Desert Plant Care


Unlike tropical plants, all desert plants need direct sun for at least 4-6 hours per day (if the plant had eyes it could see the actual sun) in order to thrive. A south facing window is best for desert species.

If desert plants do not receive adequate direct sunlight they will begin to etioliate. Etiolation is a process in flowering plants grown in partial or complete absence of light. It is characterized by long, weak stems; smaller leaves due to longer internodes; and a pale yellow color (chlorosis), which is unhealthy for small growth due to low light.


During the growth season, water thoroughly with tepid water so that water runs all the way through and out the drainage hole. It’s best to put your desert species on a schedule which will vary depending on the size and type of plant. The watering schedule for these plants depends on age, size, and genus/species.

For most new world plants, every 2 to 3 weeks is generally correct during the spring and summer. For the dormant months, we recommend watering every 6 to 8 weeks. For small seedlings (3” and smaller), every 1 to 2 weeks is ideal during the growing season, and 4 to 6 in dormancy. Underwatering in the winter months promotes flowers in the spring.

Old world plants are not as clear-cut. If they have leaves, they typically want to be watered every 1 to 2 weeks when leafing. They will drop their leaves when dormant, and it's essential to cut back watering to 6 to 8 weeks. For old world plants without leaves, following the same rules as new world cactus is recommended.

When watering desert plants, making sure they dry out quickly is key and the best way for them to dry is lots of bright, hot, and direct sun. It’s recommended to water when there's several sunny days in the forecast.


Any good houseplant food (diluted to half) that's higher in phosphorus than nitrogen is a good choice. A 5-10-5 solution can work well.