Caring for Cacti

Cacti are sun lovers and therefore if you plan to have them indoors, provide the brightest spot you can find as they will need at least 4 to 6 hours good light daily. If they are kept in a darker place they will still survive, but might stretch in search for light. Outside, they will like a sunny spot, but will also need some shade in the afternoon during the hottest days of summer. Even sun lovers like cacti can get burned by hot summer afternoon sun.

Plant your cacti in a well draining potting mix. Many nurseries sell bagged potting mix specially made for cacti and succulents. You can also make your own by adding sand and fine gravel to premium potting mix or follow the below recipe:

1 part organic compost
1 part horticultural sand
1 part coir
1 part vermiculite/perlite
1 part pine bark

In the growing season cacti will need good watering every couple of days, but the trick is to let the soil dry out between each watering. Your potting mix should be light, airy and well draining so the water can pass through, capture some moisture to get the roots wet but the water needs to drain away. If the roots of your cacti plants will sit in water they, and the whole plant will rot. The potting mix is the key. In winter cacti only need little water. Once every couple of weeks will be more than enough.

In the growing season your plants will benefit from fertilising. Good seaweed fertiliser diluted in water should do the trick. Add the fertiliser every second- third watering. You can also use slow release fertiliser- aim for low nitrogen and high phosphorus. In winter, there is no need to apply fertiliser.

Cacti can be used in pot arrangements, terrariums and also in the garden. They have fantastic landscaping potential and you can create an unusual raised garden bed with cactuses and other succulents. Gravel and rocks are often used to mimic desert environment.

Many cacti have sharp thorns and can cause serious injury, especially if a broken thorn is left in the skin. When handling cacti, wear thick gloves or use tweezers. Don’t be fooled by the ones with softer or hair like thorns as they can penetrate the skin as well, can cause irritation and are extremely hard to see. To get them out, apply sticky tape on the wound and pull.