For gardeners with limited outdoor space cacti and other succulents are the best choice – even a tiny window sill will do for space. Cacti and succulents can be raised in a simply staggering range of sizes.
The cacti are curious, often spiny, fleshy stemmed plants constituting the family of cactaceae. Although cacti are native to America; they are cultivated all over the world for their attractive forms and often striking blossoms. There are about 120 genera with perhaps 1700 species. They are extremely draught resistant plants and thrive in very arid regions.
There is a great variety of body shape and patterns and many of the plants are grown as ornamental plants or oddities. From button like Peyote (Lophophora), low clumps of prickly pear (Opentia) to upright columns of barrel cacti (Ferocactus and Echinocactus) and the imposing Saguaro (Cereus Giganteus or Carnegiea) trees, the shape of cacti varies.
Apart from naturally occurring shapes grafting different cacti can give rise to a large variety too. The appearance of plant also varies according to whether stem surface is smooth or ornamented with protruding tubercles, ridges or groves. Frequently the flowers are large, attractive and white or brightly colored. These flowers last from few hours to few days.
My Cacti Garden in a Corner of my House
Growing a Cactus Garden
Arranging a home garden with cacti can be left to the imagination of the gardeners. It can be from a rock garden to a row of pots of cacti. The taller one at the farther end of the garden and the smaller and grafted ones in the front or eye catching places will generally make a good arrangement. Small pots of cacti can be kept on a ladder type bench made from planting granite type stone slabs in one corner of the garden.
The classic cacti soil consists of equal parts of red sand, coarse sand and cow dung. Bone meal is good manure for cacti but then care should be taken to add a small quantity (a teaspoon) of DDT powder to keep ants away. Particles of charcoal will keep the soil mix from becoming too acidic.
The pots for growing cacti can be of any shape or size. Bell shaped cacti usually grow best in containers that fit them with very little room to spare. Large tall pots can be used for cacti which grow like trees. A small shallow pot will suit well for button type cacti. All pots should have large drainage hole.
Cacti require water and sunshine in a balanced way. A cacti kept in sunlight the whole day be watered daily. But a cactus kept on window sill, where sun light is available only for a few hours a day only once a week. Still cacti kept inside the house can grow well if watered once in 20 to 30 days. A little negligence in watering cacti does no harm to them. However over watering totally spoils the cactus.
About the Author
Dr V T Sathyanathan is a boiler consultant with 35 years of experience in various areas of high pressure boiler trouble shooting. He holds a PhD in coal combustion in boilers. Interested in Bosai & Cacti, has about 70 bonsais and 30 Cacti to his collection. The oldest one is 55years of age and the youngest is 3 years. He takes classes for Graduate and Post-Graduate horticulture students on Bonsai & Cacti.
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