Easy Cacti



“In My Garden”, late Spring is cactus blooming time. Here’s a tiny cactus in a one inch terra cotta saki cup from Jade Garden, a bonsai pot importer in New York City’s China Town.

Cacti and succulents are prefect for an easy-care, cheap miniature garden with lots of variety. I have around 100 on my 4-foot long bedroom window sill. They get watered only once a week except during their winter dry period. Since they’re right next to the window, they also have the cooler temperatures that they like in the winter, particularly at night. Cacti like good light but don’t have to have all day full sun – mine get by in a west window with afternoon sun.

Most of mine come from Woolworth’s, K-Mart and Shop & Shop, with some of the most expensive ones (about $4.00) from the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. This one will follow its flowers with red berries.

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November 03, 2002

Winterize the Cacti

Eco-gardening is at its best in The Monday Garden
issue #32 November 3, 2002

Winterize the Cacti

It’s November already and time to put the cacti on winter schedule. This cactus blooms on my windowsill May to September. Here it in late August. To bloom like this, it needs a good winter rest, starting now.

In the desert, winter means bright sun, no water, and cool but non-freezing temperatures. You can mimic these conditions for your cacti by using the “EZ Bloom Cactus Formula” (In My Garden # 11). Starting now, reduce water and place the plant right next to a window where it will be as cool as possible in good light.

The winter watering schedule:

November: cut water by half; for example a bi-weekly rather than weekly watering.

December: cut water by half again; for example give the plant only half its regular water every other week.

January: no water unless the dormant cactus starts to shrivel and then just a few drops to keep it alive.

February: same as January

March: Water lightly once a week to wake the cactus up.

April: Start regular watering and give the cactus its once-a-year fertilizing.

Over the winter, succulents (thick-leaved cactus relatives) need a bit more water than the cacti. I continue to water mine weekly but use just enough water to half-wet the soil rather a weekly soaking. They also benefit from a bright, cool windowsill.

The shorter days are also putting your leafy houseplants into winter slo-mo, so stop fertilizing except for the winter-blooming tropicals (jasmine, abutilion, orchids, African violets, etc.). The leafy houseplants also need a bit less water but will be naturally drier since indoor heated air is drier.

PS If you want your amaryllis to be blooming at Christmas, start them this week and next.