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Kyle Leonard is an urban gardener from Salford. He loves experimenting with succulents, cacti and anything else he can find the room to grow. You may also recognise Kyle as the founder of the infamous 2016 GardenTags seed swap. Read on for more of Kyles Urban Gardening Adventures…
Urban Gardening Adventures Vol. 3
Create Your own Cacti Garden
Hello! So you want to create a cacti garden for your home? You’ve come to the right place! In this blog, I will provide some key considerations when thinking about creating a cacti garden which will last for years and always look fantastic.
So grab a pen and jot down some notes to take with you to the garden centre.
We begin with seed. I always like to go with a mixed variety, which can be found online or in most garden centres. You never know what you’re going to get, as Forrest Gump once said – or something to that effect. But be warned, cacti seeds can take years before they mature – you’ll need a lot of patience. If you don’t have patience, skip this step and go straight to the pot selecting element below, but for this you’ll need to substitute seed with mature cacti/succulents.
First of all, I find something I can use with a lid – a plastic takeaway container (cleaned) is always a winner. Pierce holes into the bottom and add some cacti compost to the container, adding extra sharp sand if you wish. Place the container on something which can hold water and act as a reservoir. Whenever I spread my cacti seeds, I am quite liberal – I don’t really have a technique apart from scattering them and where they fall, they will hopefully germinate. After sowing, I put the lid tightly back onto the takeaway container to lock in all the moisture.
It should take a few weeks to over a month before you see any sign of life, but remember as they’re a mixed variety they’ll have different germination times so don’t worry if you only have a few at this point.
In a few months time your cacti will be ready to transport to a bigger pot so you’ll need to get this ready. This is where you can really express yourself and add your personalised, one-off touch to your home – no one else in the world will have an exact replica of your garden, which makes it a bit more special.
All you need to remember is that it needs to last years and be able to home your cacti. The best materials I have found are glass, clay, stone, porcelain and in some cases metal. You will need to ensure there’s enough drainage holes at the bottom – you don’t want to water-log your cacti! So if you opt for a glass dish, you will need to carefully drill holes into the bottom. For my first cacti garden, I went with an old slow cooker lid, which had a ready made hole on the bottom once I removed the handle.
Once your pot is chosen and has sufficient drainage holes, you need to start thinking about what potting medium you want to use. I like to use a sandy cacti compost, with added sharp sand to help with drainage. Ensure you water your compost before transportation of the cacti – this will give you an indication if you need to add anything extra.
When adding your very small cacti to your garden, use a small stick to gently tease underneath the plant – to not damage the roots or the plant itself. Create a hole big enough for the cacti in your garden and slowly place it in, using your finger to firm up round the base, this fills any voids or air pockets around the roots. At this stage I like to mix in a little sharp sand around the base of the cacti.
You can decorate your garden as you wish – but in my non-expert opinion, I like to add small stones as it adds a desert feel to the whole setup and looks natural. Wood can also look good, but will rot down over time. You can buy little fairy houses, benches, windmills online the list is never-ending.
Fast forward 2-3 years and I hope you have yourself a great looking cacti garden, which you can be proud of because you made it yourself.
Check back for more Urban Gardening Adventures from @KyleLeonard
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