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Daily Archives: July 20, 2012

Drought & Watering Bans Make Cacti a Garden Star

Landscaping with cactus has been an acquired taste for many gardeners, but it appears the appetite for the robust plants is growing. Lingering drought, watering bans and low-maintenance requirements are making cacti more popular.

Cacti are succulents, native to the New World. Approximately 250 of the recognized 3,000 species are found in North America.

If you’re going to plant cacti, put temperature-tested plants, cuttings or seeds — preferably those native to your area — in places with Southern exposures, if possible. Give them at least six hours of sun per day.

Provide a bed of 8 to 12 inches of sandy soil, supplemented by granite or gravel mulch. Be stingy about watering, particularly in autumn when the plants are evaporating away any surplus moisture.

Once cacti are established, they don’t need any extra watering and only a little supplemental watering when it’s extremely hot and dry.  Do give them some organic fertilizers — particularly if you are trying to optimize their flowering and accelerate their growth. Cacti don’t react well to chemicals that people commonly use throughout their landscapes.

Cacti may be stuck with a prickly reputation, but there are spineless, scented and edible varieties.  The hardy Beehive has fragrant flowers followed by edible fruit that tastes like strawberries

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