Type your question here!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Cactus Can Grow Too Fast if Given the Chance

Q. My cactus is falling over. I think I give then too much water.
Cactus falling over due to succulent growth from too much of everything

A. Rather than too much I think you are watering too often. There is a subtle difference. Let the soil dry more between irrigations. Other factors can contribute to this problem.
            The term “watering too much” has two different meetings; watering too often or giving the plant more water than it needs each time it’s watered. Both refer to “watering too much” but may produce two different results. Watering frequently damages plants that originate from environments where they don’t receive water frequently.
Cactus breaking due to its own weight and succulence
            If the soil dries between waterings and forces the cactus to use its own, stored “internal water”, then this will slow its growth. If the cactus is never forced to use its own internal water, the plant grows unchecked, using whatever water is available.
            Desert plants, including many cacti and succulents, are water “opportunists”. When water is present, they suck it up which feeds new growth. Frequent watering of cacti causes new growth to become “succulent”. This type of growth is easily damaged by wind or even by its own weight.
Cactus blowing over in the wind

            If the roots of these cacti are also restricted by the container, or water is applied close to its trunk, the top may get too large to support itself.  We say it is “top-heavy”. It is very likely to fall over or break during winds or heavy rain.
            Other factors can increase succulence. This includes fertilizing too often with high nitrogen fertilizers and not providing enough light.
            Provide your cactus a container or pot that is wide. It doesn’t have to be deep but water should drain from it soon after watering. Apply fertilizer once a year about one month before you expect it to bloom. Apply water when the soil is dry. When watering, you are telling it to grow.


  1. Will you please repeat the difference between cactus and succulents?

    1. All cacti are succulents but not all succulents are cacti.