The majority of us think that cactus prefer warm weather and dry soil. While it is true that cactus require less water, it still needs moisture during its growing period.

Cactus plants are low maintenance and easy to care for. But knowing when and how often you need to water your cactus plant is can sometimes be a challenge.  Watering your cactus plants depend on several factors. Knowing when and how to water your plants will keep them blooming, fruiting, and surviving.

  • Size of the Cactus. Water small cactus plants require more frequent watering to supplement their growing season. A larger cactus plant needs a substantial amount of water, but not as much as smaller size cactus.
  • Size of the pot. The size of the pot determines how to water a cactus. Plants on a smaller pot may need to be watered at least once a week as water drains or evaporates quickly. For plants on large pots, you can water it with slow draining water once every 4 weeks. Larger pots contain more potting medium and it takes the water to evaporate or drain longer. It also takes longer for cactus plants to absorb the water in the potting medium.
  • Type of drainage and pot. For cactus in plastic pots, you can water it with lots of water have the excess water drain out. However, it will take time to drain the excess water as plastic traps moisture. For terracotta pots, no problem with excess water as it terracotta is absorbent. Excess water will easily pass through the pot walls and evaporate tho the air, reducing the time for the medium to dry out. The same goes with types of pots with plenty of holes, water is easily drained out.

If you are using plastic pots, it might be ideal to place the pot into a container with water; let the roots take in the moisture. Too much water or moisture can cause root or stem rot.

  • Type of potting media. Before you plan to repot or buy cactus plants, it is worth considering the type of potting media or mixes to be used. Ideally, a fast draining mix will allow the soil to dry quickly. There is a cactus mix commercially available. Alternatively, you can mix your potting soil, coarse sand, pebbles, or perlite. The potting soil should quickly drain excess water when your plant has enough water. The type of potting media will determine how frequent and how much water can you give to your cactus plants.
  • You have to water your cactus more often during warmer temperatures. Hot weather means increase evaporation, so frequent watering is essential for active growth.
  • Light conditions. Direct sunlight leads to increased evaporation; soil dries out quickly. If your cactus plants are placed under direct sunlight or near the window, you have to water it more often.
  • Determine what type of cactus you have so you would know how to water and care for it. Better refer to different cactus species so you would know how to water your cactus.

The most basic and common way to water almost all types of plants is to simply apply it to the surface of the soil. Let slow deep watering moisture the soil, until water drains down the drainage holes. Once a week slow watering should be enough.

Another option on how to water your cactus is to set the potted cactus in a saucer of water and let the roots take the moisture. Remove the potted cactus from the saucer once the soil is soaked halfway up.

Give your cactus plants decent soaking until through slow deep watering until the excess water runs out of drainage holes.

How to water a cactus outdoor

  • Before watering, check the soil first if it is dry. You can also inspect the moisture level through a moisture meter which you can purchase from regular stores or online. The moisture level result will help you figure out how much water your cactus needs.
  • Water your outdoor cactus once a week or once every 10 days during the growing season as it means high water requirements. You will know when your cactus is watered enough then water sips out through the draining holes.
  • Water your outdoor cactus plants once every 3- 4 weeks during the inactive season.

How to water cactus (different seasons)

As the weather changes, watering your plants also changes. Know how to water your cactus plants in different seasons:

  • Cactus stops growing during cold temperatures, so less water is needed. When the water drops, it aids in keeping the soil moisture. Water your cactus once a month during the winter season.
  • Water your plants weekly as it needs the extra moisture to flourish.
  • Due to high temperatures, soil tends to dry quickly; so it is ideal to water your plants at least thrice a week or every other day. You can always check the soil for dryness or wetness to see if there is a need to rehydrate your cactus.
  • Hydrate your cactus once a week if the temperature is above 40° F.

Signs when to water your cactus:

  • One common sign of an under watered cactus is discoloration. The natural color fades or it will turn brown or yellowish.
  • The cactus will start to shrivel.
  • It will start to become dry as it runs out of moisture.

These signs may cause a plant parent to panic, but an under watered cactus is a lot better than overwatered. When you see any of these signs, you just water the plants as soon as possible. Your plant’s natural color will return in a short span of time.

Signs when your cactus is overwatered:

  • Leaves and stems will turn to black or brown.
  • Cactus will appear decaying.

