How To Water A Cactus Indoors?

Although cacti plants are hardy, they still require proper watering to thrive. Generally, the watering technique you choose to use will have a significant impact on the overall health of your plant

Many of us tend to think that watering plants is quite easy, right?  Well, it might be, but the unfortunate thing is that you might be doing it the wrong way.  How you water your cactus plant is crucial since incorrect watering accounts for almost 90% of all cacti deaths! The good news? Once you figure out how to water your plant correctly, it is almost impossible to kill it.

So are you wondering how to water a cactus indoors?  One of the best ways of watering your indoor plants is by avoiding the spray bottle at all. With a spray bottle, you are only going to wet the top few inches of the soil which doesn’t help in any way. Instead, try as much as possible to drench your potting mix to the bottom. The best way to do this is by pouring a lot of water on the soil near the base of the plant or soaking the entire pot in a water pan for a few minutes.

In this post, we are going to teach you how to water your indoor cactus plant properly and how to make it thrive. Read on to find out everything you need to know about watering your indoor cactus.

Growing Cactus Indoor: A Quick Overview

Cacti plants usually have a unique, stark beauty and produce the most beautiful flowers in the entire plant. Fortunately, growing desert cactus in your house isn’t difficult.

Successful gardening of these hardy plants in your house requires you to stick to simple rules. Do the right thing, and you will have beautiful plants that will decorate your interior spaces throughout the year.

Some cacti species will bloom after three or four years while others may take longer. However, getting your indoor cacti bloom shouldn’t be a big issue as long as you know how to take good care of them.

A white cactus flower.
Cacti plants produce the most beautiful flowers in the entire plant

Some of the critical things you need to keep in mind while growing cactus indoors include:

  • Choose the right type of potting mix for your indoor plants. If you cannot find good soil from your local plant store, consider making your own.
  • Provide sufficient light for your plant. Keep in mind that intense light is essential for healthy cacti. Most indoor cacti species require access to bright but not direct sunlight.
  • Understand the temperature and humidity requirements of your plants. During the active growing seasons, your cacti require hot, dry temperatures.
  • Know when and how to water your plant
  • Know when to apply fertilizer and how to get rid of some of the common pests that may attack your plant

How Often Should You Water Your Indoor Cactus?

One of the easiest ways of killing your indoor cactus is by watering it incorrectly. Keep in mind that cacti plants hold water in their stems and other plant tissues. These plants make use of the stored water to survive in dry areas.

Therefore, overwatering can be catastrophic. However, they still need to be provided with sufficient water to survive the indoor environment.  The best way to determine if your plant requires watering is by checking the soil moisture content.

To do so, carefully stick your finger into your potting mix and pay close attention to how it feels. Do not just touch the surface soil but make sure you penetrate at least two inches downwards.

A small cactus plant in a pot.
Always pay close attention to how your plant appears.

If the soil feels wet, moist, or damp, do not water your plant. Wait until it dries out completely before watering. How much and when you water your indoor plant largely depends on the season.

During the active growing seasons (spring and summer), your plant requires more water. For most indoor plants, watering at least once every ten to 14 days should be enough to keep your plant happy.

During the dormancy season (winter and fall) the plant requires less water. At this time, you need to water less frequently and less thoroughly. Generally, water your plant at least once every three or four weeks.

Always pay close attention to how your plant appears. If it seems shriveled in between watering sessions, you may need to water it more. However, if you are unsure of what to do, then you will be safe if you water it lightly.

After all, under-watering cactus is better than overwatering it. Therefore, feel free to experiment a few times until you figure out what works best for your plant.

How to Water Your Indoor Cactus Correctly

You may know when to water your indoor cactus but do you know how to do it properly? The watering technique is the most crucial thing that will determine whether your plant thrives or dies.

Ask any experienced gardener, and they will tell you that watering is not just a matter of pouring water on your plant.

