Can Cacti and Succulents Be Planted Together?

  • By: CarlBroadbent
  • Time to read: 6 min.
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Here’s an interesting tidbit for you: plants listen in on their neighbors! They’d make excellent spies, wouldn’t they?

They also play favorites. If they don’t like their neighbors, they hog all the food, water, and sunlight.

If they do like being next to one another, they can go as far as nurture and promote their neighbor’s growth!

This leads us to a common question: can cacti and succulents be planted together?

The answer is yes!

Cacti and succulents can be planted together. Their needs and attributes are similar. Plus, they look fabulous sitting beside each other. However, not all of them like each other company. You’ll need to pick varieties that grow well side by side.

Read on to find out more about the pair!

Cacti and Succulents: A Brief Overview

Before we get to the details, let’s talk about what distinguishes each type of plant.

Cacti & succulents planting tips
Plant cacti & succulents

The good news is that they have more things in common than not. So, they make a perfect match when planted together.

Cacti

Here’s an interesting tidbit: all cacti are succulents. Bet you didn’t see that one coming!

Some produce colorful flowers. Others produce fruits, like the cactus fig.

They’re characterized by areoles, from which their spikes grow out. Yet, what all cacti lack are branches and leaves.


Useful to Know: These hardy plants prefer climates that get full sunlight most of the year. They also prefer dry areas over humid ones.


Succulents

Now, here’s the tricky part: not all succulents are cacti.

The reason? Some succulents don’t have the areoles we mentioned above.

Consequently, they don’t have those sharp spikes. They’re rather known for their fleshy, juicy stems. Some succulents also have leaves and branches.

Another distinguishing feature is that some species thrive in rainforests. They prefer humid environments and partial sunlight.

The majority, however, are native to hot, arid climates, just like cacti.

Planting Cacti and Succulents Together: What to Consider

We mentioned briefly the basic features of each plant to give you an idea of why they work so well together!

They add elegance and warmth to any setting, both indoors and outdoors.

One of their best features is that they’re hardy and quite difficult to die. They’re usually recommended for newbies and those looking for low-maintenance plants.

Cacti & succulents planting guide
Cacti & succulents

The most important thing is to choose compatible species with similar growth requirements.

This will determine how much water and sunlight they need to ensure optimal growth.

Light and Temperature

Cacti thrive in long hours of bright sunlight.

Succulents, on the other hand, prefer partial sunlight. Though, they won’t mind a few hours of direct sunlight every now and then.

As a nice compromise, find an area that gets bright, indirect light for several hours during the day. This will keep both species happy.

They survive in high temperatures as long as there’s proper ventilation and airflow.

In fall and winter, both species can withstand temperatures as low as 46℃.

Watering and Feeding

Watering is often a dilemma when you plant cacti with succulents.

Despite being hardy, cacti won’t be able to cope if watered too often. At the same time, succulents will start to drop leaves if not given enough.

One thing you can do to prevent this problem is to plant both types in a pot with good drainage.

Another option is to control the amount of water by using a 10 to 50mls plastic syringe.

During the summer, you can water them once every 10 to 14 days. Then, once the weather becomes cooler, you can water them less frequently.


Go Easy: To keep them healthy and strong, use a liquid fertilizer once a month during the summer. As fall rolls around, give them time to rest.


Potting Mix

Choosing the best type of soil for your cacti/succulent arrangement is vital.

It’s worth mentioning that both these plants soak up water from the surrounding air.

With that in mind, the best soil would be porous and easily drains excessive moisture. Almost all succulent/cacti potting mixes consist of either sandy or grit-like material.

They should be made of particles that are no smaller than 5mm for best results.

If you prefer, you can make your own potting soil:

  • 1/3 standard potting mix
  • 1/3 perlite or pumice
  • 1/3 coarse material, like coarse sand, composted bark, crushed granite, or turface

Propagation and Repotting

Once your plants get used to their new habitat, they’ll start growing at different rates.

Cacti & succulents in terrarium
Beautiful terrarium

If you notice one growing quicker than the others, wait until springtime to prune it:

  • To propagate and create new plants, all you have to do is cut a piece from the main cacti or succulent.
  • Some cuttings will root in water, whereas the majority will root in the soil.
  • You can repot your plants when you notice roots coming out from the bottom of the pot.

The rule of thumb is to repot every two to three years, preferably in the spring when they’re most active.

Cacti and Succulents: Common Planting Methods

Watering is one of the major problems when planting these two together.

Below, you’ll find the two common methods that can help overcome watering problems.

Contained Planting

With this method, you keep each plant type in separate pots with drainage holes.

Then, display them in a wider container.

It’s more convenient and reliable, but it needs a bit more work to make it look appealing.

For example, you’ll need some way to hide the gaps between the pots:

  1. One option is to add some gravel or pebbles around the plants. This helps hide the empty spaces. Plus, it’ll help absorb extra moisture in the soil.
  1. It’s a good idea to place a layer of small stones or gravel on the bottom of the container. They’ll work to prevent water from creating a pool beneath the smaller pots.

Aggregate Planting

In this traditional planting method, you plant both succulents and cacti in one large pot.

Make sure it has good drainage and is filled with a suitable potting mix.

In addition, you have to cater to their special watering needs. Succulents can manage to go for up to 10 days without water. Cacti, however, need watering every three weeks.


Try This: To get around this problem, use the plastic syringe we mentioned earlier. Position it at the base of the succulents and water it once a week. Then, water both species at the same time once every month or so.


Conclusion

So, can cacti and succulents be planted together? Definitely!

Just make sure you pick varieties with similar water and light needs. You’ll also need to choose your preferred planting method.

By recreating their natural environment, you’ll have happy, healthy plants that you can enjoy for many years to come.

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