How to Water a Cactus in Nevada

The Las Vegas R-J gets questions.

Q: I bought a Mission cactus last year. The tag said to water it well until it “was established,” but I didn’t really know how much water to give it after that. I looked up Mission cactus on the Internet and most sites said little or no water, or arid dry. It has grown quite a bit since I planted it, and even now has small new growth on a few ends. Lately though it has twists and folds with a yellowish color in the middle of the “hands.” I have no idea whether I am watering it enough or too much as it doesn’t respond much differently. I really like this plant, and it is a focal point when anyone comes through our gate into the courtyard.

A: Mission cactus is basically a beavertail or a nopal-type cactus.

When you are watering a cactus it is important to water it deeply but infrequently. This is what is meant by telling you to water it “well” until it gets established. If, by chance, you interpret that to mean watering frequently with small amounts of water, you run the risk of having it fall over when it gets bigger or possibly killing it….

If you click through to read the rest of the article, you’ll find out a lot more about growing cactus in the desert, like,

Many cacti will indicate they need water through the appearance of their “skin.” Their outer surfaces will become slightly wrinkled…


fertilize it once a year…

All good advice, and the article is just chock-full of advice.

  Cactus and Succulents
  Carnivorous Plants

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March 2023

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