Cacti And Succulents
Cacti - Great Plants For Dry Areas
As we often have very hot Summers, and sometimes droughts here in Melbourne, Australia, this type of plant is becoming more popular in water saving gardens. They can do very well in dry conditions.
Although they can survive dry times, cacti and succulents still need to be watered. If you have sufficient rainfall, particularly in Winter, they will be fine, otherwise water them about once every four weeks. In Summer, they will need watering every two weeks.
If you see the leaves becoming brown and brittle, then your plants need more water.
What an ugly name for a pretty plant! I have quite a few of these plants in my garden, as they are hardy, and in Spring make a beautiful display, flowering heavily.
There are many colours to choose from, and most are native to Australia, so they are found in my native garden at the front of the house.
My Cacti Patch
How The Cactus Garden Came Into Being
For a few years, we used to have a couple of chickens in the back yard. Since they were allowed free range there during the day, and were only locked up at night, the plants took quite a battering.
One of the trees in a hot, dry, position in the front garden died, due to the drought, so we needed something to fill the area. Although the front garden is meant to be native Australian plants, we decided to make that little corner a cacti and succulent plot. Since we had a pile of unused white river stones, and a few rocks, they became the mulch for this garden, once the soil had been built up.
The photo above is the plants in the cactus garden, about eighteen months after it was built. They are much bigger now, as the drought is over. The plant in the centre has a couple of flowers up against the rock, and you can see a larger image further on in this article.
I've recently discovered that here in Australia, we have our own native succulents, with more being discovered all the time. Here is the website for Australian Succulents
The picture above is of the purple pigface, a member of the Carpobrotus species, found in Australia. I have several varieties of pigface in my garden, many of which are amazing colours. They certainly cheer up a dry spot.
Cacti & Succulent Poll
Do you have cacti and succulents in your garden?
Yellow Prickly Pear
One day, while wandering around some waste ground behind a building site, we came upon some really large prickly pear plants. The flowers on them were bright yellow, so we broke off a couple of small pieces and took them home. This is the first time one of them has flowered.
Although we've had them for a few years now, they haven't flowered again, perhaps because they've grown so much, we've had to trim them back.
A Tall Cactus
I don't know what this cacti is called, but it is definitely an eye-catcher in the cactus garden! If you look carefully, you can just see another small plant growing up on the left side.
This plant came from my parents' garden, and although I've tried to identify it, there are several species it could be. It's the focus plant in the cacti patch.
A Pretty Succulent
In common with most of my plants, I have no idea of the species of this one, but it has a brightly coloured flower, and slightly variegated leaves.
It hadn't flowered before, as it was only a young plant, grown from a cutting, and I'm hoping for more flower spikes in the future.
An Unusual Flower
This is a South African species, I believe, and I love it because it's so unusual. It doesn't flower that often, but if you look carefully, you'll see another couple of buds to the top left of the plant.
Later: After a little research, I've discovered that this succulent is a Huernia, although I don't know the particular species. It is possibly a hybrid.
Red Succulent In Bloom
Another Red Succulent
This plant is another which was badly beaten up by the chickens when it was in the back yard, so when the cactus garden was built, it also was moved.
As you can see from the flowers, it seems quite happy with the new position, and it flowers every Summer without fail..
Lithops Or Stone Plants
Lithops are also known as "Living Pebbles", "Living Stones", or "Stone Plants"
For some reason, I love these little plants, but have very little success with them. I think it's because I feel sorry for them, when following the cultivation instructions, which say not to water for the summer months. Of course, I do water them, and the poor things rot and die.
The plant shown above is a survivor, and it must be because I've managed to resist over-watering it so far. It's even shed its leaves once and grown again from the centre. Now if only it would flower!
It lives in a pot on the front porch, because if I put it in the cactus garden, it would probably get too much water when we are doing the gardening.
A Strange Way To Grow
About once a year, lithops species grow by splitting apart, and growing a new section diametrically opposed to the old part. The old leaves just dry out and wither away, while the new leaves, if that's what they are called, become the new plant.
This is my lithops in the middle of the split. The old section falls away, and the moisture inside it is absorbed by the new growth.
This stone plant (Lithops sp.) was the best I've ever had, and was growing beautifully. It seemed to like the front patio, where it received the morning sun.
One day, we saw a young girl, about 12 years old, come up the path. She knocked on the door, then ran away. We didn't realise until later, when we went out into the garden, that she'd pulled the stone plant out of its pot, and taken it with her.
I would have preferred she had taken the whole pot, then at least the plant would have had some chance of survival. It probably was dead within a week.
Why don't people bring up their children to respect other people's property?
Perhaps one day I'll be successful with my Lithops species.
One Of My Favourite Cacti
Red Cactus Species
This little cactus is one of my favourites, because it's so colourful. It was a very battered little plant when it was in a rock garden in the back yard - the chickens kept digging it up, so I decided a cactus and succulent garden away from the chickens was a good idea.
It's doing really well, and this is the fourth time it's flowered this summer.
I don't know what species it is, as usual with my plants. Most of them are from cuttings I've been given, and come to me nameless.
Expanding The Cactus Patch
The plants in the cacti and succulent patch are getting bigger now, and it looks as if more space is needed. With climate change, it seems each Summer here gets hotter, and perhaps it is time to think of using more of these plants in our garden.
We've had to cut back a couple of shrubs next to the cactus patch, so there is now space to expand it. Until the work is done, I'll just have to stop myself buying interesting looking plants at our local Sunday market plant stalls!
The Aloe in the picture has several "pups" growing on its stem, so a couple of these will be transplanted to the new garden when it's ready.