How green is my cactus Youtube

Cactus, cacti

Farmer cactus, snake cactus or Christmas cactus - the prickly exotic species sometimes have a somewhat dusty image for many people. The cactus family is extraordinarily diverse and presents a large number of exciting and attractive plants. Many easy-care varieties are even hardy. Whether for the pot or the bed - a cactus has a very special charm.


Cacti, short for cactus plants (Cactaceae), come from the botanical order of the carnation-like (Caryophyllales). The cactus family consists of around 130 genera with up to 1,800 species and a vast number of varieties and hybrids. Naturally, cacti are only found on the American continent. The main distribution area are the arid regions of Mexico and Argentina. But cactus plants are also at home in steppes, semi-deserts and deserts as well as in tropical rainforests. In the jungle, cacti grow as epiphytes (epiphytes), similar to orchids, in the wild on trees. Wild cacti can now also be found in the Canaries or South Africa, for example.


In its natural habitat, the cactus is exposed to changing weather conditions. Precipitation water the plants only rarely, seasonally or at long intervals. Their special growth form helps the cactus plant to cope with these impassable areas. The special thing about it: cacti are succulents. This means that they can store moisture in their tissues and thus survive even in prolonged drought. Trunk succulents store the largest proportion of water directly in their spherical, columnar or cylindrical main shoot. Root succulents, on the other hand, collect the water in their bulbous, thickened roots. Cacti of the genus Pereskia, for example, belong to the leaf succulents that can store water in their thick-fleshed leaves. A whole series of succulent plants that are native to the tropical rainforests of Central and South America are called leaf cactus.

Appearance and stature

Depending on the type of growth, the cacti are divided into four subfamilies: Pereskioideae are thorny, shrubby plants that climb frequently and are not unlike trees. Only one genus belongs to this subfamily. Pereskia are among the original cacti and have real, fleshy leaves. The Opuntioideae family includes about 300 species. This type of cactus also has real leaves on the stem, but these are quickly thrown off. The leaves are often disc-shaped, the flowers always cup-shaped. The seeds of the Opuntioideae are light-colored and rock-hard. The family of the Cactoideae forms the most species-rich subgroup of the cactus plants. They no longer have leaves and can vary greatly in shape and appearance. Maihueniodeae also form only a single genus (Maihuenia). They resemble the Opuntioideae. However, their leaves are more durable and their seeds are black.

Like all succulents, a cactus is usually characterized by an upright, strongly swollen stem that can be single or branched. The rungs are often flattened and have ribs, warts and / or thorns. Cactus seedlings are always covered with bristles or felt. This disappears with increasing age. The size of the different cactus species varies from a few millimeter small balls to 15 meter high trees. The speed of growth is just as different. Some cacti grow so slowly that you don't really notice the increase in size. A cactus can live between 10 and 200 years depending on its type, location and care. The juice inside the cacti is mostly clear, rarely milky (only with Mammillaria). The vital evaporation of the cactus takes place exclusively through the outer skin of the thickened trunks and shoots. With its thorns, the plant protects itself from hungry herbivores in deserts and other hostile areas.

Location and soil

Cacti enjoy great popularity worldwide as easy-care and idiosyncratic houseplants. They need a very bright and well-ventilated location, but usually cannot tolerate drafts. Some species of cactus can also be kept outdoors. A roofed location that is warm to the ground is ideal for garden cacti to protect against waterlogging. The optimal substrate for the cactus should be a mixture of potting soil, sand and expanded clay or lava. As robust as they are, cacti also survive in clay or humus-rich substrates. However, most cacti prefer well-drained, mineral soil. Outdoors, the soil for planting a cactus should ideally be slightly acidic (pH 5.5 to 6.5). Good soil preparation is essential, as the earth must not become wet, especially in winter. For cactus planting in pots or tubs, you can simply use special substrate for cacti from specialist shops.

Planting and care

Basically, cacti are extremely frugal plants. Drought is not a problem for them. Here are the succulent specialists! A cactus, regardless of its species, does not appreciate moisture at all. Even too little light is very difficult for a cactus to tolerate. When caring for cacti, it is therefore particularly important to ensure that the location is as bright as possible and that the watering intervals are large. The houseplants are best placed in direct sunlight in a south-facing window, in a bright winter garden or outside in summer in a sunny place protected from rain and wind.

