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GardenSMART :: Grow Cacti and Succulents for an Easy-Care Yard

Grow Cacti and Succulents for an Easy-Care Yard

By Justin Hancock, Costa Farms
Photographs courtesy of Costa Farms

Enjoy a yard – or container gardens – that are amazingly easy to care for and colorful by growing trendy cacti and succulents. There's a wide variety available, so it's easy to get the right look. Not sure how to get started? Dig into our tips!

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Grow Like a Pro

  • Light: Most cacti and succulents do best in full sun (at least six to eight hours of direct light per day). If you have a spot that gets only part sun (especially if it's shaded in the afternoon hours), pay close attention to varieties that handle less light.
  • Water: If you plant in a spot where the plants get natural rainfall, you may not need to water them at all unless your area experiences a drought. In containers, let the top several inches of the potting mix dry. If you plant cacti and succulents in the ground, be sure the area has good drainage. Or grow these beauties in raised beds to prevent them from rotting in rainy weather patterns. 
  • Fertilizer: Sprinkle a little time-release fertilizer in when you plant them. They'll be happy campers through the growing season.

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Plant Perfect Combinations

  • Start with Low Growers: Use edging plants to showcase your planting beds by giving them nice, crisp outlines. Tidy little varieties like Echeveria are ideal for the perimeter of your beds and borders, as well as along walkways. Tip: Mix and match different varieties to highlight the subtle shifts in color and texture.
  • Add Vertical Appeal: Raise the eye up from your low-growing cacti and succulents with upright growers like African milk tree (Euphorbia lactea) or Mexican fencepost cactus (Lemaireocereus marginatus). Use them in the back of the border to create big impact.
  • Create Colorful Contrasts: One of the simplest tricks in a garden designer's toolbox is the power of contrast. Pairing plants with purple and yellow tones, for example, creates a visual pop that's tough to beat.
  • Mix and Match Shapes: You can also have fun with the impact of contrast by combining plants with different forms. Ball-shaped golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii) makes a fun partner to upright-growing African milk tree.
  • Go Bold with Blooms: Think cacti and succulents are just about their leaves? Think again! Varieties like desert rose (Adenium obesum) also offer showy flowers and bring softness to beds, borders, and containers.

Bring bigger impact – and less work – to your yard with the elegance and easy-care nature of cacti and succulents (such as the Desert Escape® collection).


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Photographs courtesy of Suntory Flowers

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