How Not to Kill: Your Cactus

So you went out to get groceries, all the essentials and a little plant baby caught your eye and you literally COULDN’T leave the shop without it. You carefully sandwich it between your food for the week to keep it upright, before transporting it home. Congratulations, you’re now officially a plant mumma! (welcome to da club)

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What now?

I’ve been collecting cacti and succulents since I was 10, and with a lot of assistance from my mum (bahaha she’s revived so many plants for me) I’ve learned a lot about the best ways to look after your house plants! This week I’m talking cacti. Although they’re a fashion accessory right now, they’re a plant I take quite seriously and have a passion for. I don’t believe in simply letting them sit as a prop, then die only to be replaced by another one- so here are my tips on caring for your cacti- because they deserve to live long and prosper!


A common misconception is to simply perceive that cacti need a little bit of water sporadically. While it’s true they’re pretty tough and come from very dry origins, it doesn’t mean that they will grow very much in this kind of environment. You can’t expect your lil fella to flower and thrive if it’s receiving little water.

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On the flip side, one of the number one killers of cacti is over-watering! Cacti have on and off seasons like any other plant, so from September through to April, treat this as their dry season. Water less, allowing the soil to dry out. From April onwards, this is the rainy season, so water more frequently, but allow excess water to drain away- you can do this with a drip tray underneath the pot.

Have a little research about the species you have, but some desert-dwellers can go without water from November all the way through to the end of February.


During the wet season (April-September), I water my cacti once a week at least, you could also use rain water to water your cacti, this eradicates those potentially damaging minerals in the tap water. Just make sure you aren’t letting your plants sit in the water!

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The dry season allows for larger intervals between watering, I leave a week and a half/two weeks between mine but I would judge it from the soil dryness.


I feed my cacti once a month from April-September to promote growth. Feed with a simple all-purpose plant food following the instructions on the packet of course!


The best way to tell when your cactus needs re-potting, is when you can no longer see any soil around the edges of the pot. It won’t die if you don’t re-pot it, but it will become starved of nutrients and growth will cease. Purchase a pot that’s just slightly larger than the original one- don’t over pot. To fill that extra space, you’re going to need a nice, gritty compost placed around the sides- leave a hole in the middle and your little one is ready to move into it’s new home!

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Don’t be a prick, or get pricked… wear gloves while transporting it from pot to pot!


Once you’ve purchased your plant baby, you’ve got to decide where to put him/her. It’s super tempting to put them in an aesthetically pleasing place, but in reality they’ll thrive in a position of generous light all year round. During the winter, central heating isn’t too much of problem, just keep an eye on the water levels- make sure they’re sufficient to prevent shrivelling.

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Although they look tough, and generally are tough, cacti can encounter problems. Here are a few common ones, and how to tackle them.

Help, my cactus has brown patches on it
Buff or brown patches on your cactus are caused when conditions are too bright and humid- this is commonly known as ‘cactus corky scab’. How do you fix this? Slowly reduce the exposure of humidity and bright light to prevent more from spreading- don’t abruptly move them however as this can make it worse!

Help, my cactus looks shrivelled
This is probably due to under-watering. This not only limits growth, but gives your plant a misshapen and scared look. Re-introduce to more light, and slowly ease in the watering.

how not to kill cactus 5(an example of corky scab- this cactus was getting too much sun on my window ledge)

My cactus isn’t growing
This could be due to a few things- under-watering, over-watering or lack of feeding. Most commonly over-watering is the case, which stunts growth due to oedema- a disorder that places it’s origins in the roots of the plant- they begin taking in more water than the leaves can transpire creating a rupture. Make sure your cacti is NOT standing in water to prevent this.

Help, white patches are appearing on my cactus
This is most likely ‘Mealybug’, and if you see bronzed patches this could be ‘Red Spider Mite’. Treat with a fungicide as soon as possible if you suspect this. These diseases can be difficult to control but I have my fingers crossed for you!

How are your cacti doing? Did you find this post helpful? 


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  1. August 9, 2017 / 12:10 pm

    Ahhh i love this post! I love cactus plants they are so cute and quirky! Loved all the helpful tips and your makeup look is awesome! ???? xx

    • lifewithmariaeva
      August 9, 2017 / 12:47 pm

      Ah I’m so glad! Wanted to share my knowledge hehe. Thanks lovely x

  2. August 9, 2017 / 12:39 pm

    THIS WAS SO HAPPY MARIA!!!!!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

    • lifewithmariaeva
      August 9, 2017 / 12:47 pm

      hehe so glad you found it useful lovely 🙂 x

  3. August 9, 2017 / 2:05 pm

    I love this post! I’ve had a cactus that my nanna bought me since I was about 4 and it’s still going strong! It still lives at home with my parents though – I must bring the little cutie back to my flat!

    • lifewithmariaeva
      August 9, 2017 / 2:06 pm

      Amazing! I love how plants can really mark a point in your life and leave memories 🙂 Does it flower? I love me a good cactus! Thanks for reading Kiah x

  4. Laura
    August 9, 2017 / 5:43 pm

    Ahhh, that was one hell of a cute post! Informative too. And the photos are just so adorable! I’m thinking about getting myself a cactus or two now, haha x
    Lauraconteur ♥

    • lifewithmariaeva
      August 9, 2017 / 5:47 pm

      Awe thank you so much! I’m so glad- come join the plant mummas haha!
      M x

  5. August 9, 2017 / 8:43 pm

    Love this post. Just got my first cactus since I accidentally killed my last one with too much water so this guide is going to be very useful!

    • lifewithmariaeva
      August 10, 2017 / 8:40 am

      Awesome Rosie! Do let me know how you get on 🙂 x

    • lifewithmariaeva
      September 15, 2017 / 7:44 am

      You are too sweet! Thanks so much gal 🙂 This means a lot x

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