Garden cacti can be planted all year round, except when there is frost. The cactus in the pot is poured once and then not again until the substrate has almost dried out. The following applies: the smaller the plant, the shorter the watering break. Large plants usually only need water every four to six weeks, and small ones on the windowsill once a week. A cactus planted in the garden practically does not have to be watered at all. A special highlight is the eye-catching cactus blossom. If you want to make a cactus bloom, do little watering during the rest period.

Use only cactus fertilizer for fertilizing during the growth phase, especially for indoor plants. Other fertilizers are too high in doses for the weak consumers. Pot cacti are repotted every two to five years, depending on the rate of growth. You can do this in spring or autumn. Tip: Put on gloves to repot cacti or use pasta or grill tongs! The small spines dig easily into the skin, then break off and cause unsightly inflammation.

Hibernate cacti

If the cactus grows as a houseplant, it can move to a light, slightly cooler place in the house over the winter. A cactus that is on the terrace or balcony should be brought into the house when the temperatures drop in September. Cacti overwinter in a light and dry place, at a temperature of up to 15 degrees Celsius. Do not fertilize the cactus during hibernation and water very rarely or not at all.

If you find putting away the cacti in the autumn annoying, you can get a hardy cactus. Many of the cacti species from North America survive our winter temperatures well. Some types of Opuntia (Opuntia), for example Opuntia imbricata, fragilis, phaeacantha or polyacantha, are garden festivals. Species of the hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus coccineus or triglochidiatus) or representatives of the Escobaria genus (Escobaria missouriensis or sneedii) are also hardy. However, these two species are more sensitive to moisture than most opuntia. Danger: In winter, cacti in the garden look shriveled. This is completely normal and serves to protect the plants from freezing. The amount of fluid in the leaves of the cactus is reduced to increase the concentration of minerals in the cell sap. This protects the cactus from frostbite and damage caused by drought. From April onwards, the appearance of the plant will normalize on its own.


Sowing cacti yourself is very easy: all you need is a small indoor greenhouse with a plastic cover. Mammillaria, Echinopsen or Rebutia species are particularly suitable for sowing. Fill the box with cactus soil and sprinkle a thin layer of lava gravel on top to prevent fungal attack. Lightly press the cactus seeds into the soil and water them with rainwater. Soon the little green balls appear. As soon as the first thorns form, the cover can be removed. Separate cactus children that are too close together in extra pots. The mini cacti can stand outside in a warm place in summer, but you should avoid the blazing midday sun! After two to three years you can look forward to the first bloom.

The propagation of cacti by cuttings works very well with almost all species with segmented shoots such as the opuntia, but also with Echinopsis hybrids. You simply cut off a segment with a sharp knife. The interface is left to dry for a few hours and then the cactus piece is placed in nutrient-poor potting soil. A foil hood or a greenhouse ensure that the shoot does not dry out. If the air in the room is not too dry, you can even do without a cover. Only the potting soil should always be kept slightly moist.

Diseases and pests

Although their thorns protect cacti from most of the larger predators, indoor plants in particular are not immune to small pests. Often, cacti are attacked by scale insects and mealybugs, which feed on the cell sap of the plants. The pests can hide under the thick hairs of some cactus species. Spider mites leave brown cork calluses on house plants. Root lice sometimes hide in the cactus pot. If watered too often, cacti start to rot from below and then there is often a gray mold infestation. Danger: Only use chemical pesticides for indoor cacti in exceptional cases, as many cacti are extremely sensitive to them. The best way to combat sucking pests on the cactus is to use beneficial insects such as lacewing or ladybirds.

Practice video: Design your own playful doormat

Can't get enough of the prickly fellows? Try designing your own doormat with a cactus motif.

A home-made doormat is a great enhancement to a house entrance. In our video we show you how easily you can turn your doormat into a colorful eye-catcher.
Credit: MSG / Alexander Buggisch / Producer Silvia Knief