Fertilizing Cactus Plants: When And How To Fertilize A Cactus
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Wondering how to fertilize a cactus plant can present a bit of a dilemma, because the first question that comes to mind is “Does a cactus need fertilizer, really?” Keep reading to find out and learn more about fertilizing cactus plants.
Does a Cactus Need Fertilizer?
The classic perception of the perfect environment for cacti is a harsh, dry desert with two extremes: periods of no rainfall whatsoever or sudden deluges that the plant must absorb, store and use throughout the next dry spell.
It’s important to remember that whether they are outside in the garden exposed to seasonal extremes or in a bright sunny spot in the house, fertilizing cactus plants can keep them happily growing no matter the season.
Just like with any other garden or houseplant, fertilizing cactus plants will help them adapt, actively grow and even multiply if that’s one of their characteristics. Cacti fertilizer requirements are pretty simple. Any good houseplant food (diluted to half) that’s higher in phosphorus than nitrogen is a good choice. A 5-10-5 solution can work well.
Now that you know that they really do need fertilizer, it’s also important to know when to feed cactus plants.
How Do I Know When To Feed Cactus Plants?
Despite the fact that cacti can survive (and thrive) in some of the harshest conditions on earth, most of them prefer multiple small feedings instead of one gigantic flood. Cactus plants really don’t require a ton of water or fertilizer (they do require a lot of bright light).
At a minimum, fertilizing cactus plants once a year is a good rule of thumb, but if you’re really organized and can set up a schedule, feeding them 2-3 times per year in the spring, summer and fall will easily satisfy your cacti fertilizer requirements.
Cactus plants need fertilizer during their active growing periods more than any other time. Many gardeners use a time-release mechanism that will feed the plant for a longer period of time, such as 3 or 6 months in order to be sure not to miss their peak growing time.
Finally, remember one of the “golden rules of growing” as you plan to care for your cactus plants: never overfeed! Overfeeding is as dangerous to your cactus plants as overwatering is to any plant. Being careful not to overfeed is just as important as knowing when to feed cactus plants and how to fertilize a cactus. It gives your plants the best chance of staying healthy and happy.
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Read more about General Cactus Care
Easter Cactus Care Tips to Keep It Blooming for Decades
These pretty plants are similar to Christmas cactus but bloom in the spring.
The gorgeous trumpet-shaped flowers of Easter lily are often used as springtime decor. But if you’re looking for a new plant to brighten your table or to give this holiday season, consider the Easter cactus! This lesser-known plant has nice, drapey shape and interesting segmented flat stems with fringe-y star-shaped flowers in gorgeous saturated colors including fuchsia, red, orange and white. The flowers open at sunrise and close at sunset and last for weeks in early spring, typically right around the time of Easter.
Easter cactus (Hatiora gaertneri, formerly Rhipsalidopsis) looks a lot like its more well-known relatives, Christmas cactus (Schlumgera bridgesii) and Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumgera truncata). But besides having a different bloom time from these plants, Easter cactus has a more oval, less pointy leaf shape. The leaf segments also have a purplish fringe. Originally from the forests of Brazil, this plant is a beautiful addition to your houseplant collection. With the right conditions, Easter cactus can live for decades!
Here’s what you need to know to care for Easter cactus.
Succulent and Cactus Soil Requirements
The soil succulents and cacti need to thrive is not the same as your typical garden soil. This soil must physically support the plant, retain some moisture and nutrients, and should be porous so that water is absorbed easily, then drained away quickly.
Succulent and cactus roots experience an essential and rapid exchange between water and air, which cannot take place when water is excessive.
While there is no perfect combination for the ideal soil, the following mix will support healthy growth. Examples of good soil mixes are:
• 2 parts potting soil
• 1 part perlite
• 1 part small gravel
• Equal parts potting soil and perlite
The following soil tips will help you get the soil right for your succulents and promote their continued good health:
• If sand is used in the mixture, use horticultural grade coarse sand. Finer non-horticultural sand will compress and harden, and likely contain salt among other impurities, making water drainage more difficult and potentially damaging your plants.
• You can test your soil by wetting it and squeezing it with your hands. If the soil mixture crumbles easily and loosely, you got it right. If it forms a ball or a lump, you may need to add more perlite, gravel, or sand.
• To further promote their good health, your succulents and cacti should be repotted with the appropriate soil every two years.
