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Cactus House Plants: Easy Care Plants for Home
Cacti are often known as “desert plants” and belong to the family of Cactaceae. But it can be houseplants too. Cactus are succulents that have a wide variety. These cacti love the sun, but they can be indoor plants too. It became popular because of its spines or vestigial leaves. Using their spines, they protect themselves against the animals and insects who want to eat them. Despite that, these spines are what make them unique and beautiful. You will learn in this article why you need cacti as your houseplants. And have your very own cactus house plant now!
Types Of Cactus House Plants
A lot of people thought that cacti were for deserts only. What they do not know is that cacti are also preferable as houseplants. One of the houseplants that are easy to take care of and grow. The maintenance and attention to these cactus houseplants are very low. You just need to place it in a bright, warm area with little water for them to survive.
Cactus has beautiful structures, shapes, sizes, and flowers. It makes them perfect for adding designs to your house. Usually, they are good to put beside any furniture and bring aesthetic vibes. But it would help if you research first the type of cactus houseplant you want to have. You have to know how you will take care of these cactus houseplants. Because some of it needs a sunny spot, and some are not.
How To Take Care Of Indoor Cactus Plants?
Cactus houseplants do not need much attention and are not high maintenance. Thus, it is easy to take care of cacti like your houseplants. It is a great plant for beginners. There are factors that you need to consider before you get this plant. Here are the ways to take care of indoor cactus plants.
Light for cactus house plants
Cactus plants love sunlight. They need a strong light source, especially during winter, since they need to be warm. If you put them inside the house, place them in the sunniest area. But if you have a garden outside the house, you can put them also where there is direct sunlight. So it is advisable to put them where they can have the most source of sunlight from time to time.
But, too much sunlight might cause the color yellow or brown on their body. If ever it happens, put the cactus away from the light source to cool down. Therefore, don’t put the houseplants in a cool or air-conditioned area.
You can use artificial light like bulbs if you don’t have natural sunlight. It is expensive since you have to buy bulbs and spend on its current bill. But if you have no choice, use fluorescent bulbs or LED grow lights. Avoid using mercury vapor or incandescent bulbs. These bulbs are not bright, unlike fluorescent and LED bulbs. It also consumes more power. The required, artificial light to grow cactus is 2,000 lumens per square foot.
But not all cacti love sunlight. There are cactus houseplants that do not need direct sunlight and will survive in low lights. Do you want cactus houseplants that you can put on your house and shelves? Then choose scarlet ball cactus, zebra cactus, crown cactus, and Christmas cactus.
What kind of soil does cactus need?
When buying cactus houseplants, consider also looking for the ideal soil mix. You must start with a good enough soil mix to make it easier to take care of the cacti. So, having a perfect soil mix is the first step to having easy-care cactus houseplants.
The soil needed in cactus houseplants must be sandy, pebbly, and porous. It is fast draining and has excellent aeration. So avoid using the usual soil in your garden because it holds too much moisture.
Cactus mix is the soil for the cacti. You can buy it in the shop, but you can also make it. Use pots; clay pots are the best option, with drain holes. The cactus mix is ⅔ of the inorganic ingredients and ⅓ of the organic ingredients. First, get the organic soil for the cacti. Then mix it with the inorganic ingredients such as pumice, grit, gravel, perlite, or sand. It will help the soil not dry out.
Most cacti need repotting every 2-3 years. At the same time, slow-grower cacti are 3-4 years. But if the root system begins going out to the potholes, repot it.
Do cactus house plants need water?
Yes! Some people think that cactus houseplants need no water. But they need water too, like other plants. Yet, they are not like other plants that need regular water. They are popular for surviving without watering every day.
Watering cactus is the challenge of having a cactus as your houseplants. Too much water will result to root rot and a tendency to die. If you ever notice the rotting root, try to cut a part of the cactus to grow a new one. But we don’t want it to happen, right? So what is the right way of watering the cactus houseplants?
Water the cactus when it is already 90% dry. To check this, try to use a toothpick. Check if the 2-3 inches are dry. When it is dry already, then it is time to water them. Try using a moisture probe or your fingers to check. Water them based on their size and how much they need. So monitoring and having knowledge about your cactus is important. Stop watering if there is already water dispersed on the potholes. Take note that cacti don’t need a lot of water. A small amount of water will do to avoid rotting roots.
The best waters for cactus houseplants are rainwater and distilled water. It contains enough minerals that the cactus need. Other types of water may contain many minerals that are not essential to the plant. They can also affect the health of the soil.
Best temperature and humidity for cactus plant
Every area of your house has a different temperature. So, better check the temperature before considering where to place your cactus. The ideal temperature for them is 65°F and 90°F. In the winter, cacti prefer a cooler temperature. The temperature it needs must be the 45°F and 55°F. But they cannot tolerate the very cold temperature for a long time. So avoid housing near drafty windows and doors.
Keeping the ideal humidity for your cactus houseplants will challenge you. Use a hygrometer to check the humidity in your house areas. The ideal humidity for your cacti is 40°F and 60°F. Below 40°F will be too dry for the cactus.
