Adored by gardeners for their fascinating textures, drought resistance, vibrant colors, and beautiful shapes, cacti plants are a joy to behold and a delight to have in your home. These succulents are well suited for climates with relatively high temperatures and low rainfall, thanks to their ability to store water in their stems for longer periods. Most of them are easy to grow and are tolerant to diseases and insect problems. However, when designing your cactus garden, don’t limit yourself to these succulents alone.
So, what are some of the great companion plants and flowers for your cactus? There is a wide range of companion plants and flowers that can bring out the best qualities of your cactus and share its space with a serene balance. These plants and flowers include the red valerian, African daisy, autumn sage, hummingbird plant, trailing lantana, and some types of Euphorbia. These plants/flowers can highlight your cacti’s form and color and have almost similar maintenance requirements to your cacti.
In this post, we discuss some of the top companion plants and flowers for your cactus plant and some of their unique properties. The plants featured in the list have been carefully selected to ensure they bring out the best in your cactus. So, let us get started.
1. African Daisy
The African daisy is mostly native to South Africa and can grow up to four feet high if you provide it with the optimal growing conditions. The plant has a mounding/trailing habit and can produce many daisies over a long period, especially in warm or mild climates.
Their flowers mostly open when the sun is up and close in the evening. The centre disks of their flowers look as though they have been colored with metallic paint.
The plant does well when grown in containers or the garden. Blooms tend to peak in late spring or early summer and again in late summer or early fall.
Since the African daisy stops blooming during the hot days, it is good to pair them with cacti species that will pick up the slack during the warm summers to provide you with a non-stop floral display.
Although the plant is somewhat drought resistant, it is crucial to ensure you water it sufficiently. Most African daisies need at least one inch of water per week to thrive. During periods of intense heat, the plant will most likely slow down and go into dormancy.
The plant also prefers relatively cooler weather. During prolonged periods of drought it will gradually cease flowering and go dormant. This is the best time to prune it but keep it watered.
It also needs some supplemental fertilizer every three weeks, especially when you grow it in a container. Make sure you choose a water-soluble fertilizer and follow the instructions on the label when administering it.
2. Red Valerian
The Red Valerian is bushy, well-branched, and has one of the longest flowering seasons. The plant is popularly grown for its ornamental and magnificent star-shaped flowers. It is also relatively easy to grow and fairly resistant to pests and diseases.
The Red Valerian is an amazing bloomer from summer to late fall. It produces plenty of well-rounded flowers that may be pink, white, or blue-green, depending on the species.
The plant does pretty well in a full sunlight position, but it can also tolerate partial shade. However, it may not produce a lot of flowers when it is under partial shade. Providing your red valerian with plenty of sunlight is all you need to do to witness the best of it.
The plant can also thrive in poor soil conditions since it copes well with dry, infertile soils. It can also thrive in compact form areas in spots where other plants may not survive.
It prefers a slightly alkaline soil type, which can be achieved by adding limestone to your regular soil. If the potting soil you want to use is a richer variety, the plant will benefit greatly from staking.
Red Valerian is drought-resistant and doesn’t need a lot of water to survive. Young seedlings require light watering, but old plants can survive with natural rainfall or light watering when the soil is completely dry.
However, this plant doesn’t withstand overwatering. In fact, the only time you will need to water mature red valerian is when there has been a prolonged dry spell, and the potting soil is excessively dry. For fertilization, you don’t need to fertilize your red valerian.
3. Hummingbird Plant
The Hummingbird plant is also known as the “Uruguayan Firecracker” plant and is a great attractor of bees and hummingbirds. It produces beautiful orange flowers from July to late October.
The plant is hardy and nearly indestructible. Therefore, you can expect it to thrive even with minimal care. Although it likes dry soil, it can benefit greatly from occasional watering during the hot and dry season. But you don’t need to fertilize it at all.
If you are growing the plant as a perennial, make sure you cut it nearly to the ground once the blooming season is over. The plant enters a dormancy stage during winter and bursts back to life once the temperatures start to rise in spring.
The hummingbird plant is highly resistant to most pests and diseases and may rot in soggy and poorly drained soil.
The plant is relatively easy to grow, and it is usually propagated by dividing the root ball of mature plants. It requires exposure to full sunlight to thrive and can do well in average to below-average soils.
The hummingbird plant is usually bushy and can reach heights of up to two feet tall with a similar spread when provided with optimal growing conditions. Their velvety leaves and stems are pretty attractive and offer you a spectacular view throughout the year.
4. Trailing Lantana Plant
The trailing lantana plant is a popular landscaping plant that can also serve as a great companion to your cactus. The sprawling woody shrub usually forms a dense and colorful groundcover with its evergreen foliage of strongly scented and dark-green leaves.
The plant produces small, tight clusters of beautiful flowers and spreads up to ten feet wide. The trailing lantana is mostly used as a bank cover to control soil erosion, but it can also be used in raised plant gardens to complement the beautiful green view.
Trailing lantana blooms year-round in most frost-free areas. It can thrive in full sunlight or partial shade and can survive outdoors in warm regions. However, excessive frost and freezing will most likely kill the plant quickly.
If you stay in areas that experience temperatures close to freezing and still want to grow trailing lantana, ensure you cover the top of the soil with enough mulch just before winter.
This is a relatively low-maintenance plant that requires moderate watering and medium moisture to thrive. Once the plant becomes well established, it only needs light watering when the soil starts to show signs of drying. Never allow the soil to dry out completely.
Potted plants require frequent watering but make sure the soil doesn’t become soggy. Place a layer of mulch around newly planted lantana to prevent weeds until the plant covers the entire area with its foliage.
Always prune perennial trailing lantana back to 6-12 inches from the ground level in the spring. Pruning helps to remove the old growth to reinvigorate the plant.
5. Mountain Pepper
Mountain pepper bush is a lovely evergreen shrub that can complement your cactus quite well. The plant has beautiful red stems and dark green leaves that add a unique appearance to your garden or interior spaces.
Once established the plant is drought-resistant and can thrive with minimal care. Mountain pepper is named for its pungent and hot-tasting oils found in its leaves. The plant produces clusters of relatively small, sweet-smelling, pale yellow or creamy white flowers that mostly appear in late winter and early spring.
The flowers are usually followed by dark red fruits that turn black when ripe. The mountain pepper can reach heights of up to 13 feet tall at full maturity. It can also spread to a width of up to eight feet. It usually works well as a privacy screen or hedge plant and will always hold its own focal point in your garden.
The easiest way to grow this plant is by purchasing the male and female plants at your local plant nursery. Alternatively, you can acquire mature seeds and plant them. Seeds tend to germinate well when they are still fresh.
Water the plant deeply during the first few months to help it establish a deep root system but always allows the soil to dry completely between watering to prevent root rot. Even at maturity, you still need to water the plant regularly, especially during the hot and dry seasons.
Consider pruning the plant slightly during spring to maintain its natural form. Fertilization is not necessary.
Growing cacti plants in your home garden or indoors helps to fill areas that might not be ideal for the growth of high-maintenance plants. However, you need more than cacti plants to make your garden look stunning and well balanced.
We hope you now have an idea of some of the plants that can act as great companions to your cactus. Let us know if you have any questions or suggestions in the comments section below.