Cacti are hardy, drought-resistant plants, and there is a huge number of subspecies available. Cactophiles are collectors of cacti, or those cacti enthusiasts who take interest and pride in their cacti. For the budding cactophile, knowing the most essential basics of how to properly care for your cactus allows you to keep it healthy and attractive and encourages you to add more cacti to your collection.
Feeding Your Cactus
Because you most likely keep your cactus in a pot or a confined area, it has a finite amount of soil, and therefore, a finite amount of nutrients. Once it uses those nutrients, unless you replenish the supply, the cactus will die fairly quickly. Therefore, feeding regularly is essential to the health and well-being of your succulent. Feed your cactus during the summer with every other watering. You require a balanced fertilizer at 20/10/20 at 75 to 100 parts per million, or ppm. Something from the Miracle Grow range, such as the Miracle Grow all-purpose feed is ideal for the first few waterings during the growing season. From May, use a tomato feed or a low-nitrogen, high-potash fertilizer at every other watering. Do not feed your cactus between October and March, as the cactus does not grow at this time of year, so the fertilizer provides no benefit and can burn the roots.
Watering Your Cactus
Succulents require only limited watering during the growing season. Water your cactus thoroughly, drenching the soil, at the start of the growing season, which is the end of March. Do not be tempted to water it again until it is dry, as this results in root rot and cactus death. During the winter months, from October until March, do not water your cactus at all, as the plant does not actively grow during the winter. Giving a light, overhead sprinkle on occasion helps remove dust from the leaves. Avoid overhead sprinkles with rosette cacti, as the water gets trapped inside, causing rot. If you have a Christmas cactus or an Orchid cactus, never let it dry out completely.
Light for Your Cactus
You must give your cactus the right amount of light and airflow for it to truly thrive. All year round it requires light and airy conditions, such as on a sunny, south-facing window sill. However, there are a few exceptions to this that do require at least part shade conditions. In areas where you cannot access a bright enough location, such as a north-facing window, use an artificial plant light to simulate the natural environment. A few species, such as the Easter cactus and the Christmas cactus, known as epiphytics, can cope with less sunshine, so make a good choice for a north-facing window.