On The Garden Path

Hybrid cactus plants grow beautifully in Arizona gardens

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Torch hybrid cacti last only one day, they provide a spectacular show for any desert garden.

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My husband and I bought and planted two hybrid cacti - torch and satellite - in the spring of 2005.

Our cacti get several blooms each year in the spring, but the blooms only open at night, and they only stay open during the following day, usually dying, or drooping, by that night.

Since we only have one day to enjoy the blooms, we keep a diligent watch, in an effort to make sure we don't miss the spectacular show.

Why cacti?

Our interest in cacti started when we purchased our home - a fixer-upper - and we inherited a lawn covered in Bermuda grass. Cities in the Arizona desert provide cash incentives for residents to remove their grass lawn and replace it with drought-tolerant plants that don't require a lot of water.

In most cases, that incentive leads to rock yards with a few cacti planted around, creating something more along the lines of a moonscape, instead of a more traditional welcoming front yard.

Creating the garden

My husband is originally from Michigan and is accustomed to having a lush, green yard. Therefore, he was determined to create an inviting atmosphere by planting flowers in shady spaces, using varieties that require minimal amounts of water.

After he built a front porch the length of the house, my relatives in Kiowa, Kan., donated some rocking chairs to sit on the porch. The yard is actually a 'floor' of low-fired bricks with a river rock fire pit that matches the rock wall. It's a great gathering place for all of our friends and neighbors on a cool desert evening.

Our yard now has more shade than it previously had, and the rocks keep it much cooler than the Bermuda grass did.

In my opinion, desert landscapes are simply beautiful and fascinating.