Cactus and Succulents

saguaro cactus at nightThere is a hidden treasure of plants waiting for you when you look into the world of cactus and succulents. There is a wealth of plant material in cactus and succulents to turn a barren landscape into an unusual garden or a bright window into a showcase of colorful foliage and flowers, or a dreary collection of containers into a splash of colors. If you are an apartment dweller and space is limited, decorative dish gardens of cacti or succulents can give you miniature desert scenes indoors. In all-year temperate climates, big plants like the organpipe cactus (Lemaireocereus thurberi) or some of the succulents like aloes and agaves can be put in the ground for permanent landscape features. Where summers are short, these same cactus and succulents are suitable for container gardens. The variety of plant forms with cactus and succulents is infinite. Water is, of course, still necessary for these plants. One cactus lover we know keeps a water fountain near, and dips out a small amount of water each day. We're considering the same with a wall water fountain . Not only do fountains provide water, they darn good looking, too! You can grow different kinds of cacti for striking foliage, for individualistic plant shapes, or for colorful flowers; often these different features may be found combined in a single plant. The Succulent Echeveria has foliage in shades of blue-green or pale green, often lined with red or pink; some plants (like Euphorbia grandicornis) have bizarre shapes for cactus; other types are desirable because of the interesting patterns of the spines. Succulents are never boring!

sun and cactus fountainIf you are fond of flowers, the beautiful orchid, and Christmas cacti are perennial favorites, while night blooming types with breathtaking 12-inch flowers offer dramatic beauty. A cactus is simply a succulent plant that can store moisture, but not all succulents are cactus. Succulents do not belong to any one plant family but are represented in nearly thirty different ones. You find them in the lily, amaryllis, crassula, daisy, and milkweed families, and even among the geraniums. You can easily identify cactus. With rare exceptions (the lemon vine, Pereskia aculeata, and its close relatives) they do not have leaves, or, when any are present they soon fall. Although most of them have spines and bristles, there are even some cactus without spines; several have long hair or a wooly covering instead. Among the succulents, the often seen jade plant (Crassula argentea) and the donkey tail (Sedum morganianum) have been popular house plants for years because they are succulents that grow almost untended. The crown-of-thorns (Euphorbia milli) and the poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) have withstood the test of time as beautiful gift plants. The familiar wax plant (Hoya carnosa) is a succulent and so is the rosary vine (Ceropegia woodii). Tiny crassulas and sedums that you have seen for years in florist shop windows are also part of this large group called cactus & succulents.

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