How Often To Water a Cactus: Essential Guide

How Often To Water Cactus

If you were to ask anyone to describe the cacti plants in the simplest way, they will most possibly include the words; thick, spiked, dry and desert. And in that simple definition, you will conclude that these plants are sturdy plants that can survive unrelenting climatic conditions. Nothing here is disputable. As a matter of fact, every character mentioned so far is correct. However, it’s not the only description these lovely plants deserve.

Most people actually fail to realize that cactus plants are a very vast and broad family of plants with more than 100 differing species under its belt. One kind is unique to the next, but all share a similarity of having thick, plump, fleshy stems. And another awesome thing about cacti is that they can survive almost all environments making suitable for household planting. As long as all their needs are met, they could add sparkle to your house window sill or your office desktop. Check out “9 Types of Cacti” to see more kinds of cacti out there.

How Often To Water Cactus
Spiral Cactus @ohiotropics

Why Cacti Love Water So Much!

Just like other plants, cacti need water for their survival. Their characteristic, fleshy appearance is as a result of the presence of h20 within its cells. The mere factor that they are hardy plants and are quite low-maintenance presents itself as both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that, for one with not so much time for plant care in their hands, they can still keep the little beauties. And a curse in that there is a thin line between under and overwatering them. Take a look at “When You Should Water Your Succulents” for more tips on watering your cactus. And many are the times we face the predicament on how often to water them. Well, we assure you that it is not as mindbending as you presume, but more straightforward than you could ever imagine!

Be sure to check out our Ebook “The Correct Way to Water Succulents” for a full guide to watering your succulents.

Factors That Influence The Watering Schedule Of Your Cactus

The Soil Composition

These plants flourish in a well-draining, sufficiently ventilated coarse, gritty, loose, sandy soil. The soil must be light-weight with a minimal composition of organic matter. And we all know that mixing water and decomposing matter is a bad idea. It promotes root rot, eventually killing your cactus crop. The porous nature of your soil mix encourages fast water flowing such that the soil dries faster, allowing proper aeration. This means the more granular your soil mix is, the more frequent the watering.

Don’t know what root rot is? Well take a look at “What is Root Rot & How Do You Fix It?” for more info to protecting your succulents from rotting.

How Often To Water Cactus
Flowering Cactus @amazing__plants

The Season

Of the four seasons, cacti plants thrive in the warmer ones: summer and spring when the watering is mostly done. This is because, during these seasons, the atmosphere is hotter. Consequently, the evaporation of water from the soil and the plant itself is at its highest making the soil dry. The colder seasons, however, the air is cooler, and evaporation is on the lower side; hence, the soil will lose less water. Undespitudedly, the watering is more frequent during the warmer seasons as compared to the colder seasons.

Check out how some succulents are able to survive in desert conditions like parts of Mexico in “5 Most Popular Succulents From Mexico“.

The Cactus Growing Cycle

Every plant has a time in their life cycle that the growth is most active and durations when they go into dormancy. The productive seasons is when the plant grows upwards, blooms and even produces seeds giving rise to new offsprings. On the other hand, during their dormancy, the plants’ growth slows down and preserves its energy getting ready for the active periods. And this influences how often one should water the cactus. This, consequently, goes without saying that irrigation is more frequent during its production cycle.

Additionally, younger cacti plants require more water because of their faster growth rate. Thinking of growing those succulent plants at home? Check out “How to Successfully Grow Indoor Succulents” for more.

Location Of The Cactus Plant

This simply entails where the plant has been cultivated; indoors, outdoors, in a planter, or the ground. A cactus plant grown outside will be watered more regularly because of moving air which carries moisture from the soil. As compared to its counterpart grown indoors, where the wind does not move more freely in the confinements of walls. Cacti plants borne in containers and the ground are both watered when the soil becomes dry. But the rate at which the dirt dries will be determined by other weather conditions. Notwithstanding, watering must be done to bypass the drying off of your plant. Take a look at “5 Succulents You can Grow in a Coffee Mug” for techniques in growing your succulent in different places.


