Homesteading, Gardening, and Off-Grid Living

How Long Can a Cactus Go Without Water?

By: Zac Friedman

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Cacti have evolved to survive for long periods of time without water. Some species can go for as long as two years without a drink. Indoor cacti can go for several weeks without water. These desert plants have adapted to thrive in dry conditions. That said, they still need water to survive. In this guide, we’ll answer the question, how long can a cactus go without water?

In this guide, I explain how often you should water your cactus. I’ll also help you learn how to identify whether your cactus has been overwatered or underwatered and explain how to fix it. This guide covers both indoor and outdoor cacti.

Indoor cactus plants in pots

How Long Can a Cactus Survive Without Water?

Some species of desert cactus can survive for up to two years without water. Some species regularly endure the whole winter season (around four months) without any water. This is the case with the mammillaria species of cacti. 

Indoor cacti can survive around 4-6 weeks without water. They can’t go nearly as without water as cacti that are grown outdoors. This is the case because they are grown in different conditions. Indoor cacti require regular watering. They can still survive on little water compared to other types of houseplants. 

Generally, you should water your indoor cactus when the soil in the pot is completely dry. This could mean once per week or once every two weeks. In some cases, you may only need to water your cactus once per month.

How often you should water your indoor cactus depends a range of factors including the species, the size, how much light it gets, the room temperature, humidity, the type of pot it’s in, the type of potting soil, etc. 

Exactly how long a cactus can survive without water depends on a number of factors including the species, size, and the conditions it’s growing in. Some species are hardier than others. Larger cacti can go for longer without water than smaller cacti. 

An arid desert with cacti

How Does a Cactus Live Without Water?

This ability of cacti to withstand water scarcity is the result of evolutionary adaptation. Cactus evolved in arid areas. To survive in these areas, they need the ability to retain water and minimize water loss. Water is scarce in the desert. Cactus can survive long periods of drought. This is possible for a few reasons.

The cactus doesn’t lose much water to evaporation thanks to its thick and protective outer later. The prickly spines also help to reduce water loss. They achieve this by restricting the flow of dry air near the plant. In addition, the spines protect the cactus from animals trying to eat the plant. 

They have extensive root systems that can extend for several meters. This helps the plant absorb as much water as possible. When water is available, cacti roots can grow quickly to absorb additional water. When water becomes scarce, the roots can shrivel up to protect the water supply. Cacti have shallow root systems.

Cacti also have the unique ability to store water in their stems. The thick stem acts as a reserve. They can utilize this reserve when water is scarce. Cacti have evolved thicker stems that provide plenty of volume for water storage. 

A large Saguaro cactus can absorb an impressive 200 gallons of water during a heavy rainstorm. This gives it a large reserve to survive on during periods when water is scarce.

How Often To Water a Cactus pin

How Much Water Does a Cactus Need to Live?

It depends. The precise amount of water required by cactus plants can vary significantly based on their species, the environmental conditions they’re placed in, the type of soil they’re rooted in, the season, whether the cactus is housed indoors or outdoors, the size of the cactus, the pot it resides in, and the composition of the soil mix. The list goes on and on. 

Cacti are sensitive to overwatering. Of course, you also don’t want to underwater. In the following section, I’ll outline some guidelines you can follow to help you determine when and how much to water your cactus. 

