There is a myth that the cactus is an unpretentious plant that does not require special attention. In fact, this is not entirely true: care at home for a cactus is needed no less than for another flower. It is important to choose the right place, follow the rules of wintering and transplanting, as well as monitor the appearance of pests in time and treat it. Only in this case, your indoor pet will feel really comfortable and, perhaps, even please with beautiful flowers.
All about caring for a prickly green pet — in our video
How to take care of a cactus
Where to put
— Pot selection
— Land selection
— Care after
— How to make it bloom
— How to care
— spider mite
— root worm
Ideal place for potty
How to care for a cactus after purchase? First you need to find a suitable corner for him. This type of houseplant is photophilous, so the best place to grow it is on a sunny windowsill (south, east) or a surface in the immediate vicinity of the window. On the north side or in too dark corners of the apartment, the plant will lose its attractiveness, it will stretch ugly, deform and turn pale.
If you have a balcony, then you can move the prickly pet there for the warm season, when the thermometer stays above 16 degrees. If it is too hot outside, it is important to protect the cactus from burns. They look like light spots, which then darken to brown. To do this, you can build him a shady canopy of paper or simply rearrange for a couple of hours from the open sun. If the plant is still burned, it is unpleasant, but not fatal — after a while they will disappear if you immediately rearrange the flower from the window.
How to care for a cactus: watering
Only soft water is suitable for irrigation. Tap water must be defended for at least a day, but it is better to use filtered or boiled water. Minerals contained in tap water can settle on the soil or the seedling itself and leave a white coating on it. In order for the root system to feel comfortable, the temperature of the liquid must not be lower than room temperature. It’s great if sometimes you can water the flower with acidified water: for this you need to add a small pinch of citric acid per liter of liquid.
Cactus can be watered in two ways:
Upper. This is a classic watering option for all plants, when the liquid enters directly into the pots from above (for example, from a watering can). Water should be poured slowly so that it has time to soak the soil. The trunk itself should not be wetted, otherwise it may begin to rot. To prevent the root system from becoming waterlogged, pour out excess water from the pan. You can leave excess moisture for a short time only in the spring, when the seedling wakes up and needs more fluid.
Lower. In this way, it is easier to leave the trunk itself dry and completely moisten the soil. For lower watering, water is poured into the pan and the pots are placed there. It usually takes about 20 minutes until the top layer of the earth becomes wet. After that, excess liquid from the pan is drained.
The frequency of watering depends on the season. In the cold season (approximately from November to March), if the seedling winters in a cool place, it is not necessary to moisten the soil. If it is kept warm, then watering is reduced to two times a month.
With the advent of spring, when the flower wakes up and the top turns green, watering leads to the same regularity. If in winter it was not there at all, then it is worth starting with one spoon, each time increasing the dosage. In spring, the plant is moistened every 10 days. It is better to do this in the morning so that during the day all the excess moisture has time to evaporate.
In the warm season, watering should be increased up to once a week. Change the time of water application to the evening so that the sun’s rays do not evaporate a lot of liquid from the soil. Depending on whether the summer is hot or rainy, the frequency of watering is also regulated. In hot weather, more fluid is required, and in cloudy weather, less.
When autumn comes, the intensity of watering will again need to be reduced. Focus on the onset of cold weather: by this time, the plant should not be watered at all. If you send a flower for the winter and continue watering, it may become deformed.
In general, one rule should be followed: if the shape of the trunk has become less rounded or wrinkles have appeared, it needs watering. It is better to add water infrequently and in large quantities, and not constantly a little bit.
Fertilizers are another important topic in the conversation about how to care for a cactus at home. For top dressing, it is better to use specialized mixtures and follow the dosage indicated in the instructions. Do not add more nutrients than required. This can adversely affect the plant: its growth will increase dramatically, and the skin will burst. If this happens, it is important to treat the rupture site with crushed activated carbon.
During the growth period for several months, only 2 or 3 top dressings are required — this is quite enough to strengthen the flower. After transplantation, it should not be fed. You need to wait a couple of weeks until the root system adapts to new conditions.
Planters and soil are changed every few years. This is necessary so that the “empty” soil, from which the flower has already taken all the nutrients, is renewed and can again be beneficial. In addition, with an increase in the size of the trunk, the root system also grows, and it needs additional space.
How to choose a planter
The principle of choosing a new pot is the same as for other home flowers: it should be a couple of centimeters larger than the previous one. This is the perfect size for a growing seedling. Too large pots will not work, because the root system will be “lost” in the volume of soil, and too small will prevent it from developing further. It is important to choose a model with drainage so that excess moisture can flow out and not overmoisten the ground.
The material and design can be anything that suits your mood or interior style. From the point of view of ergonomics, a square or rectangular shape is better, since it is easier to push it into a corner. But visually, many prefer classic round pots.
How to choose land
Cacti love loose soil. To create one, you need to take a special soil mixture for these plants, add sand in the same amount and another 10% charcoal. Such soil will perfectly pass oxygen to the roots.
