Growing Cactus indoors in India

 Naturally found in the deserts and wildly grown, these plants have their reason to be in your homes. They are pretty and flower sparingly. The Beauty of a cactus is appreciated by a few but for those who know its value, it’s one of the most beautiful plants to own. Though the cactus could take a prolonged period of neglect and requires little to no care, they are often the victims of indoor plant owners. Taking care of cactuses is tricky and this makes cactuses one of the most challenging plants to own, especially for indoor gardeners.

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In the wild, there are more than 2000 varieties under 139 genera. They are known to be as little as an inch to over 78 feet in height. Though the cactuses grown indoors are small, some do tend to grow big and accommodate a large area. Often these are relocated to the ground or moved to areas where they can grow bigger. 

Indoor cactuses are rarely pruned. They are not trimmed, trained, or cut. These cactuses grow at their own pace and usually grow very slowly. Most cactuses grow only 1-3 centimeters a year with a few exceptions which may grow up to 15 centimeters a year. Cactuses grown indoors are slow in growth and will not grow more than 2-3  centimeters a year. 

The slow growth is one of the key reasons for indoor gardeners liking these plants. A plant once in place can live in the same area for years without being moved, if provided with sufficient light and occasional water. Unlike most indoor plants, there is no need for trimming or pruning. The water requirements are as little as once a week or during winters once or twice the entire season. 

While cactuses are easy to care for, they are also one of the easiest to kill. Overwatering is the primary reason for the death of cactus plants indoors, followed by low light conditions. Cactuses mgrowroww naturally in deserts where water is scarce and the soil is well drained throughout the year. The light conditions are harsh. When these plants are moved indoors, they must adjust to a completely different environment. While relatively low light is tolerated, overwatering is a usual problem with root rot that follow. Well-drained soil with complete dry soil for a week before each watering will help cactuses survive indoors, though this should not be taken as a thumb rule. Cactus differ in requirements of water and sunlight and each variety has its preference water requirement. Soil too plays a major role in growing cactuses indoors. 

Growing Conditions

When indoors, cactuses require certain conditions. Unlike its natural growing environment, indoors are usually less lit and conditions are often a bit more humid. While providing the required amount of light for the survival of cactuses may involve the purchase of grow lights in rooms that are relatively low in light, they can often survive in window sills, especially if the windows are west or east facing and provide bright indirect light throughout the day. 

Indoor Cactus Care

Cactus requires little to no care indoors. Leave it in a brightly lit area, preferably with indirect light and good ventilation. Light is key for good cactus growth. Also, ensure that there is no direct sun to the plant. While it’s perfect for cactuses growing outdoors to be in direct sun, potted plants will have a smaller root system and find it hard to survive in pots when exposed to direct light. The plants should also be placed where there is proper aeration. Airflow ensures that the humidity level is balanced for the plants. Cactuses prefer dry air, but with indoor conditions, base humidity must be maintained for human comfort. To keep the balance for plants, a good airflow is important. While cactuses do survive winters indoors, they will require better lighting conditions, especially during the winter season, where daylight is much lesser. Water the plants once during summer and wait till the soil is completely dry. Leave the soil dry for a week before watering again. Sometimes, this may take 10 days between watering and sometimes up to 2 weeks. The watering schedule depends on the pot size in most cases. Smaller pots can be watered weekly while larger pots will require longer gaps between watering schedules. 

How cactuses Grow

Cactuses grow only an inch or more every year, often from the tip. Depending on the variety of the cactus, they may branch out and often produce branches only once in a few years. This is convenient for indoor growers, especially those who enjoy having tabletop plants. Slow growth and very few branches make cactuses one of the preferred plants for table tops. 

Location

When indoors, Cactuses love areas that are airy and bright. While they may survive in partial shade, they are not very good in dark areas and will die slowly. Keep your plants directly near a light source. The front of a computer monitor is a great source for lights but only if you work on the computer for more than 5-6 hours a day. If there is no light source, it’s recommended to invest in a grow light. Grow lights may be a bit expensive or cheap depending on the variety. For a single plant, you may be able to get one for 300-400 Rs on Amazon. For more plants or a  commercial set, investing in a bigger grow light is recommended and may cost a few thousand. 

Caring for cactuses

Caring for cactuses is easy and often requires that you neglect the plant once it’s in place and has established itself. Too much care for a cactus is one way to kill it. People often overwater the plants which is the cause of 90% of death in cactuses. Unlike indoor plants (the common ones), the cactus is not a typical indoor plant and requires that its soil be dry most of the time. Water the plants sparingly and when watering, ensure that the soil is fully drenched. But then, leave it to dry. Once dry, keep it that way for a week. Overwatering will cause root rot and the plant will die faster than you would realize. Saving a plant from overwatering, would be quite hard as most beginners would realize the plant needs to help a bit too late.