A cactus and a watering can

Guidelines for Watering a Cactus

  • Adjust the Watering Frequency With Seasons: Cacti require more water during the growing season (spring and summer) and less during the dormant period (fall and winter). Adjust your watering frequency to align with these natural growth cycles. During the growing season, it’s best to water your cactus twice per week. This is also a good time to fertilize. During the colder seasons, cacti can go dormant. Reduce your watering frequency during these months. In some cases, you may not need to water for over a month or more during this time. 
  • Check Soil Moisture Levels: Before watering your cactus, check the soil’s moisture levels. You want to let the soil dry out completely before watering. Make sure the top few inches of the soil are completely dry. Dry soil indicates it’s time to water, while damp soil suggests waiting a bit longer. You can check the moisture of the soil with your finger. Simply stick your finger in the soil. If the soil feels damp and soil sticks to your finger, wait a little longer to water. Alternatively, you can stick a skewer into the soil. If it feels damp when you pull it out, you can wait to water. You can also use a moisture meter. This Long Probe Deep Use Soil Moisture Meter would work well.
  • Understand Your Cactus Species: Different cactus species have varied water requirements. Familiarize yourself with the specific needs of your cactus species to tailor a suitable watering regimen. Some types of cactus need more water than others. For instance, a Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera) which thrives in a more tropical climate will require more water than a Saguaro Cactus (Carnegiea gigantea) native to the arid environments.
  • Water Thoroughly But Infrequently: When you water your cactus, ensure it’s done thoroughly, allowing water to reach the roots. Water should flow out of the bottom drainage holes of your pot. However, let the soil dry out completely between watering sessions to mimic the natural habitat where cacti grow. 
  • Use the Right Watering Tools: Employ watering cans with a long spout or a hose with a gentle spray attachment to direct water to the base of the cactus. It’s best to minimize moisture on the foliage because can cause rot. Particularly in desert cactus. You can mist cacti that are native to the jungle because they are adapted to a wetter climate. In this case, a spray bottle is a good watering tool.
  • Avoid Watering in Extreme Temperatures: Refrain from watering your cacti during extremely hot or cold temperatures to prevent shock. I’m not sure if this point is true or not. I have heard this tip a couple of times so I thought I’d throw it in. Early morning is the optimal time for watering a cactus. 
  • Consider the Humidity and Climate: Your local climate and indoor humidity levels can significantly impact how often your cacti need water. In humid conditions, reduce watering frequency, while in arid conditions, water more often. 
  • Respond to Your Cactus’ Signs: Pay close attention to your cactus’ appearance. A plump and firm cactus indicates good hydration, while a shriveled or discolored cactus suggests it may need more water or less. I’ll talk more in-depth about overwatering and underwatering later on. 
Four cacti in pots sitting on a kitchen windowsill

How Often Should I Water My Cactus?

Generally, you should water your cactus when the top few inches of soil in the pot are dry. In most cases, this will be around once every 10 days to two weeks. 

Depending on the season, climate, pot size, the type of cactus, the soil type, etc. this could be twice per week, once per week, once every other week, or even once per month. 

Before watering your cactus, you should check the soil to make sure it is dry. To do this, simply stick your finger a few inches into the soil to feel if it is moist. You could also use a moisture meter. 

Generally, cacti need more water during the growing seasons. Cacti grow during the warmer months of the spring and summer. They need less water during the dormant season. The dormant season is the colder months of the fall and winter. 

If you’re not sure how often to water your cactus, it’s better to underwater it rather than overwater it. Cacti are susceptible to root rot when they are overwatered. This eventually kills the plant. It’s much easier to bring an underwatered cacti back to health. 

How Often Should I Water During the Winter?

Many species of cacti become dormant during the winter. They need less water during this time. In this case, you may only need to water your cactus once every 4-6 weeks. 

It’s important to monitor the soil levels. If the soil gets dry, water the cactus. If the soil still feels moist after a month, there is no need to water it. Give it another week or two. 

You should also give your cactus less water during the winter. You don’t need to completely saturate it. Just give it enough water to survive the winter. It’s easier to overwater during the winter because the plant will need less water than you think. 

What if I Don’t Know the Species of My Cactus?

If you don’t know what type of cactus you have, it can be difficult to determine how much to water it. You may not be able to identify the exact species but there are a few ways to determine the general type of cactus you have. This can help you determine how much water it needs.

