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Proper Watering of Cacti/Dormancy Questions

Discuss repotting, soil, lighting, fertilizing, watering, etc. in this category.

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Proper Watering of Cacti/Dormancy Questions

Postby CactusBoss » Wed Feb 15, 2012 2:11 am

when i first got my cacti i was told by one place to water every few weeks, and one other place said to water once a month, which of these is correct because i dont know if they have been watered enough but im afraid to overwater(keep in mind mine grow indoors). Also how do i bring a cactus into dormancy without the cool temps(i do not have an area for that) what i do now during the winter is have them go a whole three months without water but they shrivel up and when i water again during the growing season some of them NEVER unshrivel, i need some advice.


Edit: should i give them a SMALL amount of water now?(confused headache lol)
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Re: Proper Watering of Cacti/Dormancy Questions

Postby Steve Johnson » Wed Feb 15, 2012 5:23 am

CactusBoss wrote:when i first got my cacti i was told by one place to water every few weeks, and one other place said to water once a month, which of these is correct because i dont know if they have been watered enough but im afraid to overwater(keep in mind mine grow indoors). Also how do i bring a cactus into dormancy without the cool temps(i do not have an area for that) what i do now during the winter is have them go a whole three months without water but they shrivel up and when i water again during the growing season some of them NEVER unshrivel, i need some advice.


Edit: should i give them a SMALL amount of water now?(confused headache lol)

Generally speaking, desert cacti are used to going dry through winter, so watering over that time should not be a concern at all. However, I say "generally", so it depends on the particular species as to whether or not they should get a little watering in the winter. Some are fine with that, while others are quite rot-prone and should not be given any water over fall and winter. If you can specify the cacti you're cultivating, other members on the forum will hopefully help you out. (I can only speak about the cacti in my collection, but it's really small, so probably the not best place for me to offer much advice.)

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Re: Proper Watering of Cacti/Dormancy Questions

Postby Harriet » Wed Feb 15, 2012 2:17 pm

I used to agonize over this too. Soon you'll be wondering if/when/how much you should fertilize, should you water from the bottom, mist - or not, soak them when you water, or just add a teaspoon at a time, and on and on. When I got to the point that I was considering (but not seriously) using the internet to track conditions at the plant's point of origin so I could be "in synch" with the plant's true spirit, I kicked myself in the rear end and adopted an "adapt or die" attitude.

Unless you have a cold dark place in your home (or maybe an extra refrigerator?) your plants aren't going to go dormant. And, if they are happy where they are, why force it anyway?

If a plant is not dormant it needs fuel. That's water. Less in periods of slow growth (winter generally) more when it is growing or blooming. Cacti generally don't like their feet wet, so don't get the soil soggy, or better yet use a good fast draining and drying soil mix. And, I'll bet watering more than once a week in the growing season is as much as the plant can handle... once a month or much less in the winter - and that depends on the temperature and light in the plant's environment. Always let them dry out between waterings. Or, you can just wait for them to cry out "I'm thirsty" or "You're drowning me!"

Bottom line is to find out as much as you can about the plant, do the best you can in your environment, learn from your mistakes, and enjoy the heck out of your successes.

Now, all I need is to invent a way to hear the plant's tiny little "cry", and to tell the difference between active and slow growth in a cactus.
It’s not the fall that kills you; it’s the sudden stop at the end.
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Re: Proper Watering of Cacti/Dormancy Questions

Postby iann » Wed Feb 15, 2012 3:27 pm

Rule #1: if in doubt ... don't.
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Re: Proper Watering of Cacti/Dormancy Questions

Postby CactusBoss » Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:41 pm

Steve Johnson wrote:
CactusBoss wrote:when i first got my cacti i was told by one place to water every few weeks, and one other place said to water once a month, which of these is correct because i dont know if they have been watered enough but im afraid to overwater(keep in mind mine grow indoors). Also how do i bring a cactus into dormancy without the cool temps(i do not have an area for that) what i do now during the winter is have them go a whole three months without water but they shrivel up and when i water again during the growing season some of them NEVER unshrivel, i need some advice.


Edit: should i give them a SMALL amount of water now?(confused headache lol)

Generally speaking, desert cacti are used to going dry through winter, so watering over that time should not be a concern at all. However, I say "generally", so it depends on the particular species as to whether or not they should get a little watering in the winter. Some are fine with that, while others are quite rot-prone and should not be given any water over fall and winter. If you can specify the cacti you're cultivating, other members on the forum will hopefully help you out. (I can only speak about the cacti in my collection, but it's really small, so probably the not best place for me to offer much advice.)

Steve


i am currently growing Tephrocactus,Echinocereus,Opuntia,Echiniopsis,Mammalaria,Echinocactus,Parodia,Ferocactus Carnegiea, Weberbauerocereus,Espostoa, Oreocereus. Isolatocereus, and Stensonia
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Re: Proper Watering of Cacti/Dormancy Questions

Postby Steve Johnson » Thu Feb 16, 2012 5:02 am

CactusBoss wrote:i am currently growing Tephrocactus,Echinocereus,Opuntia,Echiniopsis,Mammalaria,Echinocactus,Parodia,Ferocactus Carnegiea, Weberbauerocereus,Espostoa, Oreocereus. Isolatocereus, and Stensonia

This is based on my limited personal experience, so take it with a grain of salt:

I don't think any of the cacti you have would be harmed at all if they stayed dry through winter. Perhaps a few could use some light watering once a month until the growing season starts for more regular watering, although I'll defer to other members on the forum with more experience concerning what you've got. With that said, Ian's advice is the best way to sum it up -- "Rule #1: if in doubt ... don't."

Re. your concern about shriveling, shrinkage of cacti during winter is to be expected as the plants' bodies are using up some of the water that was stored over the previous growing season. If your cacti are healthy, they'll be fine when they get the right amount of water in spring. However, if any of your cacti don't unshrivel after the new growing season begins, their roots were already in trouble from over-watering. Once again see Rule #1.
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Re: Proper Watering of Cacti/Dormancy Questions

Postby promethean_spark » Thu Feb 16, 2012 6:52 am

Most cacti live in pretty arid areas and can go a long time without water. A couple years back at the peak of the CA drought SoCal got NO rain at all for the entire rainy season (let alone the dry season). The plants there went about 18 months with no water other than maybe a bit of dew. That said, they won't look happy about it during the winter - but they'll have a 'hard grown', spiny and colorful growth habit over the rest of the year.

For an idea of what a plant can take, you can look up the nearest city on weather.com and look at the monthly temp/rain averages plot, such as this one for Marathon, TX (near big bend) http://www.weather.com/weather/wxclimat ... h/USTX0828 You can see the get a couple inches each month in the summer, but it's also hot enough to cook that off quickly. Winter is relatively dry, 0.4" is 0.1" weekly (just a dash of water or a few brisk sprays).
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Re: Proper Watering of Cacti/Dormancy Questions

Postby CactusBoss » Thu Feb 16, 2012 10:42 pm

well i think one of mu opuntia may have lost its roots oh well i didn't really like it, the base of the plant is SLOWLY turning a tannish brown color(not rot) i am starting to worry about my san pedro now. im too lazy to take a new picture so ill go to my id post youll know which is the san pedro viewtopic.php?f=3&t=24446
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