When watering your cactus plants, it is best to do it in the morning to keep them hydrated while dealing with the afternoon heat. And if possible, it is recommended to use rain water as it contains the right amount of minerals to nourish your cactus.

How do you water a cactus indoors?

Water your forest cactus as a normal houseplant during the summer months and when the buds begin to show. During the resting period, only water when the soil is dry to the touch. As with succulents and desert cacti, forest cactus should not be watered heavily during the rest period. Root rot will result.

How much should you water a cactus?

Always make sure the soil is very dry all the way through between waterings. Another option is to measure the amount of water you use to make sure you’re not accidentally drowning your cacti. A 1/4 to 1/2 cup, every week or two, is enough for your cactus to thrive, depending on the season.

Do you water cactus from the top or bottom?

Use the method employed by expert cactus growers and water from the bottom. About once per week during hot weather, or whenever the pot feels light, place the potted cactus in a shallow saucer filled with about 1/2 inch of water and leave it in the saucer for about 1/2 hour or until it sucks up the water.

How do you water small cactus plants?

As a general rule, add water when the top half-inch of soil feels dry. When watering, moisten the soil thoroughly, allowing it to soak up the water, and if it does so quickly, add more water until it comes out the drainage holes. Most cacti need to be watered once a week.

Does cactus need sunlight?

How do you know when a cactus needs water?

Cacti and succulents thrive with good light sources, and it is best to place cacti and succulents in a bright place. A south facing position will provide good sunlight. However, be careful to not put them in direct sunlight because the intense light can make the plants turn a yellow colour.

How long can you go without watering a cactus?

Can you drink cactus water?

How To Tell When To Water CactusSigns Of An Over-Watered Cactus
  1. The Cactus stems and leaves will start changing color. Usually black or brown.
  2. The base of the Cactus will start turning brown or black.
  3. The Cactus will become mushy and start leaking.
  4. The Cactus will start to appear as if it is rotting or decaying.

How do I know my cactus is healthy?

How long can a cactus go without water? Typical desert cacti can survive for up to two years without water. This is because it has developed thick stems that store a lot of water and has a protective layer that prevents water loss.

What color is a healthy cactus?

Is cactus water safe to drink? Cactus is not a safe substitute for potable water. Drinking cactus water on an empty stomach will give you diarrhea or make you vomit, therefore dehydrating you even more. This is because the moisture inside of the cactus pulp is highly acidic.

How do you know if a cactus is rotting?

If you want to check your roots’ health, gently pull out your plant from the soil. Healthy roots should be white, while rotting roots should be either black, brown or look mushy. If left unchecked the rot could spread to other parts of your plant, killing your plant.

How do you fatten up a cactus?

Cacti that turn yellow, orange or take on a bleached-out appearance have been exposed to too much light. A healthy cactus will maintain its color. If a cactus is moved from moderate light to intense light, it may get scorched by the sun.

Why is my cactus growing so skinny?

Typically, a dying cactus feels shakier in its potting mix and may appear as though it wants to fall off. This is a clear sign of root rot and other underlying problems. Some plants may also change color, develop soft segments on the stem, or start producing a foul smell.

What does an overwatered cactus look like?

You need to cut into fresh, green tissue and use a very sharp, desinfected knife. Keep it for two weeks in a warm, dry place not in full sun so the cut will heal, callous over. Then plant the cutoff in a pot with cactus soil at the bottom and a layer of one inch of pure sand. It will grow roots all right.

How do I get my cactus to flower?

Tall cacti often develop one or more skinny sections as they grow. The skinny parts of the cactus are caused by periods when the plant has received sufficient amounts of water but insufficient amounts of light.

Should I water my cactus when it is blooming?

How do you tell an overwatered cactus? The cactus will appear to rot or decay. The leaves and stems will start changing color by turning brown or black. The base will also start turning black.

Should I remove deceased flowers from cactus?

Fertilize cacti only in the spring and early summer, using a cactus-specific fertilizer or a highly diluted fertilizer lower in nitrogen and higher in phosphorus and potassium. Overfeeding will not make your cactus bloom! Repot your cactus using a potting mix designed for cacti and succulents.

How long does a cactus flower last?

Watering: Keep the soil evenly moist while your plant is blooming, misting it frequently. Light: Place the cactus in an east-facing window for moderate light and some direct sun.