Cacti plants are an exceptionally resilient group of plants, and just as much as they are resilient, they are diverse! Usually recognized for their ability to sustain life on little water and in harsh desert environments, you may be surprised what other conditions some cacti can thrive in.
Which cactus is best to grow indoor with low light? The answer is not just one cactus, but quite a few varieties can live and grow in dim, partial, or indirect light, including the scarlet ball cactus, crown cactus, zebra cactus, and Christmas cactus.
While everyone is most familiar with the cacti that thrive in blindly bright, scorching hot desert environments, other varieties survive quite well in different conditions. You may be pleasantly surprised by how many options of cacti you have if you are looking to spruce up your apartment, office space, or any other dimly lit room.
This article will go over the four best cacti to grow indoor and in spaces with low or limited light.
4 of the Best Types of Cacti for Indoor with Low Light:
1. Scarlet Ball Cactus (Parodia Haselbergii)
This cactus is a small, round looking cactus with many fine, straight spines. They may bloom red or yellow flowers on the crown of the plant. These cacti are recognized as an easy to care for variety and are great as a starter for anyone new to caring for cacti!
The scarlet ball cactus is native to South America, where they live in a moister environment than more cacti. While overwatering is still harmful and should be carefully avoided, they can handle more moisture than other cacti while you play around and find the perfect watering practices.
These cacti do not do well in a lot of direct sun. They can handle direct sunlight in the morning and later in the day but can be harmed by the direct sun during the hottest hours of the day. A low-lit environment is just fine for these little guys.
2. Crown Cactus (Rebutia)
The crown cactus is native to South America, and in the wild, they grow in clusters on mountains. Among the clusters of crown cacti, their flowers will bloom from the base between individual cacti.
While this cactus is best if it receives some bright light, it can grow and live in a range of conditions, including indoors and with low light. This cactus needs very little water, yes, even for a cactus. The soil should dry out almost entirely before you go to water it again. This cactus is another great one for cacti newbies because it is very resilient and adaptive. So, poor lighting, irregularly water, and so on are not optimal but will not cause substantial harm to this cactus as fast as other, more sensitive cacti.
3. Zebra Cactus (Haworthia Attenuata)
The zebra cactus looks a bit more like other succulent varieties but is a beautiful cactus that can sustain itself in low light. The zebra cactus grows tapered, dark green leaves (think similar to the shape of an aloe vera plant) with white horizontal stripes and spikes along the edges.
This cactus benefits from some full sun but turns red when sun exposure is excessive and often benefits from a decent amount of shade or survives just fine indoors with low light. When you water the zebra plant, you will want to get water throughout all the soil, but make sure it thoroughly dries out before watering again. The easy care and small size of these plants make them a popular indoor cactus choice.
4. Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera Bridgesii)
Christmas cacti are quite the unique cactus variety. They have flat, spikey leaves that hang over and bright flowers that bloom around the holiday season, hence the name Christmas cactus.
These plants need long nights or periods out of light, at about 14 hours long to trigger blooming. This makes them a great houseplant, as they do well away from direct sun an add bright color wherever you place them.
The Christmas cactus can be fidgety to care for with the amount of light and temperature affecting how flowers bloom. Many Christmas cactus owner may also prune their plant in early summer to encourage more flowers as well.
This cactus takes a considerable amount of water, needing to be watered completely through the soil whenever the top of the soil is dry to the touch. This cactus is a good choice for someone who has experience caring for cacti or is willing to research and learn precisely how to care for it.
How To Take the Best Care of Cacti Indoors or In Low Light:
There are a few adjustments you should make that will help ensure a cactus has a safe, supportive environment to grow and survive in even without the most optimal amount of light.
1. Use a well-draining soil
Cacti are not meant to sit in wet soil for long periods of time. Combining poor lighting and overly wet soil can create quite harmful conditions for the plant. Soil that is heavy or very dense will trap moisture, and the plant will not take up immediately.
To avoid your cactus sitting in wet soil, you will want to pot it in a cactus mix. Look for the ingredient perlite which improves aeration and keeps the soil loose and prevents it from becoming compact to allow for drainage.
2. Be very careful not to overwater
An indoor cactus, especially one kept in low light, will need far less water than other house plants or any cacti you have grown outside. Overwatering will likely kill the cactus, and low light conditions make the plant even more vulnerable and sensitive to any adverse effects.
When watering, consider if misting or watering is better for the cactus you have. Water at the base of the cactus, so water reaches the roots and can be absorbed. You will want the water to reach the roots of the plant, but you do not have to add so much water that it drips from the pot. Generally, you should repeat watering when the top inch of soil in your pot is dried out.
3. Use a pot that allows excess water to drain out
Root rot describes damaged roots that are beginning to prune and no longer take up water. This is a common problem for cacti that can be caused by pests, pathogens, or overly wet soil. The last two suggestions will reduce the chances of this as well, but a pot with drainage holes will help significantly by letting out excess water and allowing aeration in the deepest part of the pot. In low light, indoor environments, this is especially important to make up for the drying effect of sunlight.
Growing Your Cactus Indoors with Low Light
If you love cacti, but do not have the most optimal environment, there is no need to feel defeated!
As you can see, cacti as a group share core characteristics, but individually, each has unique care needs. Your responsibility is to make the most of the environment for your plant by allowing what light you can, using good soil, watering responsibly, and so on. If you follow these guidelines, your cacti will thank you by growing vibrantly in your space.
If you make an informed choice as to what cactus to keep indoors- minding that it is suited for the environment and aware of how to best care for it, you can brighten up any space with these intriguing little plants!