Cacti and succulent plants thrive in sunny, dry climates and come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes. These plants can be a great introduction to container gardens, which add something a little special to any outdoor (or even indoor!) space, such as a front step, apartment balcony, back patio, you name it. Here are a few tips about succulent gardens to help you discover your green thumb:
Succulents and cacti need dirt that’s classified as “fast drain” because they have roots that are not fans of being kept in moist soil. You can find it at your local garden store, just make sure it’s marked “cactus dirt” and you should be good to go. Or, if you’re particularly ambitious, you can make your own cactus dirt – there’s a how-to video with a recipe here.
- Find the perfect pot.
Not only do you want to find a pot that’s nice to look at (it is, after all, a big part of your garden) but make sure it has a big hole in the bottom so it will drain when you water your garden, instead of pooling at the bottom. Excess water that gets stuck in the bottom of a pot can cause the roots of your plants to rot, so this point is extra important.
Select a big variety!
Now, the fun part: plant shopping! The interesting thing about succulents is they’re found in all areas of the world, and so you can mix and match. In my latest succulent pot, I have plants from Morocco, Tanzania, and Australia, all mixed together – it’s like a botanical world tour! What makes an interesting succulent container garden, in my opinion, is a variety of heights, leaf shapes, and colors, so don’t be afraid to get picky (even if it takes so long that not just one, but THREE, Home Depot Garden Center employees come up to you over the course of your shopping trip to ask, “Do you need any help, miss?” like, uh, the author of this article..).
Now that you have picked out your plants, make sure they have lots of room to spread out and leaf out. I suggest at least an inch width around each of your small plants when you first plant in order to give them plenty of space to grow and fill out your container garden…or, if you got overly ambitious, container gardens.
- Put them on a good plant diet.
Yep, even cacti like a good drink! Don’t forget to water your succulents about 1-2 times a week. Depending on the size of your garden, you can simply put the whole container under a tap and let the water flow over the garden until it begins to drain out the bottom of the pot (for about fifteen seconds). As long as you have the right soil and pot, your plants will thank you for remembering them (but probably forgive you if you forget them every once and a while. That’s the nice part about these guys.). And worry not, those of you in colder climates: as long as your little succulent garden is placed in a sunny window (but not too near the cold windowpane), they can easily be wintered over indoors and enjoyed all year round. Finally, fertilize your garden at least a few times a year with a ¼ diluted garden fertilizer (especially during the summer, when your garden gets the most light). This will help your plants thrive for years to come. Good luck and happy growing!