• As available soil components may vary in texture from region to region, you may need to experiment with several combinations to get your soil to the desired consistency.
Best Cactus Soil Mixes
If you don’t have the time or energy for making your own cactus mix, there are lots of options out there. You can find specialty succulent soil almost anywhere, especially because succulents are so popular! Here are a couple of our favorite brands.
1. Espoma Organic Cactus Mix
- Espoma Cactus Mix is an all natural and organic.
- Espoma Cactus Mix provides optimum aeration and.
- Use Espoma Cactus Mix anytime planting with.
Our top choice, Espoma organic cactus mix is a great one-fits-all for succulents, cacti, aloe, and even citrus. It’s designed to promote healthy roots and excellent drainage. Plus, it’s all-natural, so what’s not to love?
Espoma also has an excellent African Violet mixture that’s perfect for a DIY cactus soil base.
2. Hoffman Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix
- Organic cactus and succulent soil mix
- Professionally formulated for use with both jungle.
- Provides the drainage cacti need to flourish.
This mixture boasts working well for both desert and jungle cacti. It has a balanced pH, good drainage, and includes growing information. It’s also completely organic,
Having the right soil is absolutely essential for a good succulent garden. As a cactus owner, it’s up to you to ensure this. Whether you make your own potting cactus soil or buy it, your cactus plants will thank you.
Last update on 2021-03-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Importance of Humic Acid, Probiotics and Mycorrhizae in cactus fertilizers
Cactus need simple organic compounds for their nutritional needs. In this regard, humic acid comes in handy to act as chelators that break down minerals into simple organic compounds. This ensures easier availability of such compounds for the nutritional needs of your cactus. Additionally, humic acid also ensures that unwanted toxins in the soil are neutralized and do not get absorbed by the plant.
Probiotics and Mycorrhizae, on the other hand, help ensure that the soil remains ‘alive.’ Over time, it improves the soil’s nutrient content and its ability to keep plant growth for much longer. This symbiotic relationship helps keep the soil improving over time. Considering that cactus live longer, this comes in handy.
However, as a word of caution, do not use fertilizer meant for lawn care on your cactus. As much as they may contain the same composition, these have high nitrogen content that can be detrimental to your cactus. The high nitrogen content speeds up vegetative growth, and this is counterproductive when applied to cactus plants.
How to keep a cactus healthy
Cacti are resistant plants, alright, but this does not mean you neglect them altogether. Cactus plants, especially those grown indoors or in gardens, require constant attention to keep them healthy and thriving.
Cacti are desert plants, but they need sufficient watering to keep them vibrant and improve their growth and reproduction rate when grown indoors. However, watering a cactus needs skill and strategy. Unlike other moisture-loving plants, cacti need some waiting period between watering to allow the plant to use up most of the water already fed. Since they store their water in their succulent stems, cacti do not need frequent watering. Only water when at least two inches of the topsoil feel dry.
Cacti love light, and you may not be too lucky if you keep them in the dark place. Lack of light causes the plant to change color and eventually die off. When growing your cacti indoors, ensure you provide enough light. Do this by strategically positioning your plants in a west-facing or south-facing window. At least six hours of light per day is enough to keep your cacti healthy, vibrant and thriving.
However, beware not to expose new or young plants to too much light. This may scorch the outer skin and expose it to external attacks by bugs and fungal diseases.
Use proper potting soil and container
The survival of your cacti is highly dependent on the soil and container used. For better results, always ensure you use proper-sized containers with drainage holes. These will help drain excess water to avoid cases or root rot.
When planting, use the proper soil mix ideal for planting cactus. The soil should not be heavy as these will retain too much water. A soil mix with lighter soil will be ideal in this case.
Cactus may be a dessert plant where nutrients are limited, but this doesn’t mean it doesn’t need fertilizer. A properly fertilized cactus will grow and mature faster, will produce brighter and more regular blooms and will have a vibrant appearance overall.
Cacti do not need a specific blend of fertilizer, but a highly diluted, all-purpose fertilizer will do the magic. Use a low nitrogen water-soluble fertilizer with a ratio of 5-10-10 or 10-10-10 for better results.
A healthy cactus is a happy cactus. As a cactus enthusiast, you not only have to get acquainted with the characteristics of a healthy cactus but also take steps to ensure that it remains so for the rest of its lifetime. With proper care and expert attention, your cactus will live to serve its purpose, whether indoors or in the garden.