil in the planter, and have it spread out on a layer of broken bricks or gravels, to help extract moisture. Choose a potting soil that is great for Cactus growth. You can find these easily at your nearest store or through various sites online. You can also mix regular potting soil with sand or perlite to create your potting mix.
Sunlight Requirements: Sunlight is an essential need for a majority of the Cactus varieties, especially the desert ones. The desert Cacti can even absorb the harsh bright direct sun rays, especially benefiting them in the winter. The forest Cacti, however, likes bright but indirect sunlight to thrive well. The bright rays of the sun, if falling directly, can severely harm the Forest Cacti.
Water Requirements: The Cactus doesn’t need watering that often, however, under-watering, also over-watering, can still have adverse effects on the plant. A little trick here to find out the right watering time is to use your finger or a wooden other stick to determine whether the top 3 inches of the soil has dried out. Water the plant, only if you find that the top 3 inches of soil are dry.
Temperature and Humidity: Temperature and humidity requirements are different for both desert Cacti and forest Cacti. The desert Cacti prefers hot and dry temperatures and can sustain pretty well in a temperature range between 70 to 80 F in the summers, and 50 F in the winters. The forest Cacti, however, prefers a temperature range of 55 to 70 F to thrive well in the summers and 50 F in the winters.
Indoor Cactus Plantation Guide
Grows in well-draining soil
Here is a step-by-step guide to help plant a Cactus at home, without any hassles.
- Fill one-third of the container with well-draining potting soil, preferably one that is good for succulents like Cactus. Make sure that the planter is just a little wider than the root ball.
- Place the plant carefully into the container and cover the root ball with soil around as well. Remember to wear gloves to protect your hands from the prickly surface of the Cactus.
- Place the container at a nice spot and water lightly. Make sure that the water doesn’t make the soil too wet, it should be just as damp as a squeezed sponge.
Growing Cactus in Garden- Pro Tips
Grows indoors and outdoors
A Cactus plant can easily be grown both indoors and outdoors. Here’s how you can grow a Cactus in the garden.
- Make sure that you choose some well-draining soil for the plant. It is also advisable to use a potting mix that is beneficial to the growth of a Cactus.
- Dig a hole to place your plant in. Make sure that the hole is at least 1 ½ half wider than the root ball of the Cactus.
- Gently place the plant into the hole and cover the root ball with more soil and potting mix.
- Water the plant lightly. Cover it with a piece of cloth to help it get used to the bright sun rays.
What and How Much to Feed the Cactus?
Fertilize during the growing season
Fertilizing needs, too, are different for the Cacti native to the desert regions and the Cacti native to the forest regions. Thus, make sure that you have the right knowledge of your Cactus kind before you go on to fertilize the plant.
Desert cacti usually favour being fertilized with Special Cacti fertilizers during the growing seasons of summer and spring. A standard fertilizer might have opposite results or desert cacti, but they work pretty well for forest Cacti.
How to Propagate the Cactus?
Propagation refers to the process of producing new offspring from an already existing plant. While in their natural habitat, plants propagate on their own. But while indoors, these plants require a little help from us to achieve propagation.
Now, there can be several ways to propagate a Cactus plant. Two of the most common ways of Cactus propagation are explained briefly below.
Tips on Cactus Offshoots Propagation
Propagating a Cactus plant becomes important only if your Cactus plant has produced offshoots. However, make sure that you use a well-sterilized knife while dealing with the plant. Also, wear protective gloves as the pricks on the spine of the cactus can gravely injure your skin.
Here’s how you can proceed towards Cactus propagation by using Cactus offshoots.
- Use the sterilized knife and gently cut off the offshoot, but make sure that the cut is close to the plant base.
- Let the cut offshoot sit for some days in a dry area, letting it heal from the cut
- After the rest period, dip the cut end of the slice in some rooting hormone and lay it on some good potting mix.
In some weeks, the offshoot will start developing roots strong enough to be planted in a planter of its own.
Cactus Grafting Tips
Grafting generally refers to the process of attaching one plant to another severed plant. In simple words, Cactus grafting requires you to take a cut piece of one Cactus plant and attach it to a severed spot in another Cactus. Here, the part that you have cut out is referred to as a scion and the base that it is to be attached to is called the rootstock.
