The cactus, also known as desert rose, is the most unique way to pep up your garden. They are available in a wide variety from long vines, sturdy bushes, to ones with exotic flowers. Most of them do not require any special care. Living in desert conditions, these plants can adapt to almost any environment.
Varieties of Cactus
- Barrel Cactus: As the name suggests, they resemble a barrel. They have yellow flowers at the crown and pineapple-shaped fruits. Unlike other species of cactus, they grow in the south direction. Hence, they are also known as compass cactus.
- Pincushion Cactus: These plants are small and rounded, and have very small spines.
- Totem Pole Cactus: These are sturdy, strong, and slender at the same time. They grow very slowly, but once mature, they can attain a height of 6.5-10 feet. They are expensive as compared to the other species.
- Prickly Pear Cactus: They have small rounded stems. The most unique features of this plant are its fruits. They are red in color, and are also edible.
Plan the Space
Before planning a cactus garden, decide whether you want an indoor or an outdoor garden. Cactus plants require a dry climate to grow. Outdoor gardens are best suited for people living in a hot and dry area. If you live in a cold and humid region, it is better to have an indoor garden. If you live in a cold region but the weather is dry, you can keep the cactus outside. But remember to shift them indoors when the weather is too cold.
Get the Right Type
Choosing a right type of cactus for your garden is very important. Search, Research and Re-search! Talk to people in your area who have gardens or are florists. Choose the type of cactus that is best suited for your area.
- Outdoor Cactus Garden
For an outdoor garden, first decide an area. Make sure there is ample sunlight available there. Choose a location which is sloped, as that will allow proper drainage. The beds of the plant should be around 18 inches deep. First, add a layer of gravels at the bottom of the bed. Then, add soil that is specially prepared for cactus. It will be easily available with the florists or you can prepare it yourself. Mix two parts potting soil, one part gravel, and two parts sand. Another option is one-fourth good peat (available at any store selling florists' supplies), one-half sharp sand, one-fourth good black loam, and pulverized charcoal. If your cactus grows in limestone area, you may add one-fourth part of limestone to the mixture. For that desert look, you may add rocks of your choice. You can create different patterns by adding various varieties of cactus.
- Indoor Cactus Garden
For indoor gardens you may use flower pots. Use a large container, approximately twice the diameter of the plant. Before planting the cactus, check for infected roots and cut them off. Roots of these plants are most vulnerable to diseases. Do not worry even if you have to cut some good roots or the plant is left with only few roots, since it has developed some of the best survival tactics. Remember to use only sterile tools while handling infected plants. If necessary, change the soil. If there are some wounds or cuts on the platyclades (the stem-cum-leaf), leave them for healing in the sun. They have a natural quality of fending for themselves.
It is best to let these plants grow as naturally as possible. Do not water them as you do for other plants. They require very less water, and water clogging can prove to be fatal for these plants. Feed them with fertilizers only once a year (they have grown for years in desert without any water or fertilizers!).