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Tips for taking care of cacti.

Phoenix Desert Nursery

Cactus Care Guide

Watering guidelines: Climate plays a big role in how often and how much water to provide. Other important factors include the maturity of the cactus and whether it is planted in the ground or a container. These tips apply to cacti grown in Phoenix, Arizona. Please research care instructions for your geographical area for optimal results.

Watering cactus in the landscape: Water your cactus deeply from three to ten gallons depending upon the size of the plant every 10-14 days during the growing season, May-September. A deep watering encourages the roots of the cactus to grow downwards as they follow the water. Keep your cactus dry in the cold winter months to avoid root rot. 

Watering cactus in containers: During the growing season, May-September, water your cactus thoroughly enough for the water to come out of the holes of the pot, but allow the soil to dry out between waterings. If the soil is dry up to 1 to 1½ inches, it’s time to water. You can use a knife to check the soil. If it comes out clean, the soil is dry.

Food: Use any fertilizer labeled for cactus/succulents or roses. Liquid or granular. 

  • Container grown: Provide fertilizer twice annually (spring and summer).
  • Garden grown: Fertilizer is not required, but the plants will grow faster and bloom more prolifically.

Soil: For best results, use a premixed cactus/succulent potting soil mix. Buy one or make your own. We use a mix of 70% well composted mulch and 30% pumice. 

Choosing a container: If you’re repotting your cactus, be sure to choose a new container that is at least as deep as its current one, or bigger if the cactus is already outgrowing its container.

How to plant your cactus in the ground:

  1. Prepare your garden soil so that it provides good drainage. If your soil does not drain well, mix gravel, pumice or mulch.
  2. Dig a hole that’s equally as deep and 1½ times as wide as the root ball or stem.
  3. We suggest using long bbq tongs to set the plant in the hole.
  4. Fill in around the root ball with additional soil mixture, then pat it gently.
  5. Water lightly.

Growing your cactus indoors: In general, cacti prefer to be outdoors. If you choose to have it indoors, place it in a bright area, such as in or near a south-facing window. Water your indoor cactus thoroughly about every ten days. Please be aware that the cactus may not thrive as well or live as long as it would outdoors.