Common Name: Barrel Cacti
Botanical Name: Cactaceae ‘Barrel Cacti’
Cactaceae, better known as Cactus, are a large family of plants that come in many shapes and sizes. They are all very easy to care for and given the right conditions, many varieties may bloom. Cactus are native to Mexico and the Southwestern U.S. and like most houseplants, they require care similar to what they would experience in nature. Most types, like Cerus, Mammillaria and even Euphorbia (not a cactus, but is cared for like one!) have the same needs and can be grouped together in a brightly lit room to live their best life.
Important! The sharp spines common to most varieties of Cactaceae can poke and pierce skin, so be very careful when handling the plant, or if you have pets and/or small children.
Plenty of bright indirect sunlight is needed to support Cacti. These indoor plants like lots of light, even during the winter months. Some varieties of Cactus can handle direct light, but be careful because direct light can be damaging, especially for young plants or new growth. When in doubt it’s always best to keep Cactus houseplants in bright indirect light.
Cactus are drought tolerant houseplants and the soil must be allowed to dry out between watering. Water as soon as the soil is completely dry throughout while the plant is actively growing during the spring and summer. Cacti can go for extended periods without water during the winter months when the plant may become dormant. It is normal for a cactus to go 1-2 months between watering, depending on the size of the plant and the overall conditions, like temperature and sunlight.
When you do water, drench the soil and empty the cache pot or saucer of standing water. Cactus are susceptible to root rot if they receive too much water, and the threshold for over-watering is rather low. It is often better to under-water than over-water, so if the plant is not showing signs of dehydration and you’re unsure about when to water, there is no harm in waiting a few more days.
Warm temperatures, similar to what the Cactus would experience in nature, are ideal. Generally, anything above 50 degrees is fine, but the plant will be happier if kept in an area that is at least 65 degrees. Chilly drafts can be a problem, so keep a Cactus plant clear of exterior doors and drafty locations.
Dry conditions are best for Cactus houseplants. Cacti are not very adaptable when it comes to humidity and they prefer to be in areas without increased dampness to the air. Low or average humidity are both ideal. Avoid placing Cactus plants in bathrooms or kitchens or any area prone to increased humidity.
Cactus are not heavy feeders, but use a diluted liquid fertilizer monthly during the growing season to help the plant push out new growth. Stop fertilizing Cactus houseplants during the winter when the plant is not actively growing.
- As slow-growing houseplants, Cacti normally need to be repotted every other year. Although, Cactus are alright being root bound, so there is normally no rush to repot. When it is time to repot, wear thick gloves to protect your hands and select a pot that is 1-2 inches larger in diameter than the existing pot.
- A dormancy or rest period during the winter can help promote new growth and possibly even blooms during the growing season. Give the plant time to rest by cutting back on water and avoid placing the plant in areas with very warm temperatures during the winter.
- Mature and healthy plants will send out offshoots or pups. These can be removed and propagated. It is best to remove an offshoot when repotting. Using clean shears or a knife, remove the offshoot and let the cut end callous over for a few days before repotting the new plant in it’s own pot.