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Beginners Guide to Starting a Cactus Garden

by Caitlin Pianta (follow)
Outdoors (5)      gadening (1)      cactus (1)     
Cacti can be an easy, no fuss option for aspiring gardeners. On the same token, they can be exotic and interesting plants that can make a quirky addition to your home and garden.

You can buy cacti at any good garden shop these days, however you can also find them online and sometimes even sold in a package of a few plants suited to your level of gardening experience or your plant preference.

There are a lot of different cacti out there and choosing the right ones for you can be confusing. However, the Crown and Aztec varieties are a couple of the best options for those just starting out.

So, now you have your plants, how do you look after them?!

Firstly, watering. Although cacti can certainly survive on minimal water, they will not thrive on it, so during their growing season, these plants like regular watering and fertilizing. For most, the period of growth is from Spring into Fall. Many plants stop putting on growth from late Fall to early Spring, when temperatures are cool and daylight length is short, and during mid-Summer, when temperatures are at their peak.
During the "hibernation" period, lengthen the times between watering and ensure the potting mixture is dried out before watering again.

When it comes time to re-pot, keep it as simple as possible. Cacti prefer well-draining soil, so if you are using standard potting mix, add a little sand throughout the mix to ensure that water drains easily.
If you decide, when the plants are grown enough, to plant them directly into a garden bed, the same general rules apply. Make sure the soil drains easily and plant the individual cacti well apart to ensure allowances for growth.

When it comes to light, most of these plants like bright light but some of them can't tolerate direct, intense sunlight.
To make it simple, if the plant is getting too much sunlight it may appear to take on a bleached look and turn off-colour (yellowing or even turning orange).
If it is getting too little light, it will appear to elongate and start to grow up as if reaching for accessible sunlight. The plant will begin to look stretched out.

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