For people with little time for plant care or for those who just like a southwestern look, you may find a container cactus garden to be interesting. A shallow terra cotta planter, potting soil, colored rocks and a couple of cacti and you’ve got yourself a minimal-care container garden. And since cacti thrive in desert regions, these plants will do well even when neglected for a couple of weeks.
Most cacti have the same light and water requirements, which makes creating a container combination easy, but a few species differ slightly. When selecting cacti for a planter, consider the water and light needs along with the mature size of each plant.
Container size should be taken into consideration as well, as some cacti remain quite small and compact while others will grow to be a few feet in height or close to a foot in width. A well-balanced container cactus garden will consist of a combination of short, tall, spreading and compact growing cacti.
Select a wide, shallow (under 5 inches) terra cotta planter with drainage holes in the bottom. Place a coffee filter over the drainage holes inside the planter to prevent soil leakage when the plants are watered. Place an inch or two of small pea gravel in the planter bottom, then fill the container with a potting soil mix formulated for cactus. Plant cacti, leaving enough space between each one to allow for growing.Top the soil with your own personal touches like colored sand, lava rock and colored glass.
Cactus growing season is from early spring until mid-fall. During this time your container cactus garden will need to be placed in a location (indoors or out) where it will receive several hours of direct sunlight each day. During the winter, move the container to a location where temperatures remain around 50 degrees day and night, no drafts and receives either direct or indirect sunlight.
Water thoroughly every 10 to 14 days. If any of the plants become limp or turn pale, they need more often. During the winter months, water container lightly once a month.
Fertilize cactus with a low-nitrogen fertilizer once a month during the growing season only.
Re-pot cactus when they have outgrown their original container, then only go up to a slightly larger planter. Wear thick gloves when re-potting cacti and should you receive a spine in the hand, use a piece of tape to lift it out of the skin.