First, look at the spines. If your cactus has lots of spines, it probably needs less water than if it has fewer spines. Spines have evolved partially to prevent water loss. Cacti with lots of spines are usually from desert areas that don’t get much water.

The spines evolved to trap air next to the cactus to reduce transpiration and evaporation. The spines can also create shade to help keep the cactus cooler. 

Next, look at the leaves. Most species of cactus don’t have leaves. They have spines instead. If your cactus has leaves, it will need more water than a cactus without leaves. 

The thinner the leaves, the more water it will need. Plants lose a lot of water through their leaves through the process of transpiration. This is because leaves have a lot of surface area. Cactus with lots of spines don’t lose water nearly as quickly. 

Next, look at the size of your cactus. Larger cacti need a greater volume of water than smaller cacti. Larger plants simply need more water to sustain themselves than smaller plants. Generally, you have to water smaller cacti more frequently than larger cacti because they dry out faster. 

Finally, look at the stem. A cactus with a thick stem needs less water than a cactus with a thin stem. The thick stem of cacti is used as a water reserve. It is water storage for when water is scarce. If the stem is ribbed, it can swell when water is abundant and shrink when water is scarce. If your cactus has a thin stem, you will need to water it more frequently. 

How to Water Your Cactus

There are a couple of ways to go about watering a cactus. 

If your cactus is planted in a pot, the best way to water it is to place the pot in a saucer full of water. This allows the cactus to absorb water from the bottom through the drainage holes in the pot. Once the soil is wet halfway up, remove the pot from the saucer. 

You can also water your cactus the traditional way by pouring water over the surface of the soil. Be sure to give your cactus plenty of water. Continue watering until water starts to drip through the drainage holes. Make sure you have a saucer under the cactus to catch the excess water.

Generally, it’s best to avoid pouring water directly on the actual plant. Desert cactus don’t like surface moisture. They can’t absorb water through their stems.

There are some species of cactus that you can water by misting. Christmas cactus is an example. You can simply give the cactus a couple of squirts with a spray bottle every day.

Be sure not to overwater your cactus. When you do water your cactus, give it plenty of water. Let the soil dry out between waterings. This mimics the way the plant receives water in nature. You don’t want to water too frequently. Overwatering can kill your cactus. More on this later.

Which Type of Water Should I Use to Water a Cactus?

Cacti are accommodating to different water types. Tap water is a convenient and suitable choice for watering cacti. You don’t need special water.

On the other hand, if you have the means to collect rainwater, your cactus will surely appreciate it. Rainwater is often considered to be a more natural and soft water source, devoid of the minerals and chemicals that can be found in tap water. 

Tap water can contain minerals and chemicals such as chlorine and fluoride, which, over time, might build up in the soil, potentially affecting its quality and pH level. This mineral buildup, known as hard water, can lead to less-than-ideal conditions for your cactus. Additionally, in areas where tap water is exceptionally hard or alkaline, the likelihood of it impacting your cactus negatively increases. 

If you live in an area with particularly harsh water, you might consider using spring water to water your cactus.

It’s not a good idea to water cactus with distilled water because it lacks certain minerals that the plants require. 

How Can You Tell When Your Cactus Needs Water?

Because you water your cactus so infrequently, it’s easy to forget about it. Even though cacti are hardy plants, they still need water.

Underwatering can cause the plant stress, which can manifest itself in a number of ways. Some signs of an underwatered cactus include:

