Cacti usually live in deserts and thrive in hot and dry conditions. However, cacti can also be used as beautiful indoor ornamental plants. This plant does not require intensive care and requires very little attention when compared to other plants so it is ideal for beginners, and makes a great gift for people who are moving house. The secrets to getting a healthy cactus indoors include providing plenty of sun, not over-watering, and using the right growing media.
Part 1 of 3: Breeding New Plants
Step 1. Take cuttings from a healthy cactus
You can grow a cactus from branches that grow from a healthy parent plant. Choose branches that are plump, clean, and healthy. Gently cut or break off the branch from the mother plant.
You can also buy cacti at nurseries, ornamental plant sellers, and nursery centers
Step 2. Allow the cut to heal
Place the cuttings in a sunny window. Lay the cuttings and leave them there for 2 days. The goal is to give the cuttings time to form a callus. If you plant them while the wound has not healed, chances are the cuttings will rot.
Step 3. Choose a pot for the cactus
Drainage is the most important thing to consider when choosing a pot. Look for pots that have drainage holes at the bottom to allow excess water to drain out. Cacti can also grow well in small pots. So, choose a pot that is 2 times the size of the cactus.
You can use a plastic or clay pot. Plastic pots are cheaper and lighter, but heavy clay pots are suitable for large, heavy plants
Step 4. Put the special cactus planting media into the pot
Cacti need soil that dries easily, so you must use a special planting medium for cacti. So that the planting medium can drain water well, mix 2 parts of cactus soil with 1 part of gravel or perlite (silica stone that has high absorption).
Cacti planted in wet soil are susceptible to fungus and bacteria
Step 5. Plant the cactus cuttings into the soil
Insert the stem pieces that have callus into the planting medium. Insert the cuttings deep enough for the plant to stand upright without support. Use your hands to compact the soil around the cuttings so that the cactus stands firmly.
Step 6. Moisten the soil
Wet the planting medium to give the cactus additional water, but don't let it soak in water. Before new roots and shoots grow, only lightly moisten the cuttings if the soil feels dry. Otherwise, the cactus cuttings may rot.
Step 7. Place the cactus cuttings in a sunny place
Place the cuttings on a windowsill or other location that is bright, but not exposed to direct sunlight. New cuttings can be damaged if they get a lot of direct sunlight. Allow the cactus cuttings to remain there for 1 or 2 months, until new growth appears.
Part 2 of 3: Caring for a Cactus
Step 1. Choose a sunny spot
Once alive, most cactus species need a few hours of direct sunlight each day. An east-facing window is an ideal place for most cacti. However, if the cactus starts to turn yellow, white, or turn orange, the plant may be getting too much sun. You should move the plant to a west-facing window.
Bathroom and kitchen windows are ideal places for cacti because they can provide additional humidity in the air as needed
Step 2. Water the cactus weekly while the plant is growing
Excessive watering can kill a cactus, but the plant should be watered weekly when it is in a period of active growth. Cactus growth phase usually occurs in the rainy season. If the soil feels dry to the touch, water the plant until the soil is damp.
Do not water the plant if the soil is still damp, as this can cause the cactus to rot and die
Step 3. Fertilize the cactus every week in its growth phase
Cacti also need fertilizer, both in the dry season and the rainy season. When you water the plant regularly every week, apply a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer (this is the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) before watering the cactus. Dissolve the fertilizer into the water at a rate of a quarter of the recommended dose on the product packaging.
Step 4. Provide good air circulation
Cacti do not like strong and strong winds, but prefer areas with fresh air. Increase air circulation in your home by turning on ceiling fans, opening vents, and opening windows when it's hot.
Step 5. Rotate the pot every month
Like most plants, cacti will grow with sunlight, and this can make their growth uneven and distorted. Keep the growth balanced by giving the cactus an even amount of sunlight, and rotating the pot one quarter of the way each month.
Step 6. Change the pot every year
Use a well-draining pot one size larger than the current pot. Fill the pot with a special cactus planting medium. Take the cactus, place your hands around the base of the plant, then turn the pot over to remove it. Tap the roots gently to remove the old soil, and prune any dead or dry roots. Place the cactus in a new pot and compact the soil around the base of the plant by hand.
Do not water the cactus in the first two weeks after a pot change. Place the plant in a sunny location, but not in direct sunlight
Step 7. Encourage the cactus to enter into a dormant phase in the winter
If you live in a country with four seasons, cacti will usually go into a dormant period in the fall and winter. Dormancy is necessary for the plant to recover energy, and this period of rest will encourage the emergence of flowers later. Help the cactus enter the dormancy phase by doing the things below:
- Reduce watering to once a month
- Stopping regular fertilizer application
- Move the plant to a cooler window (ideally in a location between 7 and 13 °C).
Part 3 of 3: Troubleshooting Common Problems
Step 1. Move the cactus to a darker place if it turns white
Some types of cacti grow better if they get indirect sunlight. If the plant is turning white, yellowing, or some areas are turning orange, the cactus may be getting too much sun. Move the plant to a window that does not get direct sunlight.
Step 2. Move the cactus to a sunnier spot if the plant grows taller or thinner
A cactus that doesn't get enough sunlight will begin to grow toward the light, which makes its growth distorted and unbalanced. Another symptom is the top of the cactus is getting thinner. Move the plant to a window that gets more direct sunlight.
To prevent the plant from burning, gradually move the cactus to a brighter location, moving it closer to sun exposure over a few days
Step 3. Deal with pests that commonly attack cacti
There are several insects that can cause problems with cacti, such as mealy bugs, scale mites and spider mites. To get rid of these pests, rinse or spray the cactus with water. Insecticides are usually not effective against these pests.