Watering Cactus

Cactus houseplants are known for being easy to grow, and this is likely because they can go for extended periods without water. Desert cacti are acclimated to living in dry, arid environments, while forest cacti are tropical plants that prefer increased humidity but still have low water needs. All varieties of cacti need to dry out before getting water. Reduce the risk of overwatering your cacti houseplant by learning when and how to water it. 


How To Tell If Cactus Needs Water

A severely dry cactus may have a wrinkled or puckered appearance, while an overwatered cactus will have yellow leaf tips or mushy stems, depending on the variety. The best way to determine when to water a cactus houseplant is to gauge the dryness of the potting mix. The mix should be completely dry throughout the container when it is time to water. The potting mix should feel dry to the touch, and the container should feel light. It’s helpful to lift the container after watering when the soil is damp to have something for comparison.

How To Water Cactus

Cacti need more water during the spring and summer, so plan to water every 10 to 14 days. Plants that receive increased sunlight may need water more often, while plants in increased humidity may go longer between watering. Dormant cacti houseplants will need water roughly once every four weeks.

Deeply water a cacti houseplant when the soil is dry, directing water to the soil and not on the plant itself. Saturate the entire root system until water drains through the container. Remove standing water from the saucer or cover pot.

Cactus Watering Tips

  • Feel the potting mix or lift the container to determine the dryness of the soil. 
  • Saturate the potting mix to get the entire root ball wet.
  • Water the plant until water drains through the container.
  • Remove standing water from the cover pot or saucer.
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Author Alison Cotsonas - Published 12-1-2023