What temperature is too hot for a cactus?
A good temperature for the cactus is essential to keep them alive. Cactus houseplants are popular for being drought-tolerance plants. But it does not mean they can resist excessive heat. They also have limits.
Staying too much over 90°F will result in sunburn on their stems and leaves. When it happens, there will be white patches on its body. But you cannot heal the damaged area, so the option is to cut this area. And stay away from your cactus from the direct sunlight for the meanwhile.
Fertilizing cactus houseplant
Another factor to consider when growing cactus houseplants is fertilizer. It will help if the cacti receive occasional fertilizer. It will benefit the cactus to grow more healthy.
Cactus houseplants don’t need a large amount of fertilizer. Too much fertilizer will damage the plant. A popular and good fertilizer for cacti is 10-10-10 NPK. NPK stands for Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. But before using any fertilizer you bought in the market, read the instructions first. Dissolve one tablespoon of 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer into 1 gallon of water. Put the mixture into the soil of the cactus until it becomes moist.
Pests On Cactus Houseplants
The problem of cactus is the bacteria and fungal problems caused by overwatering. But like other plants, cactus houseplants are prone to pests too. These pests might harm your cacti.
You better get rid of them, before they kill the cactus. The symptoms that pests are visiting your cactus are if there are molds and sticky things on it.
What insects eat cactus in the desert?
Pests in cactus houseplants are difficult to find. It is because they are tiny creatures and hide in areas where you can find them. Here are the pests that might infest your cactus.
- Scale. They are tiny pests attached to the stems and leaves. You can scrap them against the cactus.
- Mealybugs. If you found mealybugs on your cactus, it means your plant is too moist. It sucks the juice of the root. Spray 70% isopropyl alcohol to the mealybugs for them to leave the cactus.
- Fungus gnats. These pests love moist conditions. So when the cactus plant is too moist, they will infest it. They hover above the cactus soil. Use the yellow sticker trap to rid them.
What Cactus House Plants Clean The Air?
One of the reasons why people get plants is for instant air purifiers in their houses. And yes! There are cactus houseplants that clean the air. During the nighttime, it absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen. It is also good in reducing radiation and bacteria.
Two cacti are on the list of NASA for 50 Plants That Clean the Air. They are:
- Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera Buckleyi). Christmas cacti are also called the “Thanksgiving Cactus.” Usually, these cactus plants bloom in October, November for thanksgiving, and December for Christmas. Growing this cactus is faster compared to others and even easy to propagate. It is categorized as forest cacti because it does not need more sunlight to grow. But they usually need more water, unlike other cacti.
- Easter Cactus(Schlumbergera Gaertneri). They also called this “Whitsun.” Its flowers bloom during March or April. Christmas cactus are their cousins, so they are similar in their characteristics.
Most favorite cactus house plants
Most favorite cactus house plants are usually the most popular. They can easily recognize them since it is always available in the plant stores. Also, because of their beauty. Here are the most favorite cactus houseplants:
- Moon cactus. It is one of the favorites of many because of its spherical shape and colors. Unlike other cacti, the moon cactus can’t be able to produce chlorophyll. So gardeners graft them onto compatible cactus that can produce chlorophyll.
- Ladyfinger cactus. It is another of the favorites since many beginners start in this plant. It is a cactus easy to take care of this and the best indoor plant.
Desert Cactus House Plants
It is very popular that cacti are for deserts. But the trend now is cactus as houseplants. They choose cactus because it needs minimal care only, and they look beautiful.
1. Angel wings cactus (opunta albispina)
Angel wings cactus is also popular as Bunny Ear Cactus. Its structure looks like the ears of a rabbit. Their origin is in Mexico and desert-like areas. They said it couldn’t grow more than 2 feet tall. But it can grow up to 5 feet tall.
Is it hard to take care of the angel wings plant?
Angel wings cacti are perfect for the house with low and dry humidity and a lot of sunlight. They are low-maintenance like other cacti. You need to water them it the soil becomes dry. So, it is not hard to take care of the angel wings plant because they do not need much attention.
2. African milk tree (Euphorbia trigona)
The African milk tree is also the “cathedral plant.” It is native to Central and West Africa. They can grow more than eight feet tall. But, if you use an African milk tree as a houseplant, it usually stops growing at four feet tall. Usually, it thrives well, even in a small place. They are bright light cactus plants, so put them in a place where they can get direct sunlight for six hours. It can use as a gift since it symbolizes friendship and good luck because of its structure.
3. Saguaro Cactus (Carnegiea gigantea)
Saguaro cactus came from Sonoran Desert. It is the large cactus in the USA. They can reach 40 feet and produce many arms. The arms usually bend upward and grow up to 25 feet. But they are very slow-growing cacti. Usually, this can live up to 150-200 years, which may take up to 40 years because the first flowers appear.
Their slow growth rate makes them perfect for use as houseplants. You can put it indoors and plant it outside after many years to grow well.
How to take care of the saguaro cactus?
Saguaro cactus needs to be in a well-drained pot. Usually, these cactus plants prefer to receive a low level of water. Putting fertilizer every year will help its healthy growth of it. But track them always because pests like scales and mealybugs can infest them.
