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Growing Cactus – Plants Adapted to Conserve Water

Maintaining a cactus plant is not difficult as it can survive in dry and hot environments for a long time without water. The two major groups of cacti, the desert cacti and the jungle cacti, require different types of soil and amount of water and sunlight.

Growing CactusPHOTO BY FLICKR.COM/~SUCHITRA~

Growing Cactus - Basic Instructions

Jungle cacti are parasitic and get their nutrients from the air or dead leaves, so they can be planted in a potting mixture of soil, orchid bark, oak leaf mold, coir and pumice. Growing cactus in the holiday cactus variety requires good drainage no matter what the mixture may be. These plants can be repotted every two to three years in a fresh mixture, most preferably when they have finished blooming. Jungle cacti can be watered once a week, and twice during unusually dry and hot periods. In order for them to thrive, they should be exposed to full morning sunlight before relocating under the shade in the afternoon. The desert cactus can also be nourished by the same soil ingredients recommended for the jungle cactus. Irrigation for growing cactus entails watering the plant when the soil is dry once a week. Watering can be postponed for three to four weeks in humid areas, since the desert cacti can store plenty of water in their tissues. Being the drought-oriented plants that they are, they require full sunlight all day.

Cactus Seeds - Propagation

Cactus seedlings can be planted in plastic pots with small drainage holes given their size. After stones and pumice chunks are added to the bottom of the pots to avoid watery puddles, the pot is filled with the preferred cactus mix. Fine sharp sand should make up the top surface of the pot to prevent the cactus seeds from sinking too deep. The seeds should be sown on the surface to guarantee that they will sprout. To water them, a spray may be used until the soil is moist but not puddled. The top of the pot is then covered with an airtight material to make a humid environment for the cactus seeds. Since the seedlings cannot survive in really dry conditions like grown cactus plants do, they should not be placed under too much light.

Indoor Cactus - Planting

Keeping cacti plants indoors entail placing them in a location that will allow them to receive four to six hours of sunlight every day. To plant indoor cactus, a soil mixture with sand and gravel is placed in a ten-inch pot, shallow dish or terracotta. Space should be left within the top two inches of the pot’s rim when filling it with soil. The cactus plant is then placed, adding layers of soil and gravel in certain spots. The best place in the house for them to thrive is the windowsill. Although they can survive droughts, they should be watered more frequently when they are flowering.

Written by Melanie Gray

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