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How to Plant a Cactus Garden

This is a vertical shot of the length of our cacti and succulent garden.

How to Plant a Cactus Garden

November 28, 2021

 

There's nothing more homey than plants, whether they're inside or outside your home. Since we live in the desert, we have an abundance of cacti so we want to utilize the most of the landscape and create a beautiful cactus garden outside. Keep in mind whether you live in a dry place like Arizona, or if you're in a humid climate, you can typically have a cactus garden and keep cacti alive. The trick is to water less if the environment is humid and has a lot of moisture in the air. 

Plan your garden

A cactus garden can be created in a medium to large pot, a portable planter, in the ground, or in a more permanent, raised planter as you see we’ve done here. Once you’ve nailed down the size of the space, you’ll want to determine how the plants you want to use can layout within the space. Select cactus and succulents with varying heights, since this is going to look a bit more natural but it will also provide your garden with more visual texture. Taller, more cylindrically shaped plants take up less space, allowing you to optimize the space better. You want to fill the space as much as you can while also anticipating the future growth of your cactus and succulents (make sure to keep the names and specific information of the succulents so you have an idea of how tall and wide they can grow!)

Build your cactus garden

As with all plants, cactus and succulents need loose, well draining soil to grow their best, including when they are establishing their roots after being recently planted. You always want to dig an area 2-3 times larger than the root ball of what you are planting. This will allow the roots to expand and lock themselves into the new soil.

The hardest part about building a cactus garden is dealing with the thorns. Luckily, it's pretty easy to avoid getting pricked, especially after you have done it a few times. Here’s what to do: 1) Use an old towel, an old small bath mat, or any piece of fabric that has some thickness to it but is not too large; say 2 ft by 3 ft max. 2) This will allow you to wrap the plant while covering the thorns and keeping you protected. You don’t want to wrap the root ball of the plant given that’s what you are planting into the ground. 3) Once you set the root ball in the hole and have compacted the dirt, you can gently unwrap the fabric, avoiding damaging the plant by pulling out the thorns.

Taking care of your cactus garden

Although cactus are drought tolerant, we find that means they can survive a drought but watering them accordingly makes them the best they can be. Your cactus will typically be more green, bloom more, and look more healthy overall if you water them in a consistent pattern. We water this garden once a week, allowing the well draining soil to dry out.

Most cacti and succulents have similar watering needs in that you always want to let the soil dry completely before watering again. However, some succulents or even cactus may require more water than others. You can then group the plants within your garden based on their expected watering needs. The joke is that you can't kill a cactus, and while it might be more difficult than a green plant, there is specific care that will keep the cactus healthy and looking its best. 

Don’t hesitate to move or remove plants that become too big for your garden. We will be moving this yucca to a new home in our yard very soon given its getting a little too big for the space and has also produced some babies that need room to grow.

This is a close up of several succulents and cactus in our cactus garden.

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