Cactus Houseplants: My Journey Learning To Grow Cacti

By Nikki Tilley | January 15, 2021
by Nikki Tilley
January 15, 2021

Cacti are beautiful plants. You’ll find them in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and colors too. These prickly delights make exceptional houseplants for their ease of care, and are often great for anyone starting out. This even includes me, the succulent killer!

Exploring the World of Cactus Houseplants

I never gave much thought to growing cactus plants until learning how much my grandfather enjoyed caring for them, and boy could he. He had some of the most amazing specimens! I swear that man could grow anything.

As succulents, these plants can handle lots of neglect. The downside for me in learning to grow cacti is the fact that I seem to always kill succulent plants, not from neglect but mostly due to overwatering. Would I do the same with these too? You never know until you try though, right. So I bought a few little cacti of varying varieties and gave it a shot. And to my amazement, I’ve not only managed to keep them alive and thriving but have also enjoyed it. In fact, I literally forget to water them half the time, which means there’s little fear in killing them. I’m slowly becoming more neglectful with my succulents to avoid killing them with kindness.

Finding the right lighting took some getting used to. They appreciate lots of light and warm temps. It’s usually not very bright in my house but since we now have an empty nest, I’ve gained two more rooms, and they offer better lighting options – east and south facing. I’m known to experiment in the garden and growing cactus plants indoors is no different. I grow my prickly wonders in just about anything. They enjoy cramped quarters so if I have an old coffee cup or an interesting dish, I’ll try a cactus. They don’t grow fast so there’s little worry in repotting the cactus plants too much. I’ve even tried my hand at growing cactus seeds”¦ they are the cutest! That said they are also the slowest growing plants ever! I’ve been waiting impatiently for some time now for those babies to get some height.

I have a number of cactus houseplants – peanut cactus, ric rac cactus, dragon fruit cactus (no fruit yet), holiday cactus and some other varieties I’m not even sure about. I also grow some of them in the greenhouse year round, and others remain outdoors. Opuntia, mammillaria, and golden ball cactus are just a few. My most recent addition is a purple prickly pear cactus in my outdoor cactus container garden. Hopefully, as I get better at this growing cactus adventure, they will start to bloom for me more. I’ve had a few to brighten my days with flowers, mostly those in the greenhouse though. 

While I’m still learning to grow cacti and they’re not anything close to attaining the greatness of my grandfather’s collection, it’s been a fun journey. I hope he’s smiling down on me.

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  • Richard Marin
    Comment added January 17, 2021Reply

    Great article. My problem is with a Christmas cactus where the stems are well turning to bark! Does this mean the plant is dying? I updated the soil with cactus soil as I haven't repotted this plant in several years. Will I lose this plant? It didn't bloom this December at all. My other Christmas cactus plants are on target with recently blooming.

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