Cacti and Succulents

Cacti and succulents are plants that have developed fleshy roots and stems or leaves for the purpose of storing water during times of drought. Cacti and succulents make great house plants provided they receive direct light, preferably in a window.

Potting: Proper potting is essential for success with cacti and succulents. A pot with a drain hole is a must. When selecting a new pot, choose only a slightly larger pot (1-3 inches larger).  Too much bigger, and the excess soil will hold too much water, thus running the risk of rotting the plants’ root system before the roots have filled out the pot. Use only a coarse and well draining potting mix specific for cacti and succulents. Other soil mixes will retain too much water.

Watering: Succulents store water to survive extended dry periods. Succulents should be watered thoroughly, then allowed to dry out before watering again. Water completely until the water runs out the drain hole. Always empty the dish tray or saucer out after watering, never allow the plant to sit in water for any period of time. In the hot months of summer,  a once a week watering is a good idea, during the cloudy winter months, once every two weeks is sufficient. When in doubt, feel the soil of the pot a couple inches down, and remember to water only if dry! In the active growing months, a low dose all purpose soluble fertilizer may be used.

Light and Temperature: Most cacti and succulents need direct light for at least 6 hours a day.  Avoid low to medium light situations or your plant will stretch and become “leggy” and weak. If you choose to put your succulent out for the summer months, avoid putting it directly into the hot summer sun from the house, they can actually sunburn! Acclimate the plant first. While cacti and succulents enjoy the average room temperature of a house, they actually can withstand winter temps of 45-55 degrees. Colder winter temps will actually encourage your cacti or succulent to bloom.