Why Do Cactus Grow Slowly? Interesting Facts You Should Know! | Kidadl


Why Do Cactus Grow Slowly? Interesting Facts You Should Know!

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Many people just think of desert cacti as just hardy desert cactus plants.

Cactus plants are one of the most interesting plants. Once you start looking into it deeper, you will realize how beautiful cactus species are!

Most cacti are used as ornamental decorations in homes, and these plants not only add decorative aspects but are also used to grow as forage or fodder. Some people also grow the cactus plants for their fruit and consume them as food.

When the temperature drops in winter and plants go dormant, we should think about the cactus. The cactus is one of the slowest growing plants in the world. When we talk about the cactus, most people think of the desert. But the cactus is actually from tropical areas so we can find it in some other parts of the world. The cactus also grows slowly, but many people don't understand why. Let's dive deeper and understand cacti grow slowly!

Fun Facts About How A Cactus Grows

The cactus is a plant that is highly evolved. It has evolved so that it can survive in harsh climates. Because of this evolution, we can find the cactus growing in places like the Sonoran Desert in North America. Let's explore some more facts about how most cacti grow.

  • The cactus has adapted to the desert and has become a plant thriving in dry places with little water. Cactuses, sometimes known as cacti, are slow-growing plants that might take years to mature.
  • Cactus have evolved to thrive in areas where rainfall is erratic and sporadic. As a result, they concentrate their efforts on surviving rather than expanding rapidly.
  • If you wish to know how to get your cactus to grow better, keep the following suggestions in mind. Cacti grow from seed, and you can buy cactus seedlings from any nursery. When you bring the seeds home, scarify them first and soak them in lukewarm water (change it every day) for a few days. The next step is to stratify them. Stratifying means keeping them in the cold outside or the freezer for about four to six weeks. Then, plant them in cactus soil that is properly made (it should be moist and not soggy) so that the seeds sprout in good conditions and the germination process takes place smoothly. The soil moisture needs to be maintained and regulated well over a long time as the cactus roots take more time to develop than the above soil growth.
  • Cacti are unique because they can survive in extreme desert environments that most plants can't.
  • Most cactus plants can grow in such extreme environments because of their ability to store water for long periods of time.
  • Some cacti species can grow in a very dry and harsh desert climate because they store water in their fleshy stems. These stems contain lots of tiny holes that allow water to pass through the plant easily. This way, the plant isn't at the risk of losing all of its water through its leaves. This is also the reason why a cactus plant is a slow grower.
  • A cactus is designed to survive for months or even years without water. Mature outdoor or indoor cacti can survive without water for a decade or more, and they do so by storing the saved water in their succulent stems. In addition, the spines that protect the cactus from predators (especially in jungle cacti) also provide some shade around the cactus. It's not surprising that a cactus plant is more like grasses than trees or shrubs.
  • Many mini cacti grow happily as tall as 600 in (50 feet) if they get proper sunlight and a well-draining environment.
  • Indoor cacti like forest cactus, desert cactus, and Christmas cactus grow very well indoors, provided proper care is taken for them.
  • Cacti that are well-taken care of may grow as fast as about 1 in (2.54 cm) per year only.


Facts About Longest Living Cactus

Did you know that the official name of a cactus is a 'cactiform'? Or that there are over 2,000 different species of cactus? There are many such interesting facts about the cactus plant. Let's look at some of the longest-living cactus plants.

  • The longest and the oldest living cactus plant is believed to be Old Granddaddy, which is located in Saguaro National Park. It is 300 years old. Old Granddaddy was 300 years old infected with bacterial necrosis, a disease known to infect older cacti, causing the giant cactus to rot and turn brown in color. It started to die in the '90s. Apart from being the oldest, Old Granddaddy was also giant and massive with 52 arms and its height being 40 ft. (12.19 cm). When the cactus got infected with this disease, its arms started falling off. It was once the most photographed and visited cactus in the Saguaro National Park.
  • After Old Granddaddy, the Mexican Giant Cardon comes second in the list of longest living cacti. It is not an individual cactus. It's a species of cactus that is said to fight the Old Granddaddy in terms of both age and size. These cacti are as tall as 60 ft. (18.28 m). This height is taller than some of the biggest saguaros. The cardons can and do live for around 300 years, making them not only the largest but also some of the longest living cacti. Wondering where cardons got their name from? A Spanish Conquistador actually named them back in 1535 during his expedition to Baja, California. He saw small cacti covered in thistles and decided to call them cardo. Cardo in Spanish means thistle.
  • The Grand One was once named the world's largest and most known Saguaro. It, unfortunately, died in the year 2007. This massive cactus growth was incredible, with the height being 46 ft. (14.02 m) and 7 ft. (2.13 m), and 10 in (0.83 ft.) around its base. This cactus was so massive that in 2004, it was recorded to the National Register of Big Trees for its giant size. The age of the Grand One was around 180–300 years old when it was added to this register. Unfortunately, the Grand One fell prey to fire and was damaged just a year after it was named as the world's largest cactus. It fought its way through the next two years and survived until it died in the year 2007.
  • Next is the Oro Valley Saguaro Cactus. In the year 2002, there was an effort made by the town of Oro Valley, which is located just north of the very famous Tucson, Arizona, to save this enormous old cactus. This cactus was 200 years old and was also registered in the National Register of Large Trees. It was a 40 ft. (12.19 m) tall cactus. But it could have been destroyed while expanding a road, and hence the people from Oro Valley decided to find a new home for this plant. They even brought in some desert plant specialists to help them transplant this Saguaro somewhere else. The transplant was successful. But a bolt of lightning struck this Saguaro a year after the transplant, and unfortunately, it was uprooted by the thunderstorm.


