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Can Cactus Grow Hydroponically

We’re always looking for new and different ways to grow our plants. When you see that you can grow cacti in water, you might not think that is possible since cacti need so little water to grow. So you start to wonder: can cactus grow hydroponically? 

Yes, cacti can be grown hydroponically. Cactus roots can take in either water or dirt, meaning that you can use a hydroponic system to grow your cacti.

Water and nutrients are more critical to cacti than soil, so it is possible to grow your cactus hydroponically. It may feel like it shouldn’t be possible, but keep reading to learn how to grow your cactus in the very thing you didn’t think your cactus needed – water!

Can You Grow Cactus In Just Water

A cactus can be grown in water in a few simple steps!

  1. Get your cactus. If you already have a cactus, you can remove part of the plant by taking a cutting, which will grow into your new cactus. Let the roots dry out to avoid fungus growing.
  2. Create your pot. You need two pots. Your inner pot will have your cactus and something like clay on the bottom. Put this pot inside a larger outer pot filled with water.
  3. Spread the roots in the water so they can grow evenly. 
  4. Give your cactus nutrients! Your cactus won’t get all the nutrients it needs naturally through the water, so you will have to add nutrients back in. You can purchase nutrient solutions at your local gardening store.
  5. Only repot your cactus when it outgrows the container it is currently in. This does not happen often; expect to repot your cactus every two years or more. 

Setting up your cactus to grow in water is a relatively simple process, though it may feel strange to do.

Can A Cactus Sit In Water

When grown hydroponically, a cactus can stay in water.

If you’ve ever read the cactus tag, you’ve already heard the warnings about overwatering your cactus. Your cactus could die if it sits in too much water.

In this case, it is less about the water and more about the soil being unable to drain – an issue that you won’t run into while growing hydroponically because you are not using soil to grow your cactus.

A cactus that cannot drain in oversaturated dirt becomes susceptible to disease and fungus. It is similar to letting damp clothes sit in a cool dark place; they too become moldy with time.

Since you will only be growing your cactus in water without soil, you do not have to worry as much about your cactus dying or getting a fungus. Plus, as we’ll talk about soon, there is some upkeep you will need to do to keep your cactus growing hydroponically. 

The following are a few tips to help you keep your cactus happy and healthy as it grows hydroponically. 

6 Tips For Growing Cacti Hydroponically

Since growing cacti hydroponically is different than what you might be used to, here are five tips to make your process more successful. 

Choose The Right Variety

This one might be obvious, but you should make sure that you choose a cactus variety that lends itself to growing hydroponically. 

It may be possible to grow any cactus hydroponically. Still, since you might feel like this is more of an experiment than anything else, the proper variety will make your job easier. 

Most cacti will grow in water, but you will want to choose an easy variety for you to handle. As you will see, you will need to move your cactus, and the spikey exterior of some varieties can make it a pain – and painful!

Remove All The Soil From The Roots

Your cactus will have the best chance of growing when you remove all the dirt from the plant’s roots.

Since you are not growing your cactus in soil, the dirt is not needed.

Be careful while you do this. Plant roots are strong, but they are not indestructible. It is possible that you will break the roots. 

Remove Any Damaged Roots

After removing the dirt from the roots, check for any damaged roots and remove them. 

Damaged roots can become diseased or get a fungus, compromising your entire plant.

Take care to remove damaged roots to avoid problems. You can use a pair of scissors to cut away damaged roots or slice them away with a sharp knife.

Keep An Eye On the Roots 

Since you can see the roots, you can keep an eye on them.

If you see that your roots are starting to rot, you should rinse the roots and remove any damaged ones.

This is essential maintenance of your cactus while it grows in water. You do not want the water to get too murky or let your roots rot out.

Keep Your Cactus Warm

You may be using water to grow your cactus, but the temperature is still important for your plant to grow.

Ensure that your cactus is still getting ample sunlight and is kept warm. Do not let your plant get cold.

If it is winter, you should keep your plant away from the windows to prevent the plant from getting too cold. 

Handle Your Cactus Carefully

You will be handling your cactus more when you grow it hydroponically.

Cactus spines can be painful if you get hurt, but the overall cactus is also delicate, so you will need to be gentle.

Rough handling can crack the exposed roots. You can also break the cactus itself, which will cause it to begin to die. 

Pros And Cons Of Growing Cactus Hydroponically

As with anything, there are pros and cons to growing your cactus hydroponically. 

  • Pro: Almost any variety of cactus can grow in water, as long as you follow the proper steps to help it grow.
  • Con: Cacti grow perfectly fine in soil, so there is no good reason to choose to grow your cactus hydroponically. 
  • Pro: You can propagate your cactus hydroponically before transferring it into a new pot with soil to continue growing. 
  • Con: Cacti have prickly exteriors, so it can be challenging to manage your cactus while it is in water. Always handle your cactus with gloves when growing hydroponically.
  • Pro: Your cactus and its roots can get direct sunlight to grow larger and stronger.
  • Con: Your cactus will need more care and maintenance in water than it would otherwise need to grow in soil. 

Growing your cactus hydroponically comes with some downsides, but you can still produce a healthy, thriving cactus that is growing well in water.