Growing a cactus garden is a great way to experiment with unusual and unique plants. Cacti and succulents pair nicely together and have similar needs in regards to watering and soil requirements. Whether you are making a dish garden for inside, or a large container or bed outside, the requirements and steps are the same. A perfect fit for those looking to have a low maintenance planter or garden, cacti save you money on water and save you time on maintenance. Generally easy to look after and very easy to maintain, cacti and succulents are a favourite among those without a green thumb or the time to look after more sensitive plants. Coming in a wide variety of shapes, colours, and textures, succulents and cacti are an amazing collection of plant varieties that can turn a space into something truly unique.
To begin, you will need an area of yard, or a container that you wish to plant in, and will need to create the soil mixture. In yards and large containers, it is important to remove any existing soil to a depth of 1-2 feet because natural soil is too dense to plant into for cacti and will not allow them to drain quickly enough. Cacti enjoy having a soil mixture that is one part potting mix, to 4 parts sand or pebbles. The resulting mixture will be very dry and should drain extremely quickly and not retain much moisture. For indoor dish gardens, you can use vermiculite or sand to break up the soil. Dish gardens for this specific project do not need to have drainage holes because when you do water the planter, it will be very lightly and should not be enough to pool up at the base of the dish.
Once the soil is prepared, you can begin to plant. For the most part, cacti require dry and hot environments that have a large amount of afternoon sun. Succulents on the other hand, have some plants with similar requirements as cacti, and others that prefer to be in filtered locations with indirect light. Pair cacti and succulents that have similar light requirements together in the garden, or in a container, to create an interesting display of colour and texture. Many succulent varieties flower and have long spikes that protrude from the base of the plant and contain blooms at the tip. Cacti also bloom, generally on their top surfaces, or on their sides. A cacti and succulent garden is a great way to experiment with different colours and blooms that most common garden flowers do not offer, and a way to try out new plants and species.
When watering your garden, avoid spraying the plants directly, and try to water at the base of the plants. In an indoor dish garden that is roughly the size of a dinner plate, add one-third of a cup of water every 6-8 weeks depending on the temperature and light available inside. For outdoor gardens, water only when the top 10-15cm of soil is dry and powdery. Too much water will easily kill the cacti and succulents.