6 Practical Tips to Make Cacti Bloom

Cacti allow us to relax with care, but you want to make them bloom. Follow our tips to keep them alive.
6 Practical Tips to Make Cacti Bloom

Last update: 08 March, 2023

Making cacti bloom implies commitment. Although they do not demand rigorous attention, these plants “demand” obedience in terms of soil preparation and the adequacy of the environment that houses them.

In addition, flowering is an act that demands serenity, because, unlike what happens with other species, it does not occur so quickly. Nor is it continuous and much less lasts so long.

Cacti stand out for their appearance and their wide range of purposes, among which Research in Phytotherapy highlights their uses in fodder, food, medicine and as an ornamental plant. It is in this last utility that the concern about the florescence arises.

Does it occur in all varieties? When does it happen? Let’s find out.

“Not all cacti flower”: myth or reality?

Cacti belong to the family Cactaceae of the kingdom Plantae and are characterized by their spiny appearance, softened with large, colorful, solitary flowers. The Encyclopedia Britannica details that all genera of the species possess a floral tube with petal-like and other leaf-like structures.

Because of their rough appearance, some believe that the plant never flowers. But an article published by the Secretariat of Culture, Recreation and Sports of Bogota demystifies this belief.

The text clarifies that all cacti bloom, only that some types do so only when they reach a height of 2 meters or add many years. After the first annual flowering, at the same time, the buds sprout again.

There are more than 200 genera and 2500 species of cacti.

What can cause the flowering of cacti to stagnate?

The age of the plant is the first cause of stagnation for its flowering, so it is relevant to know if it is young or adult, says Tropical Nature. They argue that, in particular, cacti live different maturation times, marked by the species.

While some take more than 10 years to bloom, others do it in a year and a half. And if it grows in columns, it is possible that the delay is greater.

Another cause that affects flowering is disease . Cacti can become infected with aphids, mealybugs and fungi that delay or definitively prevent the birth of flowers. If they reach buds, the pests will cause them to wilt, adds Tropical Nature.

Factors such as low light and substrate deficiency also affect the prosperity of the plant, as well as the time of year depending on the species. That is, even if you focus on providing fertilizer, if it’s not their blooming season, it simply won’t happen.

Flor roja de cactus.
All cacti can bloom, but the fact will depend on the internal and external conditions of the plant.

Recommendations for making a cactus bloom

The easy way is, instead of growing and waiting for flowering, to buy a flowering cactus. Instead, to experience the process, the first thing to do is to find out what variety of Cactaceae you have at home.

For example, Cereus open their petals at dawn, Selenicereus open about 2 hours before midnight, and Epiphyllum open after midnight. But the flowers are short-lived and then fall off, details Monaco Nature Encyclopedia.

To make cacti bloom, it is advisable to put the following tips into practice.

1. Plant in the appropriate pot

To promote the flowering of cacti, take advantage of clay pots. This material is porous and helps to aerate the substrate and accelerate drying between waterings.

When planting, choose pots that are not too large, so as not to accumulate water. Small pots are better, as long as the roots do not come out of the drainage holes. As soon as these organs begin to show through the drainage holes, consider transplanting.

Fertilize at the appropriate time

Fertilizing cacti is important, but this activity should be done a couple of months before flowering. Ideally in spring and summer.

When you do it, verify that the fertilizer is specific for cacti or that it contains a high dose of potassium. Agroproductores claims that this mineral is related to the activation of more than 50 enzymes essential for plant development and is involved in controlling the amount of water that enters and leaves the plant cells.

3. Let cacti bask in the sun to make them bloom

Cacti love the sun and, therefore, the light. When plants are grown indoors, flowering is difficult, as they require a location where they receive as much light as possible.

During spring and summer it is fine to take them outdoors for sun, but before leaving them outdoors you need to acclimatize them. In winter it is important to leave the Cactaceae indoors, in a light spot and where it feels warm at night.

4. Respect the space between watering

The hydration of a cactus is determined by how dry the soil is and the ambient heat. The greater the dryness and temperature, the more water it demands. But do not overuse watering, so as not to waterlog it.

On the other hand, space out the water supply during autumn and winter, since this is the passive phase of cacti and they have the water reserve stored in the previous months.

5. Provide nutrients

Both in soil and in pots, cacti need a special soil to flourish. It is recommended that the substrate is porous, does not hinder drainage and contributes to the oxygenation of the roots. Likewise, you must clean it of weeds and pathogens.

Monografías Botánicas states that the substrate can be organic, inorganic or mixed; specifically, those with granulometry, pH and water retention suitable for cacti. They propose the following options as valid:

  • Gravel.
  • Perlite.
  • Vermiculite.
  • Silica sand.
  • Coconut fiber.
  • Volcanic rock.
  • Expanded clay.
  • Blonde and black peat.
  • Washed siliceous river sand.
Hacer florecer un cactus Santa Rita.
Santa Rita cactus flower. Opuntia santarita.

6. Allow cacti to rest to make them bloom

Cactus varieties rest in winter and, if you want them to flower, do not disturb their rest. How can you help them? By moving them to a luminous area, isolating them from the cold and restricting the maximum watering to a couple of times a month.

You do “everything” to make cacti bloom but it doesn’t, what measures to take?

If you comply with all the above guidelines, but you do not see the cactus bloom, what remains is to be patient. Many of these plants respond to a slow growth; so much so, that it can take years before the first flower sprouts.

In the same way, when acquiring a Cactaceae, ask the sales clerk all the details about the specimen, to know from the first moment how long it would take to bloom, the care that would support this purpose and if it is a variety of momentary flowering. This way you will be prepared to contemplate this natural spectacle.

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The contents of this publication are for informational purposes only. At no time can they serve to facilitate or replace the diagnoses, treatments, or recommendations of a professional. Consult with your trusted specialist if you have any doubts and seek their approval before beginning any procedure.