Cactus and succulents

One of the things that makes cactus and succulents great house plants is that they don’t mind the dry air in homes and offices. If you can get them enough light you’ll find they are some of the easiest house or office plants to grow.

Cactus and succulents differ only slightly. All cactus are succulents, not all succulents are cactus. Cactus store water in their stem, succulents store water in the leaves, stem or both. All cactus originated only in North and South America, succulents are found worldwide.

The temperature indoors is usually fine for all succulents and cactus. Some may need a cooler, winter of sorts to promote blooming. Others bloom after a flood. If you are having trouble getting your indoor succulent to bloom: first try more light, then try leaving it out at night for a month or two when it is chilly but not too cold for your particular plant. If neither of those works, let it dry more than usual for a few weeks, then give it a good soaking. Just don’t let it sit in water, be sure to drain it well.

As a general rule the spinier a cactus is, the more sunlight it will need. They are leaves that have evolved to shade the cactus with out giving up much needed water like regular leaves.

Cactus spines are like leaves and can be removed with out hurting the plant. You’ll see a tuft of tiny spines or hair at the bottom of each spine.

Succulent spines do not have tufts at the bottom and are connected to the stem tissue. Removing them will harm your plant.

To successfully grow succulents indoors, use a well drained soil. Sand or potting soil mixed with larger pebbles works well.

Cactuses need lots of sun. A bright, southern facing window at the very least. When the soil is dry several inches down, give them a good soaking and let them go dry before the next watering. Don’t fertilize cactus.

Christmas Cactus or Easter Cactus is one of the few cactus that needs water when the soil is only dry down an inch or so. It will not mind if you let it go a bit longer. Flowering in the winter around Christmas (or Easter ) it will brighten up the house in the winter. It does well in a hanging basket having vine like rather than upright growth. To propagate it just trim off a few leaves and put them in a moist soil and they will root in a month or so.

Be very careful not to overwater cactus and succulent plants especially in the winter when they are not getting much light. Black or brown spots on the cactus or succulent are a sign of over watering.

If you have black or brown areas that are mushy, that is bacterial soft rot. Remove those sections with a clean, sterile knife. Let those sections air dry.

Sometimes brown scab like things will form on your cactus. We really don’t know why this happens. it is possibly related to spider mite damage or too high of a humidity for cactus plants.

Mealy bugs can also bother cactus.