Cactus plants are becoming more popular at home gardens than ever. Their vibrant nature and beauty have earned them a place not only at home but offices, shopping malls, and the streets. Many people love growing cactus indoors because of the life and happiness they bring to every home. But despite all the glam, growing cactus also has downsides that you must understand before introducing them to your home.
Cacti bring peace, calm, and beauty to every home. The plants bloom in flamboyant flowers that also make good gifts, especially on special occasions like Christmas and Easter. Many cactus varieties last very long and thrive with very minimal care. On the downside, cacti take a long time to bloom, need a strict watering schedule, and rot easily. The plants can spike to protect themselves; hence, dangerous for pets and children.
So, are you planning to introduce cacti to your home? You must take a deeper look at their pros and cons before making your decision. Read below to find out everything you need to know, both negative and positive, about cacti plants.
Pros of Cactus
If you’re planning to introduce a couple of cacti to your garden, you’ll be making a great decision. Here are the good things you should expect to get from them.
Over 2000 Species to Choose From
Cactus is available in over 2000 species all over the globe. This means you can never fail to find one that will suit your home garden. You can choose different sizes, shapes, and flower colors. You can start your collection of cacti and, in the process, discover the one that really suits you. Don’t worry if you have to go through a trial and error process.
The most common species sold in the market are Echinocactus, Opuntia, Ferocactus, Mammillaria, and Gymnocalycium. Consider starting with these first.
Many people misunderstand cacti when it comes to appearance. Others only identify the plants as those rugged-looking, sticky plants with sharp spines. Well, some indeed look rugged; but there are many beautiful varieties in the world.
Cacti produce beautiful blooms that are sure to brighten every home. Many people love cacti for their showy flowers, which sometimes produce sweet-smelling fragrances. Almost every cactus species produces flowers as long as they get proper care in soil, fertilization, water, and light. While others may take a long time to produce their first blooms, once they do, you’ll no doubt love them.
Easy to Propagate
Cactus plants are super easy to propagate, and that might be the reason why they’re common in many homes. You can easily cut one from your friend’s garden and plant in yours. You’ll have no trouble rooting your new cactus as long as you consider their natural growth condition.
If you prefer planting their seeds instead, you also like how easy the seeds germinate. These seeds are larger than most succulents and germinate easily. You should take your time to learn how to plant specific cactus species from seeds or how to propagate, so you increase your success rate.
Cactus plants require very minimal maintenance. They can survive many months of neglect and are highly tolerant to drought and other conditions that may threaten other plants. These plants are naturally made to store water for a long time, so you don’t have to worry if you don’t get a chance to water them for several weeks.
If you’re traveling, you won’t have to bother hiring someone to take care of your plants because they’ll do just well. The plants come with modified leaves with a waxy coat to retain moisture for a very long time. They also have stems that can store excess water until they need to use it. Just a splash of water, some little light, and a bit of love can get your cactus to do so well.
Indoor Cactus Improve Air Quality
If you plant your cacti in your indoor garden, be sure that you’ll wake up every day feeling refreshed. Cacti are known to improve the air quality, which ensures you get a good night’s sleep. The plants are known for reducing radiation and bacteria. They absorb carbon dioxide in the air and release oxygen. This gives you a perfect night’s sleep, which also means you’ll wake up energetic and ready to tackle the day.
Cacti Have Therapeutic Benefits
Without even going to the scientific benefits, just seeing your plants grow well and the bloom is enough to give you happiness. You’ll develop a close relationship with your plants as you tend to them, and that’s therapy. Some gardeners even talk to their plants and believe that it’s a method to make them grow faster and better. Well, this won’t be further from the truth because when you speak, you release the carbon dioxide that plants need to carry out photosynthesis.
But not only the plants benefit from that. Indoor cacti have a fantastic way of making you feel comfortable and relaxed. You can use several cacti flowers as gifts to your loved ones and make them feel loved and cared for. An excellent example of cacti plants that serve this purpose is the Christmas cactus and Thanksgiving cactus.
Cacti Plants are Medicines
Several cacti species have great medicinal values. Many people from different regions use parts of the cactus for holistic treatment. The pulp and its juice work well for treating skin wounds, digestive problems, stomach swelling, and urinary tract infections.
Extract and supplements from prickly pear cactus treat several conditions like type 2 diabetes, diarrhea, high cholesterol, colitis, and prostate gland enlargement. The fiber and pectin in the cactus help lower blood sugar levels. The extracts help in insulin sensitivity and protect the liver from oxidation. These are but a few medical benefits.
If you thought cacti look ugly and you’d never use them, then you’re wrong. The chances are that you might have even eaten one of these species. For instance, prickly pear cactus is highly used in making juices, jellies, jams, candies, syrups, and alcoholic beverages. Some restaurants incorporate slices of cacti fruits as an appetizing component in their dishes. There are those species with tender leaves and pads used in boiled or grilled vegetable dishes.
Cactus is not only nutritional to humans but animals too. There are very many desert animals that depend on cacti for survival. A good example is Carmel that chew on the pads and fruits of cacti as their food. Other plants get their water from cactus during the hot months, thanks to the ability of these plants to store water in their trunks.
Another thing you’ll love about the cactus is their long lives. Many wild cactus plants are known to live for over a hundred years. The likes of saguaro are known to survive for more than 200 years in the wild.
For indoor cactus, expect them to survive for ten years or more. With these plants, you can rest assured that you won’t need to plant fresh ones from time to time. You have the opportunity to form that bond with your cactus plant as it’s going to be with you for several years.
