cactus-food

Cactus Food on Your Breakfast Table

Everybody knows that cactuses are prickly. However, the fact that they are also an important source of food is far less popular. Stems, fruits and seeds of cactus have been have been More »

fear-and-loathing-cactus

Psychedelic Cactus Adventure

We are human beings and, as the Eden’s incident proves it, it’s typical for all of us to cherish a desire for something forbidden and adventurous within. How about growing a plant More »

mountain-cacti-big

Mountain cacti

Have you ever been to or have you ever seen the pictures of the Andes or the Cordilleras? These are the places of such cactus types as astrophytum, cleistocactus, echinopsis, lobivia, notocactus, More »

Prickly-pear-cactus

Did you know these prickly things?

We all got used to cactuses as original and beautiful houseplants. So when we hear the word “cactus” we usually think of those natty prickly green things in small pots on our More »

saguaro-cactus

Taking care of saguaro cactus

When you hear the word “saguaro” you probably imagine a large, tree-sized cactus with a mighty ribbed stalk that grows in the Caribbee coastwise. I also once thought that all representatives of More »

Category Archives: ABC of Cactus Care

Planting Cactus: Essential Guidelines

Planting CactusThe essential guidelines for growing succulent plants, and cactus in particular, at home are quite easy. It is very important to keep cacti away from cold in winter. Additionally, you will need to supply as much lighting as you can in summer to make your prickly friends healthy. Although, several cactus types like partial shade.

Effective drainage is actually the most significant property of a soil mix made for cacti. The typical mix includes 1/2 of grit, for example fine sand or crushed stone, and also 1/2 of organic matter such as leaf mould, peat moss, or something similar to it. Nowadays you’ll find numerous bagged cactus mixes in local stores, to say nothing of online shops.

While deciding upon pots for planting your cactus, terracota, stone and concrete ones will probably be the best choice, as they don’t let the roots sink in water. Additionally ensure that your pot contains drainage holes. For any cactus having a circular shape, pick a pot which is 5 cm wider than the plant. If you’ve got a straight cactus, select a container with the width of 1/2 of the plant’s height.

Any time you plant a cactus, care and attention must come first for your and your plant’s sake. Cover your cactus with a piece of thick paper or cloth and put on thick safety gloves during the procedure.

When designing the pots for your cactuses stick to the exact same rules which you use for many other plants. Just combine various sizes, shampes and colors to your liking. A nice-to-look-at arrangement can be achieved if you have a single big box with numerous plants. Or perhaps place each cactus in its own pot and then group them as you think is perfect.

Close the drain hole with the help of a fragment of broken ceramic or perhaps a piece of steel screen. After that load the pot part way with soil mix and then put the cactus into the pot. Make use of a tea spoon to load up soil mix around the plant. When you are done planting, place in a top layer of tiny rocks in order to make a completed picture which additionally improves the foundation of the plant.

Purchase any sort of bag of stones you prefer or select crushed stone which improves the overall look of the cactus as well as the pot. Go ahead and include any kind of decorating things at this stage, just set your imagination free.

As soon as the cactus is actually in a growing phase, fertilize it approximately each and every month. Most succulents, and cacti in particular, require such nutrients as potassium, nitrogen, phosphorus, as well as trace elements. You should utilize any kind of total liquid plant food or a specific fertilizer intended for cactus plants.

Water your prickly friend on a regular basis throughout the growing period. Remember, watering is preferable to a sprinkle each day or two. Any time you notice that the soil is totally dried out, you need to water the cactus once again. The majority of cacti can grow without the need for water for months in chilly conditions or throughout their inactive period. Continue normal watering only when the growing period gets started.

Image source: flickr.com/photos/ne/2192220571/

Watering different types of cactus plants

It goes without saying that every type of cactus needs an individual approach. So in order to water your cactuses properly, you should take into account a number of factors. But all in all, the following cactuses require more watering:

1. Hygrophilous cactuses
2. Growing cactuses
3. Cactuses with big roots
4. Cactuses in earthenware pots
5. Cactuses in sandy soil
6. Cactuses kept in high temperature and dry air

And, on the contrary, you should be careful with watering of these cactuses:

1. Xerophilous cactuses
2. Cactuses that are at rest
3. Cactuses with small roots
4. Cactuses that are grown in plastic pots
5. Cactuses clay soil
6. Cactuses kept in low temperature and humid air

In summer I water my cacti just like the other houseplants – just when the soil gets dry, except cool rainy days. In autumn watering should be reduced gradually, and in winter it should be stopped at all – to make dry and cold wintering for your prickly friends.

It’s better to use rainwater, but you can use tap water settled for a day or two. It must be warm – about 30-40 C°. If you put a hand in water with such temperature, you will feel neither warmth nor cold. I seldom use water of room temperature, especially when it’s cool outside. The fact is that cactus roots can’t absorb water, which temperature is lower than 10-12 C°. If it’s about 20 C° in the room, the soil in the pot is colder. The temperature of the water you poured out on this soil slumps. And a cold, moist soil is extremely dangerous for cactus roots.

The best time for watering is in the evening in summer and in the morning in winter. The water should not get on the stalk of the cactus plant, watch it carefully. And remember that every cactus can bear lack of water, but its excess could be baneful.