Facts About Cactus Lifespan Based On Type

Cacti are very popular houseplants and are generally easy to grow and care for. They are considered succulents and are members of the plant family Cactaceae. Let's explore some more facts about the lifespan of different species of cacti.

  • These plants are actually more closely related to other succulents like agaves, aloes, and yuccas but are often referred to as cacti. Cacti are native to the Americas, but they are very popular in the homes of all countries. Many people grow cacti as houseplants, and they can be a very interesting and attractive addition to any room. The different types of cacti all have various life spans, but generally, live for a long time and last for many years.
  • In the world of plants, there are two different kinds of cacti that you can grow, but they each have very different needs. An indoor cactus stays in the same place all its life, so it's important to choose a location where it will get the light it needs. When growing an indoor cactus, keep it in a sunny spot near a window, where it will get at least four to six hours of direct sunlight each day.
  • An outdoor cactus moves around, searching for water and food. When growing an outdoor cactus, choose a spot that is consistently moist but never wet. Outdoor cacti will not tolerate standing water, and they need to be protected from cold drafts.
  • Cacti growing indoors live for about 10 years on average, whereas an outdoor cactus may live for around 10-300 years.
  • Cactus does not grow from both top and bottom. It only grows from the top, and if planted upside down, it would not grow.
  • Ball cactus is a plant with a globose to a cylindrical shape and is small. Its types are balloon cactus, blue ball cactus, silver ball cactus.
Did you know that you can eat cacti? Yes, you can eat Indian Figs or Prickly Pears, which are Cacti!

Facts About Perfect Cactus Habitat

Cactus are succulent plants. This means that its tissues have adapted to store water in their leaves, stems, and roots. This means that they are most likely to grow in places with the driest conditions. Let's explore further and discover why cacti love a desert environment.

  • Cactus grow in many parts of the world. Mostly in Mediterranean Regions, South Africa and Australia.
  • If you're wondering do cactus grow best in sunny environments then the answer is a resounding yes. Areas, where there is a good amount of brightness, are a great environment for cacti and can mean positively impact the cactus' growth.
  • If you are trying to plant a cactus, making sure that the container in which it is planted is more spacious than required helps the cactus grow better by giving enough room to grow. Getting this growth stage right by researching the best approaches to take for the environment you live in is important for the health of your cacti.
  • Giving the cacti enough room to grow can helps as it means that you won't have to move it frequently. This ensures slow growth yet a sure and positive one. An ideal soil for a cactus to grow is a proper mix of well-draining potting soil. The ideal mix contains coarse sand and perlite. This reduces the very risk of over-watering your cactus. Over-watering can damage your plant and its slow growth significantly and hence needs to be avoided.
  • Temperature is vital in making a cactus's slow growth better. Maintaining the right temperature is very vital for the cactus to survive. For the cacti living indoors, an ideal temperature is 65 and 80 degrees F (18.33 and 26.66 C). But the direct sunlight is not ideal for an indoor cactus.
  • For outdoor cacti, an ideal temperature would be 45 and 55 degrees F (7.22 and 12.77 C) which is a normal wintertime temperature. But in Summer, 65 and 85 degrees F (18.33 and 29.44 C) should be fine.
  • Using a succulent fertilizer which is a low-nitrogen product and a liquid during spring and summer, is ideal for a cactus.
Written By
Sridevi Tolety

<p>With a Master's degree in clinical research from Manipal University and a PG Diploma in journalism from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Sridevi has cultivated her passion for writing across various domains. She has authored a wide range of articles, blogs, travelogues, creative content, and short stories that have been published in leading magazines, newspapers, and websites. Sridevi is fluent in four languages and enjoys spending her spare time with loved ones. Her hobbies include reading, traveling, cooking, painting, and listening to music.</p>

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