The pencil cactus, Euphorbia tirucalli, is a succulent native to parts of Africa. It gets its name from its long, thin stems that resemble pencils. The pencil cactus is a beautiful, low-maintenance plant that is easy to care for, making it an excellent option for beginner gardeners.
One of the most important things to remember when it comes to caring for your pencil cactus is proper watering. Pencil cacti are native to arid regions and thus have adapted to survive prolonged periods without water.
You need to water your pencil cactus deeply, but infrequently. When you water your plant, make sure to give it a good soaking so that the water reaches the roots. Let the soil dry out completely between watering sessions. Avoid getting water on the leaves and use room-temperature water. Remember to water your plant less frequently in winter. The plant enters a period of dormancy in winter and won’t need as much water as other times of the year.
This blog post highlights some golden rules for watering a pencil cactus. Read on so you don’t make any mistakes that might endanger your plant.
Pencil Cactus: General Water Requirements
One of the ways of caring for pencil cactus is to stick to its ideal watering requirement. Before we dive into the specifics of watering a pencil cactus, it’s essential to understand the plant’s general water requirements.
Pencil cacti are succulents, which means they store water in their leaves and stems. This allows them to survive prolonged periods of drought.
However, that doesn’t mean they don’t need water at all. In fact, all plants need water to survive. Water is essential for plant growth and helps transport nutrients throughout the plant.
When it comes to watering a pencil cactus, the key is to strike a balance. Overwatering can be just as damaging as underwatering. So, how do you know when to water your plant and how much water it needs?
Typically, you should consider watering your pencil cactus deeply, but infrequently. Let the soil dry out completely between watering sessions and reduce watering during winter since the plant will enter a period of dormancy and won’t need as much water.
The most important thing you need to do is avoid overwatering since the succulent is highly susceptible to root rot. When you water your plant, ensure the water can easily drain out to avoid waterlogging the soil.
Common signs of root rot in a pencil cactus include yellow leaves/stem, mushy stems, and a foul odor. If you notice any of these signs, it’s essential to act immediately and address the problem.
The best course of action is to replant the cactus in fresh, dry soil. If the root rot is severe, you may need to trim away any affected parts of the plant.
Watering Your Pencil Cactus: The Golden Rules
Cactus plants can survive in the desert conditions characterized by prolonged drought and harsh weather. However, this doesn’t mean you don’t need to take caution when watering your pencil cactus. Here are the golden rules for watering this succulent:
Golden Rule #1: Water Deeply, But Infrequently
As we’ve mentioned, one of the most important things to remember when watering a pencil cactus is to strike a balance. You don’t want to underwater or overwater your plant.
A good rule of thumb is to water deeply, but infrequently. When you water your cactus, make sure to give it a good soaking, so it reaches the roots. Avoid getting water on the leaves and use room-temperature water.
Golden Rule #2: Let the Soil Dry Out Completely Between Watering Sessions
It’s essential to let the soil dry out completely between watering sessions. This will help avoid waterlogged soil, which can lead to root rot.
If you’re unsure whether the soil is dry, stick your finger in the soil up to the second knuckle. If the soil is dry, it’s time to water your plant.
Alternatively, you can purchase a moisture meter to take the guesswork out of watering. The moisture meter is designed to measure the water content in the soil.
It has three probes that you insert into the soil. The meter will then give you a reading of how moist the soil is. This is a helpful tool, especially if you’re new to watering plants.
Golden Rule #3: Water Less Frequently in Winter
During winter, your pencil cactus will enter a period of dormancy and won’t need as much water. This is because the plant isn’t actively growing during this time.
Generally, you should water your plant about once every two to three weeks during winter. However, you may need to water it less frequently if the weather is cool and dry.
In some cases, the pencil cactus can go for entire winter months without being watered. Just make sure the soil is completely dry before watering your plant again.
Golden Rule #4: Avoid Overwatering
One of the most important things to remember when watering a pencil cactus is to avoid overwatering. This succulent is highly susceptible to root rot, so it’s essential to ensure the soil can drain well.
Waterlogged soil is one of the leading causes of root rot in plants. When roots are constantly wet, they start to break down and rot. This can lead to a host of problems for your plant, including yellowing leaves, mushy stems, and a foul odor.
If you notice any of these signs, it’s essential to act immediately and address the problem. The best course of action is to replant the cactus in fresh, dry soil. If the root rot is severe, you may need to trim away any affected parts of the plant.
Golden Rule #4: Water Early in the Morning
It is also critical to water your pencil cactus at the right time of the day. The best time to water your plant is early morning, before the day’s heat sets in. Aim for the hours between 6:00 am and 10:00 am.
If you water your plant during the heat of the day, the water will evaporate before reaching the roots. This can stress your plant and lead to problems down the road.
Watering your plant in the morning will also allow it to absorb the water before the sun goes down. This is important because the plant will need to store water to get through the night.
If you cannot water it early in the morning, the next best time to water your plant is in the evening, after the sun has gone down. Avoid watering it too late at night, so the plant has time to dry out before morning.
Golden Rule #5: Use the Right Watering Method
How you water your plant is just as important as how often you water it. When watering a pencil cactus, it’s best to use the soak-and-dry method.
To use this method, water your plant until the soil is saturated. Let the water drain out of the pot and into the saucer beneath it.
Once the water has drained, remove the saucer from beneath the pot. This will allow the soil to dry out completely before you water your plant again.
The soak-and-dry method is the best way to water a pencil cactus because it allows the roots to get the oxygen they need. It also helps avoid root rot, which can be a problem with this plant.
If you’re using a different watering method, such as bottom watering, let the water drain out completely before putting the pot back in its saucer. This will help avoid root rot and keep your plant healthy.
Golden Rule #6: Use Room-Temperature Water
Last but not least, it’s essential to use room-temperature water when watering your plant. Cold water can shock the roots and lead to problems down the road.
Avoid using warm water since it can also cause the plant to wilt. Room-temperature water is the best way to go.
If you’re not sure whether the water is too cold or too warm, it’s best to err on the side of caution and let it sit out for a bit before watering. This will help ensure that the water is just right for your plant.
Golden Rule #6: Use Rainwater or Distilled Water
If you can, try to use rainwater or distilled water when watering your pencil cactus plant. These types of water are free of chemicals and other impurities that can harm your plant.
If you don’t have access to rainwater or distilled water, use tap water but let it sit out for 24 hours before using it. This will allow the chemicals to dissipate and make the water safer for your plant.
Tap water contains a wide range of minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. These minerals can build up in the soil and lead to problems for your pencil cactus. The best way to avoid these issues is using rainwater or distilled water to keep your plant hydrated.
Following these simple tips can keep your pencil cactus healthy and happy for many years. Remember, when it comes to watering this succulent, less is more!
Allow the soil to dry out completely between watering intervals, and never let your plant sit in water for too long. With just a little bit of care, your pencil cactus will thrive and reward you!
Last update on 2023-07-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API