How to Plant a Cactus Container Garden

Look sharp. You can make a cactus container garden in about an hour.

Container Cactus Garden

Container Cactus Garden

Make your container garden fun and interesting with a mix of cactus colors and shapes. Choose plants with the same basic growing needs (most take full sun).

Photo by: Shutterstock/socool23

Shutterstock/socool23

Make your container garden fun and interesting with a mix of cactus colors and shapes. Choose plants with the same basic growing needs (most take full sun).

Think beyond the blooms when you plant a container garden. Cacti come in colors that range from green to gray to near-blue and they come in lots of interesting shapes. Better still, they’re easy to grow and need little care. Once you've gathered your materials, you can create a cactus container garden in about an hour.

1: Find a Container

Most cacti have shallow roots and grow slowly, so choose a shallow container. You don't need a deep pot or a very large one.

2: Add Gravel and Potting Mix

Spread a layer of small pebbles or gravel in the bottom of your container. Top it with some potting mix designed for cacti. (Ordinary potting mixes hold too much water for these plants, which store moisture in their stems.)

3. Arrange Your Plants

With your cacti still in their original pots, experiment with arranging them in the container. When you're happy with your design, make holes for them in the potting mix.

Cactus Garden

Cactus Garden

Terracotta containers are a good choice for cactus gardens. They let water evaporate faster than other materials.

Photo by: Courtesy of Costa Farms

Courtesy of Costa Farms

Terracotta containers are a good choice for cactus gardens. They let water evaporate faster than other materials.

4: Don't Get Sticky Fingers

Now for the tricky part: removing the cacti from their pots. Slip on a pair of thick gloves to protect your hands and use tongs to gently ease out the plants (some spines can pierce even heavy gloves). No gloves? Fold layers of newspapers or a piece of lightweight cardboard into a thick band. Wrap it around each plant before you handle it.

If your cactus clings to its pot, give it a couple of light raps against a hard surface, or slide a dull knife around the inner rim. If that doesn't work, you might have to break the container. Put on protective eye gear before you smash a clay pot or cut off a plastic one.

5: Firm the Soil

When your plants are in place, use a small trowel, spoon or other tool to add more potting mix, gently firming it down.

6: Water

Lightly water the cacti. Wait until the soil dries out before you water again. If you overwater, they may rot.

7: Enjoy Your Garden

Want to dress up your cactus garden? Put a layer of decorative pebbles or small stones over the soil, or add some miniature figurines. Use the tongs to move the figurines close to your prickly plants.

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