Essential Tips for Successful Cultivation and Care
Growing desert cacti isn’t too difficult if you just get some basic essentials right.
Mostly natives of Mexico and the Southern USA, desert cacti love very dry and diffuse sun-drenched growing conditions. Desert cacti grow best in a mineral soil. A mix of 50% sand, 25% grit and 25% regular potting soil has proven to the best growing medium. There point is a compost that drains freely, since stagnant moisture will kill cacti more rapidly than drought.
When you grow desert cacti, ensure a minimum temperature of 25ºC and plenty of sunlight.
Allow plants to completely dry out between waterings. During their active growth period a half solution of liquid fertilizer can be applied every watering. See our other article on watering tips.
It is not possible to replicate the conditions found in the natural habitat of each type of cactus on a windowsill indoors, or outside on a patio. Instead, a collector should aim to provide conditions acceptable to the majority of plants that will be grown. The most important provision is adequate light. Most succulents are exposed to strong sunlight in the wild. In the home they must be positioned where they will receive maximum sunlight. The ideal location is a broad windowsill facing south.
Under no circumstances should a cactus be placed in a dark corner. They will survive, but in a short time they will lose their colour, become etiolated and not flower. During the winter months a problem can arise if the plants are kept dry in room temperature surroundings (20C), this will cause them to shrivel excessively. If they are watered to maintain rigidity, they will continue to grow, but at lower light levels they will become deformed. Its better to move the plants to cooler locations within the home, still with good lighting for the winter. In winter you should keep your plant completely dry at a temperature between 7-10°C.