Easy to care for and always a little exotic, cacti can add a bit of fun to every home landscape. Cacti are succulents and require very little watering, in fact, most do quite well with just the natural bit of rainfall that prevails in their natural, warmer environments. Cacti also suffer from few diseases or pests, require no fertilizer, and adapt to most soils. While cacti gardens are not recommended for climates where the temperature falls below 45 degrees, many locations can enjoy unique shapes and colors of succulents. From short and fat to long and tall, prickly or smooth, cacti can be read, green, silver, even black, and often produce lovely flowers.
Before planning your garden, be sure to choose succulents best suited for your climate. Your local nursery will be able to help you best determine what types of cacti you can grow.
The best place to plant a cacti garden is on a hillside as this allows excellent soil drainage. Gardeners without a hillside will have to make a mound or small hill, but a cacti garden can be as big as your whole yard or as small as a shoebox. Keep in mind, as you create your mound, that tall cacti may be best placed in the back and smaller, even spreading plants will do best in the front. Outline the base of the mound with small rocks, tiles, or other items like branches, in order to help stabilize the edges. Also be aware that cacti can hurt. Keep your garden out of the way of pets and children. And remember: cacti love full, direct sun.
Cacti like dry soil. In your garden, special cacti soil can be used, but if you want to make your own it’s simple: Just mix two parts regular potting soil, two parts sand, and one part gravel.
Plant your cacti wearing strong, leather gardening gloves to protect yourself from spines. Mix colors in patterns or groups to add extra pizzazz. Spreading a layer of natural or colorful rocks on top of the soil and around the plants will not only look wonderful, but also help prevent weeds and encourage the dry conditions that cacti so love.
Once planted, all that’s left to do is enjoy. Cacti like a good drenching after being planted, but after that, try to keep your watering limited and mimic the desert—long dry spells with a rare drenching. If you want to encourage growth, cacti can handle fertilizer once a year in the spring. Chose a fertilizer particularly suited for the special plants.
Succulents are easy to divide and reproduce. Just cut a leaf and stick it directly into the ground. Roots develop quickly. This way, your cacti garden can spread and grow for many years without any extra cost and very little effort. You can even share clippings and encourage friends and neighbors to start their own succulents patch. A successful cacti garden will be something to talk about, enjoy, and marvel at for years.