Plants - Indoor Plants

Create a desert bowl

Gather a variety of different-sized cacti and plant them together to create an interesting houseplant oasis

Cacti have a reputation for sitting around in corners getting dusty and barely growing, but use them in a new way and they come to life. They look great planted in small groups, and given a sand mulch such a group becomes a funky and kitsch desert scene. All it needs is a miniature cowboy.

When to start:
At its best:
Early summer
Time to complete: 1½ hours

You will need:

  • Shallow planting bowl
  • Crocks or pebbles
  • Cacti soil
  • Washed sand
  • Newspaper
  • Spoon
  • Heavy-duty gloves
  • Watering can
  • Miniature cacti (this selection includes Cleistocactus strausii, Mammillaria hahniana, Opuntia tuna, and Rebutia species)

Before you start

Cacti famously survive on little water, but if you want them to grow and flower they should actually be watered regularly during the growing season. Giving them a thorough watering before planting will help the roots make good contact with the new soil, and they should grow very well.

desert-step2.gifAid drainage
All cacti hate to sit in water, so make sure it will run freely through the growing medium, and out of the bottom of the pot. The container should have lots of drainage holes, covered by a layer of pebbles or crocks, to prevent the soil from clogging up the holes.

desert-step3.gifSet out the plants
Don your protective gloves and start arranging your plants. If you have chosen the position for each of your cacti before you start, planting will be easier and you are more likely to end up with a good overall effect. It makes sense to put smaller ones at the front and larger ones at the back, but also consider planting those with different habits, textures, and flower color next to each other.

desert-book.gifReprinted with permission from How to Grow Practically Everything. Copyright 2010 by Dorling Kindersley.

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