You can collect land from the street, but before placing a seedling in it, the soil must be disinfected and treated for parasites. This is done in the oven: put the soil there and bake the mixture for half an hour at a temperature of about 90 degrees. A similar procedure can be performed with the soil from the store, if you think that it may be infected.
Before adding soil, expanded clay is placed on the bottom, thus forming a drainage layer. The rest of the decor that you plan to place in the pots must first be washed.
- Protect your hands with gloves, and use an oven mitt or a towel folded several times to pull out the spiny trunk. You can also use cardboard or other paper to avoid hurting your fingers.
- Turn over the old planter and carefully pull out the seedling with a clod of earth. If you’re having trouble, push the ground with something sharp through the drain hole.
- Remove as much earth from the roots as you can. If they have grown too large, cut off a part, and then process the cut with crushed activated charcoal. When transplanting to another soil, the root system will need to be pre-washed.
Transplant the flower into a new pot, distributing the roots as evenly as possible without folds. Sprinkle on top of the new soil mixture so that part of the stem remains uncovered.
How to support the plant after
Depending on the time of year, further care will be different. For example, in the cold period, watering after transplantation is removed and the flower is left alone. If the planter is changed in summer or spring, the plant can be watered only after 7-10 days. This time is enough for him to get used to the new conditions.
There is a fun way to get your green pet to bloom in the spring. To do this, in the cold season, the pot is placed in a room with a temperature not higher than 10 degrees. After such a winter, with the onset of the new season, you will see how the buds appear. By the way, the “flower garden” of miniature varieties looks very nice. Below we will tell you how to care for the retail mix cactus and other varieties so that they delight with their beauty.
What varieties to choose
One of the most popular types of flowering cultivars is the Mammillaria mix variety. A trademark is the huge number of papillae on the stem. However, there are many varieties, and they all look great in one pot. They can be mixed, hence the prefix «mix». In fact, you can create such a “kindergarten” yourself. Watch the length of the spines for each «baby»: it should be about the same. Sometimes in supermarkets you can find a variety of retail mix. In fact, flower growers often notice that a variety of plant species are hidden under this name, which are united by the miniature size of seedlings and flowers (sometimes they are artificial, glued as decoration).
A small neat variety of hymnocalycium also looks beautiful. Usually the trunk itself has a spherical shape, and a spectacular white flower flaunts on top when flowering.
What does it take for flowers to appear?
If your prickly pet is not blooming, there can be a variety of reasons for this. For example, age: too young specimens usually do not produce flowers, and here you just need to be patient. A more common reason is improper winter care. If you did not place the seedling in the cold and continued to water the entire cold season, the buds will not appear, which means that you can not wait for flowering either.
How to care for a flowering cactus
As soon as you see the buds, immediately stop any manipulations with the plant. You can no longer rearrange, replant, and even move the pots from place to place. It is also better not to fertilize or water. For further care, you should wait until the flowering stops. It usually ends in a maximum of two weeks.
The most popular and easiest methods of propagation are planting seeds, cuttings and separating the «kids» that grow on the trunks. For reproduction, the spring-summer period is best suited, when the flower is actively growing. If you use the seed method, then the best time for this is January-February.
Diseases and pests
It is important to know how to care for indoor cacti and succulents, as pests do not bypass them. In order to prevent the affected plant from withering, carefully monitor changes in its color and shape. The sooner you notice oddities in the development of a flower, the easier it will be to cure it. We have collected the most popular diseases and their symptoms, as well as methods of treatment.
This disease is associated with a lack of light. Since prickly babies are very fond of the sun, if there is not enough light, they may lose their color and shape. With etiolation, the seedling stretches, becomes thin and pale. To help him, move the planter to a more lit place or use a phytolamp.
Some varieties are initially covered with cobwebs, this is their feature. For everyone else, unexpected wrapping in white thin threads means only one thing — a spider mite has wound up. In addition to the characteristic white web, dark brown spots may appear on the trunk. Here, only special equipment called acaricides will come to the rescue.
Symptoms resemble the appearance of a spider mite, but are more pronounced. Instead of a thin cobweb, something similar to cotton wool appears on the trunk. The pests themselves also resemble cotton balls. To get rid of them, first you will need to remove all plaque and insects, and then treat the plant with insecticides with thiamethoxam. If the infection is not severe, you can use a regular soap solution.
The appearance of small scales on the trunk indicates that it was struck by a scale insect. To help the plant, remove pests from the trunk and spray the cactus with insecticides.
Aphids can be seen with the naked eye: these are groups of microscopic greenish bugs. Specialized solutions, homemade or purchased, will help get rid of them.
It is extremely difficult to notice this pest. But if the green pet stopped developing and growing, and white dots appeared in the soil, perhaps we are talking about the defeat of the root worm. To get rid of it, you will need to clean the roots of the soil, rinse the roots with hot water and cut off those parts that have been damaged by the parasite. The soil must be replaced with a new one. The trunk and roots should be treated with appropriate insecticides.
Rotting manifests itself in the form of spots of various sizes and colors. You can get rid of it only by cutting out the damaged piece. The cut site is treated with fungicides. Watering is postponed for about three weeks.