Given their light requirements, these prickly little suckers are often kept outdoors where the sun is brightest and they can cop the most light possible. But if you're really keen to make them a fixtureinside your home well, read on...
Cacti and succulents make great indoor plants (once you've got the care covered). Not only do they offer variety - with interesting and architectual forms, beautiful (if not short-lived) blooms - but they are also some of the lowest maintenance plants around. They just need light. And lots of it.
Which is why most of us have our cacti sitting outside in courtyards copping as much sun as possible. Inside, however, is when we start to see the issues spring up. Overwatering, incorrect potting media, lack of light...all good reasons why you won't have the same plant thriving indoors as it was outside. This article hopes to cover all of the above and more.
This goes for all plant types. Understanding their natural environment and ideal grwoing conditions means you can do your best to provide the same (or as close to!) conditions inside the home.
Most cacti and succulents come from arid, desert environments. They recieve alot of sun, in higher temperatures with low humidity and rainfall. Understanding these needs will ensure you're able to best provide them inside the home.
This is the most important part of keeping your Cacti and Succulents happy indoors. They need light, so where you place them must be a good source of direct sun light (at least 6-8hrs). The easiest way to achieve this is by placing your cacti or succulent in a window sill that recieves direct sun. Not only will they be getting enough light, but also the window will amplify the heat to raise the temperature around it.
As appealing as it might be, avoid corners away from windows or dark bookshelves. If there really is a space that is screaming for a spikey hero plant, then consider grow lights. (Adding a timer means you can make sure the minimum 6 hrs is recieved).
Cacti and succulents have evolved to survive in environments with little-to-no rainfall. They have the ability to store water in their leaves so survive over long periods with no rain. That being said, it is a misconception that they don't need to be watered, or only require a little drink every now and then. Outside, most of these plants are used to recieving downpours of rain and then nothing for months at a time. When watering, its best to water well (until water comes out of the drainage hole in the bottomof the pot) and then don't water again until the potting media has dried out completely. If you've used the correct potting media, this is generally about a week but always check by sticking your finger in the mix prior to watering.
In the colder months, when the plants aren't in growth mode, hold off watering even longer. If you have an arid-loving, summer flowering cacti then hold off watering altogether. Alternatively if you have a winter flowering cacti or succulent then you can continue watering as long as they are still in the warmth and growing.
Overwatering is the grim reaper for cacti and succulents and they are highly susceptible to root rot. Seasonal change will effect how quickly the potting media dries out, so be aware we move from the warmer months into the cooler ones, and vice versa.
Along with the belief that 'cacti and succulents don't need to be watered' comes the idea that they don't need to be fertilised either. But all plants require nutrients, and the ones we have potted in our homes are relying on us to provide them. Cacti and succulents are no exception, although due to their slower growth rate they don't require as much. The best time to apply fertiliser is while they are actively growing (generally Spring and Summer). Using slow release organic fertilisers like our Bio Pelletshave a lower NPK, which is ideal for slow growing plants like cacti and succulents.
The wrong potting mix can have a serious effect on your cacti or succulents health and overall growth. Cacti and succulents absorb their water from the soil and then store it in their leaves. So having a good, free draining potting mix is key. While most potting mixes are designed with water rention in mind, with a specialised cacti mix the media is formulated to drain off quickly to avoid any fungal growth.
When potting up cacti, its important to wait a few weeks prior to watering and feeding to allow the plants to settle into their new mix.
The last thing you should consider when adding Cacti and Succulents to your indoor plant collection is the type of pot you use. We discussed pot choice a little here, but with cacti and succulents you can't beat terracotta. Terracotta is porus and retains heat well, so it will help keep your plants warm and aid with removing excess water.
And always look for a pot with a drainage hole - while it is possible to have a plant in a pot without a drainage hole, with cacti and succulents it is definetely not advised as the risk of overwatering and root rot is far too high.