Here’s the deal on windowsill cactus. Growing cactus in a window does not mean you must live in the Southwest. No matter where you live you can enjoy the fascinating hobby of collecting and growing cacti.
Windowsill cactus (and many types of succulent plants) do well in a sunny window anywhere in the world.
Cactus is a family of plants that have adapted to living in arid regions.
When cactus grow as house plants south-facing windows are great. But, cactus need periods of dryness during which they can use the food and water stored in their tissue.
Cactus For Windows, Pots and Dish Gardens
There are numerous cacti that are of a size small, enough to plant in pots and a small dish garden.
- Golden Barrel Cactus Care
- Acanthocalycium Cactus (barbed wire cactus)
- Thimble Cactus (Mammillaria gracilis)
Also, a favorite with collectors is the oddities of the cactus family.
These and many more, too numerous to mention, require only a sunny window to flourish and bear their annual gifts of exquisite cactus flowers.
Don’t forget to add in some succulents such as:
- Mexican Snowball (Echeveria elegans)
- Crinkle Leaf Plant (Adromischus cristatus) – bright, shiny, green-gray foliage, crinkled at the edges. Use it as a foliage plant on a narrow window sill in a 3″ to 4″ inches terra cotta pot.
The ideal cactus for a dish garden are the seedlings of the various large tree-like cereus.
The Old Man Cactus (Cephalocereus senilis care) is a must. Both his long white hair and the Peruvian old man cactus (Espostoa lanata) have beautiful soft silky hair, to mention only a few.
All the barrel (Ferocactus and Echinocactus) cactus seedlings are desirable for the beautiful filigree of colorful spines enclosing small globular plants.
- Echinopsis mamillosa formerly Lobivia (Bolvia Cactus)
Flowers on the barrels do not occur before the age 0f twenty-five or thirty years.
The Dish Garden
A garden with several slow-growing cereus and barrel cacti seedlings need not need transplanting for years.
They can be placed on a coffee table instead of a window and do not require full sunlight.
A realistic desert scene can be produced using different sizes of cereus and barrel seedlings plus a few colorful rocks or mineral specimens.
This miniature landscape requires only an occasional drink of water in summer and almost none in winter when the plants are resting.
Always allow the soil to dry out completely before watering.
It is best to start with only a few plants until the urge to overwater has been overcome.
- Miniature Conophytum succulents make nice garden plants in a small dish.
- The Jade Plant is also a good choice for a durable house plant – but not a cactus.
When To Plant Cactus?
Cactus can be planted at any time of the year with equal success, but withhold water if planted during the winter months.
Porous soil with lots of organic matter (leafmold or compost) is absolutely necessary. The soil must not dry out too quickly.
Create a good mixture by mixing:
- Two parts are rich garden soil or peat moss
- One part gravel or pumice
To this mixture, add a tablespoonful of crushed charcoal and one of hydrated lime.
Cactus Planting Rules
One of the important rules for planting cactus is to cut the roots back to about an inch.
Leave only the short stubs of roots to hold the plants in position.
After trimming the roots, allow them to heal for several days before planting.
Experience has proved that cacti re-establish faster when they grow a new set of roots.
Use glazed or clay pots, which are a little larger than the plant’s circumference, including the spines.
Place an inch or two of broken crock at the bottom of the pot for drainage, followed by the soil mixture.
Leave a cone-shaped hollow in the center. Hold the cactus with a pair of kitchen tongs over the hollow and fill it with clean sand.
A thin layer of gravel over the top prevents the soil from washing aside when watered. Handle unrooted cuttings of cactus in the same manner.
Watering Newly Potted Cactus
Do not water newly potted plants for several days, and then only sparingly until plants become established.
A thorough soaking twice a month during the hot summer months is sufficient.
When plants are very small, apply a little water every few days.
A small drink once a month during winter keeps the dormant roots from drying out.
Most cactus growers provide the botanical and common plant names in their price list and attach a label with the botanical name to the cactus when shipped.
It is surprising how little effort is required to remember the botanical name of a plant once you associate it with a particular plant.