Summer is the season for cacti! We always love this time of year as we really get to see a lot of weirdos come into the shop. We all get excited and can not resist taking some new plants home! We thought it might be helpful to share our acclimating methods that we use with our cacti in our homes to help when you bring home a new cacti.
Here at Arium we mix our own cacti soil in house! We use a combination of; kiwi bark, charcoal, perlite, and lava rock in a peat based soil. You will just want to ensure the soil you are using is very coarse so that it will drain water well! A lot of cacti, like the Tephrocactus geometricus, will have a fairly shallow root system when they are on the smaller side. Because of this, they prefer to be in a smaller pot as well. The geometricus in particular will like to grow nice and compact to support large bulbous segments! Unlike with most houseplants, when repotting cacti it is important to wait at most two weeks before watering once potted up! This will ensure that they will not be overwatered and that their root system will acclimate to their new home. It is good to ensure that the soil is not compacted to allow new roots to poke through!
Once you have your cacti established in a nice bright location, it is important that it is receiving the right amount of water! Cacti are masters of their environment by storing tons of water in some extremely hot and dry climates. The Tephrocactus geometricus in particular can be found in desert parts Argentina and Bolivia. It is best to mimic this at home as well! You will want to ensure that your soil is 100% dry between waterings. You can usually check if a cacti is thirsty by feeling between the spines when possible. A thirsty cacti will be somewhat squishy rather than really firm. This watering period can generally be between 2-3 weeks in a home environment. However, it is important to adapt this watering schedule for the colder months! A lot of cacti species will go dormant in the winter, so will not be using nearly as much water as they would in the warmer months. Some cacti can be cut back to once a month if not even a few months! It will be best to constantly check the foliage to get a feel for how often it will need to be watered in your space during this time.
The growing season is the perfect time to fertilize cacti as well! You will want to use a fertilizer tailored specifically towards cacti or succulents. These will be a little softer on the NPK scale and focus more on the phosphorous and potassium for the vigor of the cacti. Any sort of all-purpose fertilizer may be too strong for cacti and cause them to grow ‘leggy’ instead of short and stout.
If you are having trouble with any of your plants at home, we are all always happy to answer any care questions and can do our best to help diagnose. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!