Cacti and succulents are remarkably attractive and easy to manage. They’ve evolved to withstand extreme temperatures and dry weather with low amounts of water and nutrition. These plants are ideal for low-maintenance gardens and can thrive in all kinds of soils. However, it’s important to understand how these plants work before you plant them in your garden. Often homeowners mistakenly use the same techniques they do with regular plants when caring for and watering cacti and succulents. They use sprinklers, provide too much or too little water, or plant them in a spot with not enough sunlight.
Things to Keep in Mind When You Plant Succulents and Cacti
For these beautiful plants to last, they need to be planted properly. Succulents and cacti need to develop strong roots in order to thrive so you need to provide the right foundation. Here are some tips that can help:
- Pots – You need to choose the right pots for your cacti and succulents. Some plants have shallow and fibrous roots so they don’t need deep pots. Some plants look small from the surface but have deep and dense roots and need bigger pots. You can ask your landscaping expert or sales people at your local gardening store for advice. They will recommend the best pots for your plant.
- Soils – Cacti and succulents are accustomed to sandy and gritty soil so they won’t perform well in clay-like heavy soils. You can purchase pre-mixed soil from your local gardening store or make your own mix. You would have to mix sand and grit with a small portion of compost and soil. It will provide enough nutrition to the plants and drain water well.
- Light – Both cacti and succulents require ample sunlight to thrive but they won’t do well under intense and direct sunlight. Make sure you place the pots in a relatively shaded area with ample brightness. This will help the plants retain their color and intensity.
Tips for Watering Cacti and Succulents
These plants might be accustomed to dry weather and low quantities of water, but they do need some water to survive. Succulents and cacti have evolved to manage water efficiently so you need to make sure you don’t drown their roots and cause decay by watering them excessively. Here are some tips that can help you:
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- Make sure your pot and soil allows proper drainage – Cacti and succulent roots are designed to source water from relatively dry sand. They can drown if there’s too much water in the pot. Make sure your pot and soil allows the water to drain freely and easily.
- Type of water – Tap water is often hard and contains a lot of minerals. These minerals can accumulate in the soil and cause harm to the delicate plant roots. If your tap water is hard, try to harvest rain water for your garden as that would provide the best amount of nutrition to your plants. If that’s not possible, you will have to change the soil and repot your soil once every few months or years.
- Use a watering can instead of a spray bottle – Many people use sprinklers or spray bottles to water their plants. That will hamper the growth of your cacti and succulents. Instead, soak the soil with water and allow the liquid to sink into the pot. When you spray water, you only moisten the surface of the soil and the plant itself. That’s not enough.
- Cacti and succulent watering schedule – The watering schedule depends largely on the water conditions. If the temperature is normal and weather is relatively cool, the evaporation rate will be low so you can water the plants once a week. However, when the temperatures soar and the air becomes dry, the evaporation rate will rise as well. Your plants will need water twice a week or more during summer months.
- Water according to seasons – Like all plants, cacti and succulents also go through a growing period during fall and spring. They need more water and nutrition in these months so you should provide more water to the plants. You can simply test the soil and see if it’s too dry. If the soil surface feels baked and parched, you need to water succulents and cacti more often. You should also water less often during the winter as the plants will enter a period of rest and dormancy. You can allow longer intervals between watering sessions.
If you water cacti and succulent plants properly, they’ll thrive for a long time. These plants are beautiful, hardy, and fuss-free. They’re not as vulnerable to pests and diseases as regular flowering and fruit-producing plants so they won’t require regular pesticide application. Before you go to a nursery to purchase plants, make sure to consult with a landscape designer such as Blooming Desert to make sure you’re selecting the right plants for your yard.