Cactus Care Guide

About Your New Plant

Indoor cactus plants are types of succulents that are very easy to look after. Cacti belong to the plant family Cactaceae. These succulent plants have thick fleshy leaves or stems that retain plenty of moisture. Cacti need less watering than other houseplants due to their thick succulent stems. There are about 1,750 species of cacti—some look like round furry balls with spikes whereas others are tall with stems that reach upward.

How to Care for Cacti

Grow cactus plants in fast-draining soil and water when the potting mix dries out. Cacti thrive in bright sunlight up to 12 hours a day. In summer, cactus plants may need watering every week but in winter, every four to six weeks. Cacti grow in temperatures between 65°F and 80°F (18°C – 27°), low humidity, and need feeding twice or three times in the growing season.

Cacti are super hardy indoor houseplants that survive in most conditions. If you care for a cactus well, it can thrive indoors for many decades. Some species of outdoor cacti can live between 20 and 200 years. To help cacti live long, the plants need thorough watering as often as the soil becomes dry.

Cacti—like most succulents—are slow-growing plants, especially when growing in pots indoors. Over the first two or three years, cactus plants only grow a few centimeters. When growing in optimal conditions and if they get enough water, the plants usually grow between 0.5” and 1” (1 – 3 cm) a year. Due to their slow growth rate, cacti don’t need much feeding.

Benefits of Plants

Did you know the act of caring for plants can come with a number of health benefits? Here are just a few compiled by University Libraries with support from UI Student Wellness:

1. Reduce stress and anxiety

Source: Lee, et al. (2015). “Interaction with indoor plants may reduce psychological and physiological stress by suppressing autonomic nervous system activity in young adults.” Journal of Physiological Anthropology.

2. Improve concentration and memory

Source: “Health and well-being benefits of plants” – Texas A&M Agrilife Extension.

3. Lessen depression

Source: Gonzalez, et al. (2009). “Therapeutic horticulture in clinical depression: a prospective study”. Research & Theory for Nursing Practice

4. Promote healing and recovery

Source: “Health and well-being benefits of plants” – Texas A&M Agrilife Extension.

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