succulents, cactus, agave & bromeliads

normana61December 13, 2012

does anyone mix and match these all of these together , as they all need good drainage. i have areas of full sun, morning sun, shade( no sun but bright along a north facing house)

do all these qualify as xeriscaping. low maintenance

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Yes, all of those mentioned, or at least a great many species, will grow where you described. They certainly do qualify as xeriscaping and low maintenance.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2012 at 9:54PM
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I have found through trial and error (a lot of both) that just about any plants can be grown together (at least here in Southern California).. I grow bamboo, palms, cacti, agaves, most succulents, bromeliads, Sansevierias, Hoyas, cycads, vines, conifers and orchids all side by side, all getting the same water (some less sun than others) and all happy as can be. I have found that most species do well in these situations, and the exceptions are the minority (unless you get into some of the pickier succulents, like Mesembs and sun-needy cacti) or ultratropical things. I have certainly rotted and dessicated my share of plants, but have beem mostly surprised how many adapt to their neighbor's water needs. AS long as the soils are well draining, I find it is hard to overwater most species (depending on the time of year). Light is the main problem I run into, not water needs... many species require way too much light and eventually die due to their neighbor plant shading them out.

    Bookmark   December 14, 2012 at 12:46AM
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Growing some cacti in FL is different than most other places. The big problems are lack of cold to get some to bloom well, but the other bigger problem is the rain. Winters are fairly rain free, but the morning dews yield about as much water as a shower. A string of wet mornings with temps in the 40sF is enough to melt many plants from the deserts of Peru and Chile. I've seen more things like Epiphyllums and wretched Deamia testudo, sometimes in the Selenicereus genus. Wretched because it does not do well as an indoor plant, is commonly available, and I have let one take over and still got no bloom.

There are a lot of Cereus peruvianus grown down there, in all its forms. Spinefull and spineless, 4 ribs or more, tree-like and a nuisance. Common and blah. Something like a big Cleistocactus, that would be stunning. Colored flowers that last 3 days and are open in the day. You don't get that with Cereus. You draw Hummingbirds with a Cliesto, not cockroaches, another plus. They can be watered like a begonia during the summer, can go down to freezing even if wet, and grow reasonable fast. What's not to like?

The real water hogs of the cactus world could be the Melocactus. Their reputation as needing warm is overstated. They are not very frost hardy, but in Z-10 that is not often a worry. The water that usually drowns other cacti makes these laugh. They are one of the only cactus genera that has been seen swimming. Them and the Opuntias, but Opuntias have paddles.

Opuntias do well there, but that is not a blessing. Everybody who plants one of the sprawling varieties (like Ficus indica) should be arrested, and those who propagate the crawling kinds should be rolled in the pads for 10 minutes each day until they change their ways. They are not sociable plants.

Agaves do very well. They are called Spanish Bayonets or Century Plants down there, and a large property can grow monster specimens. Small species do exist, and even a middling nursery will have a dozen species.

Other succulents that do well down there (succulents in the broadest terms) are Bromeliads and Tillandsias. A shady spot is all the ask. The climate is well suited to those plants, and it has to be a bad drought that makes them need water. Some good nurseries in the Miami area used to carry many many species. Bottle Palms are often used in small areas that don't get watered.

Most solitary Palms are care free. I wouldn't plant the ones that make a lot of fruit, that draws insect life. They call them Palmetto bugs, they're actually cockroaches. Don't plant Palms from Madagascar, they generally collect a lot of water. The boot of the palm (the boot is the wrap-around part of the frond on the stem) holds a quart of water, more places for insects to breed.

Back to cactus. The sand down there is poor substrate for succulents. It holds tons of water. Crushed shell also won't grow a cactus. There are some pits in western Dade. (You say you are Z10. Can we assume Dade or Collier County?)
They sometimes have what is called Miami Oolite. This is crushed limestone (white stuff). The problem with this is that is the high pH. The best desert cactus I saw down there were grown in a stone gravel and were fed.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2012 at 12:45AM
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