House Hacking Project: Weekend Project: Potting Cactus
Ocotillo leafing and in bloom.
In light of the extended drought we are experiencing, water wise landscaping is a great idea. Cactus (which are succulents) are perfect plants for this since they adapted to live in water scarce environments. They can take full sun, blazing heat, near freezing and survive with minimal external watering. They do very well in pots, and the slow growth means you can keep them for years with no need to transplant to a larger container.
Things you will need:
- Gloves, preferably two pair that can double up
- A pot
- Planting soil, preferably a cactus mix
- Your cactus
Here we have our rectangular pot, an aloe and a fox-tail cactus. Gloves are on, and are needed dealing with sharp spines and needles of the plants.
(Sorry for the quality of this picture.) We begin to loosed the plant from it’s container by laying it on the side. Jostling the sides and bottom of the pot help release any adhesion the soil has on the container.
We move to leather gloves, the rubber coated were not working here. Carefully grasp as much surface area as possible to avoid damaging the “branches.” You can see we broke one just trying to free the cactus from the plastic container.
The hardest part: lifting the cactus into it’s new home. These plants can get heavy, and then you add the complexity of spines in the process. It can be difficult to say the least.
We repeat the same process with the aloe. Planting soil was sprinkled on the bottom of the pot before we placed the plants.
The pot was filled with planting soil, and thoroughly watered. Happy plants! This was in June 2006.
October 2014, over eight years later. This pot sees extra water a few times a year, but subsists mainly on our limited natural rain water. The aloe could use a little cleaning up, but you don’t really prune these kinds of plants.
You can pot smaller scale plants as well. We have this neat pot, but it is narrow and drains very quickly. We could never keep anything watered enough. We bought four tea cup sized plants, and you can see they are happy! We water this once a month.
Here is a full blown cactus garden, with dozens of pots surrounding it. Near zero water and maintenance.