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Whether you have a green thumb or not, cacti are no doubt one of the best plants to grow in your landscaping and not just indoors.

Cactus is very easy to maintain- if you want to make your cactus happy, just give it sunshine, sand, and a little bit of water. Even in neglect, it will survive. This is why cactus, among other succulents, is enjoying overwhelming popularity in the garden design world.

Growing cacti in your landscape can be a great way to give your outdoor space a unique look. Some varieties of these plants produce beautiful blooms during the spring and summer, thus, guaranteeing you space of elevated beauty. 

If you’re looking to start a cacti garden in your landscaping, you’re in the right place- keep reading to learn how to grow and maintain cacti in your landscaping.

Ways to Add Cacti to your Landscaping

Cactus plants come in various sizes, shapes and colors. With a ton of options to choose from, you can add these low-maintenance, drought-tolerant plants to your landscaping and save lots of time and water. Some of the ways to add cacti to your outdoor space include:

  • Mix a wide variety of cactus to create a centerpiece garden.
  • Line up barrel cactus along the walkway to create visual interest.
  • Add more life to your rock garden.
  • Scatter stone and gravel where your cacti grow for a desert-inspired theme.
  • Try potted varieties for a creatively-arranged garden.
  • Create a wall of tall cactus varieties

Are you ready to plant cacti outdoors? Let’s start the process:

Requirements for Growing Cacti Outdoors

If you understand their lighting, soil conditions and watering requirements, cactus plants can really transform your outdoors into a beautiful and attractive space. Here are the requirements for growing cacti outdoors:

  1. If you’re planting a cactus outdoors, late spring through summer is a good time to do so. During this period, the plants are actively growing and will establish the roots more quickly and get off to an easier start.
  2. Cactus plants love light. Therefore, when growing cactus outdoors, choose a sunny location. Ideally, an area that gets a minimum of 6 hours and a maximum of 8 hours of sunshine daily for your cacti to thrive. 
  3. Cacti thrive in fast-draining soil. Thus, plant your cacti in a sloped location whenever possible. This allows for better drainage.

How to Plant Cactus Outdoors

  1. Cacti will not thrive in your typical garden soil. Soils that can hold water for long will cause root rot. Thus, use soils that are porous so water is absorbed easily, and then drained quickly and still can retain some moisture and nutrients.

There are two ways to go about this: you can either prepare a potting soil mix and grow your cacti in containers outdoors or prepare the ground soil to receive cacti.

To prepare your cactus potting soil, mix organic material (to help provide nutrients for your plants) with non-organic material (to help with drainage). A good cactus soil-mix will include one-third compost like bark or peat moss, one-third horticultural sand and one-third grit in form of perlite, vermiculite or pumice.

What is the difference between perlite and vermiculite? Check out this Vermiculite vs. Perlite guide we found.

If planting on the ground soil outdoors, prepare the soil in the planting area by mixing equal parts native soil and store-bought garden soil for cactus.

  • Next, prepare a deep hole that’s twice as wide as the root ball or the stem of the cacti you want to plant outside. If starting an outdoor cacti container garden, ensure it also has drain holes to help with quick-draining.
  • Set the plant in the hole, ensuring it is replaced with the exact same orientation it was in before being transplanted.

It’s important to always know the orientation of your plant when transplanting or relocating it- ideally, noting its previous orientation and the side where light originates by marking it with a chalk and ensuring that mark must face the same orientation no matter where the plant goes.

You can ask the garden center and when planting, for instance, set the plant in the hole so the north side of the plant faces north, and the south side faces the south.

Usually, the south-facing side of the plant develops tougher skin that is more tolerant to the sun as it receives more sun that the north-facing side which may not be able to tolerate the sun that well.

  • Pull the soil around the root ball then pat it gently.
  • Water lightly to settle the plant.
  • Provide shade for a cactus that was grown in an outdoor greenhouse for a few days so it can get used to the strong outdoor sun.
  • Feed your cactus plant. Use cactus fertilizer every time you water your plants to promote absorption by the roots. You can also try using cow compost that is properly composted.
  • Give your cactus plants a moderate layer of mulch such as rocks or pebbles. This also provides added beauty to your landscaping.

How to Care & Maintain Cacti in your Landscaping

Now that your cactus plants have been planted, it’s important to maintain them for beautiful landscaping. Usually, cacti do not require intensive care, but with proper care, they can outlive most plants in your garden.

To get you started:

  1. Watering your cactus plants

Ideally, a minimum of one watering a week while your plant is growing is enough, but check that the soil is completely dry but not too dry and cracking.

When watering, soak your plants well until you see the water coming off from the drain holes or draining down the sloppy land. The result should be soil that is moist but not wet.

As the temperatures dip in the winter, there is enough humidity in the air already. Thus, avoid watering your plants too much to avoid a cactus with rotting roots. In this case, lengthen the watering and always let the soil dry out between waterings.

  • Feeding

Cacti are not heavy feeders; and won’t require a lot of fertilizer. Thus, fertilize your cacti only while they are growing, and stop fertilization in late summer to avoid any new growth in the winter, unless they are winter-hardy.

While they require no special fertilizer blend, they thrive when fed with a highly diluted all-purpose fertilizer. For instance, a 10–10–10 fertilizer with equal parts of Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium diluted to one-quarter strength is ideal for cactus growth. To use, add the solution to the water for each watering.

Pruning

Cacti pruning is not necessary. However, it is done to start new plants or prevent overcrowding that can cause the spread of diseases.

Lighting Requirements

While cactus species flourish in bright light, intense, direct sunlight coupled with high temperatures can damage your plants causing scorching, and bleaching. Prevent this by moving your plants to a shady area as the sun gets too hot. 

Cacti Problems

Cacti problems like rotting roots can be prevented by avoiding over watering; and stunted growth can also be dealt with by re-potting your cactus plants once they start to overcrowd.

It’s also important to check your plants for broken stems and cacti diseases to ensure your cacti grow in good health.

Now go, and start a thriving cacti garden!