Growing a perfect cactus garden is easy and achievable. It feels less like of a chore compared to other garden plants since they require just a bit of general care. They require little to survive, with requirements that are easy to cater for, even for those who consider gardening tedious. Constructing a cactus garden can appear a child’s play, but it is not entirely a mindless venture. Crucial factors come into play when growing the dream cactus garden.
So, what are the basic tips for a perfect cactus garden? Going into the cactus gardening business clueless could cost you. Cacti differ significantly from your average plants. They have different biology, growth needs and grow in an almost unfathomable ecological setting. Their cultivation regime would never resemble common mesophytes. A perfect cacti garden can be achieved by;
- Choosing the right cactus species to grow
- An appropriate container to grow it in- size and make
- Correct positioning of your cactus and using correct type of soil
Are you planning to create a cactus garden and wondering where to start? This guide will help you understand how best to create one, right from choosing an ideal species, containers, soil and positioning.
Choosing between indoor and outdoor cactus landscaping
It all boils down to the choice of the cactus species you choose to grow. This decision is influenced by where you want to grow the plant. Growing an outdoor cactus is easy; growing an indoor cactus will come with a few extra steps. If you live in a sunny, hot area, cacti will naturally thrive with much ease. Garden landscaping is less tedious and requires minimal effort. Most of the work is done for you by nature; watering the plants will not be necessary. The only task you might have to do is to nourish your cacti with cacti fertilizer at least once a year. Cactus does well grown on a hill because of the sloppy gradient that will help improve the drainage. Deeper holes will be required to make up for the lack of slope on a flat yard so that the water can drain deeper away from the shallow roots into the ground.
There is bounty of ideas on how to pull off outdoor cacti landscaping. You can choose to grow cacti surrounded by small shrubs and flowering perennials. To achieve the desert landscape appearance, grow your cactus in a sea of crushed stone and pebble. Barrel cactus, organ pipe cactus, prickly pear, blue candle, cow’s tongue cactus, and blueberry cactus are classic species for outdoor cactus landscaping.
If you hail from a rainy and humid area- conditions that can be detrimental for the cacti growth, you may be better off growing your cactus indoors. Cacti are desert plants. As such, always ensure you provide them with adequate sunlight for better growth by placing them in an ideal position where the sun rays can easily get to the plant.
There is no limitation to what you can do with cactus. Here is a list of cacti breeds that thrive as indoor plants
- Ruby ball cactus(Gymnocalycium)
- Hedgehog cactus(Echinocereus sp.)
- Crown cactus (Rebutia sp.)
- Pilosocereus pachycladus
- Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera bridgessii)
- Eastern prickly pear cactus
- Crow’s claw cactus
- Pincushion plants (Mammillaria sp)
Take hints from the cactus species and its natural environment
The characteristics of your chosen cactus can offer some pointers on how to plan your cactus garden. Consider their most appealing features. For a blooming cactus, for instance, placing it in a strategic position would help flatter the plant and consequently decorate the room accordingly. Cacti flowers can bloom better with extra care. Notably, their desert-growing counterparts flower less often thanks to the unbearable, hot weather.
Consider the growth pattern of your cactus. Is it a winding epiphyte? These do best as hanging cactus accentuating the room with exoticism and uniqueness. Cacti size matters a lot when choosing the location. A small cactus would most likely look presentable planted in a pot placed on a window sill or your office desk. Growing cactus requires patience and, ultimately, knowledge on the plant’s biology. Cacti are a slow-growing breed and can remain in the soil for years. For fast-paced visible growth, avoid growing cactus from seeds but instead use their shoots when propagating.
No written rules mandate that cacti should be grown in pure breed or as an assortment. The most attractive cactus gardens are grown in a variety. Provided that they have similar growth requirements, cacti can make room for one or more succulents in the pot. These pot partners must, however, have similar care and size requirements.
