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So, Do You Need to Water Your Cactus Plant?

A person pours a watering can onto a potted cactus plant that they're holding.

The cactus plant is an icon of resilience and low-maintenance greenery. With their unique shapes and spikes, they add a touch of the exotic to any home or office. But there’s a consistent question floating around: do you really need to water your cactus?

The short answer is yes, of course, you need to water your cactus…but it comes with a twist. You want to give them plenty of water very, very rarely.

Cacti are true survivors of the plant world. They have adapted to harsh desert environments where water is scarce and temperatures soar. Their thick, fleshy stems and spines provide them with plenty of water storage and protection against thirsty predators.

The golden watering rule for cacti is to go easy on the watering can in terms of regularity. Overwatering is the number one enemy of your desert darling. Cacti are prone to root rot if they sit in soggy soil for long, so ensuring they have well-draining soil and that you don’t overwater is key.

10 Assorted Live Succulent Cuttings

If you're up for a challenge, succulent cuttings can be a great place to start growing your cacti collection.

It’s crucial to keep in mind that overwatering has more to do with the regularity that your water and less to do with the amount you pour. For cacti plants, opt for a “soak and dry” method.

When it’s time to water, give your cactus a thorough drenching, making sure water reaches the roots. Let them fully saturate so the cactus can soak up all the water it needs. Then, allow the excess water to drain away.

Always let the soil dry out completely before watering again. How often you water depends on the cactus species, the size of the pot, and the environmental conditions. In general, aim for once every two to four weeks in the spring and summer, and even less during the dormant season of winter.

One of the coolest things about cacti is that most of them give you subtle hints when they need water. Keep an eye on their appearance, and you’ll become a cactus whisperer in no time.

Costa Farms Snake Plant (4-Pack)

Snake plants are a great, easygoing succulent species perfect for cacti beginners.

If your cactus looks a bit wrinkly, it’s a sign of thirst. On the flip side, if your cactus feels soft and mushy to the touch, it’s probably had too much to drink and needs to dry out a bit. Shriveled pads or spines could also indicate dehydration. A sip of water will likely perk them up.

During the colder months, cacti tend to enter a state of dormancy. Think of it like a well-deserved siesta. Their growth slows down and they require less water. Be extra cautious not to overwater during this time.

Always remember that while cacti are drought-tolerant, they still need a sip of water every once in a while to thrive. Water them with care, observe their cues, and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

With a little attention and the right amount of hydration, your cactus plant will continue to thrive and bring desert charm to your space.

Abbey Ryan Abbey Ryan
Abbey Ryan is a storyteller, preferably of stories in written form. Across the 5 years of her professional writing career, her work has been featured in The Chicago Tribune, Amazon, The Medical News Today, and more. When she's not writing (which is rare), she's likely traveling, painting, or on the hunt for a good snack. Read Full Bio »
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