Cactus Terrarium Care

Cactus Terrarium Care

AN IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT TRANSPLANT SHOCK:

Within the first week or two, the plants in your new terrarium may show some symptoms of transplant shock. Don’t worry this is a normal part of moving plants from one home to another and nearly always goes away on its own. Some plants will show no symptoms while others may exhibit several. Leaves damaged due to transplant shock normally wont recover. Remove damaged or scarred portions of the cactus with a sharp knife. New growth should be healthy and beautiful! If new growth after a week or two isn’t healthy looking, or if you have any specific questions about how your terrarium is doing please don’t hesitate to contact us, we are more than happy to help!

SYMPTOMS OF TRANSPLANT SHOCK INCLUDE (photos coming soon):

– Bruising

– Browning

WATERING:

Be sure to water within the first 48 hours of planting your new terrarium!

When watering your terrarium it’s helpful to keep the weather conditions that your plants are used to in mind. Cacti are nearly all species are native to dry areas and are therefore designed to withstand drought by storing any water they can get in their leaves for later (think camel). Armed with this information you will find that it is always better to under-water than to over-water. Most cacti will bounce back from getting a little dehydrated but rarely do if they become over-watered (see below for examples of over and under watering.  Click here to jump to the troubleshooting section if you feel you have under or over watered).

To water your cactus use a small streamed watering can or spray bottle with a narrow spray nozzle. Cover the entire surface lightly and evenly so that just the top 1/2 – 1 inch of the soil is saturated. If using a watering can do not pour water on top of your cactus. Misting the surface is ok but they will not like getting water dumped on them, this may lead to rotting. The goal is to get the soil evenly wet but not have standing water collect in the charcoal and pebble layers below. One of the easiest ways to achieve even watering is to spray the inside of the terrarium with the spray bottle until a band of moisture along the sides about 1/2 inch deep forms. You should be able to tell how deep the water is into the soil by looking at the out side of the glass and observing the darker color of the wet soil. The more plants you have in your terrarium the more room you have for error as closely packed neighbors can redistribute water to other nearby plants.

Do not water your terrarium again until it is completely dry!

Monitor the moisture in your terrarium about once a week for the first few weeks until you get a feel for what kind of watering schedule it needs. Perform a visual check by looking through the side of the glass (wet soil will be darker in color) and use your finger to feel if the soil on the surface is moist. Do not water your terrarium again until all of the water is completely gone. Most cactus terrariums need watering about every 4 – 6 weeks but this may vary due to conditions in your home, heat, air quality, light and season.

Signs of Over-Watering:
(photos coming soon)

-Cacti turning black or mushy

– Mold, mildew or insects appearing in your soil

If you experience any of these symptoms stop watering! Carve out any black mushy spots of your cactus using a sharp paring knife and put into a warm dry and sunny place until the soil dries out. If the soil is saturated pull the plants out of the soil until it dried (do not worry, cactus can live out of soil for at least a week without any consequence). If the entire lower portion if your cactus has gone soft cut off any healthy firm flesh, remove the damaged portion from the terrarium and sit the upper half of the cactus face up to dry. After 2 weeks a callus will form and you can set the healthy piece back into your terrarium. Within about a month the cutting will begin to form new roots and continue growing.

Signs of Under-Watering:

(photos coming soon)

– Wrinkled or rubbery

If your cacti are showing signs of under-watering resume a gentle watering schedule by following the directions above. Cacti are designed to withstand dry climates and are well equipped to recover from drought.

However,  too much water following a dry spell can shock it and make it more susceptible to over watering, so just be careful not to panic and water too much.

SUNLIGHT:

Cacti thrive best in higher light environments. Keep them as close to a window as possible for best results.

Southern or Western facing windows will provide the most light. Cacti exposed to high natural light conditions may turn pink or purple. This is normal, enjoy it! If parts of leaves or stems closest to the light begin to turn brown or white they are getting too much light and are getting sun-burned. Sun-burn on cacti is an uncommon issues in our great PNW, however if symptoms do occur move your terrarium to a slightly less sunny spot and remove any unsightly spots as they won’t return to their original color.

A NOTE ABOUT LOW-LIGHT:

Good news! If the spot you want to house your terrarium in doesn’t get a lot of natural light most cacti will survive in lower light environments too.  Housed in lower light conditions cactus will grow slower or not at all and won’t flower but they will sit dormant in their present condition. To help them survive low light environments we highly recommend using a foliar fertilizer (a spray applied directly to the leaves) 1- 2 times per month (available for $5) to help supplement the nutrients the plant isn’t able to photosynthesize themselves due to lack of light. This will keep them healthier and less susceptible t pests, molds, and symptoms of mis-watering. There are also a number of discrete plant light fixtures and bulbs you can use to supplement natural light (Shop here – link coming soon). Do move your cacti into sunlight periodically when you can.

FERTILIZER:

The soil in your terrarium has enough nutrients in it to keep your plants happy for at least 6 months. After that use a bacterial inoculant fertilizer (available here – link coming soon) to water into the soil. This will re-up the amazing micro-organisms that live in healthy organic soils to keep the ecosystem you’ve built for your plants thriving!

Using chemical fertilizers such as Miracle Grow will kill the bacteria in the soil and make it more
difficult for your plants to sustain themselves so please refrain.
You will also see a white film form on your soil, which is the bacteria and beneficial organisms dying off.

You can also use a foliar fertilizer spray applied directly to the plants’ leaves

1 – 2 per month in addition to or instead of the bacterial fertilizer (available here – link coming soon).

IF YOU HAVE ANY PROBLEMS OR QUESTIONS:
Please let me know! I’m here to help you be successful in caring for your plants! If you have any questions, comments or concerns don’t hesitate to contact me @ 206-789-0710

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