Succulent, Cactus and Tillandsia Care Guide
Succulents, Cacti and Tillandsias are drought tolerant plants that offer tons of unique appeal thanks to their wide variety of styles and ability to thrive in places that most plants canít.
While all three are nearly foolproof plants, they will require special care that is atypical of a normal houseplant. We recommend the following care guidelines:
There are two key things to consider when bringing succulents home: water and light.
How much water do they need?
Not much. A thorough watering every two to four weeks is plenty. Consider factors that affect your homeís humidity, like your local climate and the time of year, when determining a watering schedule for your plant. Succulents will be thirsty in hot summer months, but can go several weeks between watering in winter (their dormant season).
The best thing to do is check the soil every few weeks. If itís totally dried out, go ahead and water. If not, hold off. The worst thing you can do is OVER water. Resist the urge to douse them once a week like your other houseplants.
How much light do they need?
Succulents thrive in hot places with plenty of sunshine, so a sunny windowsill is the best place for your indoor terrarium or container garden. Your plant will be happy if you can give it bright, filtered light for at least four to six hours daily. If your space is very dimly lit and thereís no sunny window in sight, consider choosing an aloe, haworthia or euphorbia species that can thrive in lower light conditions.
Wait, what about fertilizer?
Fertilizing isnít totally necessary, but it will help your slow-growing succulent get bigger more quickly than watering alone. A general purpose 20-20-20 fertilizer will do the trick. Cut it to ľ strength and use with every watering from March through mid-September.
Caring for cacti is equally easy, so our watering, lighting and fertilizing recommendations for succulents also applies to them. With that said, here are some cactus-specific care tips to keep in mind:
How do I repot my cactus without getting poked?
Prep your new pot with a few inches of quick drainage potting soil. Then, don a pair of heavy duty gardening gloves and wrap the cactus with several layers of newspaper close to the base of the plant to keep the spines at bay. Tilt it to the side and pull the container away from the plant, holding the cactus steady with the newspaper. Quickly plop the cactus into the new pot and straighten by tugging at the paper on either side. Finally, carefully pour your top dressing on top of the fresh soil to steady the cactus in its new home.
Will my cactus re-flower each year?
The short answer is YES! Though fleeting, cactus blooms are beautiful and worth a bit of extra effort to get the plant to flower Ė usually anytime from mid-spring to late summer. We recommend keeping your cactus in a cool, dry place from November through late February. Let the plant dry out thoroughly during this time. Then begin your regular watering schedule in March and wait for the amazing show your plant has in store!
Tillandsias, also known by their common name air plants, are the coolest members of the bromeliad family. They can survive on their own without being planted in soil!
Do Tillandsias need water?
These plants donít live entirely on air. They hail from a hot, rainy environment and still need plenty of moisture to thrive. There are a variety of acceptable methods for watering your Tillandsias. You can give them a thorough rinsing under running water, soak them in a water bath for 20 to 30 minutes, or heavily mist them with a spray bottle Ė whatever is easiest for you. Be sure to shake off any excess water from the base and leaves and set them in a place with enough air circulation that will allow them to dry fully in a few hours.
This routine should take place about two to three times per week, but Tillandsias are very forgiving so donít worry about their watering schedule. Theyíll be totally fine for a week or more if youíre going on vacation. Just give them a longer soak (about two hours) when you return.
Do they need light?
Tillandsias like bright, filtered light and can even thrive under artificial fluorescent lighting. We recommend keeping them out of direct sunlight as it will cause them to lose moisture too quickly.