Houseplants can improve the ambience of your living space.  Tropical plants offer lush, green foliage.  Another option are succulents and cacti.  The variations in shape and structure are numerous, and beautiful.  The care of succulents and cacti differ quite a bit than for tropical plants. This information offers a brief overview of care for both succulents and cacti, respectively.

 

Succulent Care

Succulents are a drought tolerant plant with thick, fleshy leaves and/or swollen stems that store water.  There are many different species of succulents, all of them unique and beautiful.

Light:

Most succulents need bright, indirect light.  If there isn’t enough light for the plant, they can become leggy, growing and reaching to find more light.

Soil:

The soil needs to be well-draining and also well-aerated.  These plants cannot sit in any standing water or saturated soil, or rot may occur.  Make sure your pot has drainage holes.  Allow your soil to completely dry out between watering.  Plant your succulent using a cactus mix such as Black Gold, which has pumice and perlite allowing for superb drainage.

Watering:

Overwatering can kill your succulents.  A good rule of thumb is to water very deeply (until water flows from the bottom of the pot), but less frequently.  Soak the soil very well, then allow to fully dry out (make sure there is no standing water in the bottom of the pot).

Fertilizing:

Springtime is an excellent time to fertilize with a balanced, all purpose fertilizer at a quarter strength.  They are not heavy feeders.  They do not require any fertilizer in the winter, as they go semi-dormant.

 

Cactus Care

Light:

As a general rule,  cacti like around 4 hours of direct sunlight, such as desert types with thorns.  Tropical cacti, such as Christmas Cactus prefer partial shade.  Give tropical cacti direct sunlight in winter, but indirect light the rest of the year.  Similar to succulents, if your cactus is not getting enough light, it will have strange growth patterns called etiolation.

Water:

Depending on the type of cactus, you may need to water less or more frequently. Check the soil with your finger- if it is still moist, or soil clings to your finger, give it more time. A good rule of thumb is to water deeply and well but infrequently, soaking the soil. Overwatering can cause root rot which will stunt the plants growth, causing leaves to wilt. This can ultimately kill the plant. During active growth, your cactus may require more frequent watering. During dormancy, water maybe once per month.

Soil:

Always give your cactus well-draining soil. There are great mixes specific to cacti and succulents. We recommend Black Gold Cactus Mix for repotting.

Fertilize:

Once per month during active growth, usually from March-October. Dilute an all-purpose liquid to about 1/4 strength. In winter when temperatures drop and days grow shorter, cactus go into dormancy and require less water. Do not fertilize your cactus during its dormant period.

Repotting:

In ideal circumstances, you should repot your cactus every year. A sure sign that your plant needs a larger space is if it starts pushing its way up out of the pot or the roots begin growing through the drainage hole. When repotting, remove the old soil from the roots. This can be done gently by teasing out the roots with a chopstick and letting the old soil shake off. If you see any dead roots, its a great time to nip them off. Place your cactus in a pot that is one size up, and make sure it has drainage holes. Use fairly dry and fresh soil. There’s no need to water the plant right away; let sit out of direct sunlight for a week or two before watering to allow any damaged roots to heal. Wet roots can become susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections. Protect your hands from sharp spines by wrapping the plant with old newspaper.