Succulents are plants with thick, fleshy tissues that have acclimated excellently with regards to water storage. Most succulents thrive in the desert and, as such, have little to no leaves on them. When succulents have leaves, they are usually very small. Some succulents store water in their stems, whereas other succulents store their water in their leaves. Cactus plants, however, store water in the stems rather than in their leaves.
Water intake is mainly consumed through the deep and broad roots, which extend far into the soil. Some succulents like the barrel cactus can last centuries; the long lifespans of growing indoor cactus and succulent gardens make for a perfect garden idea with almost little maintenance.
What Is the Difference Between Cacti and Succulents?
Cactus are succulents grouped into the Cactaceae family. Cacti are desert plants that possess thick, leafless stems covered with sharp spikes. Barbed spines are also present in almost all the cactus species. Still, the cactus can be differentiated from other succulents by the presence of “areoles” called trichomes like plant hairs.
The cactus presents itself in various colors and shapes. Most cacti are green, while some are brown or bluish. They come in shapes; flat as pancake, round, starfish, and snakey. Spines on a cactus are the leaves.
Succulents are majorly different from other plants. It is easy to tell apart a succulent from other plants. One of the striking differences is in the leaves, which are thicker and feel rubbery. They have very shallow roots and cannot survive in soils with high moisture content. Succulents have gotten their name because of their ability to store a lot of water. Their water storage capabilities have struck many arguments about the differences between cacti and succulents. One clear distinction is the ability of cacti to survive in highly arid conditions.
Supplies Needed to Build an Indoor Succulent and Cactus Garden
Succulents are very easy to take care of and are quite popular due to that. An excellent example of a succulent is the Aloe Vera plant. Growing your very own succulent and cactus garden would require having a few tools on hand.
Tools required to build a thriving indoor succulent and cactus garden:
- Single or multiple hand shovels
- Gardening gloves
- Suitable pots for succulents
- Succulents and Cacti of your choosing
- Appropriate soil for planting
- Pebbles to facilitate an optimal drainage system
- Rocks or sand for the decorative top layer
How To Build an Indoor Succulent and Cactus Garden?
Since you’re bringing plants engineered to live in the deserts into your home to make a beautiful garden, measures to help these cactus and succulent gardens thrive are necessary. Luckily, you don’t need to do a lot. Below are 4, simple to follow steps to help your garden succeed.
1. Place rocks as the base layer of the garden or pot meant for your succulent plant. Stones help ensure optimum drainage because soil with high moisture is not suitable for your succulents. Succulents cannot tolerate moisture trapped for too long. Additionally, make drainage holes into the bottom of your container or pot.
2. Pack the soil meant for succulents or cacti on top of the rocks. Some succulents don’t need a lot of soil because their roots are very shallow, while others may require an excess of potting mix. Nevertheless, pack in enough for good measure.
3. Place your succulents in their chosen containers. Succulents and cacti are beautiful indoor plants and are very aesthetic when potted with proper care. After placing the succulents in the soil, put a little more soil on top to secure them in place. Succulent and cacti roots are shallow; without proper support, the plants can tilt or fall over. Seal them in place firmly by simply patting down around the base.
4. Lastly, add the final touches. Make the cactus and succulent garden even more eye-catching by adding more rocks on top or sprinkling sand above the soil. You can also use origami, crystals, whatever you wish, without crowding the succulents.
How To Care for Indoor Succulents and Cactus Gardens
Cacti and succulents are some of the easiest plants to maintain indoors. Some are even neglect tolerant.
Gently blow the dirt off your succulent with a quick blow-dry (not more than 2 seconds) or a straw if you don’t want the soil to go everywhere.
Remember that succulents and cacti are desert plants; they need a lot of sun. It is better to grow them outdoors or on a window ledge with lots of sunlight. Places with open, unobstructed sunlight would be ideal when kept indoors. Otherwise, your cactuses would appreciate being outside in the summer. Optimally, cacti should have about 8 hours of sunlight daily.
Do not water your succulents and cacti too often because they do not need it. Watering desert plants too much can cause harm. A trick to watering succulents is keeping a record of watering periods and only watering when the soil is almost, if not completely, dry deep beneath the surface. In no time, you will notice the desired watering pattern. When it is time to water, soak the soil thoroughly with water.
Do not let water sit on top of the layered leaves of your succulents, or they will rot over time. Deteriorating due to excess water retention is usually the case for indoor succulents more than for outdoor succulents. The increased flow of air outside will naturally cause faster evaporation of water off the top of the leaves more rapidly than indoors.
You can use a spray bottle or a squirt bottle to prevent water from pooling on the leaves. Focus on the soil around the succulent to better avoid pooling water on the leaves, potentially leading to rot.
For growing succulents and cacti, gritty soil works best because of its better drainage capabilities than traditional soil types. The gritty soil should be two-thirds inorganic, with the one-third being organic-based. The concept is to facilitate good drainage while maintaining “soil packing” integrity. Coconut coir is a trick to help the soil retain water if your soil drains too quickly. Unless you want to water your succulents every day, use Coconut coir in your soil mix. The goal is to achieve light and porous soil.
Sometimes plants die. Mourn, then learn from your mistakes. You can easily get new succulents by exchanging cuttings or leaves with another succulent owner because they propagate relatively quickly. You will always learn from mistakes.
Exercise healthy caution when handling your prickly cactuses!
Cactus and succulent gardens are a fun and creative way to spruce up indoor spaces. Desert gardens are manageable for those who lack a green thumb, as well as beautiful ventures for those of us that get a little crazy about plants.
Cacti and succulents need water to soak in nutrients and power their cells. Too much water can kill them, though. Excessive water that does not drain from the plant soil can cause root rot, diseases, molds, viruses, and pests. When watering a cactus and succulent garden, water it thoroughly and check the soil to ensure it is dry inches beneath it before watering again. Allowing the soil to dry out between watering will help prevent pooling water and plant decay.
Most definitely, depending on the type of succulents or cacti you choose. A Christmas Cactus or Hoya Hearts are both flowering succulents; however, there are many others. If you want a flowering cactus for your garden, put in a bit of research, and you will find the plant for you. A flowering succulent garden will allow you to personalize the space even more than only planting generic cacti. You can even go as far as being specific about flower color options.
Potting mix can be handmade in your home by mixing necessary ingredients or store-bought. Both options are great for desert plants. When searching for a soil mixture, you need to find lightweight, well-draining soil. Coconut coir, sand, perlite, rocks are an excellent base to start with; if opting for store-bought, find soil labeled for palms, cacti, and succulents.
Gardening is a way to personalize a space, from choosing the plants and pots to making it fit into your decor. When designing a cactus and succulent garden, you can select the plant you plant to use, choose the container, or garden box, choose the soil toppers, and even tie in some gnomes or statues if feeling creative.
No, succulents and cacti, in general, are some of the best indoor plants to grow due to their ease of maintenance. They do not ask for much aside from watering occasionally and plenty of sunlight. Succulents and cacti are great for all levels of gardening expertise.