Cactus plants are at their best in terms of beauty during the flowering season, but that doesn't mean they don't look beautiful otherwise. If a low-maintenance garden in the home is what you aspire to have, species of flowering cactus will be ideal for you. More importantly, the fact that these plants grow well in containers can be an added advantage, as they can be placed and moved anywhere in the house as and when you need.
Cacti Species Popular as Houseplants
When planning to keep cactus plants in the house, you need to be well-versed with the basic information about the species. There are basically two varieties of cacti that are preferred as houseplants: the 'desert cacti', such as the Golden barrel cactus, Column cactus, etc., and the 'forest cacti', such as Easter cactus, rat-tail cactus, etc. The two varieties differ from each other on several grounds, and thus, require different treatment.
Desert cacti, as their name suggests, are native to the arid regions of the world. These species are the ones which are usually covered with spines and hair, an adaptation to survive water scarcity. On the other hand, forest cacti are normally found in wooded areas of temperate and tropical regions. Other common species include the Giant saguaro cactus, Christmas cactus, etc.
Cactus plants require a copious amount of sunlight, so experts recommend keeping them near a south facing window. Some varieties of cacti only flower when they receive ample sunlight. You may have to keep the particular species outdoors, so that it basks in the sunshine to produce beautiful flowers. Cactus plants don't require much water. Being succulent species, they store water and can go without it for 8 to 10 days on a stretch. On the other hand, too much of water can turn out to be detrimental for the species, as water logging often results in rotting of roots. One should never use cold water for cactus and, more importantly, should never pour water on the top of the plant. Though relatively less, they do require fertilizers. It doesn't matter if the soil you use to plant them is low in nitrogen, but it should be high in potassium and phosphorus.
Both the varieties have different requirements and growing conditions. For instance, forest cacti require more water than their desert counterparts. In case of forest cacti, you need to keep the soil moist throughout, but in case of desert cacti, you need to let the soil dry completely before you water it again. Owing to these differences, different varieties of cactus cannot grow together in a single container.
Growing cactus can be easy, as long as you pay attention to things like re-potting and pruning. As an amateur gardening enthusiast, you should ideally go for species like the orchid cactus, which are easy to care for. Basically, these houseplants grow best when they are unattended. On the other hand, too much of attention is likely to result in some mistake on your part, which will either spoil the plant or a part of it.