Bring your home to life with cacti, succulents decor

Wednesday January 8 2020

The golden barrel cactus, whose scientific name

The golden barrel cactus, whose scientific name is echinocactus grusonii, is also known as golden ball or mother-in-law’s cushion, seat or golden ball cactus. Photo by Desire Mbabaali 

By Desire Mbabaali

When it comes to trends, cacti and succulents décor are among those that continue to gain popularity, for both indoor and outdoor. Though the plants are predominately desert plants and come in different species, they can grow well in our climate too. They are also slow-growing plants thus one of those plants that will survive indoor longer than others. Further still, cacti has been credited for absorbing radiation from phones, television, computers, microwaves and that is why they are very useful around the home. Moses Mbaziira, a cacti farmer, has gained a lot of knowledge growing cacti for over a decade and shares how one can use cactus for décor around the house.

Decorating the garden
Mbaziira shares that cacti can be used outdoor to make low gardens. “You can get a place in your compound, design it well and plant cacti. Additionally, among other flowers in your low garden, you can have a cactus portion. Cacti is also popular with rock gardens,” he says.

Potted cacti
“I usually advise people that they can have two or more potted cacti at home and keep rotating them; one inside and the other outside. Put one indoor for about a week or two and after, take it outside and bring the other in,” says Mbaziira.
If you decide to put it on the window sill, keep rotating it every after a few weeks and water either once or twice a month. Instead of putting a flower on your table as a centre piece, you can just put cactus because they have different sizes that are suitable for different areas. On your bedside table, have a cactus there, especially if you sleep with your phone next to you, so that it absorbs the radiation.
On your television side in the living room, place a cactus or just in the corner of your living room. On your balcony, you can use it to beautify the place or have it mixed with other potted flowers you have. “You can also do small cacti and succulent garden in one big pot and because they are slow-growing plants and some don’t grow so big, they do not occupy a lot of space like other plants,” Mbaziira advises.

In your office
You can let some of your office flowers be cactus, or, just place a small cactus plant on your office table or desk. “You can just put your cactus directly under the office light and it will flourish even indoor because the light will feel like sunshine to them,” Mbaziira says.

Functions
Instead of using roses and other flowers, decorators can use cactus and succulents to decorate at events. All you need are nice ceramic pots and put them on the tables as centrepieces. People will be both impressed because cactus looks beautiful and unique.

Succulents
As for succulents, they are just beautiful. These come in different colours shapes, sizes and some species flower. However, they do not like being indoor.
“For outdoor gardening, you can mix both succulents and cacti. The leaves of succulent plants also store water, and one will only need to water them after two weeks. In conclusion, I can say that cacti and succulents are lazy people plants and don’t require a lot of attention.

Care of cacti and succulents
Mbaziira shares that since cacti are desert plants, they need sunshine and very little water. “Since we are in East Africa and you can’t stop the rain or you will never know when the rain will come, the soil in which you plant them is most important. Mix light soil with lake sand which can allow for drainage and to enable their small roots to easily penetrate,” he says advising that it also shouldn’t be planted in swamps or flat areas of low drainage.
“Cacti can spend more than three months without water, and it won’t die, but a few days in the water will make it rot. Water it only once or twice a month,” Mbaziira says.
Though cacti are great indoor, after some time, take the cacti outside for fresh air outside. However, don’t put your plants in the afternoon sunshine. Morning and evening sunshine is the best.

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Sedum morganianum, the donkey tail or burro’s
Sedum morganianum, the donkey tail or burro’s tail.

Where to get cactus and succulents
You can get cacti from potting sheds, nursery beds, and flower shops in Entebbe, Kampala, and other towns.

Cost
Different sizes of cacti have different prices depending on age and uniqueness of the plant.They range from Shs20,000 to Shs200, 000 depending on where you buy them.

Down side
The thorns are prickly though not poisonous.

Diseases
Cacti is affected by fungi, which can be dealt with by spraying. The root and stem might also rot as a result of too much watering.

Best cactus to grow indoors

Angel Wings Cactus (Opunta albispina)
The Opunta albispina cactus or angel wings cactus is a member of the prickly pear family that grows evenly spaced clusters of hairs rather than sharp spines. Pale yellow blooms are followed by red, edible fruits on plants that receive a full day of sun.
Rat tail cactus (aporocactus flagelliformis)
Aporocactus flagelliformis or rat tail cactus is indigenous to Mexico, where its vibrant magenta blooms have been used in traditional medicines for heart problems. Choose a generously sized hanging basket for this fast-growing cactus—the thick stems can trail for three feet.
African Milk Tree (Euphorbia trigona)
Euphorbia trigona is one of those easy cactus specimens that make every grower feel like an expert. Also known as the cathedral plant, this cactus can grow in excess of eight feet tall, but it is a slow grower and is unlikely to grow much past four feet indoors. If you plant it in soil with good drainage and water it twice a month, then your African milk tree may live for decades.

Saguaro Cactus (Carnegiea gigantea)
These majestic plants may live for two centuries, and it can take up to 40 years for flowering to occur. The slow growth rate of this cactus makes it possible to grow one for many years as an indoor houseplant as well. Give your saguaro as much light as possible and water sparingly about once a month.

Old lady Cactus (Mammillaria hahniana)
Mammillaria hahniana forms small colonies of ten-inch tall spheres Healthy plants may feature a halo of pink blooms like a crown atop a head.
Bishop’s Cap (Astrophytum ornatum)
The simple, sphere shape of Astrophytum ornatum looks striking with decorative gravel mulch and a substantial ceramic pot. Stiff spikes cover deeply ridged spheres, which can attain several feet in height. Water it infrequently and provide plenty of hot sunny conditions if you want to see the yellow blooms develop.
Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera)

Christmas cactus is pretty toothless as far as the cactus family goes with its smooth segmented leaves and soft, rounded spines. Its flowers come in red, pink, orange, and white. ectus (Ferocactus)
Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus)
The Ferocactus genus lives up to its name of fierce cactus. It is covered with long, rigid spines that protect its juicy, edible pulp. The barrel cactus may live for many decades.

dmbabaali@ug.nationmedia.com

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