How Often Do You Water a Cactus?

I don’t know about you, but I’m a very busy person. I have two small children – which on its own is a full-time job – but also have to cook, clean, run errands, and all-around take care of the household. I’m not always going to remember to water a plant every single day, so it shouldn’t be any surprise that I would up with a cactus.

Originally, I thought that a cactus would be a great beginner plant – one which wouldn’t require very much care and attention. I quickly realized, however, that I had absolutely no idea how much (or how little) work it was going to take. I knew that I wouldn’t have to water the cactus every day, but I definitely had to ask, “How often do you water a cactus?”

How Often Do You Water a Cactus?

Very early on as a cactus owner, I learned that there’s a pretty big difference between “thrive” and “survive”. Truth be told, I had always just assumed that cacti would thrive if they were left in a sunny spot and watered once every few weeks. Isn’t that what it’s like in the desert, after all?

What I meant to say (or at least should have) was that a cactus can survive under those conditions.

Yes, cacti are extremely hardy plants which can go long periods of time without water, but that doesn’t mean doing so is the healthiest of conditions for them. Think of yourself – how long can you go without eating? A couple of days? A week? Maybe a couple of weeks? No matter what your answer, I bet you wouldn’t be very happy about doing it. You definitely wouldn’t feel very well, and would positively have a lack of strength and energy.

Although cacti can survive without water for weeks on end, there’s no way that it’s going to thrive with that little attention.

After doing some research on the topic, I finally learned how often you should water a cactus. That answer is that it can depend on a wide range of different factors. Just a few of the things you need to take into consideration include:

  • The type of cactus that you’re raising
  • What its normal growing season is
  • The typical temperature and conditions where it’s found

Cactus Nutrition

If you thought that the only thing you’d need to do to care for your cactus would be water it, I hate to be the one to disappoint you. But just like being watered, cacti need to be fed nutritional additives on a regular basis. If you were growing roses or had a vegetable garden, you’d be adding a little Miracle Gro or other types of helpful fertilizers, wouldn’t you?

Although they’re far more resilient than most other types of plants, cacti still need a good balance of fertilizers to help them thrive throughout their growing season. For most varieties of cacti, this is going to be in the warmer, more humid summer months.

There are, however, many types which grow during the winter and lie dormant during the summer, so be sure to check the schedule for your specific species of cactus. While you still need to water cacti while they’re dormant, you don’t need to worry about the additional nutrients.

Watering a Cactus

Alright, so how often do you water a cactus? Although it can depend on a number of the different factors which we’ve already talked about, there is a general rule of thumb that can be used for most varieties.

Most horticulture professionals agree that you should water a cactus around once a week. In most cases, this is the perfect amount to provide adequate moisture without causing too much water to remain in the soil and soak the roots.

When do it’s time to water your cactus, do so until the soil is saturated and water is slowly dripping out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. This is the sign that the soil is thoroughly soaked and adding any additional water would be pointless – it would simply just run through more quickly.

Once I learned all of this, I was happy to discover that while a cactus’ water schedule might be a little more demanding than I had originally thought, it’s still a whole lot easier than worrying about most other types of plants.

I’ve had my cactus now for well over six months and I’m happy to report that it’s doing great! Although I may still forget every once in a while, I try to keep it watered once a week and have been adding fertilizer around once a month – but am planning to increase that to once every three weeks once it’s growing season really gets into full swing.

If you’ve recently purchased a cactus and are asking “how often do you water a cactus?”, don’t be intimidated by what you’ve read here – if I can keep my cactus growing with all of the other responsibilities in my life, I promise that you can too.

Cactus Watering Quiz

Cactus Owners Poll

What type of cactus do you own?

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