Cacti Water Requirements Explained

Cacti Water Requirements Explained

When you think of a cactus plant, the first thing that comes to mind is, it is a desert plant. This is not always true because cacti come from different environments. While most cacti typically prefer dry soil, they still need moisture. Learn about your cactus water requirements.

All cacti are similar in basic requirements and different in other needs and preferences. Their water preferences are distilled water or rainwater – the latter being the best. Let your cactus dry out completely before watering it thoroughly and then letting it dry out again.

How to Water Cacti

Watering your cactus plant with distilled water and rainwater is better than using tap water. The mineral content of tap water builds up in the soil and can settle on the leaves of your cactus plant. Minerals also hinder essential nutrients from flowing to your cactus plant.

Rainwater, on the other hand, contains the right amount of minerals needed by your cactus plant.

When it is time to water your cactus plant, continuously water until its soil is saturated or thoroughly soak.

Water slowly dripping from the drainage holes in the bottom of your pot means the soil has already been thoroughly soaked. If your cactus plant is in the ground, you can use a water gauge or your finger to check the wetness of the soil.

Cacti Water Requirements

It is a huge misconception that your cactus plant only needs an occasional sip of water. While it is drought-resistant, it still has regular cactus water requirements.

No daily dribbles for this plant, it would kill it. Following all the instructions and guidelines in this article and you won’t go wrong.

Most cactus varieties should be watered when their soil is completely dry. It is not advisable to have a watering schedule. Instead, it is best to monitor your cactus’ condition as well as the dryness of the soil to know when to water your cactus.

Your cactus plant thrives when it is watered sufficiently. Your cactus will be at its best form when it is watered thoroughly and left until its soil has fully dried before watering it again.

There are many factors that make the soil of your cactus plant dry out resulting in how often you should water your cactus plant.

Type of Cactus

Every cactus type has a specific watering requirement. Some cacti prefer more water than others. It is important that you seek advice about how often you need to water your cactus.

The Christmas Cactus, for example, requires more watering than other types of cacti. On the other hand, the Barrel Cactus can thrive with watering once every two months or so.

Size of Cactus

It is not right to assume that the larger cactus needs to be watered more frequently than the small ones.

Younger cacti are still in their growing stage and will, therefore, use and require more water.

Larger cacti have a smaller surface area to volume ratio. This decreases the evaporation of water from the surface of the cactus. While typically you will need to water larger cacti more, the faster-growing smaller cacti require more frequent watering.

Type of Potting Medium

The soil of your cactus plant is important when growing cactus because it determines whether it drains or retains water. The soil of cacti should be well-draining.

A well-draining potting mix allows water to easily drain allowing the soil to dry quickly. This will mean your cactus plant will need to be watered more frequently.

Type of Pot

The type of container your cactus plant is grown determines the frequency you need to water your plant.

Plastic containers.

They are not well-draining; thus, you will need to water your cactus plant less to prevent root rot.

Terracotta pots.

They are porous and well-draining. You will need to continually check if the soil still has water.

Ceramic pots.

Unglazed ceramic pots are porous and well-draining. Glazed ceramic pots are not porous and do not absorb moisture.

Wood containers.

These containers are ideal when growing cacti outdoors. They hold moisture and the soil will dry out slowly. When your cactus plant is grown in this type of container, you will need to water your plant sparingly.

Regardless of what container you use for your cactus plant, you will need to regularly check the moisture of the soil. This will give you an idea when to water your cactus.

Size of the Pot

Most cacti thrive better in smaller pots because they do not like to sit in water for too long. Larger pots contain more soil or potting medium; thus it takes your cactus longer to absorb water.

Cacti planted in large pots will need watering every 4 to 6 weeks or even more. Cacti planted in small pots, on the other hand, may need watering once a week or less.

Level of Humidity

Humidity determines how often you may need to water your cactus plant. You should always check on the humidity levels, especially when growing your plant indoors so you can predict cactus water requirements.

Cacti thrive better in arid conditions. They can also grow well in a humid interior. You will need to continually monitor soil dryness, so you know when to water your cactus.