A water container and cactus on the pot.
The watering technique is the most crucial thing that will determine whether your plant thrives or dies

Before we discuss the right watering technique, let us start by pointing out the wrong watering technique that most of us tend to use.

Do not use a spray bottle to water your plant. You should also avoid misting.

The truth is that no matter the number of times you squeeze that trigger, you are only going to wet the top few inches of your soil. Unfortunately, there aren’t any roots there to absorb the water.

In fact, this watering technique can be quite detrimental to your cactus plant because it will be forced to start growing roots towards the soil surface other than down and out of the pot.  With time, you will end up with a weak root system that cannot support the plant for long.

To water your plant correctly, make sure you fully drench the soil to the bottom. So, how do you achieve this? Pour water on the soil near the base of the plant and make sure it is a lot of water. It shouldn’t be a trickle.

You can even consider wetting all of the soil in the pot if it is possible. This watering technique encourages the growth of a wide and healthy root system that will support your plant for many years.

Some gardeners prefer soaking the entire plant pot in a water pan for some time before taking it out. This is also another good way of ensuring that water reaches the bottom soil.

How to Water Indoor Cactus Grown in a Pot without Drainage Holes

Let us start by stating that we don’t recommend growing cactus in containers without proper drainage holes because the results can be catastrophic.

But, if you have been to plant display shows, you must have noticed the new trend. Cacti and other succulents being integrated into all kinds of cute artsy crafts. 

It is no longer surprising to find cacti plants grown in teacups, terrariums, succulent birdbaths and all types of containers.

Clay pot with holes.
We don’t recommend growing cactus in containers without proper drainage holes

Although this may seem adorable, it isn’t the best way to grow these plants.  Keep in mind that not having proper drainage puts your plant at a significantly high risk of developing root rot.  Don’t think the few pebbles at the bottom of the container will create drainage.

If you have your cactus perched in such a container, there is only one way of approaching watering. Waterless and pray that things don’t get worse.

Instead of drenching your container, simply pour a small amount of water (maybe a teaspoon full) at the base of your plant.

You should also try to stretch out the amount of time between watering sessions as much as possible.  Also, be sure to keep your container in a relatively dry place that receives lots of light. Consider a south-facing window if you are in the northern hemisphere.

While you may want to dry your soil completely before watering, the truth is that it may not be possible. So, all you have to do is establish what works in your favor and stick to it.

Should You Use Soft Water, Hard Water or Rainwater?

Water hardiness is usually determined by the concentration of ions in the water, and it may have an impact on the overall health of your cactus.

Soft water is a term used to refer to water that has been treated with potassium or sodium to remove minerals such as magnesium and calcium. Soft water contains high amounts of sodium.

 A stored water,
Rainwater is the preferred water for cacti plants.

Hard water contains high concentrations of dissolved mineral particles such as magnesium and calcium. Rainwater in its natural state is soft water.

So, what is the right type of water to use in watering your cacti plants?

1. Hard water

In most cases, hard water will leave mineral buildup on your plant if it is used for a prolonged period. The mineral buildup may leave its mark on your plant. Fortunately, you can get rid of the stains by repotting your plant regularly (once every two years).

2. Soft water

Soft water contains relatively high concentrations of sodium which can cause harm to your cactus. The excessive amount of sodium in the water can build up on the skin of your plant resulting in stunted growth.

The high concentration of sodium may also harm your plant in the long run since it interferes with proper absorption of water and hydration.

3. Rainwater

This is the preferred water for cacti plants since it contains the right amount and balance of minerals necessary for your plant to thrive. Always try to collect as much rainwater as possible and store it properly for later use on your cactus.

Summary

Although cacti plants are hardy, they still require proper watering to thrive. Generally, the watering technique you choose to use will have a significant impact on the overall health of your plant. 

No matter how you decide to water your indoor cactus, the target is to get the soil wet from top to bottom and allow excess water to drain out of the container as quickly as possible.

The good thing is that once you master the right watering technique, it becomes pretty easy to take care of your indoor cactus plant!

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