Did you know, a cactus is a member of the plant family Cactaceae, a family with over 1700 known species? The word cactus is derived from the Ancient Greek word káktos, a name originally used for a spiny plant and they occur in a wide range of shapes and sizes, with the majority being native to the Americas.
Cacti are well adapted to live in very dry environments, including the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on Earth. Because of this, they are able to expertly conserve water with their thickened fleshy stems. Most species of cacti have lost their true leaves, and instead retain only their spines, which are actually highly modified leaves. As well as defending against predators, the plant’s spines help prevent water loss by reducing air flow close to the cactus and provide the plant with some shade. So cool (ahem)!
But how to care for these prickly pals? Generally a low-maintenance plant, cacti are actually much easier to care for than you may think. Here’s everything you need to know:
Give your cacti enough light. Let them soak up the sun and get some warmth but be careful not to overdo it. Whilst they thrive in direct sunlight, cacti can get sunburned, and if they start to turn yellow or brown, you’ll want to move them away from the sunshine.
Cacti enjoy warm and dry environments so keep them away from air conditioners or drafty spots.
Water properly - cacti retain water in their stems, so you’ll need to give them breaks in between watering. Check the soil - if the first 2 to 3 inches of soil are dry, then it’s time to give them a drink. If you’re noticing wrinkles on your cactus, it’s a good sign it needs a decent drink! Be careful not to overwater. Never let your cactus sit in excess water as this can cause root rot.
Safety first - these suckers can bite! Wear gloves when handling your cacti. Another trick is to use folded up kitchen paper or kitchen tongs to move your plants about or when repotting.
Time for some new plants? Take a look at what we have in stock here.