With the fantastic benefits that a cactus comes with, I recently decided to do a bit of research on the plant. I always wondered if it’s possible to grow cactus indoors. So, I decided to research a bit, and today, I want to share my findings with you.
So, can a cactus grow indoors? Cactus can grow indoors In fact, all the different varieties such as the forest, desert, and Christmas cactus can do well indoors depending on how you take care of them. How healthy they grow depends on if they are getting enough sunlight and you are not overwatering them.
How can you grow cactus – a plant adapted for the desert indoors?
The biggest motivator for growing cacti should be because they are easy to maintain as they don’t require a lot of work. Succulents will mostly die during the winter due to too much water. Therefore, there is a need to keep them indoors and without water often.
1. Growing forest cacti
These types of cacti grow in tropical and subtropical areas globally. Tropical regions are areas such as Mexico, parts of South America, and Caribbean islands. The Christmas cactus belongs to this group.
For people looking for hanging plants, this is a great option. When they bloom, they produce flowers in lilac or pink colors.
Use these tips to help you grow the forest cacti:
- Drainage: The pots should have drainage holes in the container and ensure soil drains well for them to grow well.
- Light: these cacti love sunlight but not the direct one. During summer, you can move them outside on the porch which is unheated until when the temperatures get below 50 degrees.
- When the plant is flowering, water regularly. During the resting period, only water them when the soil is dry on touch.
- To encourage branching and flowering, prune in June. You can also use the pruned ones to grow more cacti. To grow more cacti, just cut them and place them in vermiculite as they root easily.
- In the case that your cactus is not blooming, it could be because of the temperature of light they are getting. Keep the temperature at 50-55 F then resume watering and move it to a warmer location.
2. Growing desert cacti
Desert cacti species are quite a variety. Whether they grow or not depends on how well they are taken care of. Just like the forest cacti, the desert ones require intense light most especially during winter.
You can follow the pointers below towards having healthy desert cacti:
- During the active growth period, you need your cacti to stay in temperatures from 70 F and above. You may notice scorching if it had not been hardened before.
- The blooming stage is quite sensitive, and you only water them when they start shriveling. When you water, make sure you water well. Note that some species bloom better when they are underpotted.
- During the growing season, it’s essential to consider a cacti fertilizer. Use one that’s specially designed for cacti.
5 Easy-to-do Tips to growing cactus indoors
Cacti come in different colours ranging from blue, green and grey. How you take care of them is what determines if they are healthy or not. Watch out for the tips below to help you grow cactus indoors.
1. Use fertilizer
Using an appropriate fertilizer meant for cactus helps in its growth. Use a low-nitrogen but soluble fertilizer. The best time to apply the fertilizer is when you notice new growth. This can be done every 2 months, three times.
Do not apply fertilizer on a recently potted cactus. Wait until you can see some growth before the application process.
Not that, there are some species that grow during winter. Unlike fertilizing during summer, for these species, work your schedule to fertilize them during winter.
2. Choose colors wisely
Naturally, green cacti are more tolerant to environments with low light. If your room is well-lit, you can go for cacti that are pink or purple. However, if your room has low light, go for the green ones.
3. Supplementing light
Cacti do well with natural light. However, during winter, there’s not much light. Glowlights can act as a supplement for the natural light for the few months before its summer again. This ensures your cactus grow healthily.
There are different ways to the reproduction of cacti. You can cut leaves from an already grown cactus, use seeds or graft. Grafting is mostly done for weak cacti species or those that are hard to propagate.
5. Watering cactus
Cactus will always rot if you overwater them. During spring and fall, cacti will need regular watering. However, during summer, they will need less water, maybe once a week. A cactus may turn pale if it is deprived water, adjust according to its needs.
Dealing with common cactus problems
There are common cacti problems which can be resolved to ensure they are healthy.
1. Yellowing or bleaching
It is common to find cactus turning yellow or white. What this means is that the plant is getting excess sunlight. Remove the cactus away from direct sunlight and place them in probably a window that has less sunlight. It should improve with time.
Other times, you’ll notice the top of the cactus thinning or it growing towards the direction of the light which may cause an imbalance. This means it is not getting enough light. Move the cactus to a location where it will get adequate light for healthy growth.
Some of the common pests that attack cacti are mealy bugs, scale insects, spider mites, and fungus gnats. It can be challenging to control these pests because they hide in places that are hard to notice, and also because they may have grown resistant to pesticides.
Mealybugs are found usually in clusters and are most likely to be on the leaf veins. They mostly suckle the root juices causes the cactus to rot because of bacterial infections.
Scale insects are usually located on the leaves and stems of the cactus and can be scraped off.
Fungus gnats look a bit similar to mosquitoes and hover above the soil surface in the pot. During the larval stage, they usually live in the soil and are more likely to cause root damage because they consume the organic matter in the ground.
Spider mites look like dust and can easily damage the cacti epidermis. They suck the cactus juice. If the plant is infected, there will be some small brown dots and webbing.
Controlling pests can be a daunting task, especially if some of the pests are resistant. One sure way to reduces the chances of pests invading cacti is by growing them healthily. Keep them in the right conditions, such as placing them under the right amount of light and watering just enough.
- Mealybugs and spider mites can be washed off. First, cover the soil that’s in the pot with something waterproof and then wash the pests off.
- Hygiene is equally as important. Keep dead leaves away from the pot to avoid attracting any pests.
- To contain the pests, spray the cactus with a dilute solution containing alcohol (preferably a ratio of 1:3) Be on the lookout because this solution can damage sensitive cacti. First test on a small part of the cactus to see if there is a reaction before spraying the whole plant only for it to damage the plant’s epidermis.
- Sticky traps that are precisely yellow can be used to control fungus gnats.
- Insecticidal soap is also another option. You can spray the plant. However, waxes and oils from the plant can be damaged by the detergent. Read the instructions to see if it’s safe to use the soap on your plant. A test on a small area of the plant is also recommended.
- Insecticides such as neem can also help but always read the label before using anything that could potentially damage the cacti.
Can cactus be placed in the bedroom? Yes, absolutely. The succulent is suitable anywhere in the house as long as there is enough space and sunlight. Go for a less thorny one to avoid accidents. Especially if you have a pet, don’t leave them unsupervised in the room as the cactus may prick them.
What is the lifespan of a cactus? Cactus has a lifespan usually between 10-200 years which depends on the species. The truth is, outdoor succulents will tend to live longer than the indoor ones. However, with a good maintenance routine, the household ones can live for decades.
What are some of the best cacti species for indoors? We have so many cacti species globally. Some of the best are Christmas Cactus, Bishop’s Cap, Old Lady Cactus, Saguaro Cactus, African Milk Tea, Rat Tail, Angel Wings, Scarlet Ball, and the Barrel Cactus.