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Zeroscaping comes from the word "xeriscaping".  In short, it means using plants needing little water (cactus & other desert plants) for landscaping. Nationally, communities have been faced with increased demands on existing water supplies. Consequently, there is a greater focus on water conservation, not just in times of drought, but in anticipation of future population growth. Water can no longer be considered a limitless resource. A philosophy of conservation of water through creative landscaping has engendered the new term, xeriscape.

What is Xeriscape?

The term xeriscape is derived from the Greek word xeros meaning dry, combined with landscaping, thus xeriscaping. The term was coined by the Front Range Xeriscape Task Force of the Denver Water Department in 1981. The goal of a xeriscape is to create a visually attractive landscape that uses plants selected for their water efficiency. Properly maintained, a xeriscape can easily use less than one-half the water of a traditional landscape. Once established, a xeriscape should require less maintenance than turf landscape.

Planting a cactus garden may be the best thing you can do. With many areas of the country facing water shortages and with the high cost of water in other areas, planting cactus is the answer! Below are some tips and hints about the needs of cacti to make them flourish and grow better!


Like other types of house plants, cacti need fertilizer, but in smaller amounts. From spring to fall they can be fertilized every two to three months with a low nitrogen fertilizer such as 5-10-10. Excess nitrogen can cause succulent growth, leading to insect, disease and other problems. Time-released fertilizers also can be used, but need only be applied once in the spring. Do not fertilize newly repotted plants, unrooted plants, or plants going through a dormancy period.


Most arid species of cacti require bright sunlight to grow well. Windows facing south provide the most sunlight, while windows facing east and west usually offer some direct sun for at least part of the day. In some homes, artificial light may be necessary to supplement natural light.


Proper temperatures for raising cacti vary witht he season. Arid cacti plants tolerate temperatures of 90 - 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the active growing season. They can be placed outdoors in late spring, but for several weeks may need to be shaded during the hottest part of the day until they adjust to the temperatures and higher light intensities. In the early fall it is necessary to bring them indoors before a frost.

Dormant cactus plants do best at temperatures from 45 - 55 degrees Fahrenheit. The cooler temperatures develop sturdier plants and encourage the formation of flower buds. Cool winter temperatures are not a necessity for cactus plants, but these conditions approach the environment in which cacti normally grow.