How to Care for your Cacti



Ideally cacti require as much light as possible, though sometimes there is no choice. You will find it more difficult to keep the plants looking good in poor light conditions. 


Our main advice is –“do not be afraid of watering cacti”! 
Cacti and succulents can be watered overhead, using a lance and rose if possible, but if there is no hosepipe available then use a can and rose. Alternatively, if you have benches that can be flooded, then flooding is an acceptable method – provided that you can drain the bench or only provide sufficient water so that it is soaked up.

Problems with water containing lime: -

Flood benching is preferable if you have a problem with lime in the water, as lime leaves a deposit on the plants and makes them unsightly.
If preferred, you can leave some of the cacti in the trays that they are delivered in, as most trays are ‘self-watering’, i.e. the drainage holes are raised. You can still ‘flood’ these trays by pouring water into the tray.


Spring to Autumn (mid March-mid September)

During spring, summer and autumn, the plants will probably require watering each week, and, if your water doesn’t contain lime, overhead watering to keep them dust free will do no harm. The amount you water them will obviously depend on the position of the benching, because more light = more heat = more water. Low light situations can be a little more difficult.

Winter watering (October- February) 

As the plants will still be in a warm atmosphere during winter, they will still need some water, but probably a reduced amount, once every two weeks or so.  Lithops need hardly any water in the winter.
Planted arrangements or ‘gardens’: -

The planted arrangements and especially the ones in terracotta bowls need special attention, as there are a variety of plants depending on a small amount of compost. If the plants are left to dry out too much they will tend to look very sorry for themselves! This can then lead to the garden becoming un-saleable.
You will be stocking both terracotta and ceramic containers, most of which will not have drainage holes. 

* The ceramic will need a light watering approximately every two weeks.
* The terracotta will need watering more frequently, (being porous they dry out more quickly).

Clues to when cacti and planted arrangements need water: -

* Compost looks dry and plants are light when picked up
* Compost comes away from the side of the pots
* Plants looks ‘tired’ or ‘grey’ and can wrinkle or shrink
* Plants can also change colour and not look fresh
* The gravel in the planted arrangements will shrink away from the sides or sink, when dry.



The most common problem, is mealy bug. This shows itself as white fluffy patches in the joints and between ribs, or sometimes in the growing point of the plant.  Mealy bug is a common pest that can be found around the garden but they have a particular taste for Cacti and Succulents.


Mealy bug can be wiped off or even washed off with a pressure water spray. You could also spray the plant with an organic soap-based insecticide (though this should be tried on a small area of the plant first).  Methylated spirits can be used, but handle with care!  Apply with a small paint brush direct to the mealy bug to clean them off the plant.

We also offer a booklet with more information about caring for your Cacti.