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Ricster
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Indoor Cactus Watering Question.

My wife and I will be going on an extended trip at the end of May for 5+ weeks. We have 2 indoor Saguaro cacti and a Golden Barrel ranging from 5" to 16" high. I purchased the 16" Saguaro in a local pharmacy in 1985 in a two inch pot when I moved out here.

Could someone tell us if I soak them before we leave will they survive at a southern exposure window without watering or is there some sort of temporary irrigation I can set up? I generally water them once a week depending on the soil. They were re-potted last year in Miracle Grow Moisture Control Potting Mix. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Saguaros are the Centurions of the desert.

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Kisal
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Hi, and welcome to the forum! It's nice to have you with us! :)

I think they'll be fine for 5 weeks if you soak them well. I would actually submerge them in water for about 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the pot, to be sure the entire root ball, including the center, gets well moistened. It might be a good idea to move them back about a foot from the glass, so they don't get damaged if it gets really hot outside while you're away. :)
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

a0c8c
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You water them once a week? That seems excessive to me. In the wild Saguaro's go much longer without water, sometimes months. Even though yours are indoors and a completely different climate, I can't see why they would need or even want water every week. Most cacti would rot if they got that much water.
Home Gardener from Austin, TX; by way of Iowa.

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Ricster
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Well, as you can see in my Avatar, the 16" Saguaro is in a 10" pot. Should I give it a thorough soaking or just water it till the water runs out the bottom? I have a 5' and 3' Saguaro outside my front door, but they get watered about every 2 months if it doesn't rain.

The discolored portion towards the bottom is from being left out during a Monsoon when it was only a couple of years old. Tough cactus!
Saguaros are the Centurions of the desert.

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Kisal
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My advice is to soak it until you no longer see air bubbles breaking the surface, but be sure to allow it to sit for an hour or so after you remove it from the water, so that all excess water can drain out of the soil. That way, the entire root ball and the pot will be thoroughly soaked. You want the pot to be soaked so that it doesn't draw moisture out of the soil.

When you provide plenty of water in this way, the cactus will absorb the moisture and store it in the cells of its pith, as it would if it were living in the desert. It's how cacti evolved to survive in areas that receive rare but heavy rainfall.

The cactus will be able to survive on its stored moisture for well over a month. By that time, you will be home and can resume your regular care. :)
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

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Ricster
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Thanks Kisal. That sounds about right. To water it till the bubbles stop coming up. Then I have to let the water drain out and empty the bottom dish or I'll have Fungus Gnats all over the place. I'll never buy Miracle Grow Moisture Control Potting Soil again! When is a good time of year to re-pot this cactus? Last time I did it in the spring and I mixed Cactus soil with the Miracle Grow stuff and it seemed to like it.
Saguaros are the Centurions of the desert.

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Kisal
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You can actually repot any time during the growing season, but if your cactus flowers, I would wait until it has finished blooming. I doubt your little saguaro is old enough yet to flower, though, so you wouldn't have to be concerned about that detail. :)

I put my cacti in the kitchen sink to let the water drain off. Only after allowing an hour to drain do I return them to their saucers.

Desert cacti don't need much in the way of organic material in the soil. I just use straight cactus/succulent mix for mine. I have one that's just about to bloom, and this year it has 3 flower buds on it, instead of just one! I can hardly wait! :D
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

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Ricster
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Yeah, letting it drain off in the sink is easier. My cactus has a very long way to go before it will ever show signs of blooming. :shock:
Saguaros are the Centurions of the desert.

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