Cactus and Succulents forum: Whats it like growing cacti/succulents in the ground?

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Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
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Jai_Ganesha
Jun 6, 2018 10:08 PM CST
I am also in 6b. I live on the edge of a temperate rainforest (which happens on one side of the mountain only), and we get tons of snow because it's at a high elevation. But there are still cacti (Opuntias of some sort) growing on my way to work. They flower soft pink. I don't think they're the native species because those flower yellow.
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
Jun 6, 2018 10:24 PM CST
Kapiolani College in Hawaii (north side or Diamond Head) has an incredible cactus garden that has been growing for at least 30 years. Average rainfall is almost 29 inches but the soil is volcanic gravel. Of course, it never gets anywhere near freezing. The cactus are incredible!

So what is it? Too much moisture? Too much cold? A combination? My cold weather northern cactus can handle the cold but I don't know how much moisture they could take. The cactus at Kapiolani are all tropicals so couldn't survive a frost. Confused
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
Om shanti om.
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Jai_Ganesha
Jun 6, 2018 10:36 PM CST
I really think it's the combination of cold-and-wet. Little that is evergreen can survive in the cold and the wet at the same time. That's the same reason annual flowers do not reseed here even though by the book they "should." An hour north (where the environment is colder, but drier) they do.
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Name: Gary Simpson
Cannelton, IN (Zone 6b)
aka; smashedcactus
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simcactus
Jun 7, 2018 10:25 AM CST
Baja_Costero said:Gary, is your Agave "Blue Glow" still going out in the ground every year?


Baja, I have several Agaves. All have given me pups but this one. Is this normal? Confused
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Jun 7, 2018 11:29 AM CST

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"Blue Glow" will offset very sparingly. My plant has not done so. I don't think there's anything wrong with your plant.
Name: Gary Simpson
Cannelton, IN (Zone 6b)
aka; smashedcactus
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simcactus
Jun 7, 2018 12:24 PM CST
Thanks Baja! Sorry to get off of the subject.
Name: Agavegirl1
South Sonoran Desert (Zone 9b)
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AgaveGirl1
Jun 7, 2018 12:56 PM CST
Daisy,
Wanted to say how much I enjoyed your pictures. Thank you. Quite the collection you have there both indoors and out. Thumbs up

Enjoyed the view of your outdoor garden. I always like to compare and contrast landscapes and other's desert yards with my own. Very pretty and I like how you kept the setting natural and not buried under a ton of landscape rock. That's a popular thing here as you can see from the photos. I guess they need something to keep the dirt in place and from blowing away since grass sure isn't going to grow. Hilarious!

That's also half the fun of gardening in the ground as in comparison to just using pots. Using the land's natural contours, slopes, and features to showcase your plants and their unique shapes and textures as they grow. Gary, I thought you did an awesome job of that. Really appreciate how you integrated the larger agave in ground with some fun large and small potted plants and fun accent decorative pieces.

AS a side note......Blue Glow is a hybrid that is man made and not one that grows naturally.( It is supposedly a cross between A. ocahui and A. attenuata.) This may be the reason it doesn't pup easily. I have one and mine surprisingly has a pup but only one. We can discuss this more on our cacti and succulent forum.
To boldly grow where no man has lawn before.
[Last edited by AgaveGirl1 - Jun 7, 2018 1:09 PM (+)]
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Name: Thijs van Soest
Tempe, AZ (Zone 9b)
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mcvansoest
Jun 7, 2018 3:15 PM CST
Late to the game for this thread. Great plants, and lots of respect Gary, digging those plants up every Fall... Very nice pictures of your green house and outside plant areas Daisy, love them. Love the bubble bed and the rest of the yard AG.

I have both a large number of plants in the ground and in pots.

My potted plants are in two categories: 1) things that are just waiting to be put in the ground and/or grow big enough to be put into the ground and 2) things that I intend to grow in pots and leave in pots long term.
The former category also has a bunch of things that I should probably sell or give away as I have many more plants than I can ever hope to get in the ground in my yard (back or front) or at the community garden where I volunteer - though right now that has got quite some space left.

Experience has taught me that many of the mammillarias and other smaller globular cacti do better here, especially in summer, if I keep them in the shade for at least 50% of the day (and then preferably afternoon shade to avoid the absolute scorching heat we get here in the mid-late afternoon - whereas many places reach their day time high around noon to 1-2 PM here in the Valley of the Sun we tend to get to our high T between 4-6 PM... many (most) plants do not like the scorching low angle sun at the hottest part of the day. Given the orientation of my house, that means that those smaller plants are essentially required to be in pots (I have many in hanging baskets) in my patio area because that is the only area where I get consistent afternoon shade (back yard faces east, front yard faces west).
I have and have had a few bigger Mammillarias in the ground but even if they do well for a few years, many eventually bite the dust if I am inattentive and leave the shade cloth off of them too long once summer comes around. I want to put my large Gymnocalycium saglionis in the ground, but I lost the opportunity this spring so it will have to wait till fall, which is better here for planting anyway.

