Generally, cacti are known to be slow-growing, but with proper care, you could make them grow faster than they normally would.
The key to making a cactus grow fast is to give it slightly more light and water than usual. If you are lucky enough to have a greenhouse that has lots of sunlight for at least 8 hours each day, then your chances of growing a healthy and fast-growing cactus will improve tremendously. Use soft water for watering and fertilize it during the growing season. You should also allow it to go dormant during winter, allow proper air exchange, and repot your plant once in a while.
In this blog post, we shall discuss the main methods you can use to make your cactus grow faster. So, let us get started.
Why Do Cacti Plants Grow Slowly?
Before we dive deep into our discussion, it is essential to know why cactus plants generally grow slowly.
For most cacti species, growing slowly is a form of survival. Most of them are native to deserts, and in such habitats, there is not much water or food available for them.
So, to survive in the desert conditions, cacti have evolved with a method that helps them conserve water and food by growing slowly over time. This slows down their metabolism, making it difficult for animals to eat them.
They also lack true leaves and have fewer stomata, limiting their rate of sunlight and carbon dioxide absorption, making it difficult for them to manufacture a lot of food through photosynthesis.
Typically, cacti plants prioritize survival overgrowth. So, if your cacti are growing slowly, there is nothing to worry about because you have not done anything wrong.
You just need to adapt the ways of caring for your plant to suit its needs and make it grow faster over time.
How to Make Your Cactus Grow Faster?
Now that you know why cacti grow slowly, it is crucial to know how to make yours grow faster. Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Provide Enough Sunlight during the Growth Season
Cacti naturally grow in hot and dry conditions. So, if you want your cactus to grow faster, then try providing the same conditions. You can do this by keeping it outside your house.
Most desert cacti require bright sunlight to survive. And when they are grown in dimly-lit conditions, their growth becomes slow.
So, if you want your cactus to grow faster and healthier, all you need is to keep it outside for most of the day. You can either place it on a window ledge or plant it in your garden.
However, you need to keep in mind that direct sunlight can damage the stem and pads of a cactus, causing them to wither. Thus, you have to make sure that the plant does not remain in direct sunlight for more than 4 hours.
After winter, introduce them to sunlight gradually. Do not place it in direct sunlight at first; rather, keep it under the canopy of trees.
But if you do not have space outside your house or garden, you can use artificial lights to provide the necessary amount of light for your cactus plant. In fact, this is a great way to grow cacti indoors during winter.
But bear in mind that you should not use full-spectrum lights as it is the main reason why most indoor plants look pale and unhealthy.
2. Allow Proper Air Exchange
Just like humans, cacti need oxygen to survive. But unlike us, they don’t breathe through lungs but rather through pores on their stems and spines.
These succulents hate humidity and wet soil because it causes fungal infections. Hence, they prefer to grow in hot and airy conditions.
So, if you want your cactus to grow faster than usual, make sure that the place you are keeping it has proper ventilation. You can even use a fan for proper circulation of air around the plant.
During summer, feel free to leave your cactus outside for a few hours. But make sure that you take it inside before the sun goes down because night temperatures can be extremely low.
3. Use the Right Container
When potting a cactus plant, always choose a container that is at least three inches wider than the spherical spread of the plant’s root ball.
The idea here is to provide your plant with enough room to grow. While planting a cactus, make sure that its roots are not constricted.
Also, remember to re-pot your plant once every three years. This helps in making it grow faster because it provides room for new root growth.
A clay pot or terra cotta is always the best choice for planting cacti. You can also use plastic pots or wooden containers, but make sure they have a drainage hole at the bottom for proper drainage.
4. Plant It in Well-Draining Soil
Choosing the right potting mix/planting soil is absolutely critical to the health of your cactus.
If you pick soil that holds too much moisture, then the plant will end up rotting from the roots. So, make sure that the potting mix is well-draining.
You can check this by squeezing a small portion of it in your hand. If water comes out or if it feels soggy, then you need to change it.
A well-draining soil will also make your cactus grow faster because, under moist conditions, plants tend to develop root rot and/or stem rot.
You can use a sterilized potting mix for this purpose. But if you do not have enough time, then choose a bag of potting mix that only has organic materials.
You should also avoid using soils with compost.
5. Water Appropriately
Although cacti plants don’t love a lot of water, it doesn’t mean that they don’t need any moisture at all.
In fact, you have to water your cactus plant 2-3 times a week during summer. But remember that overwatering will only harm the plant, so you should avoid it as much as possible.
Under-watering will cause your plant to wither. Therefore, the trick is finding the right balance and understanding when to water your cactus.
If you are using a potting mix with fine particles and good drainage, then the soil will dry out within 5-6 days after watering it. When this happens, think of watering your plant again.
6. Fertilize Appropriately
Although cacti plants don’t require regular fertilization, they need to be fed on a few occasions. If you want your plant to grow in spring and summer, then the best time for fertilizing would be when it starts growing (spring).
If you are using a potting mix with compost or if you have been underwatering your cactus, then it would definitely benefit from fertilizing. It will help your plant develop a sturdy root system, which is the most stable part of the plant.
Once in three years, you can use slow-release fertilizer to make your cactus grow faster and stronger. You can apply this once at the time of repotting because it lasts for an extended period.
Also, keep in mind that fertilizing a cactus plant before the beginning of fall is essential to ensure proper root growth.
7. Maintain Optimal Temperature
Cacti like moderate temperatures, so you need to keep them as close to the optimal temperature range as possible.
If the room is colder than 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 Celsius), then you can put it by a sunny window during summer or keep it indoors under artificial lighting.
Keep in mind that cacti cannot tolerate freezing temperature, so if it is too extreme outside, move your cactus inside.
Also, if the room is hotter than 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 Celsius), you need to keep it in a cooler area or provide artificial cooling means by putting it under a fan.
8. Use Soft Water to Water Your Cactus
Always water your cactus using soft water because it has a lower content of minerals that cacti plants are sensitive to.
If you constantly use hard water, the minerals accumulate in the soil, reaching sensitive levels that can cause root rot.
To avoid this, simply use soft water to water your cactus or change the soil every year if you use regular potting soil.
If your tap water is hard, you can use a regular filter to soften it before watering.
If you don’t have a filter, leave the water outside in an open container for at least two hours before watering. Also, you will need to repot your plant quite often if you use hard water to irrigate it.
9. Re-pot Once in a While
Repotting your plant once in a while is essential because it keeps your plant alive and promotes good health.
Consider repotting your cacti every three years. However, if you constantly use tap water for watering, you consider repotting every 12-18 months.
Once you re-pot, your plants will get new soil that helps their roots develop and grow healthy. They will also receive the fertilizer plus the necessary amount of water.
In conclusion, cactus plants are not as difficult to grow as they seem. They just need a little care and love. With a bit of effort and the right information, you can grow them yourself without any problems.
Ensure you provide your plant with enough sunlight, allow proper air exchange, and plant it in well-draining soil with the right container.
Consider watering it appropriately during the growing season and maintain optimal temperature for better results.
You can also fertilize once in a while but use soft water to avoid problems. With the right care, your cactus will grow to its full potential in no time.