How to grow cacti: Lobivia edition

How to grow cacti: Lobivia edition 

One of the easiest cactus to care for, they are incredibly tough.


Abundant flowers in a never ending array of colours and forms.


Handsome looking plants with form as variable as their flowers.


Quick guide:

Not fussy but substrate mix should be free draining.
A simple but effective mix which will perform well in a broad range of climates:

1 part potting soil (mid range)
1 part gravel (scoria, pumice, quartz etc)
0.5 part perlite

Particle size should be adjusted to suit size of plant & pot

High light requirements, will do best with lots of sun.

Exceptionally drought tolerant – many come from very arid areas.
Will benefit from generous watering during the growing season.

Very broad temperature range – tolerant of sub zero temperatures with some protection and equally able to withstand high temperatures of 45c +

As with most cacti, they should be kept dry during periods of extreme temperature (hot & cold)

Generally on the smaller side with some exceptions, the overwhelming majority will remain at a manageable size.

Often clumping, some remain as single heads it is however common for them to form a pup or two. 
They are a neat growing plant.

Growth rate:
Moderate to fast

General purpose fertiliser in early spring will suffice (use 1/2 to 2/3 recommended rate)
Seasol application a few times a season will improve overall health

Every 2-5+ years depending on growth and substrate condition


The above is general information which will apply to most popular Lobivia, there are some Lobivia (not often seen) that require specialised care, some of which we sell.
Additional information will always be in the description for these ones.


The queen! - Lobivia "23"


Cultivation deep dive

You must take into account your climate and setting before applying any cultivation advice.

This is one of those wonderfully vague cactus statements that we've all heard so let's take a look at how this actually translates in a practical sense.
We will go over some of the growing guide noted above and how to adjust for climate.



For areas with low humidity and/or high temperatures

-The organic component may need to be increased to help the pot retain water longer


For areas with high humidity and/or low temperatures

-Additional perlite and/or gravel may be required to enable mix to dry out faster and keep the collar of the plant dry

Substrate can dry out too slowly but also too fast. 

You do not want cacti sitting in a wet pot for extended periods – the top layer should be fairly dry after a few days.

But this can go the other way....


Keep an eye on your plants and observe if they are perking up after watering?

If not, this could mean that the pot is drying out too fast and the plant does not have enough time to drink.
Lobivia will generally respond in 3-5 days after watering – if they need it!



If you are in an area with very strong sun, some shading may be required to prevent scorching.
Most cacti, including Lobivia will appreciate some level of protection at the peak of an Australian summer.
Light levels can be tinkered with until you find the levels that provide the aesthetic you appreciate most.

No Lobivia should be grown in low light and never indoors.


For areas with low humidity and/or high temperatures

Watering may need to be increased to weekly providing a thorough soaking each time.


For areas with high humidity and/or low temperatures
Substrate will likely retain moisture for longer so you will need to adjust accordingly.



In cooler climates
Lobivia have a longer season than cold sensitive cacti they will generally grow for a few extra weeks before entering winter rest – they are also one of the first to “wake up” after winter.


In warmer climates
Lobivia will generally continue growing uninterrupted this can be manipulated by withholding water.


In either climate we would always recommend a winter rest observation of some degree, the length of which will be determined by climate and temperature.

Winter rest is essentially withholding water during the coldest part of the year.

In our nursery this occurs between May & August – our minimum winter rest is 3 months and we go up to 5 months in certain situations.

Our nursery is situated in an alpine area - we experience a long winter (by Australian standards) with very low temperatures both minimum and maximum .
The lowest we have noted is -5c with frequent frosts and limited annual light snow. 
During winter we can go several weeks with the maximum temperature not exceeding 10c even in the middle of the day. 
Conditions are often cold and damp during winter. 

On the flip side! 
Our summer is very hot (38c + outside) and very dry - we can go several months and not receive a single drop of rain. 


Lobivia winteriana 

All of the elements in growing cacti interplay with each other which makes it incredibly difficult to say “oh just water every second Tuesday, use this substrate and you will be fine”
We would always advocate for a conservative approach with new plants, this can be achieved by placing them in a semi shaded position (think standing under a tree with a light canopy) and not watering more than once per fortnight (winter rest excluded)
This will give you opportunity to adjust the settings and see how the plant responds, this is the absolute best way of learning how to grow cacti.
When making changes, don't do anything drastic or too quickly.

The only thing cacti do quickly is die, don't rush them.