How To Take Care of Small Cactus Plants (Mini Cactus Care Guide)

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Small cactus plants are small in size, but they are one of the most rewarding small houseplants that you can grow.

They are extremely easy to care for, and they offer a variety of small, interesting flowers.

If you want to know how to take care of small cactus plants, this is the guide for you!

In it, we will cover all the requirements needed to grow a mini cactus indoors, even if you are a beginner horticulturist. So read along and enjoy!

Types of Mini Cactus Plants

There are many small cacti species available to choose from. Miniature cacti are tiny and easy to take care of, so they make excellent indoor houseplants as well.

There are small cacti with different shapes, colors, and textures available for you to choose from. You can get a plant that has long spines, short spines, or no spines at all, depending on the type of small cactus plant you want.

There are many types of mini cactus plants. The most common ones available at home and garden stores include:

  • Ariocarpus fissuratus (Living Rock Cactus)
  • Cephalocereus senilis (Old Man Cactus)
  • Echinocereus arizonicus (Arizona Hedgehog Cactus)
  • Escobaria vivipara (Ball Cactus)
  • Mammillaria elongata (Gold Lace Cactus)
  • Mammillaria hahniana (Old Lady Cactus)
  • Mammilloydia candida (Snowball Cactus)
  • Stenocactus multicostatus (Brain Cactus)

How Do You Take Care of a Mini Cactus

There are many small cactus plants out there, but most of them have the same basic requirements when it comes to care.

The following mini cactus care guide includes all of the necessary information for growing healthy and attractive small cactus plants.

Sun Exposure & Light Requirements

Cactus plants are not picky when it comes to sunlight exposure.

Just make sure your small cactus gets enough sun during the day and that they do not get intense direct sunlight for too long. They need at least six hours of bright light each day.

The most important thing is that your mini cactus receives bright light (preferably natural) but that they do not get direct sunlight.

A south-facing windowsill is the best place for most cacti. It is a great option for small cacti, as they can get enough sunlight during the day.

You might need to rotate your cactus plants every once in a while so they don’t end up with their leaves all facing the same direction and getting sunburn.

When a cactus receives too much direct sunlight, it can cause sunburns on the cactus.

Some light exposure is always beneficial, but make sure small cacti are not in full sun for a prolonged period. 

Watering Requirements

Cactus plants need only small amounts of water. Most cacti will require a thorough watering once a week.

Miniature cacti, however, may be watered less frequently as they have smaller root systems that can dry out quickly.

The time between waterings depends on the size and type of pot you are using to grow your small cactus plant.

Mini cactus plants should only be watered when the soil has completely dried out. This will prevent rotting and ensure your small plant can absorb moisture efficiently.

If you’re unsure how often a mini cactus needs water, avoid watering until you notice signs of wilting or drooping leaves.

When small cactus plants are watered, the soil should be allowed to drain before being entirely left in an upright position. This will prevent water from settling at the base of your mini cactus and causing root rot or fungal infections.

This is especially important when growing small succulents as they can often dry out much faster than other types of small cacti if not given enough time between watering sessions.

Soil Requirements

In general, indoor cacti require very little maintenance or care besides occasional watering.

However, the type of potting mix you choose can make all the difference between growing healthy mini cactus indoors vs. those that die quickly from overwatering or undernourishment.

When it comes to small cacti, the most important factor in choosing a good potting mix and ensuring proper drainage.

Cactus plants need a light, sandy soil that drains well. They grow particularly well in porous soil.

A Cactus soil mix is ideal because it contains small peat particles and small pumice rocks for good drainage.

One of the best potting soil mixes is a cactus mix with added perlite, which helps create better aeration by adding more spaces between soil particles so that your small cacti can grow stronger more quickly.

If you choose to buy your soil, make sure it is specifically for small plants and a cactus/succulent potting mix.

Avoid store-bought soils that come with fertilizers or other additives because the extra nutrients may harm your plant.

Temperature and Humidity Requirements

To grow, cacti require particular temperatures and humidity levels. Cacti are desert plants, so they are accustomed to hot, dry conditions.

While small cactus can do well in lower humidity levels than other houseplants, the ideal range is 30-60%.

In addition, cacti prefer warm conditions and need to be kept in the range of 55-80º Fahrenheit. They cannot tolerate cold temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fertilizing Needs

Mini cactus plants are small and slow-growing, so they need small amounts of fertilizer.

Feed small cactus plants once every two to six weeks during their growing season using a water-soluble fertilizer mixed at half the strength.

