How Often Should You Water a Cactus (A Complete Guide)


Cacti are an amazingly diverse plant species. There are over 2,000 different types of cacti in the world!

They are a popular houseplant that requires very little maintenance and care, but they need water to survive.

Cacti are not like other plants. They don’t need to be watered daily, but they require regular watering.

This article will give detailed information about how often to water cactus plants so they stay healthy for years to come!

How Often Do You Water Cactus Plants

Cactus plants are very low maintenance. They only require occasional watering and can prosper without much attention. They are not like other plants that require a lot of care.

In general, you should water cactus plants at least once a week. If there is a lot of rain in your area (more than an inch per week), you should water once every three or four weeks to prevent overwatering, which can cause root rot.

The best time to water your cactus is after the soil has dried out but before it gets very hot outside.

The heat from the sun will dry out the plant quickly, so you’ll want to try and give them enough water while also preventing hydration when it’s too hot for their roots.

If you’re using an automated drip system on your cactus, this should be done once or twice each week, depending on how often they go through cycles of wetting and drying out during warmer weather conditions.

Not only will watering your cactus regularly help it to grow, but it also encourages blooming.

How Often Do You Water a Cactus in Summer

Most people water their cacti once a week during the summer, but this can vary.

Watering more often is fine as long as you don’t overwater.

If your soil is dry for several days and doesn’t rain, give your cactus some extra watering to ensure they stay hydrated and healthy.

The temperature is usually hotter in summer, and your cactus will need more water than in winter.

If you live somewhere very hot where it becomes over 100 degrees Fahrenheit during summer days, you might want to water twice a week if they are indoors or near a window because of the extra heat.

When growing cacti outdoors, you should aim to water once or twice a week during the summer months. Don’t worry about watering them the next day if it rains.

But if it is dry, give them some more water, so they don’t get flushed out.

If you live in a cooler climate with weather fluctuations of hot and cold temperatures or freezing winters, your cactus will require less water than the ones grown somewhere warmer with the regular summer heat.

Keep an eye on their soil to ensure that all parts have access to moisture when the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

How Often Do You Water a Cactus in Winter

During winter, when your cactus will be dormant and slow down its growth – it won’t need as much water because its metabolism is slower due to the cold temperature outside.

As a general rule, you should water your cactus once every two weeks during winter. Be sure that the soil is completely dry before watering again, and then let it drain fully.

You’ll want to avoid overwatering your cactus during winter because cacti are dormant, which means they have slower metabolisms. If you overwater them, it will cause the roots to rot, which can kill your plant.

On the other hand, if you allow too much time between watering in winter when they’re slower growing and not requiring as much water, their chances of being killed by the cold increase.

Therefore, when in doubt, err on the side of caution and water your cactus approximately once every two weeks during winter.

If you live in a climate with very cold winters (below USDA Zone #11), then take care not to water at all during dormant periods because this could encourage growth which isn’t suitable for where you are located.

Watering Requirements for Cacti That Are Not Dormant

If you live in an area where the winter is mild and temperatures don’t drop below freezing, then you may wish to water your cactus more frequently if they’re not dormant.

Some cactus species do not need a dormancy period during the winter months. These cacti require more frequent watering than the average cactus.

During this time of year, you should water your plant once every week or two weeks.

During these months, be sure that the soil is completely dry before watering again, and then let it drain fully.

If you have a fast-draining potting mix – this will also help prevent overwatering, which can cause root rot in winter when temperatures are milder.

How Often Should You Water an Indoor Cactus

Growing cactus in a container is different from growing them outdoors. Several other factors need to be taken into consideration.

You should first pay attention to the size of your pot and its drainage holes.

If they’re too small, it will cause over-watering problems; if they’re too big, you’ll end up with plants drying out before their next watering.

The best way to determine the correct size is to pick up your pot and check how heavy it feels. The heavier, the better; this means you’ve filled it with enough potting mix for proper drainage.

If you’re growing indoor cacti in containers, several factors will affect its watering schedule: type of cactus plant, humidity levels inside your home or office, seasons (fall/winter months tend to be drier than spring/summer), etc.

If all these variables remain constant throughout the year, then once every one to two weeks should suffice.

