True or False? 10 Myths about Cacti and Succulents
WHY WE NEED THIS STUDY
There is so much mis-information about cactus and succulent care out in the world.
When we wanted to learn how to take care of plants, it seemed like none of the information we found on the internet or from plant nurseries work in our home so we decided to figure it out for ourselves.
Since then we have completely changed the way we set up and care for plants. We built greenhouses, created a plant lab to test plants in a variety of indoor environments, have created our own unique planters, soil, and sand that cater to the needs of each plant, and have developed our own specific watering instructions for each plant type and size.
1. CACTI AND SUCCULENTS ARE HARD TO KILL // FALSE + TRUE
We learned this the hard way. Many succulents especially are extremely delicate, hard to care for and difficult to keep alive indoors. This is why we only grow a select amount of the hardiest cacti and succulents.
If they are in the wrong soil and planters, cacti and succulents can be killed very easily and quickly but if they are in the correct soil and planters and are watered correctly they will be extremely hard to kill.
2. CACTI AND SUCCULENTS NEED LOTS OF SUN // FALSE
Cacti and succulents in desert areas can tolerate direct sun, but if you look closely they are often surviving, not thriving. Cacti that are grown in greenhouses are accustomed to high amounts of diffused sunlight. This means they can burn in direct sun and our testing has shown that they can even burn under grow lamps (Learn more about why we don’t like grow lamps here).
We designed and built shade houses that acclimate our plants to various amounts of indoor light. We only grow cacti, succulents, and houseplants that do well in a low light minimum environment.
3. THEY SHOULD BE WATERED WEEKLY // FALSE
Unless you live in an extremely dry desert area, all indoor cacti and succulents should be watered monthly to bi monthly at most.
Outdoors or in extremely dry environments, cacti and succulents can be watered weekly because the need for water and the rate of evaporation is much higher.
4. THEY CAN BE SPRAYED WITH A FANCY PLANT SPRITZER // FALSE
In their natural environment outdoors, water is able to evaporate quickly off of succulents and cacti. In your home, water sitting on top of these plants quickly causes rot and loss of leaves or sections of plant. (Learn more about why we don’t like spritzers and misters here)
We always recommend watering cacti and succulents into the soil or sand and never on top of the plant itself.
5. CACTI AND SUCCULENTS COME IN PROPER SOIL // FALSE + TRUE
Our testing has revealed that the number one killer of succulents and cacti is the soil that they are originally sold in. We call it “murder dirt.” You have seen it before. The dusty, rock solid clump of “soil” that just slides out of the growers pot while keeping the same shape. This stuff is basically powdered dirt that holds water against the roots of plants causing rot from the bottom up. It takes just long enough to kill your plant that you think it was your fault.
We have yet to meet a cactus and succulent soil that we absolutely love so we created our own soils!
Our cactus and succulent soil is nutrient rich, quick draining, and fluffy. We formulate it this way so that it doesn't clump and hold water against the roots and so that the roots get extra oxygen.
6. THEY NEED CACTUS/SUCCULENT FERTILIZER // FALSE
Most cacti and succulents are desert plants that do very well in nutrient deficient soils.
Our cactus and succulent soil has more than enough nutrients and we suggest refreshing the plant’s soil and sand every Spring to check the health of the plant, make sure pests haven not found their way into the soil or onto the plants, and to make sure their soil stays fluffy for their drainage and oxygen needs.
7.THEY CAN THRIVE IN SEALED, GLAZED, OR OTHERWISE NON-ABSORBENT PLANTERS OR GLASS TERRARIUMS // FALSE
The second biggest killer of indoor plants is using non-porous, glazed, painted, or otherwise sealed planters. These planters can cause roots to sit in water and become damaged or dead, they do not allow for extra water to evaporate, can cause mold from trapped water, and do not allow for air to reach the roots of the plant.
Cacti and succulents can be beautifully arranged in glass terrariums, but glass terrariums and containers have the same issues as sealed planters with the addition of trapped humidity which will eventually cause rot for these desert plants.
We created our own unique planters that are absorbent so that they can expel any unneeded water through evaporation, allow air and oxygen to reach the roots of the plant, and do not trap water.
8. THEY NEED A DRAINAGE HOLE // FALSE
Drainage holes are useful for overwatering and for sealed planters where water cannot evaporate.
Our planters are different from other planters because we fire them in a unique process that makes them able to absorb any excess water. We have tested all of our plants and provide specific amounts of water in our care instructions that vary by size and type of plant. The combination of our porous planters, this specific and tested amount of water, and no drainage hole means that our planters hold the exact amount of water needed - not too much or too little.
9. CACTI AND SUCCULENTS SHOULD BE WATERED YEAR ROUND // DEPENDS
If you live in a place that gets cold and less sunny in Winter, your plants will need less water during these months. That is because plants may become dormant in this period, they are not getting as much sun, and have less evaporation and need for water. Make sure they get as much indirect sun as possible during this time. If your cacti or succulents begin to look wrinkly, that means they need more water. But only a little bit extra at a time until they recover - never give lots of water to your plant to “make up” for them being a little dry.
If you live in a warm sunny place, your plants will need water as usual!
10. THEY NEED TO BE REPOTTED // TRUE + FALSE
Cacti and succulents tend to be slow growers. If placed in a larger sized planter, plants will tend to outgrow their space, and may need a root trim or a larger planter (if you wish for them to grow even bigger).
We pair our plants with the perfect size pot for them to stay around the same size. Cacti and succulents are a lot like goldfish that stay small in a bowl or turn into coy fish when in a lake. Our plants do not need to be transferred to larger planters unless you would like your plant to grow larger.
We do suggest refreshing the plant’s soil and sand every Spring to make sure their soil stays fluffy for their drainage and oxygen needs. This is also a great opportunity to check the health of the plant and make sure pests haven not found their way into the soil or onto the plants.
We wanted to give you a short version of the top 10 myths about cacti and succulents, dunked. If you’re looking for more details about any of these myths, checkout our other blogs that go into more detail about everything we’ve learned from our years of research and experience.