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Name: Patrick Alan
Toms River, New Jersey (Zone 7a)
Clematis Irises Region: New Jersey Roses Dog Lover Lilies
Cactus and Succulents
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AlanJ
Jun 22, 2017 3:14 PM CST
I have quite a number of Cactus in my collection that I have acquired recently.
In researching each one, I often read statements like . . "Water regularly in
Summer". I'm not quite sure what that means .

Then, I also read in the same paragraph . . . ."Prone to rot. Do not overwater".

Can someone help me with trying to understand this .......
Thanks.
Confused
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Jun 22, 2017 3:42 PM CST
Both statements are right but you are also right, that sounds very contradictory. Cactus require fast draining porous soil that dries quickly so there is never water held against the roots thus the need for regular watering. But, if the soil does not dry quickly and the roots stay wet for some reason, the cactus will rot.

Some reasons the soil may not dry quickly: wrong soil holds the moisture too well; glazed or plastic pots don't allow for respiration so the soil dries too slowly; you are watering too often; there are no drain holes or insufficient drain holes. So... Make sure the soil is porous and dries quickly. Water only when the plant needs it, never before.

All your cactus will have different light and water requirements that change with the seasons. Learn what they are and you will be fine.
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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Jun 22, 2017 9:19 PM CST

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Everything Daisy has said is right. I would offer a general rule which works well for most non-rainforest cacti. Water well, then wait until the soil is dry at depth to water again. Putting pumice or whatever rock in the mix tends to make watering easier because it shortens the drying out period and allows you to water more frequently. The actual frequency depends completely on how fast the mix dries out. Which in turn depends on light, temperature, humidity, airflow, and the metabolic activity of the plant.

"Water regularly in summer" is code for be aware that in bright sun and with higher temperatures (the plant-relevant parts of summer), soil will tend to dry out faster, all things equal. There is no advantage to letting your plant sit bone dry for any extended period. So the advice is telling you that summer is a season of more frequent watering ... compared to winter for example. Even though you're following the same basic principle of water when dry.

"Prone to rot. Do not overwater" is telling you that you must allow the soil to dry out before watering again, and warning you against overindulgence. Often this is a seasonal thing (esp. in winter). This is also a pointer to use a mix with excellent drainage (I like 50% pumice but sometimes even more is better) which helps protect you against mistakes (or untimely rainfall events). It may indicate the use of an unglazed clay pot, which evaporates faster because water also exits the container through the sides.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Jun 23, 2017 9:57 AM (+)]
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Name: Patrick Alan
Toms River, New Jersey (Zone 7a)
Clematis Irises Region: New Jersey Roses Dog Lover Lilies
Cactus and Succulents
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AlanJ
Jun 24, 2017 4:11 AM CST
I use the same principle with my Cactus as I use with my Orchids ---- I lift up the pot. Lightness or heaviness of the pot will tell me whether a plant needs water.
Yesterday, most of my cactus were bone dry, and I could tell that by the lightness of the pot. Currently I've found that I'm going on a 7-10 day cycle with watering.
All of my Cactus are in Plastic pots, and spend their days/nights outside - they receive Morning sunlight - except for those that require Light shade.

At this point, I could probably admit that I am more fearful of their care in the Winter than I am in the Spring/Summer. They will be indoors in late Fall/Winter.
I worry if they will get enough Light. I'm not concerned about watering since they
really won't be getting any water. Zone 7-New Jersey does not allow me the privilege of keeping them outdoors all year. Sad
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle ~ Plato
[Last edited by AlanJ - Jun 24, 2017 4:12 AM (+)]
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Name: Patrick Alan
Toms River, New Jersey (Zone 7a)
Clematis Irises Region: New Jersey Roses Dog Lover Lilies
Cactus and Succulents
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AlanJ
Jul 13, 2017 7:27 AM CST
Baja_Costero said:Everything Daisy has said is right. I would offer a general rule which works well for most non-rainforest cacti. Water well, then wait until the soil is dry at depth to water again. Putting pumice or whatever rock in the mix tends to make watering easier because it shortens the drying out period and allows you to water more frequently. The actual frequency depends completely on how fast the mix dries out. Which in turn depends on light, temperature, humidity, airflow, and the metabolic activity of the plant.

"Water regularly in summer" is code for be aware that in bright sun and with higher temperatures (the plant-relevant parts of summer), soil will tend to dry out faster, all things equal. There is no advantage to letting your plant sit bone dry for any extended period. So the advice is telling you that summer is a season of more frequent watering ... compared to winter for example. Even though you're following the same basic principle of water when dry.

"Prone to rot. Do not overwater" is telling you that you must allow the soil to dry out before watering again, and warning you against overindulgence. Often this is a seasonal thing (esp. in winter). This is also a pointer to use a mix with excellent drainage (I like 50% pumice but sometimes even more is better) which helps protect you against mistakes (or untimely rainfall events). It may indicate the use of an unglazed clay pot, which evaporates faster because water also exits the container through the sides.


Excellent response and advice. Thank you for that. All of my Cactus have been acquired within the last 45-Days, direct from a Cactus nursery, so they are all still in their Plastic pots, ranging in size from 2-inches to 4-inches. The majority of them get direct Morning sunshine, except for those that require Light shade.

The last time the Cactus were watered/fertilized was July 9th. However, Today the temps are slated to get to 97-degrees, so many of them will need to be watered.

My question now is, Should these Cactus be repotted into unglazed Clay pots,
or leave them in their original Plastic pots for the time being ?
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle ~ Plato
Name: Lindsey
Ohio (Zone 6a)
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ljones26
Jul 13, 2017 9:18 AM CST
Baja, how often do you suggest watering rainforest cacti?

Thanks! Smiling
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Foliage Fan Xeriscape Container Gardener Hummingbirder
Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator
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Baja_Costero
Jul 13, 2017 9:51 AM CST

Moderator

AlanJ said:Should these Cactus be repotted into unglazed Clay pots,
or leave them in their original Plastic pots for the time being ?


Can you take a picture of a few cacti so we know what plants you have and what size they are? One reason I ask is that the really small unglazed clay pots (say 4" and under) are kind of impractical (useless in my experience) because they dry out so incredibly fast. This relates to the high ratio of surface area to volume (and the mass of the clay "radiator unit" relative to the amount of soil). Maybe before you make a change, set a small clay pot up next to your plants and water them together, then try to figure out when the clay pot is going dry by dumping out the soil at an interval you're guessing is right.

ljones26 said:Baja, how often do you suggest watering rainforest cacti?


Pretty far outside my range of experience, but there are some plants that like more water and do not necessarily enjoy the soil going completely dry in between watering. It's a relative thing but there are differences.
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Jul 13, 2017 3:02 PM CST
It will depend on the habitat origin of the cacti. Some cacti like Epiphyllums, Rhipsalis, Schlumbergera, Astrophytum, Sulcorebutia they like a bit more water during the summer months, but just the same, needs very good drainage, and light requirement better to be part sun and then shade during the hottest time of the day.

Then there are the desert type ones, those ones will still love to get watering, but has to really go very dry, better on the dry side, but needs lots of warmth, light, direct sun.

Consideration has to be observed based on ones growing locations as well, some of us have very high humidity areas, summer rainfall and mine goes very hot, very dry and poor humidity. So one has to adjust watering accordingly. Some grow them indoors, while I grow mine outdoors, so the aspect of evaporation is faster on my side.

[Last edited by tarev - Jul 13, 2017 3:02 PM (+)]
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