Succulents and cacti are plants that store moisture in their leaves or stems. Cacti have areoles, (small bumps that grow clusters of spines) which differentiate them from other succulents. There are numerous species of cacti and succulents that grow well indoors provided you have a bright and sunny windowsill!
Most succulents need very bright, indirect light. If there isn’t enough light for the plant, they can become leggy, growing and reaching to find more light. South or west facing windowsills are ideal.
The soil needs to be well-draining and also well-aerated. These plants cannot sit in any standing water or saturated soil, as rot will occur. Make sure your pot has drainage holes. Allow your soil to completely dry out between waterings. Plant your succulent using a cactus mix such as Black Gold Cactus Mix, which has plenty of pumice and perlite, allowing for superb drainage.
Overwatering can kill your succulents. A good rule of thumb is to water very deeply (until water flows out of the bottom of the pot), but less frequently. Soak the soil very well, then allow to fully dry out (make sure there is no standing water in the bottom of the pot/saucer).
Spring is an excellent time to fertilize with a balanced, all purpose fertilizer at 1/4 strength. They are not heavy feeders. They do not require any fertilizer in the winter, as they go semi-dormant.
As a general rule, cacti prefer around 4 hours of direct sunlight. Tropical cacti, such as Christmas cactus and rhipsalis prefer partial shade. Similar to succulents, if your cactus is not getting enough light, it will have strange growth patterns called etiolation.
Depending on the type of cactus, you may need to water less or more frequently. Check the soil with your finger- if it is still moist, or soil clings to your finger, give it more time. A good rule of thumb is to water deeply but infrequently, soaking the soil. Overwatering can cause root rot which will stunt the plants growth, causing leaves to wilt. This can ultimately kill the plant. During active growth, your cactus may require more frequent watering. During dormancy, water around once per month.
Always give your cactus well-draining soil. There are great mixes specific to cacti and succulents. We recommend Black Gold Cactus Mix.
Once per month during active growth, typically from March-October, dilute an all-purpose liquid fertilizer to about 1/4 strength. Do not fertilize your cactus during its dormant period.
Cacti do not need to be repotted often; only every 2-4 years depending on the species and growing conditions. When you see roots growing out the drainage hole, choose a pot only 1” or less larger in diameter, and make sure it has a proper drainage hole. Many cactus species have smaller root systems and prefer a planter that is more wide than deep.