3. Old lady cactus (mammillaria hahniana)
The old lady cactus is native to Central Mexico. It is on the list of “Near Threatened” by the IUCN Red List. But, they are still popular as houseplants because of their unique structure. Old lady cactus has a spherical stem and white spines, and dawn. They are under 10 inches and 20 inches across, making it perfect to put on a display.
But these cacti don’t like being lonely, so grow them as a group. Having it will look like a collection of spherical. It bears blooms of a pinkish-red or reddish-purple color during spring and summer. And often form a crown-like halo effect.
To keep them healthy, provide a lot of direct sunlight and low humidity. Put them in a sandy potting mix. Water them monthly during winter and twice monthly during spring and summer.
Old lady cactus flower benefits and side effects
Many gardeners love to have old lady cactus. It is not because of its struct but also because of its benefits. Having old lady cactus in your home improves the air quality. It absorbs the carbon dioxide and releases some oxygen during nighttime. They will reduce the pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide and benzene. Because of its beautiful appearance, it brings calmness to the people living in the house. Improving the bonding of the family and within ourselves.
4. Barrel cactus (ferocactus genus)
Barrel cactus is usually native to Mexico and the southwestern USA. It has long, rigid spines that protect its juicy and edible pulp. Usually, this is a slow grower and can use as a houseplant for many decades. Reaching a height of 10 feet when put outdoors is one of the qualities of this cactus plant.
During the dry and warm seasons, it complements the desert landscapes. And also the succulent gardens and rock gardens. But in winter, it must be indoors. Plant the barrel cactus in well-draining soil. Try placing these in a sunny spot and water them. You must avoid the fluctuation of temperature and humidity.
Forest Cactus House Plant
Forest Cacti usually originate as epiphytes and lithophytes. Epiphytes are plants that grow in other plants but are not parasitic. Lithophytes are plants that grow on rocks or stones. They are adaptive to develop and produce in a media. But also, it is prone to dryness despite the humidity and temperature.
The popular forest cacti are the holiday varieties. The two of them came from the Schlumbergera genus. They are the Thanksgiving and Christmas Cactus.
The holiday varieties of cactus houseplants
People identify holiday cacti based on the time or season when they bloom. They have differences in the shape of their leaves. Unlike other cacti, holiday cacti are not drought-tolerant. Here are the holiday cacti:
1. Easter cactus ( rhipsalidopsis gaertneri)
They are popular spring-flowering cacti. Easter cactus originate from the warms forests of Brazil. Usually, it needs light but should not be indirect light to stay healthy. Monitoring their water is essential because they don’t respond well when over-watered.
2. Thanksgiving cactus (schlumbergera ttruncata)
The thanksgiving cacti bloom around the thanksgiving season, in late fall. It has pointed leaves and lop-sided showing of blooms. Growing this is easy to put as indoor plants because it does not need to fuss over.
3. Christmas cactus (hybrid Schlumbergera ×buckleyi)
Christmas cacti are an epiphytic succulent that is native to the tropical rainforest of Southern Brazil. It is the most popular holiday cactus variety because of its beauty displayed during Christmas. Usually, the Christmas cactus produces colorful and tabular flowers when they bloom, making them more attractive.
4. Mistletoe cactus (rhipsalis baccifera)
They are native to tropical regions in South America, Central America, and Africa. It is a tropical epiphytic cactus that use as an indoor plant. Usually, it has pencil-thin foliage and a trailing system. Unlike other cacti, it prefers indirect sunlight and moist and humid areas. They call it mistletoe cactus because of its spineless structure. And it gives a drooped over effect.
5. Orchid cactus (epiphyllum guatemalense monstrose)
Orchid cacti are tropical succulents, also popular as climbing cacti. They usually have a flat, long, spineless, and trailing system. During summer and spring, they are night-blooming flowers. Aside from purifying your house’s air, it also produces bright and fragrant flowers.
Forest Cactus Houseplant Care Tips
Forest cacti are good houseplants. Proper care is necessary if you want to see more of their beauty and smell their fragrance.
- Forest cactus do not want direct sunlight. Too much sunlight makes them pale and yellow, so they prefer a diffused or partial light only.
- Usually, forest cactus are adaptable to most types of soil. Growing them in a sandy, loamy cactus mix or general potting soil is fine because they grow as an epiphyte. If you want to meet their optimal growth, the pH level must be between 5.5 and 6.2. A helpful additive for more acidic areas is peat moss.
- Water them. Put water when the soil is almost dry. And when the leaves start to fade, the soil is already dry.
- After it blooms, wait for one to two months to propagate them.
Enjoy Cactus House Plants in Your Home!
You can get these different types of cacti for your home. They are not just additives in the designs in your house. But also it has different benefits that will encourage you to have them. Do you have a favorite cactus now? What more do you like, the desert cactus or the forest cactus?
Well, whatever you want, I hope you enjoy them. Don’t pressure yourselves to take care of them since are mostly low-maintenance. Enjoy taking care of them. And you can also give a cactus houseplant as a gift to your loved ones.