Just remember not to over-water them! Cacti are desert plants, after all. Too much water can kill an indoor cactus garden faster than anything else!

Finally, consider adding a layer of grit or gravel to the bottom of your container.

This will increase aeration and improve drainage, so you don’t have to worry about over-watering them as much!

How Often Do You Water an Outdoor Cactus

Growing cacti in the ground require different care than growing them indoors.

This can be particularly problematic if you live in colder climates since most species of desert cacti are subtropical or tropical rather than hardy (meaning they aren’t able to survive temps below 40 degrees Fahrenheit).

Outdoor cacti usually need to be watered at least once every two weeks during the spring and summer, but this can vary depending on your location.

However, if you live in a region with hot summers, these plants will likely require water every week or two.

If you live in a warmer climate, checking the soil with your finger before watering cactus plants is best.

Watering cacti isn’t rocket science, but some factors can help determine when and how often should you water a cactus: type of cactus plant (some species need less water than others), soil drainage (watering frequency is reduced in loose, well-draining potting mixes), etc.

Cacti are desert plants, and just like most other types of desert flora, they’re very resilient to drought conditions.

However, if you live in an area that experiences regular rainfall, it’s likely that once every two weeks will be sufficient.

Letting your cactus dry out a little between watering is best.

If the soil looks moist, don’t water it! If you doubt whether or not they need watering, check back with them again tomorrow.

Finally, if you live somewhere that experiences very low humidity levels (less than 30%) and your cacti are situated outside, they’ll need to be watered more often.

If you’re growing your desert plant in the ground, it should already have well-draining soil (usually half sand, half dirt). If not, add some gravel to improve drainage.

Cacti are drought-resistant plants, so they shouldn’t need watering after their initial planting/transplanting phase.

However, this may change over time depending on how often it rains during certain seasons; if rainfall seems scarce, then you’ll want to consider increasing its water intake by an inch every few weeks.

Make sure there’s enough drainage! They should dry out between waterings rather than being overly wet.

From time to time, cacti may also benefit from a layer of mulch on top of their soil (or gravel at the bottom)! This will help keep moisture in and prevent weeds/grass from growing into it.

How Do You Know When a Cactus Needs Water

Cacti need different amounts of water depending on their size and species. Small cactus plants require less frequent watering than larger ones, as they dry out more quickly.

As a general rule, if your cactus’s soil is dry, the plant needs water.

To test whether the soil is dry, stick your finger down about two inches. If it’s moist, wait a few more days before watering again.

If you water too often or not enough, cacti will suffer from root rot and other issues that jeopardize their health and longevity.

Because of this, it’s critical to be able to identify an overwatered and underwatered cactus.

What Does an Overwatered Cactus Look Like?

An overwatered cactus is far more common than an underwatered one. It looks like it’s in the process of rotting away.

The soil will be wet and mushy, with roots that are beginning to rot as well. Sometimes you can see mold growing on top of the potting soil or all over the plant itself!

An overwatered cactus is usually soft and mushy to the touch.

The leaves may droopy or fall off, a common sign of root rot in many plants.

It’s not only the outside that gets affected when watered too often; poor drainage can also cause problems inside.

If soil remains waterlogged for extended periods, roots will begin to rot from being constantly submerged in liquid. When they die, so does the plant.

How To Save an Overwatered Cactus

The best way to save an overwatered cactus is by cutting off the rotted parts of the plant.

If you have a large root rot problem, it may be better to throw out your entire pot and start over from scratch with new soil.

If only part of the roots is rotten, cut away any brown or slimy areas before repotting in fresh soil.

In most cases, all that needs to be done for a healthy recovery is repotting into fresh soil without watering too often!

Just remember that they do need water every now and then as well as bright light.

Overwatering leads to root rot which kills plants quickly. The best way to avoid this is by watering sparingly.

What Does an Underwatered Cactus Look Like

An underwatered cactus is not as common as overwatering, but it’s still possible.

An underwatered cactus appears to be completely fine on the outside: there are no drooping leaves or mold growth, and all of its spikes remain sharp and upright. But inside, it’s a different story.

The soil will feel dry – too dry! And if you dig below the surface, you might find that it has shrunk away from where roots should be growing to take up their share of moisture. At this point, they’re basically dead.

