Cactus Companion Plants

Arlington, TX

I am curious what plants other than agave and yucca people grow in their cactus beds. I have Zinnia grandiflora, flame flower and ice plants (not doing well). What other small perennials might do well in the sandy soil and heat. I have been thinking about some of the penstemons but those are a bit large for my area. I am in zone 8.
C

Fountain Hills, AZ(Zone 9b)

You want something small than a penstemon??? Most penstemons occupy less than a square foot.

Arlington, TX

Well oddly I have some that are quite a bit larger.

Fountain Hills, AZ(Zone 9b)

The ones around here stay quite compact, though I've seen some rather tall flower spikes.

Arlington, TX

And even those with a small rosette have flower stalks that are taller than I want. As I said the area is small and I am really looking for some low growing and rather tiny blooming plants. I do love penstemon but have had limited success with them.
C

Fountain Hills, AZ(Zone 9b)

How about Angelita Daisy (Tetraneuris acaulis)? Small, tough as nails, and flower a lot.

Arlington, TX

I actually have 2 of those that I put out this spring. They are in too much shade and I was thinking of moving them into the cactus bed. Do they take the sandy soil well? I have lots of four nerve daisy but I am not sure how they would do (scaposa). I also grew a few desert marigolds from seed and those might work also.
C

Fountain Hills, AZ(Zone 9b)

I have one in the middle of my yard, in whatever it is that passes for "soil" here in the desert, and it's in full blistering sun, with no ill effects. Oh, and it gets no more water than my cacti and Agaves. Lesser plants might have spontaneously combusted long ago. Rabbits occasional come by and eat a few flowers, but they leave the greenery be.

Arlington, TX

Sounds like mime will be moving when the weather cools.

Sun Lakes, AZ(Zone 9a)

You could plant Dogweed (also called Golden Fleece). Check it out at: http://www.desert-tropicals.com/Plants/Asteraceae/Dyssodia_pentachaeta.html
It is a tough little plant and is a native of TX.


Arlington, TX

LOL I have that growing in every crack and crevice. My only complaint is that it blooms itself out pretty early in the season and dies back. Mine are not perennial but they reseed like crazy.
C

Scottsdale, AZ(Zone 9b)

we have lot of wildflowers that are small and do well but most of them bloom only in spring. Are you looking for spring blooming or summer blooming?

Carlsbad, CA(Zone 10b)

Rue, and it's listed as growing in your zone. I love the plant itself - it's soft gray-green foliage color with delicate leaves, plus its yellow flowers in spring/summer - provides nice, easy care spots of color. The foliage color is very attractive next to cactus and succulents.

It has a long history of herbal use in Europe, and in Mexico according to several people I know it grows wild there and has long been used in herbal medicine.

Here's the link to the DG Plantfiles: http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/312/
And a link to Wikipedia which shows a better picture: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rue

Mine get 3-4 feet tall and wide, and although I trim them back because of lack of room I think they'd look nicer if planted with enough spacing and not pruned. They are quite drought tolerant once established, and although they do throw off some seeds, I only get about a dozen plants each year which I pull up or plant and give away. I got mine my 4" pots at a local nursery in the herb department, although I've seen them at a few other nurseries with other plants. (In fact a have a few to pull up now and if you like them I could pot them up and then send them to you once it cools off.)

I haven't had the skin problems from Rue mentioned in DG comments and Wikipedia, although I have had them. It's called phytophotodermatitis - and as someone mentioned in the DG comments it's the combination of touching the plants while out in the sun that can cause the problem. Mine was either celery or salvia, wasn't able to figure out which.

Got a little carried away here, but I do love this plant.


This message was edited Aug 23, 2012 11:35 AM

Carlsbad, CA(Zone 10b)

And a second plant that provides color almost year round and the hummers love is Cuphea cigar plant or bush. Here's the DG link: http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/164138

There are so many Cuphea hybrids now and they vary in size, leaf, and flower structure that you have to see the flowers or a label to know which you're getting. I love them and currently have five types, although this is the only one mixed in with my cactus and succulents. My orange Cuphea cigar plant usually gets about 3' x 3' and I prune it yearly so it's not so leggy and to encourage more flowers, but it can be left alone. It's also drought tolerant once established and very easy care.

Sun Lakes, AZ(Zone 9a)

I have a couple of TX wildflowers you could try. Amoreuxia Wrightii (Mexican yellowshow) and Nyctaginia capitata (Scarlet musk flower) are some seeds I recently got from the Pacific Bulb Society. They sound good for a cactus garden. You can check them out in PlantFiles.

Sun Lakes, AZ(Zone 9a)

Blackfoot daisies (Melampodium leucanthum) are nice too and are sold at various nurseries.

Scottsdale, AZ(Zone 9b)

yellow variety of rain lilies are very tiny plants.
http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/49077/

Carlsbad, CA(Zone 10b)

lovetropics I love that little rain liliy! Hope I can find some bulbs.

I forgot that I also have some yarrow in with my C & S. They do need a bit more attention to keep them looking good but the lacy foliage is a nice contrast and they come in multiple sizes and flower colors.

Windsor, CA(Zone 9b)

Hola Newtonsthirdlaw (what is that by the way?) investigate Salvia Chamaedryoides. It sounds to me like it would fit the bill. It does spread (easy to maintain) and may grow a little higher than you wish but the blue flowers are exquisite and the grey green foliage goes with anything. Xuling

Arlington, TX

Thats a pretty plant Xuling but I think it needs a bit more water than cactus. I might try some elsewhere since it blooms for so long. I really need very small plants and those that are truely cactus like in their watering needs.
C

Los Angeles, CA(Zone 10a)

Pelargoniums! I have many many kinds and they're great.

Windsor, CA(Zone 9b)

I hardly ever water the S. chamaedryoides. I water the cactus more. Of course the S c is now mature and I probably watered it more when it was first planted. Xuling

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