Small cacti are sensitive to chemical fertilizers, so it is best to use an organic fertilizer.

Be careful not to overfeed small cacti because it can burn their roots.

Potting and Repotting

It would be best to use a small container for small cacti, as these types of plants don’t need much space to thrive, and they will do best when their roots are not disturbed too often.

While this varies between different types of cacti, most will grow best in clay pots. They allow proper aeration and moisture retention while also giving the roots room to breathe, preventing root rot from forming.

When picking out planters for your small cacti indoor garden, make sure to avoid small pots made from plastic or metal. They will not retain moisture properly, and there is a high chance that small cacti won’t do well in them.

When the small cactus plant has filled out enough, you can repot it into a larger container if needed.

If your mini cactus garden looks like it has too many small cacti in a small container, you can repot them into an appropriately sized pot.

This is only necessary if the small plant has filled out enough that its roots start to grow through the drainage holes at the bottom of your planter or begin sticking up above the soil surface.

When it comes time to transplant small cacti, make sure to work with succulent plants that are at least two years old.

If you transplant small ones too early, they might not have good root systems, in which case it will be difficult for them to establish themselves in the new soil.

Pruning

Pruning isn’t required for most small cacti, as they tend to be small and slow-growing plants that rarely need pruning.

You should only remove dead or damaged growth at the end of the cacti branches with small pruning shears or sharp scissors.

You should only remove small growth that is not part of the main plant structure, so avoid trimming areas around growing points as this may damage the small plant.

Pests

Mini cactus plants are susceptible to small bugs and pests.

You must know how to get rid of them before they start destroying your small cacti plants.

Two common tiny garden pests which can affect small cactus plants are scale insects and mealybugs.

These little creatures suck out the sap of small cacti, leaving small cacti plants weak and defenseless.

Mealybugs

These tiny bugs live in colonies on the surface of cactus leaves and stems.

They feed by sucking out small plant juices, therefore weakening your small garden.

Mealybugs make small cotton-like substances that you can remove with warm water or a mild soap solution.

Scales

Scale insects are small, flat, and brownish with a broad waxy layer on their bodies, making them look like small cones or shells.

They lay eggs under this protective wax cover which hatch as small crawlers looking for new plants to infest.

You can control small scales by handpicking them off your small cacti plants and destroying them.

Diseases

There are some diseases that small cactus gardeners have to watch out for.

Two common diseases which affect cactus plant’s health are root rot and fungal infections, especially when the soil is too wet or soggy.

Root Rot

This disease affects cacti when they are exposed to excess moisture.

Symptoms of this disease include:

  • Browning and dying roots.
  • Small yellow leaves which fall off the plant.
  • Wilting or drooping small cacti stems and branches.
  • Rotting stalks.

Fungal Infections

With small cacti, fungal infections are common when small gardeners do not water their small plants enough.

Symptoms of this disease include small fuzzy growths on the surface and around your plant base, which is a sign that fungi have invaded it.

The two most effective ways to prevent these diseases from attacking your small cacti plants are by using clean soil and watering only in the early morning hours, so there’s time for excess moisture to dry out before nightfall.

Also, make sure you always use a well-draining potting mix or loose soils with at least 50% peat moss content, as these can help ensure the successful cultivation of small cacti plants indoors.

Winter Care For Indoor Cactus Plants

Winter can be tough on small cactus plants.

They are not designed to stand the cold, and if you happen to live in a place where winter temperatures go below 40F (5C), your small indoor cactus plant will need some extra care during this period.

As mentioned before, cacti thrive best at room temperature between 55-80° F. You should try to maintain these temperatures throughout the year as much as possible because it helps prevent bud drop and makes your succulent plant healthier overall.

Placing mini cactus plants near a window is also acceptable, but keep an eye on them to make sure they aren’t getting too much or not enough sunlight.

Another thing to do during the winter months is reduce watering slightly because your small cacti might have less water requirements during colder periods.

Usually, once every two weeks should be suitable for most types of cacti, but you can also increase the time to once or twice a month if your small cactus is not doing well.

Feel the top of the soil to see if your plant requires water. If it’s dry or feels light, it needs watering.

As long as you do the things mentioned above, your mini cactus should survive winter just fine.

Final Thoughts

Small cactus plants are small, cute, and easy to care for.

They come in various shapes, colors, and textures that make them the ideal indoor plant.

Whether you’re looking to add some small-scale greenery to your small apartment or you want a cute mini cactus as a gift for someone, small cacti make a perfect choice.