Baby Bio®’s Guide to Succulent and Cacti Care

Cacti and succulents some of the most popular type of houseplants, and for good reason! These hardy plants come in all kinds of weird and wonderful shapes and sizes, from the Prickly Pear and Golden Barrel to the String of Pearls and Ghost Plant. While cacti and succulents are often the go-to greenery for new plant parents, they can, in fact, be tricker to care for than you might think, requiring lots of sunlight, just enough water, and specific nutrients to thrive. And while each type of succulent and cacti has its own specific requirements, there are some essential rules to keep yours healthy and happy! Here, plant care expert Baby Bio® shares the ultimate guide to succulent and cacti care.

Pot in sandy soil

The secret to successfully growing cacti and succulents is in the soil! Most species live in the dessert (although some species are forest or jungle dwellers), so it’s essential you recreate their natural habitat by potting in a sandy soil. For this reason, unlike many houseplants, standard potting mix will not suffice, as cacti and succulents require compost that is porous or pebbly to provide plenty of aeration to the root system and allow for free drainage.

You can pick up a specialist sandy compost from most garden centres, or you can even mix your own using three parts potting soil, three parts sand or gravel, and two parts perlite – just be sure to give it a good mix and water before potting your plant. Don’t forget to ensure all pots have a drainage hole to allow any excess water to drain away, as this will further reduce the risk of becoming waterlogged and helping to prevent root rot.

Let there be light

It’s no secret that cacti and succulents require lots of sunlight to thrive. In general, most species require a minimum of four to six hours sunlight per day, but are happiest when they receive around ten hours per day, so place your plants on a south-facing window where they can bask in bright, direct light. This will keep your succulent or cacti healthy during dormant periods and encourage flowering and faster growth during active growing periods.

But be warned that it is possible to give your cacti too much sunlight! If your plant starts to turn yellow or orange, it may be a sign that it is being scorched from too much sun. During particularly hot summers, it may be wise to move it out of the hottest afternoon sunshine into indirect sunlight or relocate it altogether to an east-facing windowsill. Just like other houseplant families, different species of succulents or cacti have different requirements – those with thinner spines, like the snake plant, require more protection from direct sun and can tolerate low light quite well.

Water with care

The most common killer of succulents and cacti is improper watering, as they’re infamously susceptible to overwatering, as most species store water in their fleshy, thick leaves and stems to keep them healthy and hydrated during prolonged dry spells. However, this doesn’t mean you can neglect them altogether!

During active growing periods in spring and summer, cacti and succulents require regular watering just like any other plant – the key is to ensure you always allow the top two inches of soil to dry out in between watering and then give it a thorough drink.

Don’t forget to establish what kind of plant you’re caring for – jungle species, such as the zig zag plant and coral cactus, will benefit from more frequent watering like a regular houseplant, whereas desert dwelling species, like the fishhook cactus, usually only need watering once every couple of weeks.

Add nutrients

Just like any other plant, over time, the compost your cacti or succulent is potted in will lose much-needed nutrients. If its spine or growth is beginning to look weak or leggy, its leaves are beginning to look shrivelled, or it isn’t producing any flowers, this could be a sign that your plant is lacking some essential nutrients.  

As a general rule of thumb, most plants need a mix of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium for optimum growth, but cacti and succulents prefer a balanced NPK ratio, so it’s best to invest in a specialist food like Baby Bio® Cactus Food. This perfect balance will help your plant sustain stronger spines, encourage more flowers and help healthy root development. Simply add a few drops to your watering can every time you water during active growing seasons and your cacti will thank you for it! Just be mindful not to over-fertilise, as this can result in scorched roots, so always follow the directions on the label.

For more houseplant care tips and inspiration, follow Baby Bio® on social media on www.facebook.com/babybioplantfood and www.instagram.com/babybioplantfood.

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