How Often To Water Cactus
Echeveria Setosa Deminuta @nurcan.srbs

Exposure To Light

It has been known that light goes hand in hand with the production of heat energy. This means that the more the exposure, the more radiation is produced, and the faster the transpiration and evaporation. A cactus plant and the soil exposed longer will, therefore, lose more water. And that dictates that the irrigation will be done more often since the soil will dry faster. Plants bred under grow lights will go by the same principle. The more the exposure, the more the watering. Do you grow your cactus under a grow light? Check out “Best Grow Lights Reviewed by Succulent Lovers”.

Be sure to check out our Ebook “Best Lighting Practices for Succulent Growth” for a full tutorial in lighting for your plants.


The higher the humidity, the lower the rate of evaporation. And the lower the humidity, the higher the dissipation. Humid air contains a large amount of moisture within itself, which simply means there will be no space for evaporated water to occupy. And the vice-versa is so in a dry humid atmosphere.

Size Of Cacti Plant

A bigger cactus plant has a smaller surface area to volume ratio, which decreases the amount of water that is evaporated. More miniature cactus, on the other hand, lose much water, meaning they will require more watering. Want to know more about larger sized cactus, go to “3 Popular Large Succulents You Don’t Have” for more.

Type and Size Of Pot

The size of the pot will determine the number of times you will water your cactus in a week. Bigger containers with more soil mix will obviously need a higher water volume to wet the entire cactus pot. Although one should make sure the soil is porous not to harbor any extra water.

What the container will also influence is the rate at which you will water your crops. For instance, terracotta pots have porous walls that seep up water, which is evaporated through their walls. This dramatically reduces the time the potting mix takes to dry out completely.

Plastic containers, on the other hand, trap moisture, increasing the time duration between watering.


How Often To Water Cactus
Indoor Garden @tiendafloralia

Just like other succulents, a cactus plant should never be misted using spray bottles. Instead, they are watered in two ways. First, the pot is put inside a saucer with water and let to soak water up. The second method, and most common is watering the crop by soaking the soil surface. You should never water the plant overhead. Water contact with the plant should be at a minimum to avoid the onset of mold.

Thank you for reading! Let us know in the comments below how you care for your cactus during the summer or spring season. Be sure to also check out related content for your gardening needs in “Repotting Succulents— the Right Way“, “6 Best Fertilizers for Succulents”, or “Best Gardening Tools for Succulents“.

Did this article on how often to water cacti help answer your succulent-care questions? We sure hope so! If not, no worries. Succulent City is devoted to aiding all succulent lovers, and that’s why we created a line of ebook guides! Check out our in-depth tips on “All the Types of Succulents for Indoor & Outdoor” or even “6 Most Important Tips to Grow Succulents”  today! 

Happy planting! ?

Brain Cactus

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Brain Cactus Images: @sanctuarysoil

Getting enough of the succulent plant is still a mystery to many.  We love to write about and collect these cool potted goodies, whether they are regular  ‘ones or those with an exceptional exotic theme. Now we have something for Halloween that sets the mood perfectly. This terrifying plant is a sure-to-go decoration for your Halloween, and just looking at it will tell you why. The Mammillaria Elongata ‘Cristata’ cactus looks like a human brain, with stems that circularly curl around each other. Or a clump of worms, still.

What’s there in a name? A fascinating plant in the case of the brain cactus, but with a very descriptive name. The type known as brain cactus is one of the many species of Mammillaria Cristata. It is a simple cactus to grow that often produces lovely little blooms in warmer climates and makes a perfect houseplant or outdoor specimen. 

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What is brain cactus?

The brain cactus is also colorfully called Mammillaria elongata ‘Cristata’ due to its convoluted and sinuous development. How the form happens is one of the most bizarre pieces of data from Cristata. When it is young, the shape is a result of damage to the plant. The cells go wild at the injury site and grow at a much faster pace than average. This triggers the distorted design of the pads.

The brain cactus is a common houseplant, and this “damage” is manually manipulated in cultivation to produce fan-like growth. In general, the brain cactus is a small plant, just 6 inches (15 cm.) in height. With waistband widths of 12 inches (30 cm.) across, they are chubby little boys.

