Tips for Taking Care of Cactus both Out and Indoors
Cactus are low maintenance plants that will survive on little water, these garden beauties will complement a rock or low maintenance garden. Cactus belongs to the family Cactacea and is native to the Americas, ranging from Patagonia in the south to parts of western Canada in the north, Sri Lanka, and Africa.
There are said to be more than a thousand species of cactus which makes cactus one of the largest in the plant kingdom, cactus is known for its thorns which can be pretty painful if not handled carefully. But the good news is there are some cactus that are thornless and easier to work with.
If you have an interest in growing cactus in your home garden then stick around and go with me as we take a journey into the world of the cactus plant.
Because cactus is known as desert plants that can withstand the heat a sunny location within your garden area will be ideal for them.
Cactus needs soils that are sandy and loose in order to thrive, sandy soils are great for their ability to drain well.
Well, we know all too well about this one, cactus should be watered only after the soil dries out. Remember these plants survive on very little water.
Fertilizing is optional, I have seen these desert lovers growing so healthy with beautiful flower blooms without being feed with plant food.
Garden insect pests of cactus
There is basically three main garden insect pest that is known to attack cactus these insects include.
- Spider Mites
It’s amazing as prickly and hard skins as the cactus these garden insect pests find ways to feed on the cactus plant.
Mealybugs are very common among garden insects pest and feed on a host of garden plants. Mealybugs can be easily identified by a white waxy mealy covering that looks somewhat like cotton. These bugs can cause the same damage as aphids, mites, and scales. The use of insecticidal soap will bring them under control.
There are many species of scale insects. These garden pests cause plant injury by injecting their piercing-sucking mouthparts into the plant’s leaves and extracting the plant’s fluids or sap which can lead to yellowing and browning of the foliage.
Scales are tiny insects with bodies that resemble and armor, these garden insects pest remains in a fixed position or motionless but pay that no mine because the damage is being done. This feeding can also lead to sooty mold. Applying neem oil or insecticidal soap will bring these garden insect pests under control.
Spider mites are very tiny but can cause huge damage to our garden plants, to know if your cactus plant has spider mites look for spider web along with your plant taking on a dusty appearance.
Spider mites cause yellowing of the leaves, removing the infested leaves along with leaves that are dead, and applying insecticidal soap or horticultural oil will bring this garden insect pest under control.
The root-knot nematode is a tiny worm-like microscopic organism that lives in the soil. Signs of nematodes are the roots that develop small galls. Sterilize the soil before potting or repotting the plant.
Disease of cactus
Keep an eye out for this disease.
- Dry Rot
- Soft Rot
- Charcoal Spot
- Cotton Root Rot
- Cactus Anthracnose
This disease is influenced by too much moisture, signs appear as circular spots that are small and black, these spots will increase over time. The infected tissue may also have small fruiting bodies, there is no cure except to remove the entire plant and discard.
This disease is caused by bacteria that enter the cactus through wounds, this disease is made worse during high humid conditions. Signs show up as diseased tissues that are soft, black, and watery. To avoid soft rot keep cactus from high humidity, treat wounds right away with a copper fungicide and avoid plant injury.
This disease shows up as spots, these spots are surrounded by dots which fruits. As this disease persists, it spreads. There is no cure except to remove the plant.
Cotton Root Rot
A fungus causes this disease by attacking the cactus roots, once the cactus is uprooted this fungus can be seen on the roots. There is no cure except for the removal of the plant.
The area which is infected by this disease is moist and rotted, over time the spots enlarge. These spots are also covered by pustules that are spore-producing. In serve cases, the entire plant will become infected and will die. The only way to treat this disease is to uproot and remove the cactus.
This disease shows up as spots that gets large as the disease spreads, the disease area also turns a grayish to brownish color. There is no treatment for sunscald except to remove cactus.
Ideas on where to install the cactus plant
Cactus has prickles that can deliver a painful experience, therefore, the use of these desert lovers should be limited especially where children and pets are involved.
1. If using cactus in a garden plant bed place it at the very back.
2. Creating a rock garden and adding cactus looks really amazing, remember if children and pets are around secure this area so they don’t have easy excess.
3. The growth and the care of cactus indoors are pretty cool because this is a great way to bring nature inside. The use of table size cactus is a great choice when installing them indoors place them where kids and animals don’t have easy access to them.
Growing cactus from containers
When growing cactus from containers use a container that is large enough for your cactus plants, the container should have drain holes to allow excess water to drain. The soil should be well-drained soil, as an added bonus it would be good to mix in some perlite or using cactus and succulent mix which can be purchased from your garden center or plant nursery.
Before installing your cactus in containers it is best to add about a two-inch layer of pebbles on the inside at the bottom of the container before adding the soil mix, this too is an added bonus to ensure that your plant has good drainage.
Once your cactus is installed in the container water thoroughly and do not water again until the few top inches of soil have dried. These plants are used to desert conditions so don’t overwater which can lead to root rot. The container should be placed in an area that gets full sunlight just take caution however where children and pets are involved. The use of a diluted fertilizer such as triple ten or 10-10-10 during the growing season will go a long way.
The growth and the care of cactus indoors
A great way to bring nature indoors is with the use of cactus when potting cactus for indoor purposes follow the seem example in the above section on growing cactus from containers. Water and fertilizer as discussed in the section on growing cactus from containers. Once potted the container should be positioned or placed near a south window to get sufficient light.
The final word
Whether in your outdoor garden area or growing indoors cactus makes a great choice, these low maintenance plants have proven to work wonders and can give you the best of both worlds which is their beauty and ease of maintenance. I have seen these plants in many garden and landscape designs which gives the appearance and the feel of the desert so if you believe the cactus is the plant for you then give it a try I am sure you will be glad that you did.