An important factor in grafting is the compatibility of the two plants. The highest compatibility is achieved when the scion and the rootstock are of the same species. However, it decreases a bit when the plants belong to the same genetic family.
Here’s how you can get this done.
- Keeping your compatibility quotient in mind, choose the scion and rootstock. Make sure that you are wearing gloves and use a sterilized knife to obtain the scion.
- To prepare the rootstock, behead your Cactus plant a few inches off the soil. Similarly, cut a few inches off another Cactus to be the scion.
- Carefully put the scion directly above the rootstock. Make sure that both plants are in direct contact with each other.
- Use a rubber band or electrical tape to secure the scion and rootstock together. Make sure that it is well secured and doesn’t fall off.
- Next, after two or three months, remove the rubber band or whatever you used to secure the stock and the rootstock. You now have a newly propagated Cactus.
For successful grafting, it is also important to ensure that the rootstock is hardy enough to survive the propagation.
How to Transplant a Cactus
Follow these steps to safely transplant a Cactus.
- First things first, wear protective gloves, preferably rubber gloves, to spare yourselves from the prickly spines of the Cactus.
- Use a sterilized knife to loosen the soil of the planter and gently pull the plant out. You can use layers of newspaper to hold the plant.
- Gently lay the plant down and clean the root ball. Be careful while discarding the old soil from the rootball. Trim the roots only if necessary.
- Plant the Acctus in a new planter, as suggested above.
Choose Proper Cactus Pots and Containers
While choosing a planter for your Cactus, do not choose a pot that is either too large or too small in size. The ideal size pot should be just a little wider than the root ball of the Cactus. Also, ensure that the pot has drainage holes that are not too small in size. The holes should be appropriately sized to efficiently allow moisture to escape from the plant.
Here we have answered some FAQS about the Cactus plant.
Is it good to have a cactus plant at home?
Yes, it is good to have a Cactus plant home. While kept indoors the plant has many benefits to offer. It helps to reduce stress and anxiety and brings on positive energy to the household.
What is special about a cactus?
The one thing that is special about a cactus is its adaptability to the harshest of conditions. The cactus plant is designed in such a way that it can survive extreme desert-like conditions.
Can a cactus kill you?
No, a cactus cannot kill you. Sure, the spines may prick you, but it doesn’t harm you in any way except the loss of two or three drops of blood. However, in case of an infection from the prick, make sure to consult your doctor.
How do you take care of an indoor cactus plant?
To take care of an indoor cactus plant, make sure that it is placed in a spot with ample bright sunlight. Understand the watering needs of the plant, and do not end up overwatering it. Also, make sure that the watering is not too little either.
How to differentiate between a cactus and succulent?
A succulent is a plant that can store water in any part of it. The Cactus is succulent but is also quite different from it. Cactus is different because it is the only plant that can withstand the scorching sun rays.
Where do most cacti grow?
The Cactus prefers a hot, dry region to grow. They grow mostly in deserts and thus have developed an identity of being a desert plant. However, many species of cactus grow in tropical regions as well.
Why do some cacti have flowers?
Among its many varieties, there are also many flowering cactus. These flowers are a sign of reproduction in the plant, being the spot of pollination.
How does the prickly pear cactus store water?
The prickly pear cactus stores water in its pads, the leaf-like structure. These pads are flat and wide, allowing enough space to store water to be used in times of drought.
What does a red moon cactus care involve?
The most important factor while taking care of a red moon cactus is helping it achieve its watering needs. Over-watering, as well as under-watering, can be very harmful to the red moon cactus. Also, make sure that the plant gets enough sun.
How to plant a Christmas cactus?
To plant a Christmas Cactus, use a potting mix that works best for cactus and other succulents. Make sure that the planter is just a little wider than the root ball of the plant. Make sure that it is not too large nor too small.
Does cactus make a good house plant?
Yes, the cactus is a good houseplant as it has a lot of benefits to offer. The cactus plant helps to reduce anxiety and stress. It also brings on positive energy and good vibes to the household that it is planted in.
Where do cacti store their water?
The Cacti mostly store their water in their large stems. During rainfall, the roots of the plant spread wide and collect water for their use. The extra water is transported to be stored at the stem and can be used in times of drought.
How deep are cactus roots?
The Cactus plant has shallow roots that allow it to absorb water from the ground easily in deserts. Moreover, tiny roots grow fast during rains to collect water.