cactus watering-light needs

Sun Feb 7 09:10:22 EST 1999


In a message dated 07/02/1999 4:09:50 AM, you wrote:

>justt bought somre small cactus.  how often do i water?  and is light
>important for this specie?  anything else important for general care.?

More important than watering is light. They must have the fullest sunlight
exposure you can provide for them. How often to water will depend on how often
they go dry. This will vary with temperature, light, and humidity, among other
factors. If the pots are very small, as is often the case, you could water
almost daily if there were enough sun.

Beware of moving plants which have been shaded for a long time into DIRECT
sunlight too rapidly. They need some time to adjust. Move them into ordinary
light for a while and gradually acclimate them to direct sun.

To test for time to water, insert a plastic toothpick into a corner (or side)
of the pot. If it comes out clean it is probably safe to water. If it has soil
particles clinging to it the medium is probably a little bit moist.

Making sure that your plant's medium is dry before re watering is the best way
to avoid rot but it will not encourage growth. To encourage growth you must
water BEFORE the medium goes completely dry. You must also be prepared to
repot the little plants in the near future.

Experiment with the plastic toothpick technique (a white one works best) to
get good at estimating the dampness of the potting medium. Buy some books on
cactus culture and enjoy yourself.

You may be able to find a local chapter of the Cactus and Succulent Society of
America. Join and you will find many who will be willing to help you care for
and increase your collection, if that appeals to you.

By the way, the word specie refers only to coined money. The word species is
the same in the plural and the singular (one species or 1000 species). In
biology, the word species refers to a group of interbreeding organisms
(essentially the same kind).

"Cactus" is not a species but a common reference to a broad category of plant
classification, the family Cactaceae (pronounce: kak-tA-see-E. Say the A like
the letter A. The E like the letter E.). There are many (thousands) cactus
species. Members of the family Cactaceae are native only to North and South

Some succulent plants which resemble cactus plants are often sold and
interpreted as "cactus" when, in fact, they are not. They are members of a
group of succulent spurges from South Africa (The genus Euphorbia. Pronounce:
you-FOR-bee-ah.). No matter, the culture is the same.

Best regards and good luck with your plants.

Dave Williams
Valencia Community College
701 N. Econlockhatchee Trail
Orlando, FL 32825
407-299-5000 x2443
profdhw at

More information about the Plant-ed mailing list