Cactus is a plant usually found in hot climates and desert areas, with the right growing conditions, the plant can live to be as much as 150-200 years old. There are over 2,000 species of cacti, with various shapes and forms. Cactus is also said as decorative plant.
The spines of the cacti are actually its leaves. The size of the spines can vary from species to species and they can be as long as 15 cm. As the leaves are small, they prevent loss of water. Another function of the sharp, pointed spines is to keep birds and animals from sucking out the water from the plant.
The tallest cactus plant is Pachycereus pringlei with a height of about 66 feet. It can weigh up to 5400 kilograms, which is mainly the weight of the stored water. The shortest is Blossfeldia liliputiana with a height of just a few centimeters.
Growing Cactus is not a big deal, as a small kid can also grow. Cactus is a tropical plant so they don’t require much attention but yes a little care can grow them amazingly. Cactus can be grown from its seeds or it from its saplings.
Growing from saplings: Remove a healthy saplings from the mother cactus and plant them in a container containing potting mix made especially for tropical plants. Water them and keep them under the direct sunlight. Within a week or more than a week they spread root and you can see one more sap growing above the planted one.
Growing Cactus from seed: Purchase seeds from your nearest nursery. Prepare the soil in a container, using high quality of potting mix of pumice or granite content with high drainage system or get a potting soil which is formulated especially for growing cactus with gravel and sand. This potting soil can be used for growing indoor cactus as well. Spread the seeds on the potting mix and cover the soil slightly. Do not plant the seeds deep inside the soil as they won’t be able to grow.
Once you covered the seeds, moist the soil with water. Remember cactus is a tropical plant so watering too much will end up killing the plant. Just moist the soil and place the container where they can get direct sunlight throughout the day. To retain the moisture in the container you can cover it with a transparent plastic lid or cover with a transparent plastic sheet.
Germination will take several weeks or it can be several months depending on the cactus species you have planted. Once the germination takes place make sure you water them every day with little amount of water. Cactus is a slow growing plant so it will take a lot of time to grow. Remove the cover when the plant emerge its leaves.
Always remember it is not a good idea to transplant your cactus, so before you plant seed make sure you have a large container for the cactus to grow. Even if you want to transplant the plant, then you should allow them to recover from the shock.
Watering Cactus: Cactus don’t need much water. Most of the cactus varieties require little water. So water the cactus every day with little amount of water or thrice in a week. Do not allow the soil to completely dry out or water logged. Too much of water will let into root rot and kill the cactus.
Cactus doesn’t require much attention though it need less amount of fertilizer. Use dilute solution of liquid fertilizer with nitrogen and phosphorus and feed your cactus once in a month.
Growing cactus Indoor: Cactus can be grown indoor if you can locate them where they can get at least 4 to 6 hours of sunlight every day. Indoor cactus require less amount of water comparatively to outdoor cactus. If you are not able to locate a sunny area, then place them under indoor growing lights.
Caring Cactus: Do not leave your cactus near windowsills in a cold climate as it will stunt the growth of your cactus and kill your plant. While handling cactus always wear thick hand gloves. Cactus make easily affected by mealy bugs. Know how to get rid of mealy bugs organically.
Cactus flowers: Cacti flowers usually bloom when it rains. The flowers of the cacti range from white, red, pink, yellow or violet. Some cactus flowers stand for several days, others die in just one day. Some cactus flowers bloom only at sunset, others only in the daylight. The century plant only blooms once in its lifetime, which is about 20-30 years. The flower stalk of this slow growing cactus plant can grow up to 40 feet. After it finishes flowering, the entire plant dies.
Uses of the Cactus: Besides being a decorative plant, cactus can have fruit which can be eaten and also made into syrup. The wood of some cacti species is used in making roofs and walls. The roots of a Mexican cactus were used for its medicinal properties. The spines of cacti if sterilized on hot coals may be used for bandages.