Cactus: Various sizes and types

Cactus: Various sizes and types

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Light

Cacti require four to six hours of bright sunlight daily. However, some species of both desert and forest cactus can burn in direct sunlight. Locate your cactus near a sunny window, and opt for a spot that receives filtered bright light in the summer and direct light (like a south- or west-facing window) in the winter. You can move your cactus outdoors during the summer to provide ample light requirements, but do so only when night temperatures warm to 50 degrees Fahrenheit or above.


Soil

Desert cactus grows best in a fast-draining soil mix designed specifically formulated for cacti. They also grow well in regular potting soil amended with sand, pebbles, or perlite to increase drainage and aeration. Forest cactus likes well-draining soil, as well, but can often grow just fine in a regular potting mix.​


Water

During the spring and summer, when your cactus is actively growing and blooming, give it a hearty drink every ten days, allowing the water to drain thoroughly. During the winter rest period, decrease waterings to once every four weeks (and every six weeks for some desert species). The soil should be dry to the touch in between summer waterings and mostly dry in the winter.


Temperature and Humidity

Cactus prefers hot temperatures, ranging from 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. In the winter, the plant prefers a cool-down period, with temperatures hovering near 55 degrees Fahrenheit. In its natural habitat, desert cactus is accustomed to very chilly nights and some species can even withstand nights that dip to 35 degrees Fahrenheit. Still, any indoor plant that's not hardened off needs to be protected from winter drafts. Cactus prefers humidity levels of 40 to 60 percent, which is fairly easy to achieve in most homes. Forest cacti like the air slightly more humid than desert varieties. So if you see your succulent plant wilting, mist it occasionally.


Fertilizer

Cactus can survive some of the harshest conditions on earth. Any effort to fertilize is welcomed, but is not necessary. Some gardeners yield poor results with standard houseplant fertilizers (probably due to the improper ratio of nutrients), so seek out a specialized organic cacti fertilizer that contains more phosphorus than nitrogen. Fertilize your cactus two to three times a year, only during the growing season, and refer to the manufacturer's recommended amounts. Reduce or eliminate fertilizer during the winter.

 

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