  • Shrinkage, Wrinkling, or shriveling: A thirsty cactus may exhibit shrinkage or wrinkling on its surface as it uses up its stored water. This is a clear distress signal that it’s time for a water top-up. 
  • Yellowing or Discoloration: Healthy cacti boast vibrant and lush colors, whereas a water-deprived cactus might display discoloration, turning pale or even yellow. 
  • Softness or Mushiness: A dehydrated cactus often becomes soft to the touch as it loses its turgidity. In severe cases, it might feel mushy, which is a sign of both dehydration and potential rot from previous over-watering. 
  • Excessively Dry Soil: Before watering, it’s important to check the moisture level of the soil. Dry soil, especially when it’s dry deep down, is a straightforward indicator that it’s time to water your cactus. 
  • Puckered or Pinched Skin: When the skin of the cactus appears puckered or pinched, it’s a sign that the plant is using its water reserves, indicating a need for watering.
  • Aerial Root Growth: In search of moisture, some cacti species may start growing aerial roots. If you notice small roots sprouting from the body of your cactus, it’s a sign that your plant is thirsty. 
  • Slow Growth or Stunted Growth: While cacti take a long time to grow, an unusually slow growth rate or stunted growth can be a sign of insufficient watering. 
  • Leaf Drop (For Leafy Cacti): Leafy cacti like the Christmas cactus may drop leaves when thirsty. This is a protective mechanism to reduce water loss and a signal that it’s time for watering. 

How Can You Tell When Your Cactus Is Overwatered? 

Overwatering your cactus is more harmful than underwatering. This is because overwatering can lead to root rot, which can kill your cactus. It’s hard to save a cactus after it’s been overwatered.

Overwatering is also more common. Many cactus owners water too frequently. Some signs that you are overwatering include:

  • Soft and Mushy Stem: Overwatering causes cacti to become soft, mushy, and swollen. The excess water makes the cells bulge and break, leading to a lack of firmness. 
  • Color Changes: Overwatered cacti may exhibit color changes such as turning yellow or pale. In severe cases, they may turn black or brown, indicating rot.
  • Root Rot: One of the most serious consequences of overwatering is root rot. This condition causes the cactus roots to become soft, mushy, and discolored. Healthy cacti roots are white or tan and firm to the touch. 
  • Edema (oedema): When a cactus absorbs more water than it can use, the cells may become overfilled and rupture leading to edema. This condition manifests as blisters or lesions on the cactus skin. For more info on this condition, check out this article.  
  • Base or Stem Rot: The base or lower stems of the cactus may become soft and start rotting due to excessive water. You could also see mold on the soil or on the cactus itself. This is often a precursor to a dying or dead cactus if action is not taken promptly. 
  • Leaf Drop (in Leafy Cacti): In leafy cacti, overwatering can cause leaf drop, where the leaves become yellow and fall off.
  • Decreased Flowering: Overwatered cacti may have a diminished ability to produce flowers. The excess water stifles the flowering process, making the cactus less likely to bloom. 
  • Unpleasant Odor: A foul smell emanating from the cactus or its soil is a sign of bacterial or fungal infection, such as mold. The stagnant, overly moist soil becomes a breeding ground for pathogens. 
  • Pest Infestations: Pests tend to be attracted to stressed or weak plants. Overwatering creates a conducive environment for pests like fungus gnats and mealybugs, which thrive in moist conditions. 

As you can see, many of the signs of underwatering can also be signs of overwatering.

