Planning to start your own home garden in Australia? Then surely you will be looking for plants that can thrive in the country’s intense heat, full sun, and lack of water. Luckily, succulents and cacti are drought tolerant and have a huge range to choose from. Most species of these plant are extremely hardy and require little maintenance. They can be grown in garden beds or in pots, indoors or out. They look great and creating your own collection full of colour and texture is easier than you think.
Here are some useful tips you can follow to grow your own succulents and cacti in pots.
Pick a Happy & Healthy Looking Plant
The very first step towards growing your own succulents is to select plants that are happy and healthy-looking. You can visit your local plant nursery, or you can simply enjoy the convenience of shopping online.
When selecting cacti from a nursery, choose plants that are not shrunken or wrinkled. If the plant is turning yellow or brown, it may mean it has been exposed to intense heat and has suffered some damage.
With succulents, look for a plant that has fat, green or colourful, pert leaves. This is one of the easiest ways to tell you are picking a succulent that is healthy. If you notice a plant that is brown, wilted, or looks like it’s stretching towards sunlight, it doesn’t mean it will die immediately, but these are the signs the plant hasn’t been well cared for and needs some TLC.
Choose the Right Soil or Make Your Own
Plants like succulents and cacti need well-draining soil to thrive and stay healthy. When you buy these plants, do not forget to purchase a pre-made cacti and succulent mix or you can easily make your own. Pre-made mixes are available at most garden centres. If you wish to make your own, you will need potting soil, coarse sand, and pumice or perlite. The ratio for the mixture should be 3 parts potting mix, 2 parts coarse sand and 1 part perlite or pumice.
A Pot with Good Drainage
You now have healthy plants and a good draining soil, the next thing you need is a pot with good drainage to get rid of excess water. Here, focus on a planter with either a hole in the bottom for drainage or an unglazed ceramic pot that will help wick away moisture. If you can, avoid a planter that is made from plastic or any such material that traps moisture.
Provide Them with Optimum Sunlight
Whether you are planning to keep your plants indoors or outdoors, choose a place where they can get plenty of sunlight. Sun loving succulents and cacti require a minimum of 4 hours of direct sunlight on them. Bear in mind that not all succulents are sun lovers and some species require low light environments. If you are looking for plants for low light conditions, it is best to get advice from your local plant supplier.
The first sign your plants are not getting enough sunlight, is a change in colour with the leaves starting to turn brown or yellow. They will also start to lose their shape as they stretch towards the sunlight. If you see your plants turning brown or yellow in colour, you must shift them to a location where they get more sunlight.
Hold off Watering
A major mistake made with trying to grow succulents and cacti is overwatering. As succulents have fat leaves, they work by storing water in them and have evolved to thrive in dry, aired conditions. If you over-water them, your succulents and cacti will suffer from root rot and will eventually die. When watering, soak the soil until water is running out of the pot’s drainage hole and only water when the soil is completely dry from top to bottom. If you use a tray under the pot to collect excess water, make sure you tip the extra water out and do not leave the plant to sit in the water. In the winter, keep your cacti dry and do not water at all. For succulents, a general rule is to water once a month in winter. If you are not clear, just hold off watering rather.
This may seem obvious, but it is important to remember that growing plants takes time. If gardening teaches us anything, it is to be patient. You need to be patient when potting and repotting your plants, allowing them to time to adjust and grow at their own pace. If you constantly make changes to their environments, it will take a few days or even weeks to adjust it their new location and to show any results. Give your plants time to grow and adapt to their new home, and occasionally check in to see they are happy and are not showing any signs for needing more light. Just follow these simple tips and your succulents and cacti will continue to give for years to come.