How Often Should I Water a Cactus? How to Prevent Rot?

by Kristiyana

If you consider yourself capable of killing a cactus, even with proper care, you’ve come to the right place! How often should I water a cactus? Can it be sprayed? If not, why not? How do you care for a rotting cactus, and how is this problem linked to watering? Find out in our comprehensive guide!

How Often Should I Water a Cactus?

how often should i water a cactus

The cactus is known as the easiest plant to care for. Many people say it’s impossible to kill, even if you try! Yet, as someone whose first plant was a cactus named Pou, I managed to kill it by making a lot of mistakes! So imagine my disappointment when I found it all rotten and dead one day, while I was trying to keep it healthy! It can happen to even the best of us! Usually, it’s because of the way we water it, as there are so many conflicting opinions on the Internet. So… When should you water your cactus in a pot or in the ground?

  • In pots: In general, as we all know, these plants can survive long periods of drought. But that doesn’t mean you should test their limits and leave them to their own devices! According to Reddit, you should water your cactus once every 10 days. However, depending on the humidity level in your home, it’s best to check the soil. Use your finger to check whether the soil is completely dry. You’ll then know how often to water a cactus.
  • Cactus in the ground: Water more frequently, especially in summer, as the soil dries out more quickly. Especially during heatwaves! Water weekly, but don’t let the soil dry out completely. We recommend adding mulch to keep the soil moist for longer. You can use bark, straw or dry grass clippings.
    By following these rules, you’ll make sure you don’t over-water your plant. This will prevent rotting and other possible complications.

Tips for Caring for Cacti in Pots & in the Ground

how often to water cactus in pot

Although we’ve found that cacti are quite hardy, many problems can arise if you don’t look after them properly. Yes, some cacti can stand the test of time and climate change. However, to ensure their well-being, here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Location: Cacti love the sun! If you have a potted one indoors, make sure it’s always near a window, so it gets all the sunlight it needs to thrive. One of the many mistakes I make when caring for a cactus is to leave it in shade. Always make sure it gets at least four hours of sunlight a day!
  • Fertilization: The best pH is between 5 and 6.5. This means it likes acid soil! Before adding fertilizer, check the soil. If your soil is more alkaline, adding coffee grounds will lower the pH and make the environment more conducive to its growth. Chicken manure also works wonders!
  • Mulching: If you have a potted plant indoors, you don’t need to mulch it. However, if you’ve planted one in the garden, mulching will protect it from climatic changes. That means heat waves and cold!
  • Repotting: A cactus needs repotting every two years. As it continues to grow, it needs a bigger place to thrive. This allows more air to circulate in the soil, preventing root rot.

In fact, these are the four main things you need to take into account when caring for your plant! Follow these tips and you won’t have any problems. But if you already have some, we need to talk about them in detail… And they’re probably watering-related!

Common Cacti Watering Problems

when to water a cactus in a pot

Yes, although its reputation as an indestructible plant is well known, some watering-related problems can arise. Sometimes, we water far too much when we shouldn’t. And other times, we don’t water at all because we think the cactus can handle it! However, some problems can arise because of your watering schedule and even the conditions you offer your plant. As you now know, these plants may be hardy, but they still need their specific needs met. First, let’s talk about what to do if you find your cactus rotting and what’s causing it, then why you should never spray it!

Also read: Spiral Cactus Care Guide: Learn How to Care for Your Exotic Spiral Cactus at Home!

How Often Should I Water a Cactus & Why Is It Rotting?

why is my cactus rotting

Imagine waking up one day to find your cactus rotting! How did it happen? And more importantly, why did it happen? There are three possible causes: over-watering, a fungal disease or another type of disease. In general, the last two causes are due to excess humidity not only in the soil, but also in the room where the plant is located. You’ll notice the first signs when you see discoloration. It usually starts out yellow and slowly evolves to brown. Excessive humidity may be the cause of this discoloration, as it starts to rot everywhere. If it starts to rot, you can still save it if you act fast! This is where your clean, sharp scissors come in handy! Start carefully pruning the cactus from the top until there’s no more visible rot. And stop watering until the soil is completely dry! Then water just a little (two or even three weeks later).

Can I Spray the Cactus? And Why Should I?

should you spray a cactus plant

We know how often to water a cactus! But what about spraying? Many people spray their plants because it’s easier and moistens the foliage. However, like succulents, these plants should never be sprayed! The only way to water them is to add water directly into the soil. Above all, don’t water the foliage, as this can cause it to rot! It can also lead to a fungal disease that’s hard to get rid of. So save yourself time and stress, and only water the soil when it’s completely dry!


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