How to Save an Overwatered Cactus

  1. Halt Watering Immediately: Stop all watering as soon as you notice signs of overwatering. This will prevent further water damage and start the healing process.
  2. Remove the Cactus from its pot: Carefully extract the cactus from its pot to inspect the roots. You can use a newspaper to hold the cactus. Carefully comb the soil out of the roots.
  3. Inspect the Roots: Healthy cactus roots are firm and white or tan. Rotten roots will be black and mushy. They may also have an unpleasant odor.
  4. Trim Damaged Roots: Using sterilized pruning shears, trim away all rotten and damaged roots. This helps to prevent the further spread of rot to healthy roots. If the root rot is not extensive, the cactus can be saved. If there is extensive rotting, the cactus probably won’t make it. 
  5. Let the Cactus Dry: Place the cactus on a paper towel or in a shaded, airy spot to allow it to dry out for a day or two. This helps to heal the cuts made during root trimming and to eliminate excess moisture. 
  6. Repot in a New Pot with Fresh, Well-Draining Soil: Choose a well-draining soil mix, preferably one specially formulated for cacti and succulents, to repot your cactus. Also, make sure you choose an appropriate-sized pot. Ensure the new pot has adequate drainage holes to prevent water logging. Re-pot your cactus in a pot that’s just slightly larger than its root ball to encourage drying and prevent water retention.
  7. Water Sparingly: Once your cactus has been repotted, water it sparingly. It’s essential to allow the soil to dry out completely between watering sessions to mimic the cactus’ natural desert habitat. 
  8. Provide Ample Light: Ensure your cactus receives enough light, as per its specific species requirements, to foster healthy growth and recovery. 
  9. Consider a Fungicide Treatment: If fungal infection is a concern, consider applying a fungicide treatment to the cactus and surrounding soil to eradicate any lingering pathogens. Check out this guide to succulent fungus remedies for more info.
  10. Monitor Closely: Keep a close eye on your cactus for signs of recovery or further deterioration. It may take some time, but with patience and the right care, your cactus may bounce back to its former glory. 

How to Save an Underwatered Cactus

  1. Identify the Signs of Underwatering: Recognizing the signs of underwatering is the first step towards remedying the situation. Look for indications like wrinkling, wilting, or a pale appearance, as outlined above.
  2. Adjust Your Watering Schedule: Modify your watering routine to provide more frequent hydration to your cactus. A lack of water will eventually kill your cactus. It’s important to avoid overcompensation and overwatering.
  3. Use the Right Watering Techniques: Utilize a watering can with a long spout or a hose with a gentle spray attachment to deliver water effectively to the base of the cactus without splashing the foliage. Alternatively, place the cactus pot in a pan of water so the plant can absorb water through the roots. 
  4. Choose an Appropriate Sized Pot: Select a pot that’s slightly larger than the root ball of your cactus to encourage healthy root expansion and efficient water absorption.
  5. Maintain Consistent Watering: Once you’ve adjusted your watering schedule, maintain consistency to help your cactus recover and thrive. 
  6. Monitor Your Cactus’ Progress: Keep an eye on your cactus for signs of recovery like returning to its original color, plumping up, and the growth of new spines or leaves.
  7. Consider Nutrient Replenishment: If your cactus has been underwatered for an extended period, it might benefit from a balanced fertilizer to replenish lost nutrients and promote healthy growth.

Generally, it’s much easier to save a cactus that has been underwatered than a cactus that has been overwatered.

Considerations When Watering a Cactus

There are a range of factors that determine exactly how frequently you need to water your cactus. In this section, I’ll outline a few of the most important considerations. 

What Species is It?

In general, cacti need less water than other types of plants. Some species of cacti need more water than others. Cacti can be divided into two distinct groups: arid cactus and jungle cactus. Cacti that are native to desert regions need less water than those that are native to jungle regions.

Arid Cactus

Arid cacti are native to desert environments. They thrive in hot and dry regions where water is scarce. They typically live under direct sunlight. This type of cactus can survive on a small amount of water. They have evolved to thrive in dry conditions.

These cacti have a growing season and a dormant season. The active growing season occurs in the warm summer months (usually from March until September). During this time, the cactus needs more water.

The dormant season starts in the fall and lasts through the winter. During the cooler months (October through February) arid cacti don’t need much water. Their in-built water conservation mechanisms kick into high gear.

A few examples of arid cactus species include Saguaro cactus (Carnegiea gigantea), Barrel cactus ((Echinocactus grusonii), Prickly Pear cactus (Opuntia species), and Column Cactus (Cereus uruguayanus).

Jungle Cactus

Jungle cacti are native to the tropics. These species are used to living in humid and tropical environments. In the wild, these cacti live mostly in the shade under the canopy of a rainforest. Most species do not have spines like desert cactus. Instead, they have thick leaves. 

