How to Grow Cactus Indoors

Updated February 21, 2017

If your houseplants shrivel and die because you never remember to water them, then growing cactus plants just may be the answer. These easy succulents come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours and are especially suited for container gardens situated on a sunny windowsill. Requiring very little water and care, these beauties bring a touch of nature inside and will complement any decor. For a container garden, choose several cacti in a variety of sizes and shapes that complement each other. Include one or two larger cacti, several medium-sized, and one or two tiny ones.

Choose a planting container that complements your grouping of cacti. Terracotta is a wonderful choice as it lends itself well to the natural scene you are trying to create. The largest cactus should be four times the height of the container. The container should have room for a layer of cactus soil on the bottom that allows your smallest cactus to reach above the container's rim.

Spread the specially formulated cactus-growing medium 2 inches deep in the container. Don't use regular potting soil -- it's too moist and rich for cactus plants.

Remove the cactus plants from their containers, using care not to prick yourself on the spines. Position your taller plants in the back, the medium-size plants in the middle and the smaller plants in the front. Rearrange them until you get the right look.

Plant each cactus, beginning with the back and working your way to the front. Add soil between the plants with a spoon.

Layer gravel or sand over the potting mixture, using a spoon to get it into small crevices between plants. Add decorative rocks to simulate boulders or small pebbles to introduce colour.

Sit the cactus garden on a sunny windowsill.

Water the cactus plants sparingly -- they need very little water and do not like moist soil. A few teaspoons may be all that is needed. Overwatering is the most common error made when growing cactus. Water just once a month during the winter. Monitor your cactus plants for their health and growth; adjust watering to maintain healthy growth.


Cactus-growing medium is available in the plant section of retail stores.


If you gather sand or gravel outside, be sure that it is free of any chemicals. Sand and gravel along the roadside may contain high amounts of salt or other chemicals. When choosing a cactus, be wary if you see cacti featuring cute little straw flowers. These are not the blooms of a cactus -- they've been glued to the plant. Don't expect your cactus to produce blooms like this any time soon.

Things You'll Need

  • Wide, flat planting container
  • Cactus-growing medium
  • Sand or gravel
  • Small rocks or pebbles
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About the Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with more than four years' experience in online writing. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in teaching 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.