In my back yard I have what I call my west facing wall of death where new plants can expire very quickly once summer rolls around. The low angle afternoon sun reflects off of that wall and just scorches most plants to sad crumpled piles. Not much will grow there, some chollas and prickly pears and things like tephrocactus articulatus and some stenocerei. Got a smaller Trichocerus terscheckii doing well and some of the really hot arid conditions loving Agaves. I am down to two Ferocacti there, down from about 8 originally. Part of it is now finally getting some shade now that a nice Acacia I planted just for that purpose has actually become big enough to be called a tree. That is definitely helping with part of it and I can even grow some Aloes there now

My front yard is packed with lots of Agaves (around 40-50 individual plants), large(r) growing cacti and clumps of Aloes. I have a large Palo Verde as the main shade tree, but every summer I have to hope it will survive the monsoon storms without blowing down. If that tree goes my front yard will become tent city as things will require shade cloth to survive. So I prune that Palo Verde as much as I can without destroying its main function as shade tree for many plants and the house itself but still giving it a pretty open profile for when the monsoon storms come calling.
Many of the plants in the ground would not survive the summer without that shade tree. The tree provides shade for some part of the day for about 50% of the front yard the other 50% gets mostly full sun. I have some shade cloth tents up over part of the full sun area because I put a lot of new plants in the ground after a large Agave weberi flowered. Another thing I have done is plant large arborescent prickly pears about 3 feet in from the edge of the front yard and for one part of the yard they are now big enough (8-10 feet tall) to serve as shade providers in the late afternoon when the low angle sun tends to do its most damage. It has the added benefit that it is harder to see what else is growing in the yard from the street, which helps keep things from wandering off without my permission, which I have had happen a few times in the past. An additional benefit is that I now can get by with less shade structures as most plants are pretty good about dealing with direct overhead sun. The PPs for the other part of the yard got planted a couple of years later and are lagging a bit in size because of that.
One problem I run into is that I tend to pack those plants in so I can get more of them in the ground, once they grow it makes access not always easy or sometimes impossible and it also leads to things inadvertently getting trampled (several smaller Agaves are recovering from that as well as my Stenocereus eruca which I managed to trample just a few days ago... grrrrr). The biggest benefit of putting things in the ground is that once given the space to grow and settle in things just take off. It is also a lot harder to take care of things in pots here especially in the summer, when pots dry out so much quicker any root bound plant that does not get potted up in time tends to take a beating come summer time. I really noticed that for many Agaves ... so I have a lot of work to do.

I'd plant more smaller cacti in the ground but I simply do not have as nice a space as AG has which gets shade at the right time of the day and is simply not suited for larger plants. The space between my walkway and the garage is wider and south facing, so I have a yellow bells bush there, a Euphorbia tirucalli (going on 10-12 feet tall), a nice Opuntia santi-rita and a few medium sized plants. In the rest of my yard smaller cacti either run the risk of getting trampled or simply would see too much sun. Once my raised bed in the back yard is finished that will change. I will have about 140 square feet of nice planting area with shade from the Acacia to play with.

Strangely enough, I take a lot of close up pictures of plants and very few overview pictures of the yard as a whole... so I have a few pics to show, but nothing that really captures the whole of it.

This is the exposed part of the west facing wall of death earlier this year on one of the very few not sunny days we get here (over 330 days of sun each year here in the Valley of the Sun):
Thumb of 2018-06-07/mcvansoest/049fbf

And a couple of pictures of part of my front yard showing off some of the Agaves and cacti and the big Prickly Pears that provide the afternoon shade:
Thumb of 2018-06-07/mcvansoest/3cef96
Also visible is the 2nd Palo Verde I have that used to be a big tree, but got blown over. So now I let it get about 10 feet tall to provide some shade before I cut it back to about 6ft and let it start over again.
It is what it is!
[Last edited by mcvansoest - Jun 7, 2018 7:57 PM (+)]
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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Jun 7, 2018 7:29 PM CST

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The wall of death looks very much alive, Thijs. Thumbs up And those prickly pears in the front yard are excellent protection, probably a lifesaver for some plants. It's interesting to me how much attention one must pay to the danger of sun exposure in the desert.

Since y'all are sharing landscape pics, here's a shot of the public garden (road median on an incline), consisting of almost all succulents (plus palm trees, rosemary, and a couple of other things). This slope faces southwest and gets nearly day-long sun.

Thumb of 2018-06-08/Baja_Costero/5ea53d

Here are some landscape shots with various plants labeled... starting with two closeups within the garden



and a continuation of the public garden, which goes on to the right of the previous pics



Here is a group of Dudleyas in the park that I installed last fall.... They are looking really scrappy, as one would expect given the dry winter and the imminent onset of summer. But if they make it through their first year, then they probably will make it, and fill in that space around the palm tree completely. The second shot shows a group of 3 Dudleyas planted a couple of years ago, to give you an idea of the grand ambition.