Jungle cactus are hardy and drought-tolerant. They don’t need as much water as your other plants. They do need more water than desert cacti. Jungle cacti do not like to dry out completely. They can also put up with higher humidity than desert cacti.

At the same time, overwatering can be harmful to jungle cactus. They are still susceptible to root rot.  

Jungle cacti also have growth and dormant seasons. During the warm summer months, you will have to water your jungle cactus more frequently. During the winter months, these cacti don’t need as much water because they are dormant. Some species of jungle cactus benefit from misting every once in a while. 

A few examples of jungle cactus species include Christmas Cacti (Schlumbergera x bridgesii), Orchid Cactus (Epiphyllum spp.), and Easter Cactus (Rhipsalidopsis spp.)

What Size is It?

The size of the cactus plays a role in how often you have to water it and how much water it needs to survive. 

Larger cacti need a greater volume of water than smaller cacti. This is simply because they are physically larger. They need more water to sustain themselves.

Smaller cacti need to be watered more frequently than larger cacti. This is because water evaporates more quickly from the smaller pot. A larger cacti doesn’t need to be watered as often.

How Much Light Does Your Cactus It Get?

If your cactus sits in direct sunlight for most of the day, you will need to water it more frequently. This is because the sun’s heat causes the water to evaporate more quickly. The bright light produces a lot of heat, which dries out the soil. If your cactus sits in the shade, it won’t need as much water because the soil will stay moist longer.

This is true for both cacti that are planted outside and cacti that are inside in pots. If your cactus sits in a window facing the south, where it receives more sunlight, it will need more water. If it sits in a window facing the north where it receives less sunlight, you won’t need to water it as frequently. 

Is Your Cactus in the Proper Sized Container?

If your cactus is planted in a large pot, it will take more time for the water to evaporate and the soil to dry out. This is because the greater volume of soil can hold more water. You won’t have to water as frequently as a result. Your cactus will have more time to absorb the water. When you plant a cactus in a large pot, you may only need to water it every 4-6 weeks. 

If your cactus is planted in a smaller pot, you will need to water it more frequently. The smaller pot can’t hold as much soil or water. The water will evaporate more quickly. You may need to water a small cactus that is planted in a small pot every 1-2 weeks.

Because a smaller pot will dry out more quickly, cacti prefer to be in smaller pots. They don’t need a lot of space because they have shallow roots. Your cactus is also less likely to rot when it’s in a smaller pot because the soil doesn’t hold moisture as long. 

The material of the pot is also an important consideration. Plastic pots retain more moisture than terracotta pots. This is because plastic pots are not porous. Moisture can’t escape. 

Clay pots are somewhat porous. They can let some moisture pass through. For this reason, it’s better to plant your cactus in a clay pot than a plastic pot. 

When choosing a pot for your cactus, also look for one with lots of drainage holes. This is necessary to prevent root rot. If the pot doesn’t have sufficient drainage, root rot can be a serious problem.

It’s also important to note that cacti that are planted in pots need more water than those that are planted in the ground. 

Which Type of Potting Mix Are You Using?

The potting mix you use is another important consideration. The soil determines how fast water can pass through to the plant’s roots. It also determines how long the soil stays moist. 

Generally, cacti prefer fast draining soil. It’s best to plant your cactus in a soil mix that is made for cactus. This Hoffman Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix would work well.

You can also make your own cactus mix by combining pearlite, sand, and potting soil. You can also add some gravel or pumice to the mix. 

Soil mixes that drain well help to prevent root rot because they dry out faster than regular potting soil. If you plant your cactus in a fast draining soil, you will need to water it more frequently.

What is the Temperature Where Your Cactus is Being Kept?

You’ll also have to consider the temperature of the room where you keep your cactus. In higher temperatures, water evaporates faster and you’ll have to water your cactus more often. If you keep your cactus in a cooler room, you won’t have to water as frequently. 

