5 Best tips for Cactus care in India

5 Best tips for Cactus care in India
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Basic care of cactus will remain the same across the globe but as per the weather conditions and availability of gardening material, cactus care in India will be little different.

There are multiple myths about cactus and cactus care. Some of the people do not prefer growing cactus at home. We are not going into the details of that but will try to solve the problem of the people who want to grow cactus at home.  

Cactus Man Dr Bhagwan Prasad Saxena who is a Retired zoology professor and had grown more than 15,00 varieties of cactus at home. He named his house also as “Cactus House”. He has more than 150 endangered species of cactus. As per Dr Saxena there are lots of medicinal properties in cactuses which we need to explore.

Understanding natural habitat of cactus

Before coming to the point for the cactus care tips for Indian conditions, first we need to understand the natural habitat of cactus. Below the natural habitat properties of cactus.

  • Normally cactus grows in deserts on the slope of hills
  • Water availability is very low in this region.
  • Water drains on these slopes very fast during the rain
  • Even cacti grow in the plain area of the desert but they are saved by nature from the harsh weather.
  • They get ample amount of sunlight but normally in the peak time of the heat the shade of the hills save them from the scorching sun.
  • Winds and black clouds also reduce the impact of the sun in this region.
Cactus care
Natural Habitat for Cactus – Cactus on the side of hills

Photo by form PxHere

Cactus care
Natural Habitat for Cactus – Cactus in the desert area

Cactus care in India

Indian conditions are suitable for most of the cactus plants. Climate in India is very diverse hence the cactus care in India also. From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, you will find multiple climate conditions. There is no common thumb rule for the cactus care for entire India but in the view of above natural habitat conditions we can figure out some common methods for cactus care in India:

Right time for re-potting and planting the cactus

Cactus care

Most of us make this mistake in cactus care. We bring cactus plants from the nursery and follow the normal process like we keep the plant in the same pot for a couple of days and then re-pot the plant in different pots. 

We should avoid this habit. Actually you can bring cactus from the nursery in any season to your home but never re-pot the plant in any season. Cold weather is not suitable for the cactus to re-pot. Cold weather is normally a dormant period for most of the cactus and succulents. We should wait for early summer or summer for the repotting which is the growth period of the cactus plants. If you repot the plant the winter season plant roots will not be able to absorb water and there are very high chances that the plant will die because of root rot.

Choose the right size and type of pot

Cactus care

It is very important to choose the right size of the pot for the cactus growth and best cactus care. As per experiments and experience it has been observed that pot size should not be too large for the cactus. We can choose the size just bigger than the cactus plant. Example if our cactus is 3 inch in radius, we can choose the 4 inch radius (or width) pot for the cactus. If we choose a bigger pot, it will hold lots of water and that will damage the root system of the plant.

Apart from size, type of pot is also very important for the cactus or any other plant. The best is clay pot as it maintains the aeration for the roots and keeps the roots cool in the summers when the temperature is very high. Alternatively plastic, melamine or other types of pots can be used but best results are there in clay pot only. 

Choose the right soil mix for the cactus

Cinder for Cactus
Cinder for the cactus soil mix

Soil should have below properties:

  • It should be well drainage soil and should not hold water otherwise it will damage the roots of the plant.
  • pH should be more than 7. Wood charcoal can be added to the soil to increase the soil pH.
  • We can prepare multiple types of soil for the cactus. Some people use only river sand for planing the cactus. But best results can be seen in cinder based soil media and provide best results for cactus care in India.
  • Following ingredients can be mixed to make cinder base soil media for most of the common cactus varieties:
    • Cinder – 50%
    • River sand  – 10%
    • Perlite – 10%
    • Compost 10%
    • Wood charcoal – 10%
    • Leaf compost or dry leaf or rice husk – 10%
    • Use a small amount of fungicide in the soil to avoid fungal infection in the roots
    • Add small amount of Bone Meal in the potting mix. It will act like slow fertilizer for the plant

Water the cactus as per the season

Water is very important for the cactus growth. We should not follow any fix time line for wateringth our cactus plants. Watering depends on following conditions:

  • Temperature
  • Place where cactus plant have been kept
  • Air circulation
  • Sunlight
  • Soil type

All the above factors contribute to the water needs of the plant. For the cactus care in India, it is very important to main a appropriate watering for cactus. Thumb rule water the plant when at least top 2 inch soil is completely dry. If you are a beginner you can use a moisture meter to measure the moisture and when moisture level drops upto 3 or 4, water the plant. You can also use the ear bud to check the soil moisture. Insert the ear bud in the soil and if it comes out clean then water the plant.

Try not to pour lots of water on the cactus plant if there is a possibility of staying water on the plant. It may damage the plant. Put water in the soil and do through watering. Water all around the plant so that all the roots get enough water.

Cactus care in winters

Cactus care in India becomes very typical in winters. Cactus plants can survive in winters. Winters are normally dormant periods for most of the cactus. We should fertilize the cactus a couple of weeks before the winters and provide a limited amount of water to the plant in the winter season. We should not fertilize the cactus during winters. 

We should not expose the cactus to the fog during winters and if winters are too harsh like in Kashmir or some other parts of north India, we should make a provision for proper shade for the plant. Cactus should get sufficient sunlight during the winters as well.

How much sunlight should be provided to the cactus plants

Cactus care in India may differ from region to region during summers. It is a misconception that as cacti are from the desert so they can survive in scorching sunlight and they always need full sunlight.

Actually lots of direct sunlight can overheat the pot and damage the roots of the cactus plant. In this condition if you over water the plant, the roots of the plant will go into stress and your plant may die in this situation.

Normal temperature range for most of the cactus should be between 15 to 35 degree Celsius. We should have a transparent roofing sheet above the cactus plants if you are keeping the plans in the open. This sheet will ensure the cactus is getting sufficient sunlight and air. It will also save the plant with the direct rain, which may destroy the plant.

If we follow above rules cactus care in India will become very easy and efficient.

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