Cactus plants are unique for their anatomical and physiological features. Most of them have fleshy stems and spines, but lack leaves. There are many types of cacti, which differ in size and color. While some of the cactus plants have leaves, some others lack spines. Usually, the term cactus denotes plants with spines and succulent stems; but jungle cacti, which are natives to rainforests, lack these features. They are much different in their appearance and growing conditions. Hence, it is important to understand the type of the plant, before purchasing it. Each type of plant has different requirements, and you must have a basic understanding about the needs of the particular species that you want to grow. Cacti are very popular and are grown both indoors and outdoors.
Growing Desert Cacti
The popularity of cacti is attributed to their unique looks and low maintenance. There are different types of cacti with varying features. Basically, there are two types of cacti, the conventional desert cacti with succulent stems and spines, and those which are natives to the rainforests. Some of the jungle cacti lack the features of conventional desert cacti and may look different. Given below are some tips to grow desert cacti.
- Purchase a cactus plant of your choice. Buy a healthy plant of average size. Very small plants may sometimes take years to grow to a standard size.
- Due care must be given while choosing a planting medium or soil. You may opt for special potting soil that is meant for growing cacti. Otherwise, make your own medium by mixing coarse sand, peat and perlite. Clay pots are the best option for cactus plants. The pot should be three to four times the size of the plant. Fill the pot with the planting medium, which should be dry.
- Refrain from watering the cactus for a week after planting. During this time, the plant will get adjusted to the new soil or planting medium. After that, water the plant once in every week. During winters, watering should be restricted to once a month.
- Most of the cactus plants love sunlight, especially those with spines. They should be placed in direct sunlight. Others, which do not prefer sunlight, should be kept in shade. If you want to keep a sun-loving cactus indoors, it is advisable to place it near a heat lamp.
- Make it a point to check the plant for any unhealthy symptoms, like drooping or change of color. The problem can be over watering or deficiency of sunlight. Fix the problem and see the difference.
Growing Jungle Cacti
Jungle cacti need a different type of medium to grow. For such plants, a good potting mixture can be made by mixing 25% of orchid bark and same quantities of potting soil and peat, with 20% perlite and 5% coarse gravel. Water these plants once a week. During very hot conditions, watering can be done twice a week. These plants need full morning sun and shade in the afternoon. They must not be kept in full shade, full sun, morning shade, or full afternoon sun. These conditions can prove detrimental to the health of the plant. There are some jungle cacti, which prefer full sun for their growth. So if you are selecting a jungle cacti, it will be better to study the growth conditions of the plant beforehand.
Cactus Plant Care Tips
- Adequate sunlight is necessary for cactus plants. Keep indoor cacti on windowsills or other places, where they get sufficient sunlight.
- The pots in which they are planted should have a good drainage, as water retention can cause rotting of roots.
- Cactus plants that grow vertically need pots with a diameter of about half the length of the plant. If the plant has a horizontal growth, the diameter of the pot should be two inches more than the width of the plant.
- The golden rule regarding growing cactus is that you should not over water this plant. Water retention is fatal for the plant, as they may die due to rotting. Water the plant only when the planting medium is absolutely dry.
In short, growing cacti is not that difficult, if you know the right methods. However, ideal growth conditions may not be the same for all species. So you must try to gain some knowledge about the particular species you want to grow.