How to Take Care of a Cactus Indoors: Beginner’s Guide

So you want to learn how to take care of a cactus indoors and grow beautiful plants in your home? That’s great! Cactus plants are interesting to look at and you’ll have a lot of fun watching them grow. They look great in almost any environment and they’re more thankful than house plants that need constant care.

If you’re new to cacti, knowing how to take care of a cactus plant can be a bit tricky. However, with a few simple tips, you can make sure your cactus plant feels right at home indoors.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t grow them! In this post, I’ll walk you through some easy cactus care tips. You’ll learn how to grow beautiful, healthy cacti at home.

Let’s get started!

Step #1:
Find the right cactus plants

First things first: you need to find a suitable plant type for your home. Depending on where you live, your house can only be a good home for a certain selection of cacti.

Think about how much light your home has throughout the year. Most cactus plants grow in the desert where they get heaps of sunlight and heat during the day. If you don’t live in a sunny region, don’t worry about it. You can still grow beautiful cacti indoors. Just make sure they’re as close to the window as possible. Don’t place them too far into the room.

Once you got that figured out, it’s time to search for the perfect little plant. Finally! Now, I’ve gathered tons of experience with buying different cacti during the years.

When you’re buying a cactus, look for a healthy plant with an even surface. If you have a pair of gloves with you, you can touch the plant, too. If it’s soft and squishy, it could be rotting from the inside.

If you’re buying your cactus plant online, use a trusted shop with stellar reviews. Always check out what people are saying about the seller before you purchase your new little green friend.

Step #2:
Avoid pots that don’t drain well

Although cacti need water, they don’t like to sit in soggy soil.

In their natural habitat, cacti don’t see rain too often. Their roots don’t go deep into the ground. Instead, they spread out like a shallow net right below the ground surface. That way, the plant can capture rainwater faster before it drains through the sand.

That being said, avoid using pots made of glass or any other material that doesn’t drain. They won’t make your cactus plants happy.

Another point to consider with pots is how the pot breathes. The best choice is a terracotta pot that allows for good airflow. This will help maintain healthy roots and keep your cactus looking beautiful.

You can find a superb collection of pots with drainage holes at your local cactus nursery or online: I’m loving these colorful cactus pots, for example. Also, these plain terracotta cactus pots are a classic. They’re perfect for air flow and allow the soil to dry out easily.

Step #3:
Use the right soil

Cacti and succulents love soil that drains fast and breathes freely. To make your cactus happy, mix pumice or perlite with soil to make it airy. Or if you want to save some time, pick up some cactus/succulent soil you can use right away. I use Hoffman’s organic cactus and succulent soil mix – it’s a classic.

What about fertilization, then? The thing is: the faster a plant is growing, the more nutrients it needs. This depends a lot on the light in your home. If your cactus gets a lot of direct sunlight, it will need more “food”.

Therefore, fertilize your cactus only during the growth season. Use a 10-10-10 fertilizer diluted to 1/4 strength with each watering. It’s a good idea to start small with a new cactus. Allow it to make friends with the fertilizer little by little.

Keep in mind that off-the-rack soil is always fertilized. Thus, you don’t need to fertilize your cactus during the first few months. Always check the label for the exact details and instructions.

Step #4:
Learn how to water your cactus

If you’re familiar with other house plants, learning how to water your cactus can take some getting used to. Here’s why:

Most common indoor plants with big, beautiful green leaves come from tropical regions. They get a lot of rain and the air there is humid year round.

But cacti live in the desert. They need to cope with burning sunlight and heat during the day. And in the night, temperatures can be freezing cold.

So when you start growing cactus plants indoors, they need to adapt to their new environment. As a rule of thumb, cacti need quite a bit of water. But not as frequently as most indoor plants.

However, I wouldn’t say cactus plants barely need watering. Instead, just like in the desert, they prefer heavy but infrequent rainfall. And if you’re using the right kind of cactus soil, the roots can soak up as much water as they need before the soil drains.

Bottom line: don’t water your cactus daily. Unless you want to kill it, of course.

Read more: How Much Water Does a Cactus Need?

Step #5:
Give your cactus plenty of light

Most cactus plants come from areas with heaps of direct sunlight during the day. In fact, cacti are the world champions in coping with extreme heat and sunlight. Their spines are actually what’s left of the leaves of cactus plants.

That being said, most cacti feel happy with plenty of indirect sunlight. If you’re planning to place your plant in direct sun, give it some time to acclimatize. Place it there for a while every day and increase the sunbathing time gradually. This will help you prevent your cactus from getting a sunburn.

Also, once you’ve chosen a good spot for your cactus, don’t move it around too much. Just like plants in nature, house plants get accustomed to the “living conditions” in a single spot. Moving your cactus around just causes stress to the plant, especially during the tough winter months.

If your cactus is looking rather leggy, it’s not getting enough sunlight. It then tries to stretch out towards a light source, making the stem weak.

Tip: If your home doesn’t get too much sunlight, buy a cactus that’s not colorful. Purely green cactus plants tolerate environments with lower light. Cacti that have red, pink, or white tones need more sunshine to stay happy.

Summing it up: How to take care of a cactus indoors

Alright, you’re ready to roll now! Taking care of a cactus isn’t difficult, really. In fact, the best thing about them is that they’ll look great even if you forget to water them for a couple weeks.

But since cacti are different from most other house plants, they come with a few unique needs.

Let’s do a short recap on how to take care of a cactus indoors:

  1. Choose a type of cactus that will feel at home in your house
  2. Find a pot that can breathe and drains well
  3. Use soil that’s well aerated and drains fast
  4. Avoid overwatering your cactus and make sure the soil is dry before watering
  5. Place your cactus in a spot with plenty of indirect sunlight

Growing cactus plants indoors can be fun and they make such thankful friends! Make sure you have fun with taking care of them and don’t let things get too stressful. Just enjoy watching your little green friends grow – it’s so rewarding!

If you know someone who’s getting started with cactus plants, don’t forget to share this article with them!

Let me know how it goes in the comments below! What are your top tips on how to take care of a cactus indoors?

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