Gardeners' World: How to care for houseplants
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Monty Don, best known for his role on Gardeners’ World, regularly shares gardening advice both online and on television. Each month, the expert also provides gardeners with tips and jobs to do that month. For the month of December, Monty explained how to take care of cacti houseplants.
Cacti have become extremely popular in recent years because they are hardy and easy to look after.
They’re slow growing as well as being affordable to purchase.
Sharing advice in his December blog, Monty explained the best conditions to keep cacti in throughout the winter months.
He wrote: “The main reason that cacti kept as houseplants fail to flower is that they have been too warm and wet over winter.
“Keep them cool between November and March and do not water them at all.
“Then gradually increase the heat and water for a month until they are getting as much daylight as possible.”
Monty explained that they are much more likely to flower in these conditions.
He added: “In fact, all succulents thrive in conditions where there is a considerable difference between day and night temperatures because, unlike most plants, they save water by closing their stomata during the day but therefore cannot absorb carbon dioxide.
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“So they do this at night, with the stomata triggered into opening and feeding the plant by low night temperatures.
“All desert cacti need lime-free compost with plenty of grit.”
Although they do not need watering regularly, when they are watered, it is best to use rainwater.
This is to help avoid over-alkalinity.
Using tap water can damage succulents and turn the soil alkaline, providing the cacti with bad growing conditions.
For those wanting to use tap water, it is advised leaving it to sit for a day or two before using it.
This helps improve the quality of the water as well as allowing some of the chemicals to dissipate.
Monty added: “I have found that they do better outside in the sun in summer, as long as they are protected from heavy rain, and then bought in under cover, but in as bright place as possible, for the winter.
“If possible, open the window on a mild day to increase the ventilation.”
Houseplants are typically extremely easy to look after, requiring minimal watering throughout winter and the occasional dusting.
In a recent video, Monty recommended misting indoor plants every day to help increase their humidity levels.
Using warm water, houseplant owners should mist their plants each morning to allow the leaves to dry throughout the day.
Misting can also help reduce the risk of overwatering, a common problem when it comes to looking after indoor plants.
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