Watering cactus can be one of the most difficult aspects of caring for them. Learning when watering cactus is needed and how often can be difficult. Each family of cacti are different. One type may require watering on a weekly basis, while another may only need it once per month. There are several factors to consider when learning the best method for watering cactus.
Whether the cactus is inside or outside will make a difference in the watering schedule that is needed. An indoor cactus requires much more monitoring and close observation. When growing a cactus indoors, first ensure that the pot it is placed in is no bigger than the original. If the pot is too large, it will allow more water than necessary to surround the plant, and over watering can occur.
During the dormant season, the need for watering cactus is less than during the growth season. One way to find out if the plant needs more water is to gently push a pencil into the soil. If there is still damp soil clinging to the pencil when it is removed, then there is no need to water it. If the pencil is dry, then the cactus needs to be watered. A good soaking is all that is required when watering cactus.
Another way to learn the best method for watering cactus is careful observation. Signs that a cactus needs water may include wrinkling of the outer skin. This is caused by shrinkage of the water-storing tissue within the cactus. Other times, the cactus may begin to turn yellow, indicating that it is dehydrated. If any of these signs are present, soaking the entire cactus will normally help.
Over watering cactus is another issue. Swelling and cracking of the outer skin is an indicator that the cactus is receiving too much water. Change to less frequent watering and check the soil using the pencil method.
Outdoor cactus in their native habitat will generally live a long and healthy life with the care that nature provides. If a cactus is planted as part of ornamental landscape, extra care may be required. Ensure that it is not planted near any type of irrigation system. Cactus roots have been known to stretch to great lengths underground to find water. This may be unhealthy for the cactus, unknowingly causing an over watering problem.
Cactus have been known to thrive for over 100 years. The many varieties can add interest to almost any landscape. With patience and care, a cacti can give many years of enjoyment.