Thumb of 2018-06-08/Baja_Costero/097e8c Thumb of 2018-06-08/Baja_Costero/59c938

More plants in the park.... with 2 different succulent weeds labeled in the second shot for good measure.



[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Jun 7, 2018 7:39 PM (+)]
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Name: Agavegirl1
South Sonoran Desert (Zone 9b)
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AgaveGirl1
Jun 8, 2018 2:37 PM CST
My goodness Thijs, that's a lot of plants! I tip my hat to you. I have to admire you ability to keep up with them. Sorry to hear a few things got trod on but not surprised as navigating your yard sounds to be quite the challenge, not to mention the risk you take of getting impaled by something. I do like your planting strategy though as it makes good sense. Thumbs up

I too kind of adopted something similar by putting some of the larger and/or less 'user friendly' plants towards the front of the yard and on the edge of the property line between my house and my neighbor's. This way as the Agave vilmoriniana, A. weberi, p.pear and the pole cacti grow even larger they serve to:
1.) Keeps overly curious children, toys and loose pets Rolling my eyes. from wandering into the yard.
2.) Will eventually form a nice privacy screen.
3.) Forces the one lazy neighbor to be responsible for picking his weeds and not letting them creep into my area Green Grin! and 4.) These larger plants can absorb more water when it rains since my yard slopes slightly downwards and when it rains it runs forward and 'pools' towards the front area.

A view looking from inside my house to the outside of the front yard onto the street. I took this pic of March this year. I happened to of had the curtains down from the windows that day, because I was 'spring cleaning' and washing both the curtains and the windows. I was surprised at how big the plants had become and how much the yard had filled in. Rolling my eyes.

Thumb of 2018-06-08/AgaveGirl1/6dff4c

I like mixing the potted plants in where there are 'bare spots' in the yard. Those being where I haven't found the right plant to put in ground that will 'thrive' in all day sun or to 'fill up' the empty visual space around what is already planted until it grows bigger. Nobody has ever felt inclined to steal my potted plants thankfully. Then again those are fairly large and heavy pots.

As for the things that I could easily step on, well those stay in the bubble bed for a reason or directly across from it lining the other side of the walk way. That way I know exactly where they are! I'm a clod! *Blush*

As for trees and shrubs I have none per say. I had some sort of live oak when I first moved in but that was sickly and I had it removed. I then later had two very huge Oleanders taken out. Hate them. Messy, messy plant that always needs pruned and is poisonous to both people and animals. It did leave me a parting gift though. A root that stayed behind and managed to punch a hole in my pipe that runs down the center of the yard that leads from the house to the sewer line in the street. Grumbling GRRRRR! Small fortune to dig it up and then replace that piece of pipe. So no. No more trees or bushes in the yard.

Did opt for one small feather duster bush. And of course the p.pears, a cane cholla and some Eve's Needles which are also getting rather big now.

As for your "Wall of Death" it looks very much alive to me. Thumbs up Everything seems to be happy there. That's more than I can say for my 100% Southern exposure back yard Lake of Fire. Nothing is happy back there except the solar panels on the roof. nodding That area is still and probably always will be 'my work in progress'.

Really enjoyed the landscape pics of your yard. Please share some more if you can. I like seeing how you've made all your plants work together in the yard and how you've planned things out.


Baja...….What gorgeous photos. They're always a treat. Thumbs up Love the plant choices for the median. Such a great mix of color and texture and variety. Did you use what you had or did you shop and plan specifically for that area? Now I'm especially jealous of the Fox Tail Agave as that is a plant I've always wanted but is horribly unsuited for my climate. Rolling my eyes. Love not only the agave's leaves and coloring but the inflorescence it produces when it flowers as well.

As for the Aeoniums they are my favorite succulent. Drooling The colors are dazzling and the beds show them off. I'll just stick to drooling over yours as I've learned through repeated failure that the AZ sun and temps and my pathetic attempts to revive them via over watering is not what they need.
To boldly grow where no man has lawn before.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Jun 8, 2018 4:18 PM CST
Thijs, I love the natural look of your front yard. To accomplish that, I would have to let the sagebrush move in. Smiling

Nice photos, Baja. I'm always in awe of your plants.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Gary Simpson
Cannelton, IN (Zone 6b)
aka; smashedcactus
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simcactus
Sep 25, 2018 12:59 PM CST
simcactus said:This Euphorbia fire stick is starting to get good color.
Thumb of 2018-06-07/simcactus/0ef4da



Here is an updated picture of the Euphorbia firestick.
Thumb of 2018-09-25/simcactus/70783b
Agave blue glow

Thumb of 2018-09-25/simcactus/298ae9
Dunce caps getting ready to bloom. These stay out all winter.
Thumb of 2018-09-25/simcactus/119a3b

Echinopsis dug up and ready for inside.
Thumb of 2018-09-25/simcactus/f1bf9e
We had lots of rain this year and I didn't lose any.

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