Generally, it’s better to keep a cactus in a warmer area. These plants prefer high temperatures over cool temperatures. During hot and dry periods of the year, be sure to keep an eye on the moisture level of the soil so your cactus doesn’t dry out.

When temperatures drop, your cactus may enter a dormant period. It will use far less water during this period. You may only need to water your cactus once per month during this time. You need to be careful not to overwater during this time.

What is the Humidity Like?

You’ll also want to consider the humidity level where you keep your cactus. Most cacti plants prefer dry environments. They are desert plants. Some species, such as jungle cactus, prefer humid environments.

When growing a cactus, you’ll want to keep it in a place that doesn’t get too humid. Humidity increases the time it takes for the soil to dry out. Cacti don’t like living in moist soil for extended periods. Humidity can also make it easier for bacteria and fungus to multiply. Limiting the humidity is particularly important if you’re growing a species that is native to the desert. 

If you keep your cactus in a high humidity environment, you won’t have to water it as often because the soil won’t dry out as quickly. In dry environment, you’ll have to water more frequently.

What is the Ventilation Like?

Think about the airflow around your cactus. The soil will dry out faster if your cactus is sitting in a well-ventilated area. Ventilation speeds up evaporation.

You’ll need to check the moisture level of the soil more frequently when you keep your cactus in a place with good ventilation. 

FAQ

In this section, I’ll answer some frequently asked questions about watering cacti

How often should I water my indoor cactus?

Generally, you should water your indoor cactus every 10 days during the summer and once per month during the winter.

The exact frequency that you have to water depends on factors like the size of the pot, the type of cactus, and the environmental conditions. A general rule is to allow the soil to dry out between waterings.

How long can an indoor cactus survive without water?

Indoor cacti can survive for a few weeks without water during the growth season. During the dormant season, they may be able to go a couple of months without water. It’s not ideal to underwater your cactus but they can survive for long periods without water.

The exact duration varies among species, their size, and the climate of your home. Indoor cacti can’t survive without water for as long as outdoor cacti.

What time of day is best for watering my cactus?

It’s best to water your cactus in the morning. This allows the water to evaporate throughout the day, reducing the risk of waterlogging and root rot.

The soil will dry out faster during the day because it’s warmer during the day. Most of the excess moisture will be gone by nighttime.

If you water in the evening, the roots can stay wet for too long and root rot becomes a risk. Bacteria can also grow. 

How do I know if the water is reaching the roots of my potted cactus?

Watering until it seeps out of the drainage hole at the bottom of the pot ensures that water reaches the roots. It’s advisable to have a pot with good drainage to prevent waterlogging. Place a saucer under the pot to catch excess water. 

Can a humidifier affect my indoor cactus?

Yes, a humidifier can increase the humidity levels around your cactus, which may not be ideal for its growth. Cacti plants thrive in lower humidity environments, akin to their desert origins.

Should I Mist Cactus Plants?

Generally, no. You should only apply water to the base of the plant. Most cactus species do not like moisture on their surface. They can only absorb moisture through their roots. 

The one exception is jungle cacti. These species can handle more moisture. Some species actually benefit from the occasional misting. 

For example, Christmas Cactus should be misted every day. You don’t need to water these plants through the base like other species. Simply use a spray bottle. 

large cacti in a desert

Final Thoughts About Watering Cacti

Whether in the wild or in homes as indoor plants, cacti are resilient plants. As we’ve explored, the sparse watering needs of these plants allow for a low-maintenance care routine. This makes them a perfect choice for busy gardeners who don’t have time to water every day. 

Their ability to withstand prolonged dry spells translates into less frequent watering schedules, easing the maintenance routine of indoor gardeners. Exactly how long a cactus can go without water depends on factors of species, size, and environmental conditions. In general, you’ll need to water your indoor cactus every 1-2 weeks. 

Do you keep cactus around? How often do you water them? Share your tips and experience in the comments below!

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