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Cactus and Succulents

Cactus and succulents add both interest and structured silhouettes in the desert landscape, but if not maintained correctly, they can become not only an eyesore, but a liability. Below are tips on maintaining and selecting the right cactus or succulent for the right place.

  • Know the mature size of a plant before planting. Keep sharp points of plants like agave away from walkways. 
  • Plant at or slightly above grade. Planting too deep can cause stress and even death of cactus and succulents. 
  • Do not trim the edges of agave or yucca if too close to a sidewalk; instead replace with a more appropriately sized plant for the space.
  • If a red yucca has become too large, reduce the size by carefully removing outside sections with a shovel until the desired size is achieved. Manage size by reducing irrigation to the plant.
  • To clean up lower dead leaves of an agave, carefully cut off brown or dead portions by using a sharp blade, cutting close to the base. Do not cut off green tissue or elevate canopies of cactus and succulents.
  • Monitor saguaros for oozing or decay, which can be a symptom of a bacterial infection. Excavate decayed tissue going at least 1” into healthy tissue, then sanitize with a 25% bleach solution and allow to air dry. Extensively decayed saguaros should be removed to prevent failure and possible harm to surrounding plants, structures or even people.
  • Many cactus and succulents do not need supplemental irrigation once established. Overwatering can cause stress and failure. Make frequent adjustments to the irrigation program and inspect soil moisture to prevent overwatering.  
  • Cactus and succulents require well drained soils and should not be used in heavy clay soils.

Cactus and succulents add not only visible interest but also help increase property values as specimen mature. They are low maintenance and also a great choice for use in sustainable landscape designs.

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