The Struggle To Make My Indoor Cactus Grow

By Tonya Barnett | January 12, 2021
by Tonya Barnett
January 12, 2021

After ten years of gardening, I have tried growing quite an array of plants. From succulents to giant sunflowers, I am continuously drawn to unique and interesting plants. After having some success growing cacti from seed one season, I decided I would try my hand at overwintering them indoors. Ultimately, my prolonged struggle to help the plants thrive in their windowsill has led me to consider whether or not I would ever try growing cacti indoors again.

My Struggle with Indoor Cactus

Here in my Kentucky garden, cacti aren’t exactly a common sight. Of course, there are some varieties of cacti that are hardy to my growing zone. However, many types of cactus struggle due to our consistently wet summers, poorly draining soil, and cold winter temperatures. Even so, I could not be deterred when I found a small packet of cactus seeds available through one of my favorite online seed sources. 

That summer, I started the seeds in containers and was pleased to see a nearly perfect rate of germination. I potted the tiny seedlings into their own containers and watched as they grew bigger and bigger. By the end of the first summer, the plants still weren’t very large and I knew that they would not survive outdoors. I brought five of the pots indoors and placed them in a bright window. 

With the arrival of winter, I found that growth had seemingly ceased. I carefully transplanted the prickly cacti into new pots filled with a potting blend specifically formulated for their growth. Still, nothing happened. After a few more months, I turned to the internet to try and gain a better understanding of the problem. As it would turn out, the variety I had grown from seed was simply a type which would not grow into the large plant I had expected. 

Furthermore, my potted cactus plants had definitely received less than ideal care. While I was correct in choosing a growing soil, I had completely failed to fertilize my plants. Over watering was also a major cause for concern regarding the health of my cacti. Though my plants were able to survive through the winter inside, I was eager for the arrival of the next summer. The following fall, I gave each of the cactus pots away to any friends who wanted to keep them. Perhaps I’ll try growing cacti indoors once more when my skill for maintaining healthy houseplants has grown.

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