How to grow cactus plants
With a huge range of Cactus Plants and Seed available from online providers as well as from members of cactus clubs and societies growing cactus plants is a great hobby.
Essential factors to take into account when growing cactus plants include using a suitable cactus potting mix, usually a free draining mix. And yes cactus do flower see the picture right a Mammillaria species.
Growing cactus outdoors during spring to autumn presents few problems, however cactus generally prefer to have a dry winter, so some protection from rain is required. General requirements relate to light, water and the growing medium or potting mix.
Basic Cactus care and growing tips
Water is essential for all plants, however cacti require very little of it, so water sparingly, this also relates to the growing medium, cacti need a free draining soil, so use a specialist cacti and succulent potting mix. In the garden try raising the garden bed to provide excellent drainage.
Cacti need light, they may do well inside on a sunny window sill, but in deep shade they will not perform well at all.
In general cactus do not require a lot of fertilizer, so if you don’y over water or over fertilize you are started on the right track to growing healthy cactus plants.
The general rule is to water during active growth (spring through summer) always allowing the soil to almost dry between watering. In winter cut back on watering, however still do not allow the soil to dry completely.
Indoors and Outdoors.
- Many cactus can be successfully grown indoors, they do require 6 hours of light a day, so a sunny position indoors can be great.
Cactus Potting Mix Recipe
Lots of different recipes for making your own cactus potting mix.
A simple mix is to use a good potting mix that does not have water saving crystals or granuals added and sharp, course washed sand. Use 2/3 potting mix to 1/3 sand.
Some slow release fertilizer can also be added to cactus potting mix.
Propagating Cactus from seed. Use a free draining potting mix or seed raising mix in a seedling tray, soak the potting mix, sprinkle the seeds on the top and then cover thinly with some course wshed sand. Keep the seeds in a warm place, at around 20C. Try covering with glass in colder months and at night. Keep fairly humid if possible.
Once cactus seedlings appear water with 1/4 strength liquid fertilizer.
Growing Cactus from cuttings
You can grow some varieties from cuttings, usually the columnar types. You can take leaf sections, or smaller leaves of some types.
- In order for cactus to ‘strike’ from cuttings they need have some time to form a callous over the exposed part before being planted in a well drained potting mix.
- The cutting itself needs to be placed in a cool dry position until the cut areas hardens over (calluses)
- The callus is where the roots will form and you can hasten the process by using a rooting hormone (liquid or powder).
- Use a very free draining potting mix, sharp sand will work, or potting soil with perlite mixed through.
- Take the cutting that has been allowed to harden off
- Plant it in the new clean pot.
- Hold off on the water for 2-3 weeks and then give it a good watering before letting the new plant dry out again (another 2-3 weeks) before repeating. Once the plant shows signs of ‘new life’ a little slow release fertilizer and we are done.
Propagation by Division
You can also propagate cactus from offsets or ‘pups’.
These are removed from the parent plant, allowed to callus over and then planted into a free draining propagation mix as above.
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