when and how often to water cactus indoor

If you are wondering how often to water cactus indoors you are not alone. The ideal watering time is dependent on aspects such as the type of cactus, the normal growing season, cactus original habitat as well as the current growing conditions.

Although there are many varieties of cacti, it is recommended to water them around once a week in the hot and dry months. The idea is to provide adequate moisture and avoid causing excess water to remain in the soil resulting in rotting.

Although many of the cacti are fine with weekly watering, others may require watering every two to three weeks. In the winter, you should cut back on watering desert-type cacti and do it only once a month. When growing tropical cacti, water regularly all year-round and also make sure the soil is moist instead of dry while the plant blooming.

Guidelines for watering cactus indoors

If you want your cacti to thrive, you need to find the balance between not enough water and too much water. In order to understand how often to water cactus indoors, let’s look at some guidelines that apply to all cacti in general.

Let the cactus soil dry out in-between watering. Regardless of whether the cactus is potted or plated directly into the ground, the top few inches of soil should be completely dry before watering. If you have a water gauge you can use it to determine the soil’s moisture level. However, if you don’t just stick your finger into the dirt and gauge the moisture level. If no soil particles cling to your finger when you remove it, then the soil is dry.

Water all potted cacti more frequently compared to cacti that are planted directly into the ground. Just like all other plants, the potted require more frequent watering.

During the cacti growing season (normally lasts from spring to fall) water the plants more regularly as well as fertilize. Thorough watering is recommended during the hottest, driest months, at least once every week.

Cacti have semi-dormant months which lasts from late fall to early spring. During their period, the plants need less water. It is advisable not to water the cacti if you are growing the cacti in an area that has more water compared to the cacti’s natural habitat.

‎ When watering, you should aim to saturate the soil. The water should slowly drip out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the container. Which shows that the soil is thoroughly soaked. You can also test the amount of moisture in the soil with your finger or gauge.

Ensure that all your potted cacti have pots or containers with holes at the bottom. Cacti hate sitting in a puddle and their roots will rot if over watered.

Signs of over-watered and under-watered cacti

It is also important to observe your plants to determine how often to water cactus indoors. In some instances, you might think you are watering your indoor cactus perfectly only to later realize that you killed it.

Signs of underwatered cacti include desiccated stems, soft and rubbery leaves and stems as well as limp stems. The cacti may also slump or lean to one side. The plant’s leaves may change color and become pale (you should not confuse this color change with albinism).

Signs of overwatered cacti include an initial plump look. The stem and leaves initially look full and turgid. Followed by rotting roots. The plant eventually becomes soft and pale.

Type of water for cactus indoors

When considering how often to water cactus indoors, you should also consider the type of water you are using.

If you are using tap water to provide moisture for your cacti you should know that it is often alkaline and/or hard. This means it contains high concentrations of dissolved minerals. The minerals can build up in the cacti soil over time and cause harm. So, you could be watering your cacti correctly but using water that has too many minerals and eventually causes harm to the plant.

Repotting cacti every couple of years is the only solution for the succulents that have been damaged by excess water minerals. The buildup of such minerals can also result in the formation of unsightly deposits, especially on unglazed clay pots.

It is also important to avoid watering your plants with water that has been through a softening system that uses salt as a recharging agent. The problem with this type of water is that these systems simply replace the “hardness” in the water with sodium ions.

The most preferred water for all types of plants and not only cacti is rainwater. Whenever possible, you should collect the rainwater and store it for future use.


I hope you found this article on how often to water cactus indoors useful. Also, remember that the growth of your cacti is affected by many other factors including temperature and light.  If you would like to know about some unusual succulents that you can add to your collection, check this article on rare succulents.

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