Cacti tend to be slow growing and simple in their needs, which makes many cacti among the easiest plants to grow. Planting a cactus garden can be rewarding, when done properly. These tips will help you get started.
Formulate the Soil
Well-draining soil is critical for any cactus garden, because soils that are too heavy can lock in moisture and rot the roots of your cacti. While you should avoid planting your cacti in pure sand (it doesn't contain nutrients), you can create adequate well-draining soil by mixing equal parts coarse sand with garden soil (or potting soil if growing cacti in pots). For good measure, consider adding a few handfuls of compost. Compost will give your cacti a boost of nutrients and can also contribute to good drainage.
Build In Shady Areas
While some cacti flourish in full sun, others prefer afternoon shade. This is particularly true of jungle cacti, so pay close attention to the labels when purchasing your specimens. To accommodate both types, build some shady areas into your garden. Adding natural features like large boulders to the landscape will give you some flexibility. Planting cacti that prefer some shade in the lee of the rocks (on the north and eastern sides) will ensure that all your cacti get the right amount of sun exposure.
Set Up a Regular Watering Schedule
Some people make the mistake of assuming that cacti don't need water--or need extremely little water--simply because cacti have the ability to grow in very dry areas. Like other plants, cacti do best when they're watered regularly (particularly during the growing season). Set up a regular watering schedule every two or three weeks to ensure that your cacti have enough moisture to grow and flourish.
Protect the Garden
Cactus spikes can be dangerous for pets and small children. Put up a fence around your cactus garden if it poses a threat to smaller, more unsuspecting members of your family.
Plant Cacti for Your Climate
Although deserts are known for being hot, dry places, many deserts can reach freezing temperatures and even get snow during the winter. As a result, there are many cacti that can survive in cold weather climates. Prickly pear cacti are usually good plants for planting in regions that get cold during the winter. Pay attention to the USDA growing zones when purchasing cacti for outdoor growing. Buy only those cacti that will grow in your zone.
Landscaping with cacti adds visual interest to your property. For more information about how to landscape with cacti, speak with a certified landscape designer from a company like Ralph Wells Landscaping.