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Cactus, succulents offer gardeners water-saving solution

By Jessica Rodrigo
July 29, 2014 at 2:29 a.m.

Potted columnar cacti. Pictured, from left clockwise, are Red Headed Irishman, Peruvian Old Man and False Saguaro.

Potted columnar cacti. Pictured, from left clockwise, are Red Headed Irishman, Peruvian Old Man and False Saguaro.

Lupe Cook made a trip to Big Bend with her family, which blossomed a love of cactus and succulent plants.

"You have all these plants in the desert but no rain," she said.

Cook, 71, will host a Lunch and Learn seminar Monday, Aug. 11, that will educate gardeners - beginners or novices - about how to care for cactus and succulent plants.

Especially during extreme droughts like the Crossroads has been experiencing, she said plants like these have become very popular.

"A lot more people are getting into succulents and drought-resistant plants," she said.

She's been a Victoria County Master Gardener since 2005, but her interest in the desert-loving plants started in 2008.

Cook remembers seeing all sorts of plants growing up the side of the hills and mountainsides at Big Bend National Park that were still hearty and healthy.

Since then, she's read books, propagated plants and grown cacti and succulents in her greenhouse and in containers so she can bring them inside.

"We do have a lot of humidity here, so there is a big difference between here and Big Bend," she said.

There are native cactus varieties and succulents that will do well here, Cook said.

"When you put a cactus in the ground, you don't have to worry about it," she said. "They go dormant during the winter, and if you overwater them, you'll kill them."

Watering can be done at a minimum of once or twice a month, Cook said, which can help out when people have a busy schedule.

She plans on teaching people about the kinds of plants that will grow well in this area given its sometimes dry conditions.

"A lot of people work, and they don't have a chance to water plants," Cook said. "If you don't have the time to constantly be watering plants."

The flowers on cactus plants are beautiful, and she said they always surprise her when they blossom. She often takes photos of them when they do.

"I really enjoy my garden. I have my vines and my shrubs," she said. "My passion has been cactus and succulents."



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