Cacti are fascinating plants that can thrive in some of the most challenging environments. Watering your cacti outdoors, however, can be a bit tricky, as different factors influence how much water they need. In this comprehensive cactus watering guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about watering your outdoor cacti, from basic techniques to adapting your approach based on your plants’ unique needs.
Cacti Watering Basics
Deep soaking is the best way to water cacti. This means watering them thoroughly but slowly over an extended period of time. This method ensures that the entire root zone gets moisture, promoting even growth and reducing stress on your plants. The length of time for deep soaking will vary depending on the size of your cactus – anywhere from 2 to 6 hours for large specimens.
For cacti planted in pots, it’s best to water them twice. First, saturate the soil, and then come back for a second round of watering. This allows the moisture to fully penetrate the soil, especially towards the bottom of the pot.
Let the Soil Dry Out Completely
Allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings. Cacti are succulents and store water in their leaves, so they don’t need to be watered as often as other plants.
Drainage Holes Are a Must
Use a pot with drainage holes to prevent the soil from becoming waterlogged.
Water in the Morning
Water your cacti in the morning so that the leaves have time to dry off before nightfall. This will help prevent fungal diseases.
Climate Type Affects Frequency
If you live in a hot, dry climate, you may need to water your cacti more often.
If you live in a cold, wet climate, you may need to water your cacti less often.
Err on the Side of Underwatering
If you’re not sure how often to water your cactus, err on the side of underwatering. It’s easier to revive a cactus that’s been underwatered than one that’s been overwatered.
Factors Affecting Watering
The watering needs of cacti depend on a number of factors, including temperature, plant size, season, and plant age.
Hot weather means your cacti will need more frequent watering, while cooler temperatures allow you to space out the waterings. This is because cacti are succulents, which means they store water in their stems. In hot weather, they will need to use more water to stay cool, so you will need to water them more often. In cooler weather, they will use less water, so you can water them less often.
Larger, established cacti need less frequent watering than smaller, younger ones. This is because larger cacti have a larger root system, which allows them to absorb water more easily. Younger cacti have a smaller root system, so they need to be watered more often.
The time of year plays a role in your cacti’s watering needs. Generally, they’ll need more water during warm months and less during cooler months. This is because cacti are dormant during the winter, so they don’t need as much water.
Newly planted cacti shouldn’t be watered for at least a week after planting. This allows any root damage caused by repotting to heal. After that, you can water them as needed, following the guidelines above.
It is important to note that these are just general guidelines. The specific watering needs of your cacti may vary depending on the variety of cactus, the size of the pot, the type of soil, and the amount of sunlight the cactus receives. If you are unsure how often to water your cacti, it is always best to err on the side of caution and water them less often than more often.
Fine-tuning Your Approach
As you gain experience, you’ll be able to determine the optimal regimen for your climate and your cacti. The key is to let the top few inches of soil dry out between waterings while keeping the deeper roots moderately moist.
Watering your outdoor cacti doesn’t have to be a complicated process. By understanding the factors that affect their water needs and fine-tuning your approach, you can ensure that your plants remain healthy and happy in their outdoor environment. I hope you liked this cactus watering guide and that your cacti stay well hydrated.
1. How often should I water my outdoor cacti in the summer?
It depends on the age of the plant and the temperatures. During the first summer, most cacti should be deep soaked every two weeks if temperatures exceed 90°F.
2. Do I need to water my cacti during the winter?
In the first winter, cacti should be deep soaked once a month if there’s been less than 1 inch of rain. In the second winter, native cacti do not need additional water, while non-native cacti require one deep soaking per month.
3. What is the best method for watering cacti in pots?
Water them twice, first saturating the soil and then watering again to ensure the moisture fully penetrates the soil, especially towards the bottom of the pot.
4. How should I water newly planted cacti?
Avoid watering newly planted cacti for at least a week after planting to allow any root damage from repotting to heal.
5. Can I overwater my cacti?
Yes, it can lead to root rot and other issues. Allow the top few inches of soil to dry out between waterings while keeping the deeper roots moderately moist.