Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Itís easy to fall in love with cacti and succulents. Do keep the neighboring plants in mind before you plant these outdoors or in mixed container plantings. Select companion plants that are adapted to the same growing conditions as the cacti and succulents.
For hardy, sun loving cacti and succulent species, most any drought tolerant companion plant will be compatible.
The following companion plants are highly recommended. When youíre looking for cacti and succulent companion plants, check out the Stepables line of plants. These are available at leading garden centers and nurseries. These are small, low growing ground covers that are suitable for stepping stones and the like. Many of the Stepables plants require similar growing conditions to those of the sun-loving cacti and succulents.
Some hardy plants that are frequently grown in herb gardens can be interplanted with cacti and succulents. Many of the Mediterranean herbs are good matches. Examples include the rosemary, which isnít hardy in all areas of the country. Lavender is another good choice. This thrives in a well drained soil in a sunny spot.
Oregano is a great companion for cacti and succulents. This plant can be quite broad. So do give it enough room. There are several ornamental oreganos as well as the common culinary herb. All of them make good neighbors for cacti and succulents.
All of the thrift species are good for mixing with cacti and succulents. The common thrift (Armeria maritima) gets along well with cacti and succulents. Thrifts need a well drained spot in full sun. These are low growing, well behaved plants that donít crowd their neighbors.
The rock cresses are mostly grown as rock garden plants. These behave as short lived perennials in some parts of the U.S. Theyíre generally hardy to about zone four or so. Some of these are native to Greece. They need a very well drained soil, and get along well with cacti and succulents.
Some of the pinks or dianthus species are commonly grown in rock gardens. These would make good companion plants for cacti and succulents. They also require very good drainage. The cheddar pink (Dianthus gratianopolitanus) does very well when mixed with cacti and succulents in a bed. Hardy to zone three, this low growing plant has a mat-like shape. This evergreen is native to Europe and England. It needs good drainage.
The lavender cotton or santolina is a good companion for cacti and succulents. This is mostly grown as a foliage plant though it does bloom. This perennial is winter hardy to zone six. Needing full sun, it requires a soil with good drainage.