They occur in rocky outcroppings and between crevasses in the wilds of Central Mexico. They grow into a column of stems and tiny offsets over time. The spines are in tightly collected areoles and consist of several sizes, almost hair-like with the finest spines. Plants are green, but the hairy spines form a grayish shell.

The origin of the brain cactus

The straight growth habit of Mammillaria elongata cacti, commonly known as lady’s fingers. The crested type, however, shows stems with lots of kinks growing in one big, round clump. A mutation or probably physical injury is thought to be the cause of this trait.

Every succulent has a center of growth called the apical meristem, including cacti. The cactus can begin to develop in a wormlike form if the apical meristem is chewed by an insect or somehow harmed. In the cells of a cactus, though uncommon, often a mutation occurs and causes it to become crested.

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The brain cactus features

This cactus features several narrow ribs, as the name suggests. There can be approximately 100 ribs in a mature plant. Generally, the thick ribs are wavy, but they may also be straight occasionally. There can be 2-3 aureoles with 6 to 9 spines on each rib. The ribs are brown at the base; however, this changes towards the end.

While the lower spines typically point downward, the upper spines tend to be upright, and the overall arrangement of the spines is somewhat crosswise. One of the most flexible species of cacti is the ‘brain cactus’ in terms of shape. No two plants with the same number of ribs, the same supination, or the same shape will be found. The form and flower colors vary in their variations.

Young plants are coated with white felt, so marking them as ‘white’ cacti are very popular for individuals. Stenocactus crispatus features long spines covering the ribs, Stenocactus Phyllcanthus with stiff spines and yellow flowers, and Stenocactus Coptonogonus with straight ribs and short spines are the most common varieties.

All in all, such a cactus has a spherical shape. It varies from gray-green to deep green in its hue. A more cylindrical shape may also be formed by mature plants, while plants with many stems form a pyramid shape.

A brain cactus is a slow-growing plant that can grow up to 12 cm tall, and it can often have 2 or 3 stems, although it is typically solitary. Brain cactus is known to be a delicate plant. It grows to up to 2,5 cm in diameter are produced by this lovely, wrinkled cactus. Usually, the flowers are pink, purple, or white.

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How to grow the brain cactus

You may immediately assume that you understand all about succulent treatment. But you may realize that you don’t know how to grow a brain cactus. Most cacti are susceptible to overwatering and poor drainage, but brain cactus pads can trap moisture in the folds and crevasses. In agriculture, where gnats are attracted, this can be evil, and mold and mildew problems can instill rot and destroy the plant.

To avoid moisture from accumulating on the body of a brain cactus, it is best to water from the jar’s base. There are some simple methods if you wish to propagate the plant. It is using woody stem cuttings to allow for a week of callus over the cut edge. Then insert the cut end into the potting medium without soil, like the moderately moistened sand.

The other approach is a clean, sterile knife to separate the pups away from the parent plant. Each should also be permitted to callus and plant it into a mixture of cactus. It results in faster establishment and faster blooms to grow a brain cactus from pups.

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Image by: @succiesco

How to care for your brain cactus

The brain cactus is most susceptible to moisture as a succulent from arid regions. It is best to keep them in a dry place with little humidity. Excess humidity can cause the plant as much harm as too much water can do. Remember that most of the year, the area from which they hail is dry and then marked by a brief drenching rainy season.

After the rain, the plants then do most of their growth and bloom, followed by a prolonged growth rate, almost in hibernation, before the next rainy season. Place the container in a partly sunny position where the plant will not burn the brightest noon-day rays. Until watering, allow the surface of the soil to dry to the touch. Feed with a dilution of the cactus food in spring.

This spooky, frightful cactus looks like a brain! It is easy to trick a few people into believing your Brain Cactus is an actual human brain if you place it in a faux human skull planter!

The Brain Cactus is greenish, so you’re definitely not going to fool anyone anytime soon with it. But it does have curvy stems that wrap and twist into a circular shape around each other, so the entire plant looks a lot like a brain. This distinctive cactus has a fascinating history and some particular criteria for how to care and how to grow it will help you get the best out of your plant choice.

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