Cacti & succulents in a bowl
Angela Slater
Daughter of a farmer and market gardener so have always had a connection with the outdoors, whether it was keeping animals or producing fruit, vegetables and cut flowers. Along with my work at Hayes Garden World I also have a smallholding, mainly breeding rare breed pigs. I gained an HND and BSc in Conservation and Environmental Land Management, as a result I am an ardent environmentalist and have a keen interest in environmentally friendly gardening. In my time at Hayes I worked for several years in the Outdoor Plant and Houseplant areas

How to make an indoor cactus garden

Try this easy, fun project on a rainy day with the kids

Cacti and succulents are the perfect starter plants for anyone who has no experience of keeping plants, they’re perfect for children and adults alike. Building a cactus garden is an ideal wet day project for the kids, but it might be wise to steer clear of the prickly cactus. If you are going to use prickly cactus handle them with kitchen tongs or fold newspaper into a strip of several thicknesses and place gently around the cactus. These accommodating plants don’t mind a bit of neglect and are ideal for a hot sunny south facing window, which would otherwise be too hot for most other plants. Not only do they forgive a bit of neglect but there is no pruning to do, their leaves don’t go yellow and drop and they very rarely need re-potting as they are so slow growing. Make sure they are not in a draught, especially in winter, and that they are in a fairly even temperature, 18 - 29C (64 – 85F).

Flowering cacti

You can forget to water them for weeks and it’s not the end of the world, if they are overwatered the roots will rot. In winter watering every 6 – 8 weeks should be enough in an average heated room but in summer this is reduced to 2 – 4 weeks, especially if it’s on a south facing windowsill. Water the compost not the plants. You don’t have to feed them, although they would appreciate a weak solution of cactus food every month. If you follow these steps, you may be lucky and be rewarded with a flower.

cacti & succulents

You will need:

  • A shallow wide pot or trough with drainage holes in the bottom; they particularly look great in terracotta or one with a South American design
  • Saucer to sit the pot on
  • Crocks (broken pieces of terracotta pots) or small chunks of polystyrene (for drainage)
  • Cactus compost
  • Horticultural sand or horticultural grit or glass pot toppers
  • Plants (small plants in 9cm pots)
  • Ornaments in the form of broken pieces of terracotta pot, stones or brightly coloured mini jars or sculptures
  • Hand trowel
cacti & succulents planted in a terrarium

How to construct:

  1. Place a layer of broken crocks or polystyrene pieces over the bottom of the container.
  2. Place a good layer of cactus compost to within 2.5cm (1”) of the top of the pot.
  3. Gently ease the plant out of the pot, just gently squeeze the pot. Tease out the roots with your fingers.
  4. Make a hole in the compost large enough to accommodate the plant and place the plant in the hole. It doesn’t matter if the top of the plants roots are sitting a little above the surface of the compost as you are going to add a generous layer of grit. Firm the compost around the plant so that it doesn’t wobble.
  5. Place a layer of horticultural sand or grit or the glass pot toppers to fill the container.
  6. Gently water the compost, not the plants.
  7. Add the decorative features.