Cactus Problems, Please Advise

Am I getting too much or too little water?

On March 4, “We are Canadian snowbirds having trouble with our cacti in our desert landscape. Replaced grass 3 years ago. Prickly pear has dropped 4 pads in 3 days and other cacti not looking good. Any ideas what the problem might be?”

“Plants get watered at the base with a bubbler for each. Do you think we are underwatering or overwatering? No, we don’t have a gardener, just someone who keeps an eye on the house when we’re back in Canada. Watering done then by timer being set before we go. Right now my husband has had the system on these plants for about 3 minutes at a time, about 3 times a week. with a bubbler for each. I am thinking we are overwatering for this time of year but not sure. The plants looked better in early January when we came back down after getting water on a timer for 8 months. Husband has turned off this zone where the cacti are for the time being til we get some definitive answers. Here’s the whole yard. And one of a pad I potted up for fun….did I do this right? Grapefruit tree has just been pruned…..very prolific…..we give most of the fruit to food banks!”

What do YOU think?

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Comments(2)

  1. Carl Schoeneman says

    Hi there. I do think you are watering too much. I generally don’t worry about watering my cactus in the winter. I’ve read that many of them tend to grow best when nighttime temps are in the 50’s, which is what we’re coming up on here. Even then I would only water when the soil is dry. In the summer I water cactus no more than once a week and many can go much longer in between watering. It’s what they’re good at! Agaves too I don’t water much in the winter. They’re probably getting ready to get their grow on about now. Once a week is good enough for them too but you’d probably want to do more than 3 minutes as their roots are deeper than cactus. I’ve read, too, that they prefer being watered every two weeks in the heat of summer. Lastly, looks like you planted that cactus pad just fine. They root pretty easily. Good luck!

  2. Jo-Anne Monahan says

    Thank you, Carl, for your feedback! I really appreciate it and I think we will water less as you suggested. We are both big-time gardeners on Vancouver Island, but obviously conditions, plants, etc. are so different here in the Coachella Valley and we are constantly learning new things about gardening here. My husband was a gardener for the City of Victoria for 38 years, 10 of those as head gardener in the nursery, so has extensive gardening knowledge. HOWEVER, I repeat……much different here so he is always learning too! We are both looking forward to your gardening tour before we head back to Canada. Thanks again for your help!

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