The plant itself will be very dry and brittle to the touch. If you squeeze it, nothing comes out; no water at all!

While this might not cause an instant wilting effect as overwatering can, it also means that your cactus won’t drink up anymore when watered, so it’ll just keep getting drier and smaller until you decide to take action.

How To Save an Underwatered Cactus

The best way to save an underwatered cactus is by watering it more often.

If your cactus is severely underwatered, you can often fix the problem by repotting it into fresh soil and then keeping it watered for a few days to give it time to recover.

You can also try giving it a good soak, then gently squeezing out the excess water.

If you’re too late and your cactus has already started to shrivel or collapse on itself, don’t despair! It’ll recover quickly once watered enough – make sure not to overwater it next time.

Be prepared for shock when watering an underwatered plant; they might droop quite dramatically before perking back up again within an hour or two.

This is because their cells rapidly absorb water after being left dry for so long that they become dehydrated. As soon as enough moisture is inside them, they plump back up again!

Whether you choose to repot into fresh soil or keep the old pot and add more water, make sure you wait for it to dry out a little before watering again.

You should only water an underwatered cactus every week if necessary; too much soil moisture can cause rot, just like not enough!

When in doubt, err on the side of underwatering rather than over-watering your cactus.

While overwatering can be fixed by simply letting it dry out (and is usually easier to notice), underwatered plants may take weeks or months to recover, even with extra attention thrown their way.

So don’t give up hope – but remember that they need time alone while recuperate from such a traumatic ordeal!

How Long Can a Cactus Go Without Water

A desert cactus can go up to two years without water because it stores the little moisture it needs in its thick stems.

During this time, they will slowly lose their energy and color, but they will not die.

However, if the cactus is in a pot, it can only survive for about six months without water because its roots need moisture to stay alive.

A succulent has various ways of conserving water to live long periods without it or store enough moisture even if there are dry spells.

However, even if they can go for a long time without water, it is still important to regularly give them enough.

Cacti and succulents should be watered once the soil has dried up entirely because overwatering or underwatering will cause damage such as root rot or wrinkling of leaves, respectively.

How Much Water Do Cacti Need?

The water needs of a cactus vary by species. Most cacti generally need between one and two tablespoons of water per week.

However, if the cactus is in a warm, dry area, it may need more water. Your cactus will require less water if you live somewhere very cold or humid with little sunlight.

If it’s wintertime and freezing temperatures are approaching, wait until spring to increase how much water you give the plant.

Likewise, a small cactus in a small pot will require less water than one in a large pot because the soil dries out faster.

In addition to the type and size of the cactus, other factors affect the amount of water your cactus needs:

  • The temperature and humidity in its environment
  • How much exposure it has to sunlight
  • Soil type

If you have a cactus exposed to lots of sunlight, it will need more water than one in low light.

The same goes for high humidity or cold temperatures – the plant needs less water if its environment is very dry and hot instead of wet and cool.

The type of soil plays a large role in how much water your cactus gets.

High-quality, well-draining soil will need less attention than an inferior soil that doesn’t drain as quickly because the plant won’t get enough hydration.

If this is the case for you, try adding sand or perlite to increase drainage and aeration of the root zone.

How Do You Water a Cactus

Cacti are native to desert climates where rain is infrequent, but it is usually very heavy when it does rain. Because of this, the best way to water a cactus is to soak it thoroughly.

When you water your cactus, the goal is to soak it until the soil becomes completely saturated with water. This helps ensure that the water reaches all of the roots.

Then, when you are sure that the soil is almost completely dry, it is time to water again.

When watering cacti, it is crucial to ensure that the cactus soil mix is well-draining so that the cactus is not sitting in water for an extended period.

You should water cactus plants from top to bottom to ensure that the water reaches all of the roots.

It’s also essential not to spray the plants with a spray bottle, which can cause rot and fungus.

Final Thoughts

Cacti are desert plants that have adapted to live through periods without water, but this doesn’t mean they don’t require any water.

Frequent watering is necessary for providing the cactus with enough moisture and keeping it hydrated.

This will allow the plant to grow strong roots and stems instead of growing spindly ones like a plant that isn’t receiving enough water would do.

In short, the best way to know when to water a cactus is to keep an eye on the soil, and when it starts looking dry, it’s time to water again.

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