On the other hand, a lot of cacti suffer just from water shortage in hot summer days: many collectors don’t know that cactus absorbs only a few percents of water together with nutrients dissolved in it. The rest of water is used for the cooling of the stalk through evaporation to protect it from overheating. Water shortage in hot summer period is very harmful.

Hot days and cool dewy nights are typical for the most regions of America where cacti grow. Dew and fog can be replaced by spraying, that has an excellent effect, if you meet some simple conditions. For my collection I stick to these rules:

1. Never spray cactus, if the weather is cool and damp – the stalk may begin to rot.
2. Use a small sprayer that pulverizes water to fog, but not to big drops.
3. Use only boiled and hot water, because its temperature stumps during spraying.
4. Hygrophilous cacti that have leaves, for example Christmas cactus, like not only sprinkling, but also warm shower. It’s undesirable to spray your cactus late at night because of a quick temperature drop.

Potting cactus in proper soil

Potting different types of cactus in proper soilDifferent types of cactus plants are quite exacting to the container they grows in. The size of the pot must correspond to the rootage of the plant. If roots are long and have a main spur, then you should choose a deep and narrow pot. If the roots are developed better in the topping and they are not very long, the pot must be wide and shallow. Growth peculiarities should be taken into account as well. For example, mammillaria generates a lot of bulbils in one pot, so you should choose a wide and rather shallow pot. It’s a matter of taste to choose what the pot is made of. I grow my cacti in square plastic pots standing on the trail. The soil in such pots dries up less quickly than in the earthenware. The drain ports and a drainage layer are indispensable conditions for all the sorts of containers where you grow cacti: they can’t bear water stagnation near their roots. Another advantage of plastic pots is that they warm up slightly in the sun, but retain the warmth after sunset for a long time. Besides, thanks to their square form they take half place on the windowpane.

While preparing the soil mixture for your cacti you should keep in mind one rule: soil must be coarse-grained and loose, spongy and absorbent, but it must not contain any organic fertilizer like manure, droppings or sawdust.

Organic fertilizers are rich in nitrogen, and cactus need in nitrogen is very scanty because of their physical nature. Even a little excess of nitrogen can lead to fatal consequences: the stalk grows rapidly, gets friable and watery. Fuzz and thorns grow weak and many sprouts and bulbils don’t develop to healthy plants. The skin bursts and it leaves ugly scars. These surfeited cactus plants die easily of any infection.

Making soil for cactusFor my collection I prepare the following mixture: leaf mold, clay soil, coarse sand, charcoal and broken brick (2:2:2:1) mixed with one teaspoon of slack lime and superphosphate. Leaf mold is rich in nutrients that are necessary for succulents. Moreover it’s friable and light and absorbs water well. It dries up quickly and prevents water stagnation in the pot. Clay soil (or garden loam) retains water and dissolved nutritive salts perfectly. Its tenacity and thickness plays a large role by planting of high and big cacti. Coarse sand makes the soil loose and porous. It’s an obligatory component of the soil for all cactus plants. Charcoal has an antiputrefactive action. Broken brick is of double importance. First, it’s pieces make the soil porous. Second, it’s very hygroscopic and absorbs superfluous water. Slack lime is necessary for the right metabolism and normal assimilation of nutrients. Superphosphate acidifies the soil, which is very useful for cacti.

Hope my tips will be of use for you and your prickly cactus friends. I’ll write about how to water different types of cactus next time.

See you soon here!

How to place different types of cactus plants

There’s no other houseplant like cactus that needs such a sharp distinction between winter and summer placing. In summer your cacti have to grow intensively, but in winter it happens quite on the contrary, and you need to stop their growth to avoid deformed winter increase and exhaustion.

In their homeland different types of cactus plants have a natural period of rest during summer draughts and with the first rains they start growing again. But we have to establish simulated conditions of rest in wintertime and in late autumn, when cactus plants are short of light for their normal growth. First of all, it’s necessary to reduce watering gradually, just to prevent drying up and withering of roots. Second of all, you should lower temperature on windowsills to 5-10 °C.The second condition is a must, because if you keep cactus dry by usual room temperature, its stalk will go on evaporating water, the plant will fade without watering and won’t rest. Low temperature slows down its breathing and metabolism process. If you organize wintering for cactus properly, your prickly friend won’t get dry. It will grow stout and ripen.

The easiest way to low down temperature on the windowsill is to set a light glass frame on its edge. It will protect your cactus from the heating battery. Thermometer is essential to control temperature during all winter. If it shows 5 °C, it’s better not to risk and to warm your window-frames with a woolen blanket, but not on any account you should remove the glass frame until central heating is cut off.

The same placing is suitable for spring and autumn, but without a frame. Cacti can hardly stand abrupt changes of watering and placing. That’s why the general rule in cactus care is a graduality in condition changing.

In summer cactuses need maximum of fresh air and sun. Fresh air comes first for a reason: only those collectors achieve proper growth, good fuzzing and flowering of their prickly friends, who keep their cacti in the open air twenty four hours a day during the whole summer. If you have no balcony, you can keep your cactus types on weatherboards of your windows or in boxes strongly fixed on the outer end. But in that case you will have to protect your cactus plants from the rain, dust and wind. I’ve made a polyethylene film cap, letting ultra-violet rays pass through. So now my cacti have beautiful big thorns, which they would have never developed under a glass cover. I also advice you to keep and carry all your cactus pots on a tray. It is safe and convenient.