How Do You Know When A Cactus Needs Water? Stick your finger in the soil. If it feels dry, then it’s time for some hydration! However, if the soil is moist and wet, then don’t worry about watering. Cacti are one of the most common plants in America and they require very little care. They can survive on sunlight alone which means that they don’t need to be watered as often as other plants do, but they still need some attention from their owners every now and again.
What might seem like a good idea to those without an understanding of plant life reinforces the belief that cacti require little water to live happily. However, this is not true and it can result in death.
Cacti are capable of surviving dry periods thanks to their origins in the desert, but prolonged drought can still be a challenge. It is essential that you understand how cacti react when dehydrated and what signs they display, so see below for more information on managing your plant’s needs.
To know if your plant needs water, observe its behavior. If a cactus is under-watered, its body may look wrinkly and feel soft. When leaves lack enough water they are typically drier to the touch than soaked with too much of it.
In this post, we would like to share with you some of the common signs that your cactus plant is getting dehydrated and how often it should be watered.
How Do You Know If Your Cactus Needs Water?
To know when your plants need water, you first need to know how cacti are different from other plant species. The one major difference between them is that their ability to store water for a relatively long period.
Cacti Plants Have Specialized Cells That Hold onto Water. Cacti plants are uniquely designed to hold water when rainfall is scarce. When watered, these cells are capable of retaining up to 90% of the moisture in their sap.
Over time, the plant will gradually release water from its cells, lowering the pressure inside various cells and tissues.
Cactus plants prefer dry, airy soil. This is why it’s recommended to grow them in porous potting mix.
Problems arise when you grow these plants in wet and humid areas where soils don’t dry up quickly in between watering sessions. You may also encounter problems if a drain hole in your pot blocks or if the holes are too small.
Cactus pots are typically designed with many holes to facilitate quick drying of the soil after watering.
If you want to know when it’s time to water your plant, check out this article on how to tell if the hydrostatic pressure is relatively low.
When a cactus is fully hydrated, it will stand up to its full height and appear healthy. However, many of them start to show signs of distress when the internal hydrostatic pressure drops significantly.
Some cacti species will start to fold up after watering, but after the water evaporates they straighten back out again because the hydrostatic pressure becomes normal.
Other species show signs of age in the form of skin wrinkles. These wrinkles indicate a lack of moisture, and should be addressed by watering your plants more regularly.
One way to tell if the hydrostatic pressure in your plant has dropped is by touching it and taking note of how it feels.
If a cactus plant is fully hydrated, you will notice that when you press down on it ever so slightly, it will feel hardy and rebound back into shape quickly.
Hydrating a succulent is an important process. Start by watering the plant thoroughly, then let it rest for several hours. After this period of time, press the succulent firmly to determine whether or not it has been hydrated enough.
When the stored water is depleted, plants will become soft because their hydrostatic pressure has been lost.
However, as cacti are succulent plants, they may display signs of distress such as softening unevenly.
Water when the soil is completely dry
The best way to keep your cactus plant healthy is by making sure that you have the right potting soil and ensure it’s dry before watering.
It’s not difficult to check if your soil is dry. Simply stick your finger into the container at least two inches deep and make note of how it feels.
If the soil feels wet, damp, or significantly cooler than the surface temperature of where it is planted, do not water your plant. Instead, give it a few more days before checking again.
One way to check whether your soil is dry enough to water the plants is by using a moisture meter. A moisture meter records how wet or dry the soil is, so that you know when to water your garden.
It is important to buy a quality moisture meter as the cheap ones are not very accurate.
Those who have experience with gardening know that watering from the top to bottom is a bad practice for cactus plants.
This watering technique floods the soil around a plant with water, but it can leave so little moisture that some cacti plants grow rotten fruit right next to the ground.
To make sure your cactus survives a drought, care for it by setting the pot in a pan of water. This way, you allow the soil to soak up all of the water, and allows the root system as well as other organs to be saturated with moisture.
Once the water in the pan has evaporated, carefully take your pot out of the pan and let it drain properly.
How Often Do You Need To Water Your Cactus?
One of the most dangerous things for some cactus plants is watering them incorrectly. Keep in mind that these plants have a store of water in their tissues and stems, and they use this to survive when there’s no rain.
Too much water at any one time can kill your plant. But it is easier to recover from under-watering than overwatering.
The best way to determine if it is the right time to water your plant is by examining the soil and feeling the moisture level. As mentioned earlier, do not just touch the surface of the soil and make a decision. Observe how deep down into the soil you need go before hitting scorched earth.
When and how often to water your plant will depend on the season. During peak periods of growth (spring and summer), you should be watering the plants regularly or they can dry out quickly.
Most indoor potted plants do not require watering at a specific interval. However, it is recommended to water them approximately once every ten days or 14 days during the active growing season.
In winter, cacti need just a few waterings. Typically, watering them once each month is sufficient.
Keep track of how your cactus looks over the next period to determine whether you should water more often. If it appears shriveled even after watering, then this is a possible sign that you need more frequent watering.
How much should you water a cactus?
Always check to see whether the soil is completely dry before watering again. Measure the quantity of water you use to make sure your cactus don’t become too wet and die from overwatering. Depending on the time of year, a quarter to a half cup is all your cactus needs to grow.
Watering After Initial Planting
For your plant to thrive, it must first be planted in a good potting mix. The next step is learning how to water properly. You might think that the most important watering of a newly-planted plant comes immediately after planting, but actually giving the container plenty of water before soaking its dry roots can be equally or more critical.
It’s important to allow the plant to drain after watering. For instance, don’t cover it with a dish or fill any gaps in its pot that may be letting water out.
Watering Outdoor Cactus
Outdoor plants are sensitive to the weather because they are constantly exposed on a daily basis. As a general rule, it is best to water them at least once every seven or ten days during spring and summer.
Before watering, take time to feel the soil for moisture and make sure it’s completely dry. When plants are watered properly, you’ll see excess water seeping out of the drainage holes.
Depending on the type of your container and its drainage properties, you may not always see any excess water flowing out.
In the fall and winter, consider watering your plants a little less often. Give them just a little bit of water once every three or four weeks.
The best time to water outdoor plants is early in the morning. This enables it enough time to dry out during the day and ensures that water reaches the roots.
How long can an indoor cactus go without water?
It has strong stems with plenty of storage space and a protective covering to retain the water it has stored within. Cacti may survive for up to two years without water. However, indoor plants demand more regular watering, which varies by species.
Cacti are one of the most common plants in America and they require very little care. They can survive on sunlight alone which means that they don’t need to be watered as often as other plants do, but they still need some attention from their owners every now and again. To know if your plant needs water, observe its behavior. If a cactus is under-watered, its body may look wrinkly and feel soft. When leaves lack enough water they are typically drier to the touch than soaked with too much of it.
When a cactus plant is fully hydrated, it will stand up to its full height and appear healthy. When the stored water is depleted, plants will become soft because their hydrostatic pressure has been lost. Some cacti species will start to fold up after watering, but after the water evaporates they straighten back out. When and how often to water your plant will depend on the season. Watering from the top to bottom is a bad practice for cacti plants.
To make sure your cactus survives a drought, care for it by setting the pot in a pan of water. Once the water in the pan has evaporated, carefully take your pot out of the pan and let it drain. Watering After Initial Planting is the most important watering of a newly-planted cactus. When plants are watered properly, you’ll see excess water seeping out of the drainage holes. The best time to water outdoor plants is early in the morning and ensure that water reaches the roots.