The positioning of your cacti is vital for its growth. This is especially so for indoor plants. Pick the brightest part of the room or corridor to grow your cactus. Most cacti would thrive basking in the sun for at least 6 hours a day. Position you cactus in an easily accessible area for better attention. For instance, you can place your container by the main door to your house. Subject to your preference, you can lay out your garden bed in a circular, triangular, semicircular, or rectangular shape.
Creating an authentic cactus garden requires that the pot you choose is aesthetically pleasing and practical. An ideal cactus pot is one with adequate root space and has at least one drainage hole. Drainage is crucial for desert plants. Remember, root rot invades plants that are potted in poorly draining pots. For ornamental purposes, choose pots that are relevant to plant size. Cacti are shallow-rooted plants made to take up the little water trickling down the soil. As such, it would be unnecessary to use a ridiculously huge pot unless the cacti being propagated is respectively huge.
Grow each shrub in their pot for large shrubs. Smaller shrubs look good potted in one container. Other cacti varieties are more appealing when grown in multiple pots and arranged together. An assortment of small cacti would look good growing from terracotta or rustic bowls. In fact, you can pruce up your garden by growing a mix of colorful perennial flowers. Dangle down rattail cactus,orchid, and Christmas cactus from hanging baskets or tyre tubes. Decorate your walls by growing tall, gigantic cacti alongside them.
Allow your creative genius to run wild when choosing your ideal pot. Container gardening thrives on your creativity and willingness for experimentation. Even in regular gardening, few species fit the mold to be grown ideally in a container, but cactus makes the list. Remember you do not have to go for commercial containers when starting out. You can make a pot out of a cup, old boots and even toy trucks. Otherwise, you may opt for a cactus terrarium. The cactus terrarium is planted in the open to keep humidity from destroying the plants. Do not forget to line their inner bases with gravel to improve drainage.
The cactus’ native habitat should inform you of the type of potting soil you require. Adhering to this information is crucial to avoid further repotting of a plant that has deteriorated in health with little to be done, far down the cactus’ growth journey. For pure desert breeds, it is advisable to capitalize on the grit, while for forest cacti, adding peat will improve the plant’s growth conditions. Peat helps to hold the soil together, while grit improves drainage and aeration. Regular soil holds too much water and is, therefore, a bad idea for cactus.
Cacti thrive on well-drained and properly aerated soils. Soils with high water retention are detrimental to cacti roots adapted to thrive on little to no moisture. Cacti readily absorb moisture- even from dew and moist. The excess water left in the soil once the roots have taken in enough leaves breeding grounds for fungus and bacteria that cause root rot. Water these plants in moderation; at least once a twilight, just enough to keep the peat from drying out. When dry, the soil becomes hard and absorbing moisture afterwards is taxing for cactus roots.
To avoid the hassle, you can purchase cactus potting soil or prepare some yourself from the garden. For young cactus roots, cactus potting mixes from garden centers and nurseries are a better choice as these young roots have a more challenging time getting accustomed to regular soil.
How to make you own soil mix
Would you rather prefer a DIY cactus mix recipe? You can easily do this by mixing one-third coarse sand, one-third of pumice, and one-third of regular soil. This particular soil recipe helps achieve the desired texture, drainage, aeration, and compactness for the cacti species. Before pouring in the soil mix, line the pot’s base with gravel and pebbles to improve drainage further. Making your own soil mix helps reduce the costs that would, otherwise go into purchasing the commercial option.
Outdoor gardening will require a drainage test to make sure that the grounds are ideal for the cactus. Dig up holes less than a foot deep on the ground and add water. If the water still stands after 30 minutes, add rocks and sand in the holes, which will alleviate the drainage problem. An outdoor cactus garden may require less cactus soil mix, assuming the soil outside is gritty.
Cactus is an exciting gardening option for a change. To spruce up your gardening portfolio, try the most respected plants of the desert. They require almost less of everything than your regular plants except for sunlight which Mother Nature gives for free. The easy-going, low-maintenance cacti can turn anyone into an enthusiastic garden keeper following these few simple steps. They are tried and tested methods by expert gardeners by which you can achieve that enviable dream garden. Keeping a plush out-of-this-world cactus garden is fulfilling and a source of pride.