Cacti are hardy, low-maintenance plants that can add a touch of the exotic to your garden or windowsill. Originally native to the Americas, cactus plants thrive in warm conditions with little water and often live happily indoors--prickly pears, Turk's cap, pincushion and hedgehog cacti are all recommended varieties for house culture, according to online resource Plant Ideas. There are many ways to care for cactus houseplants, and most species have similar care requirements.
Cactus plants can be contained in a variety of types of pots as long as the pot has a hole in the bottom for proper draining. Glazed ceramic pots are ideal, as they are less likely to develop algae growths than terracotta pots. When planting a cactus indoors, be sure to use a soil that is extremely well draining. A rocky, loose mix of soil that has a little bit of coarse sand is best. Avoid using mostly sand, as the soil will retain too much moisture for the plant to survive, according to Plant Ideas.
The easiest and surest way to kill a cactus, whether it be outdoors or in, is by over watering. Over watering promotes fungus and root rot. Water the soil around the cacti with rain water or distilled water, as tap water inhibits the growth of the plant. If you must use tap water, first add white vinegar--9 drops per quart, according to Windowsill Cactus, which recommends using the water only the same day it is mixed. Most species of cacti don't require water during winter dormancy.
Though cacti love sun, indoor plants may receive too much, causing sun burn and wilting. Generally, cactus plants will do better in a window with an eastern or western exposure than in a south-facing window. Research the light requirements of your species of cactus before choosing a location. If you don't which species you have, check the plant's spines. Cacti with densely packed spines can handle more sunlight than those with fewer spines, advises Windowsill Cactus.