How to care for cactus & succulents

Cacti and succulents are among the easiest plants to grow. With a minimum of basic care they will give you pleasure for years. Unlike most other plants, they actually thrive on the low humidity found in today’s homes and apartments. So if you’ve been unlucky with the foliage plants, you might to try your hand at cacti and/or succulents.
A Few Do’s and Don’ts

  • Do give plants plenty of light. As their natural habitat is the desert; you should keep them in the sunniest window.
  • Don’t overwater. Overwatering will cause their roots to rot. Do use tepid water. Cold water can shock the plants.
  • Don’t set plants in too big a container because it will retain too much water and this could rot the plant.


  • To water your plants properly consider the type of plant, its size, the time of year and the kind of container. Cacti should be allowed to dry out thoroughly between waterings. Let the soil of succulents become only moderately dry. In the winter water only enough to keep the plant from shrivelling. Large cacti require less frequent watering as they can store more water. Plastic pots do not lose moisture as quly as clay pots, so more frequent watering is needed if plants are in a clay pot


  • Generally the daytime temperature should be 21-26°C (70-79°F), and during the night, 10-12°C (50-54°F) should be maintained. For best flowering, winter temperatures of 10-12°C (50-54°F) should be maintained day and night.

Potting Medium

  • The soils of arid regions are generally high in mineral foods, lime and even decaying organic matter and these elements must be supplied for healthy growth of all cacti and succulents. When re-potting, use White Rose Cactus Soil for all your plant’s nutritional needs. Try mixing several small cacti and succulents with a stone or piece of driftwood in any container which will hold some soil. You’ll be amazed at the interesting garden “scenes” you can create!


  • The active growing season for most cacti begins early spring till summer. This is also the period for increased feeding; fertilizers high in phosphorus and potassium should be used. Organic fertilizers such as liquid fish fertilizer may be alternated with commercial inorganic fertilizers for best flower bud development.

Pests and Diseases
Like all other plants, cacti and succulents are troubled by pests and diseases However, if the plants are given reasonable care they should remain healthy.

Pest Description Effects Control
Aphids brown, green or red distortion of young growth Malathion
Mealy Bug Fuzzy, white cotton distortion of leaves and growth Malathion
Scale Brown, hard shelled; about 3mm (1/8″) diameter Plant loses vigor Malathion
Whiteflies swarming winged insects leaves become yellow or stippled Malathion
Red Spider Mites make fine webs at leaf and stem axils leaves become gray or brown Safer’s Insecticidal Soap or Trounce
Mildew & Botrytis (sometimes attack succulents) leaves become white or grey-coated   Cut away infected parts and dust with Benomyl



Symptom Control
leaves or stems turning yellow The plant is too dry and in too much heat. Provide more moisture and better ventilation.
elongated leaves or stems Not enough light.
soft or mushy growth Too much water, too low a temperature and possibly not enough light. Cut away infected parts and dust with Benomyl.
transparent look Usually frost damage – keep dry and move to warmer spot.
no growth Soil may be compacted or roots may be injured. Repot in fresh soil.
flower buds drop Temperature is fluctuating or is too low, move plant.
no flowers or very few Plant has not had sufficient rest period, not enough sunlight or improper winter temperatures.


Courtesy White Rose Nursery.