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Planting Cacti and Succulents Outdoors

In many parts of the U.S., spring is the peak time for adding new plants to the landscape. During this period, the temperatures will be cooler and the plants will be less like likely to suffer from transplanting shock than they would during the summer months.

When transplanting, proper planting techniques are needed. These will give the plant a better chance of survival. This is true whether you are dealing with cacti and succulents or other types of plants.

When you are planting an entire bed, the easiest method by far is to till the soil. In other situations, dig individual holes for each plant. The hole needs to be the same depth as the root ball of container-grown plants. The hole should be twice as wide as the pot.

When the hole is ready, gently remove the container plant from its pot. This can be done by turning the pot on its side or upside down and gently tapping it on the bottom. Needless to say, if you are planting cacti, you will want to handle the plants very carefully to avoid getting spines in your skin. I recommend wearing special protective gloves that are made for spiny, prickly plants. A barbeque tongs can often be used to handle small cacti.

The root ball should be placed in the hole so that the top of the potting soil in the pot will be level with the ground. Avoid placing the plant any lower than that. Burying too deeply will likely kill the plant or at least make it suffer from root rot.

If your soil is poorly drained, it is best to plant higher rather than lower especially when you are dealing with cacti and succulents. If such cases, you might want to create berms or raised beds rather than planting into the soil.

The next step is to fill in around the edges of the container plant with the soil you removed when you were digging the hole. Generally, it is best to not add any soil supplements, such as peat moss, topsoil, etc. to the soil when you are planting.

Most cacti and succulents are sold as container plants. However, some mail order companies do sometimes ship bare root plants. These are usually shipped only during the cooler months since summer heat would likely damage the plants during transit.

Bare root plants are planted pretty much the same way as container grown ones. First, you will need to look at the plant carefully to locate where the aboveground stem begins and position this in the hole so that the stem will be level with the ground. The roots should be spread out in the hole. Then, fill in around the plant with the soil.

Once the plants are in place, water gently so that the soil settles around the roots. It usually isnít necessary to tamp the soil down tightly with your feet or shovel. The soil should sink naturally as it becomes wet.

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