Cacti and Succulents: Plants To Brighten Up Your Home That Don’t Need Endless Watering

Whether you want them indoors or outside in the garden, cacti and succulents give any space a shot of individuality.

Do you want the best news up front?

These plants cope admirably even if they’re neglected. This makes them perfect if you have a hectic lifestyle but you want to brighten up your home or garden. Water your desert-dwellers every couple weeks and that’s about the extent of any maintenance.

Cacti or Succulents: What’s The Difference?

All cacti are succulents but not every succulent is a cacti. If that seems confusing, think of it like this… All motorbikes are vehicles but not all vehicles are motorbikes.

Simple, right?

  • Succulents: These plants store water in their roots, stems and leaves Over 60 different families fall under the umbrella of succulents, including cacti. They are named for the Latin word for juice, succulentus. Succulents have an incredible ability to store moisture. You can find succulents worldwide
  • Cacti: Cacti are a category of plant in the succulents’ family. Cacti vary enormously in size and shape. To qualify as a cactus, the plant needs to have areoles, the little mounds where the spines grow. Just make sure you keep your cat away from those prickly spines! Cacti do not have leaves like some succulents. The plants store moisture in their thick stems. You can only find cacti in the western hemisphere

Now we’ve cleared up the basic difference between cacti and succulents, how about looking after them?

As we mentioned, watering minimally is about the extent of the effort required to grow these hardy survivors. Indeed, overwatering is probably the leading cause of killing them off.

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Cactus Care

Take care of these simple basics and you’ll have a unique indoor garden in no time.

Where To Put Your Cactus

Placing your new plants in a window benefiting from plenty of sunlight generally works well.

Cacti will still grow in shady conditions but growth will be limited.

If your house is centrally heated, that should present no problem. Just monitor your cacti for any signs of shriveling and water them a little more to compensate.


While you don’t need to go over the top watering your cactus, don’t make the mistake of thinking they’ll flourish if you neglect them entirely.

Water them from April onward but allow the soil to dry out between waterings. If you keep on topping them up when the soil is still moist, your precious new plant could end up dying.

Cut down the watering further from September onward. This helps your plants to rest. You can wait until the soil is practically parched before giving them another dose of water.

If you’re keeping your plants in a shaded area, you can give them a little more water than you otherwise would.

For watering, using rainwater works remarkably well. Try to capture some and use it if at all possible. If you use water directly from the faucet, mineral deposits can build up on the plant spoiling the aesthetics.


The growing season for cacti is April through September.

During these months, give them some added nutrients using either a dedicated cacti feed or some liquid fertilizer designed for houseplants.


You can pick up some cacti compost quite easily at your local garden center.

Look for an open mix that’s highly conducive to draining well.  Not only does this go some way toward recreating their natural habitat, it also safeguards against the waterlogging that can be ruinous for cacti.

When spring rolls around, it’s a wise idea to repot your cacti. It goes unsaid you should wear some suitable protective gloves for this job. Choose a new container that’s only very slightly larger for best results.


When you think about their natural growing habitat in desert conditions, it’s wildly unlikely your indoor environment will be too warm for your cacti.

What you need to be more careful about is the lower end of the temperature scale. If the mercury drops much below 5 degrees Celsius, your plants might very well encounter problems.


Humidity could be rather more of a bugbear.

Deserts are arid with very low levels of humidity.

An indoor space where it’s too humid, especially if combined with insufficient ventilation, can cause your plants to rot.

If you’re in any element of doubt, it’s worth looking into a humidifier which will help regulate levels accordingly.

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3 Stunning Cacti For Your Home and Garden

We could offer you up countless different options here but that tends to make your life more confusing instead of easier.

Check out instead 3 great cacti that work well indoors and demand very little of you in return for offering such beauty.

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Mammillaria or Pincushion cacti are ball-shaped and one of the most common cactus plants grown indoors.

Be extra careful with the spines on these plants. They look innocuous enough but the hooks make them tough to pull out if they penetrate your skin.

Thriving in bright sunshine with very little watering, these Mexican cacti are now grown indoors the world over.

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Don’t be put off by the name!

Golden Rat Tail (cleistocactus winteri) is one of the easiest cacti to grow and works particularly well outdoors in full sun.

You’ll get a leaning column rising from the center with tiny golden hairs.

During the spring, these cacti will flower in a wide spectrum of colors from pink through orange.

For minimum effort and maximum reward, invest in the Golden Rat Tail for your rock garden.

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Euphorbia milii or Crown of Thorns is a Madagascan cactus with flowers that can bloom continuously if you provide the plant with enough light.

These plants have very spiky branches and long leaves.

You’ll need to water the Crown of Thorns more than some cacti but if it dries out too much, the leaves and flowers soon bounce back.

A Final Word

We very much hope you’ve enjoyed this brief insight into these prickly desert plants.

If you’re looking for a no-nonsense way to overhaul your home décor without spending a fortune, these low-maintenance plants make great conversation pieces.

Transform your living room or kitchen with a striking cactus but be sure to keep your pets and children well clear of those spines!

Come back soon for more home and garden tips.

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