Just like in any community, there are subsets of the plant community. You have growers who love hoyas exclusively, or bonsai trees, or orchids, and some plant lovers who just can’t resist the spikey adorableness that cacti bring to the table. What’s even better are the mini cacti you can now find at almost any grocery store, garden center, and even Lowe’s or Home Depot. So if you’ve found yourself drawn to these tiny plants and you’re wondering how to best care for them, you’ve come to the right place.
Mini cacti are called many different things. Some cacti can grow to be 50 feet tall, but these smaller versions come in a wide range of colors, shapes, sizes, and varieties, so there isn’t just one name for these cute plant babies. However, if you’re wondering what the specific name is for the little cacti you have in your home, you might be able to find them on this list here.
Luckily, cacti all have about the same care requirements, so your mini cacti forest can all be cared for in the same way. You might think you understand what a cactus needs since they live in the desert. Unfortunately, many people believe this makes them low maintenance and you can neglect them for long periods. However, cacti often need more care than growers think, so it’s best to educate yourself when you start your cacti collection so you can make sure they have what they need to thrive.
It’s a misconception that cacti don’t need to be watered but once or twice a year. While the cactus might survive this treatment, it’s not going to thrive. Instead, buy a moisture meter or stick your fingers in the soil and test how dry it is. If it’s completely dry, it’s time to deep water your cactus. If there’s a bit of moisture in there, leave it alone.
Don’t lightly water a cactus; this will kill it quickly. Instead, when it’s time to water, soak the soil in water and let the excess drain out, then put the cactus back on its tray.
Another misconception about cacti is they want bright direct sunlight all day. This again isn’t the case, especially for mini cacti. These smaller cacti typically grow next to and in the shade of larger cacti or other desert plants. So while they’d like about four hours of direct sunlight, any more than that might cause the plant to pale and die. If you notice your cacti losing its color, that’s probably a sign that it’s getting too much sun.
Cacti are low feeders and thrive on a balanced fertilizer applied twice a year. Once at the beginning of the growing season, and the second time near the middle to end of the growing season. Do not fertilize during winter. If you forget a feeding, the cacti will be fine until next season. Overfeeding can be devastating to a mini cactus.
Surprisingly, cacti are pretty hardy to temperature changes down to 45 degrees. However, they are susceptible to dramatic temperature dips. Because of this, you’ll want to avoid placing your mini cactus near a drafty window or door, a heating vent, or in a room without temperature control.
Eating a cactus won’t harm cats, dogs, or humans, but getting past those sharp spines is the bigger problem. If you have little ones that might be tempted to touch a cactus, you’ll want to put the plants in a place where they can’t be reached. The spines can not only hurt but can also become stuck in the skin and cause potential infections.
Depending on the variety of mini cactus you have, they, of course, will grow and get bigger. However, most of these smaller varieties aren’t going to grow to the same heights as the saguaros in Arizona. They might eventually get a few inches taller, but you aren’t going to see them grow to giant sizes.
Since they’re so small, collecting mini cacti is a fun hobby. There are so many different shapes, colors, sizes, and flowering varieties that you could end up with a mini forest of cacti in your home. Just be sure to provide them with enough light, plenty of water, and keep them out of reach of tiny hands or paws.
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