What you need to know to take care of your cactus

All cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti! In this blog, we will go over the basics of what you need to know to take care of your cactus.

Water – more important than you may think

It is a common misconception that a cactus doesn’t need any water. Even though it can survive harsh drought conditions for many months or even years, a cactus will eventually die if it does not get at least some water eventually.

To take care of your cactus properly, you should only water it during their growing season. This is generally during spring and summer. Soak the soil thoroughly to make sure water reaches the roots, then leave it to dry out for 1-2 weeks before watering again. You should not use spray bottles or misting to water your cactus, as the roots can’t reach water droplets sitting on top of the soil.

Cacti are dormant in winter and have a tendency to develop root rot if watered when it’s cold. It’s best to avoid watering them during the winter months.

Soil mix – the root of all things great

You can plant your cactus in a gritty, well-draining soil mix. We recommend a mix containing Ibaraki Akadama, Hyuga pumice, and small bark chips. You can add some slow-release fertilizer as well.

Light – an essential need for cacti

Cacti are generally sun-loving plants. Most species of cacti can tolerate growing under 40%-60% shade cloth in areas that receive full sun. If you plant species like San Pedro cactus (Echinopsis pachanoi) and the golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus) in your garden, they will adjust to the full sun unprotected. This adjustment may take some time. Putting plants that have been grown in a greenhouse in full sun immediately is not a great idea. They will get sunburned!

Do not grow these plants in the shade. A cactus that grows in strong shade will become quite unhappy-looking and stretched out.

Taking care of cacti like the San Pedro cactus is easy as they can tolerate full sun conditions
Cacti like the San Pedro cactus are ideal for full sun conditions

Growing with other succulents

Plants that like similar climatic conditions to cacti are Agave, Echeveria, Euphorbia, and Pachypodium. These are all summer growing succulents and will thrive together with cacti in the same greenhouse or garden bed.

Do they thrive in South Africa?

Most of South Africa is ideal for growing cacti. The climatic conditions are relatively similar to their original habitat in the continental Americas, with many semi-arid and arid areas, and the country as a whole receiving about half the rainfall of the global average. Except for the Western Cape, much of South Africa receives summer rainfall, which is perfect for cacti.

- Anne-Marie K

Harry from LDP was incredibly helpful and patient, answering all my questions. I would definitely deal with him again.

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