By Nikky Necessario

Caring for cacti and succulents (CNS) are becoming more and more popular as it becomes a trend on social media. But most of the time, these plants rot and eventually wilt because of improper care, especially for first timers. Ron Apostol, popularly known as the ‘Midnight Hardinero’ to CNS enthusiasts, gave basic cacti care for beginners.

Succulents are plants that store a lot of water and are fleshy. Cacti are succulents, but what makes them different is that they have ‘areoles,’ which are highly-reduced stems that are cushion-like and is the part where the flowers bloom.

Apostol emphasized that cacti are native to areas where the climate is harsh,that’s why you should treat your cacti differently from your typical tropical plants.The first cacti care tip, according to Apostol, is to water only when dry. Since cacti are used to extremely hot weather, they do not need to be watered often; overwatering may wilt the plant. “If in doubt, better not to water the plant,” said Apostol.

Next important factor is sunlight. Again, as these plants thrive in hot climates, cacti need direct exposure to sunlight. They won’t grow well in dark and humid places like bathrooms. It is ideal to put your cacti on window panes, roof tops, or on your porch. It is also suggested to bathe your cacti under the morning sun.

Next important factor to take note of is soil mix. Apostol said that the cacti soil mix should include particles like pumice, gravel, or perlite. These gritty materials let the roots of the plant breathe. This kind of soil mix also prevents the plants from being soaked in water for a long time, which may rot the roots.

His last two tips were to feed the plants with nutrients such as compost and fertilizer, and to allow them to have good air movement to avoid fungal issues.

“That’s the basic care, really simple, but the simplest things are usually the hardest,” concluded Apostol. Remember those five simple basic tips to keep your prickly plants alive!

Apostol was one of the speakers at the 2019 Cactus, Succulent, and Bromeliad Festival held last month at the Main Mall Atrium of SM Mall of Asia.