Unlike other indoor plants, cactus can live for generations when properly cared for. If your indoor cactus looks wilted or shrivelled up and needs reviving don't despair. Cacti are hardy plants accustomed to harsh conditions and periods of neglect or no water. Although exact the methods of reviving your cactus will vary based upon your exact type of cactus and its current condition, you can bring life back to your indoor cactus by checking for --- and fixing --- a few common cactus-growing mistakes.
Inspect the roots of the cactus by gently removing it from the soil. Healthy roots look white and fleshy. If the roots are brown and mushy the plant is suffering from root rot. Cut off the damaged roots with a sharp knife.
Repot the cactus in a slightly larger pot than before, with well-draining potting mix specifically for succulents. If you don't have succulent mix, you can combine 1 part sand with 2 parts traditional potting soil instead.
Water the soil until the top 1 inch of soil feels moist but not soggy. Keep in mind that cactus needs brief dry spells in between watering. If the plant receives too little the leaves may shrivel up. Too much water may cause the plant to go limp.
Place the cactus in a location that received bright indirect sunlight. Too much direct sunlight may burn your cactus.
Position plants away from drafts such as from vents or windows. Stressed plants may become shocked from hot or cold drafts from vents. Although your plant may do well with some brief exposure to outside air, it may also expose the plant to insects.
Fertilise the cactus monthly with a balanced houseplant fertiliser during the plant's non-blooming months.
Mist the area around the cactus in between waterings to increase humidity if you have a Christmas cactus. Unlike other cactus, Christmas cactus is native to humid areas like the jungle.
Tips and warnings
- Mist the area around the cactus in between waterings to increase humidity if you have a Christmas cactus. Unlike other cactus, Christmas cactus is native to humid areas like the jungle.
- University of Illinois Extension; Thanksgiving Cactus, Christmas Cactus, Easter Cactus- What's the Difference?; Martha Smith; December 2007
- Horticulture Magazine; Wilting Christmas Cactus; Meghan Shinn; February 2011
- University of Illinois Extension; Christmas Cactus Care; Sandra Mason; December 2001
- Purdue University Consumer Horticulture; Care of Christmas Cactus Important After Holidays; B. Rosie Lerner; December 1995
- Purdue University Extension; Christmas Cactus FAQs; B. Rosie Lerner; 2001