Cactus Can Live Anywhere
Cactus gives you a perfect way to add a bit of greenery to both your indoor and outdoor space. These plants can do well inside your house in the living room, bathroom, or toilet. They can also grow perfectly in the garden, the veranda, fence, or your patio area. You can use them to create a unique garden, make a piece of art in your office, or introduce some touch of nature to your living room.
All you need to understand is their specific growth requirements, so you know where best to place them. For instance, those who require indirect lighting can thrive indoors where they only get a few hours of light per day. The species that need a lot of sunlight will do well outdoors where they’re not limited to the amount of light that gets to them.
Cons of Having Cactus at Home
Beyond the beauty and glam that comes with owning cacti, you must also know that they have their downsides. It’s worth noting these cons before proceeding to grow your cactus, so you’re well prepared to handle them.
Cactus Adapt to Heat But Not Cold
Cacti are known to be highly adaptive plants, but adaptation is only to heat and not cold. Many cacti species do not survive in low temperatures. Freeze damage can cause cosmetic injury to your plants. The injury mostly appears in yellow and black spots. You’ll first notice freeze injury by blackening the areas exposed to cold. They can become crisp, dry, and yellowish.
But you don’t have to worry so much about this because your cacti will recover from the damage with time. That is if the cold is not that bad. You can also ensure your cacti don’t go through these problems by keeping them away from cold drafts or windowsills in the colder months of the year. You can also cover your cacti with a cotton sheet at night to protect them from freezing temperatures.
Even though cacti can withstand long summer months, intense heat is also not good for them. Many species that grow in greenhouses or are kept indoors can get burns when introduced to direct sunlight. Such cacti can turn yellow from sunburn. The epidermis of those cacti burns resulting in a permanent scar, but they can still recover.
If you have to introduce your indoor or greenhouse plants to direct sun, make sure you do it gradually. Also, plant your cacti in the same direction as they previously were.
They Can Rot Easily
Cactus have very strict requirements when it comes to water needs. Most of these plants don’t need too much water and can easily rot if you overwater them. If the soil is not permeable, the roots will rot. Just a simple wound on any part of the plant can also result in rot. Some common rot problems that might affect your plant are fungal or wilt issues.
Rotting cacti will display several symptoms: slow growth, discoloration, decline, visible rot, and death.
The plants also get attacked by fungi and other diseases as well that cause them to develop rot. Make sure you avoid all the problems that may cause rot. Avoid overwatering and make sure your cactus gets well-drained soil, so it doesn’t become water-logged.
Take Too Long to Bloom
Cactus blooms are beautiful, and everyone longs to see them. However, these plants don’t bloom easily and will take a long time before seeing your first flowers. Cacti may take several years before they bloom, and only do it when you set the conditions right. If you don’t give them the care they need, you might not even see the flowers.
Cacti are Spiky
Many cactus plants have spines that make them dangerous for gardeners. Such cacti are extremely dangerous to prune or remove. You need to protect yourself when tending to these plants by wearing protective gloves.
But these spikes can also be an advantage. The spines act as the plant’s defense mechanism protecting them from harm. The spines can also be an advantage to the gardeners. You can plant such in your fence or below a window to discourage break-ins.
Like other plants, cactus also suffer from pest and animal attacks. Bugs are easily attracted to freshly cut cacti and can interfere with their growth. But the good news is that you can use neem oil spray and other pesticides to keep the pets away from your plant. Some animals feed on cactus pads that you might want to keep away. Learn how to protect your precious outdoor plants from such attacks.
Where can you place cactus at home?
There’s no doubt that cacti give positive energy at home. You probably want to place them where you want to see them all the time and feel the positive vibe. But you can’t just place your cactus anywhere because they need to get sunlight.
Another problem is that most cacti have spines, and you don’t want to get sprinkled every time you brush shoulders with them. Make sure you place your cactus where they can grow well without disturbance and get the desired light. You should also ensure you’re comfortable with the location of your plant. You don’t want the plant to get on your way.
Can cacti die?
Cacti plants are known to be slow-growing but can last very long. However, sometimes the owners think that their plants are just growing at a slower pace or dormant when they’re dying. So yes, cacti can die under different circumstances; one of them can be because of the sloppiness of the owners or the harsh climates. One of the common causes of cacti death is overwatering.
Can cactus make a good houseplant?
Many cacti are known to love the sun, but they can still do well indoors. If you know how to take care of indoor plants, you’ll love cacti as houseplants. You can use them in your living space or windowsills as good home décor. Indoor cacti are not so demanding in terms of light needs and will do well with indirect sunlight. Most of them don’t grow so quickly, so you won’t worry about them getting too big for your room.
Is it bad luck to keep cactus at home?
While this looks more like a misconception, Feng Shui followers don’t believe cacti are good for homes. According to these people, having cactus in your house can result in misfortune. They associate cacti with losses, stress, anxiety, and disease.
Cacti are known to retain a lot of liquid to aid their survival. This adaptability has made people believe that these plants show no symbol of abundance. However, if you’re not a Feng Shui follower, this is nothing but a misconception.
Summary: Should You Grow Cacti or Not?
Now that you know that cacti plants have their pros and cons, the ball is on your court. Before you go ahead to cultivate these precious plants you’ve admired for long, you must understand both their positive and negative sides.
Cactus make excellent plants to have in your home garden both indoors and outdoors, thanks to their undeniable beauty. The plants bring peace, fresh air, and calm to every home they touch. When they bloom, they make your home even brighter and livelier. To top it all up, cacti are pretty easy to tend for and won’t take all your time.
But despite all these, the plants come with their downsides, such as stringent watering needs. Cacti can rot easily if you expose them to too much moisture. Cacti also suffer from pests and fungi attacks. The plants can take a long time to bloom and grow pretty slowly. Know how to handle all these problems or cope with them before you introduce cactus to your home.