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Creating a cactus dish garden

Give each plant adequate space as they will grow larger as time passes.

For those people who still want to do a bit of gardening, you might consider creating an indoor cactus garden. Many garden centres have a great selection of small cacti plants in two-or three-inch pots that only cost a couple of dollars each. For under $15 it is possible to create an interesting display. If you already have some cacti or succulent plants on hand, you may be able to use some offsets from them to augment your purchases and add more plants to your garden. Try to get plants that vary in height, texture and colour.

To create a dish garden, first a suitable container is required. The best choice is a glazed ceramic container since it is watertight so you can set it anywhere and it will not mark furniture surfaces. A planting mix will also be needed – a generic soilless mix will do. You will also need some sand.

When you have your container and potting mix ready, it is time to plant the dish garden. Put a bit of the mix in the bottom of your container, then gently slip the plants out of their pots, one by one, and position them in the container. Give each plant adequate space as they will grow larger as time passes. When you think you have them all where you want them, begin to fill in around the plants with the potting mix, being sure each is at the depth it was planted in the pot. You may have to put more soil under some to achieve the correct depth.

When you have them all planted almost – but not quite – to the correct depth, water them in, being careful not to use too much water as the ceramic planter will in all likelihood not have drainage holes. Then use a spoon to carefully place a layer of sand on the surface of the planting mix until it is covered and the plants are all at the correct depth. The sand not only improves the appearance of the display but some of it will work its way down into the potting mix creating the ideal sandy loam mix that cacti prefer.

When you water the planter from time to time, be careful not to wash away the sand in spots to expose the planting medium, as this will spoil the appearance of the garden. If you do, simply add a bit more sand. If you have a few small figurines such as turtles or frogs, or a few polished stones, these can be placed in the dish garden as accessor ies. The cactus garden should be placed in a sunny location – a windowsill is ideal as a cool environment will be just fine for your cactus garden, which you will be able to enjoy all winter.

– Albert Parsons writes from Minnedosa, Manitoba

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