Air Flow and Ambient Temperature

Increased airflow enhances evaporation. This is an important reminder especially if you transfer your cactus outside in the summer.

Ventilation in summer is higher and cactus water requirements will increase considerably.

Ambient temperature also plays an important role. During winter, your cactus plant is not growing much, so you may only need to water the plant your plant every 4-6 weeks.

During the summer months, when your cactus is actively growing, you should check the dryness of the soil every few days.

Light Conditions

Direct sunlight increase evaporation and how fast the soil of your cactus dries out. If your cactus plant is kept in a cooler north-facing room, you may need to water less.

Your cactus plant may need to be watered more frequently if it is placed in a south-facing window.

Time of the Year

The time of the year affects cactus water requirements. As the season changes, the watering needs of your cactus plant also change.

Winter. Water your cactus plant only once a month because the cold allows the soil to maintain some moisture.

Spring. Water your cactus plant once a week because it is getting out of dormancy (during winter) and will need more water to thrive.

Summer. The hot temperatures make the soil dry quickly. Continually monitor to soil to determine its wetness or dryness. Ideally, water your cactus plant twice or thrice a week during the summer months.

Fall. Water your cactus plant at least once a week when the temperature is warmer than 400F.

Be conscious of the time of the year when determining how frequently to water your cactus plant.

Location of your Cactus

Where you grow your plant also determines cactus water requirements. You can grow your cactus plant indoors or outdoors.

Most cacti that grow in pots indoors need to be watered every 10-14 days during the growing period. Water less during the dormant season (winter).

Overwatering or Under-watering Cacti

There are signs to watch out for to determine whether your cactus plant needs more or less water. These are in addition to checking the dryness and wetness of the soil.

Your cactus plant is overwatered when:

•The roots of your cactus plant are rotting.

• Your cactus plant looks full, fleshy, and turgid.

• You see pools of water under your cactus plant.

Your cactus plant is thirsty or under-watered when:

• Your cactus plant slumps or leans to the side.

• The stems of your cactus look limp, soft, dried, or rubbery.

• Your plant looks paler or discolored.

• Your plant starts to become calloused or dry.

You can rectify the situation should your cactus plant shows signs of under-watering. Immediately and thoroughly water your cactus. Your plant will be back to its original glory with its color back.

It is easier and faster for a cactus plant to bounce back to life when under-watered than overwatered.

Other Facts About Cacti

Cacti are common household plants because they come in come in all kinds of shapes.

They also come in different green color variations and can fit almost any home decor style. More importantly, they are low in maintenance and easy to care for.

A desert is the native habitat of most cacti. As such, they grow best in areas with lots of light, low moisture, high temperature, and good drainage.

There are also some cacti that have rainforests as their native habitat. These cacti prefer humid conditions and semi-shade.

It is important to understand cactus water requirements. Cacti are succulents and, therefore, designed to store water in their stems and roots so they can survive drought periods.

Many plant owners consider watering cacti plants as stressful. Surely they need water because they are plants.

But at the same, time you were told not to give them too much water because they are desert plants. While cacti can survive drought, they need regular watering, too.

Each cactus plant has its water requirements. There are some techniques to ensure you know when your cactus plant needs water.

Final Thoughts

It is important to properly water your cactus plant. Knowing cactus water requirements helps promote its overall growth. Watering plants is a simple process, but with your cactus plant, you need to know when and how to hydrate it.

Familiarizing yourself with the factors you need to consider scheduling your plant’s watering needs will allow your cactus plant to grow healthy and beautiful.

Jenny Marie
Tribal Writer

Edited By
Patricia Godwin

Patricia Godwin

Patricia has many years of experience as a content writer on various subjects, but her first love is gardening. She’s never met a plant she didn’t like and, consequently, she writes about every type of plant you can think of. Once an avid gardener with a herb garden, a succulent rockery, and a rose garden – to mention a few. Nowadays, she’s constantly on the move searching for interesting plants to bring to your attention; and explain to you all the details you need to grow, care and maintain these plants.

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