Cacti in containers bring on creativity

For lots of unusual shapes, sizes and color, consider adding cactuses to your yard.

The Cactus and Succulent Society of Southern Nevada and Moon-Sun Cactus &Koi Gardens are hosting the Cactus Show and Art Fair from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Oct. 6 at Moon-Sun Cactus &Koi Gardens, 6430 McGill Ave., Las Vegas.

This show and sale features indoor and outdoor cactuses and succulents along with local artists, crafters and vendors with a garden theme. There also will be lots of educational classes throughout the show.

A contest will feature personal collections of cactuses and succulents. You will be able to vote for the “People’s Choice” award. Visit for the rules to enter and directions to get to the nursery.

Expect to see dazzling arrays of beautiful desert plants at this event. Cactus flowers are some of the most exciting blooms in nature. The fall bloomers are on display with their grandeur. While you are being dazzled by these desert wonders, visit the koi fish swimming in their ponds. It’s a nice balance of the earth and water elements.

Here are some desert plants I really like:

■ Argentine toothpick cactus: When you want a centerpiece in your landscape, this columnar cactus is an excellent alternative to the giant saguaro. Like the saguaro, it has gray toothpick-type spines. It’s a fast grower and hardy in our valley. It easily develops arms and provides any landscape with a wonderful vertical element. The spines on this special cactus are up to 4 inches long, hence the name toothpick cactus! During the late spring or early summer, it displays large white blooms making it a fantastic addition to any landscape. As you might imagine, you need to handle it with heavy gloves!

■ Woolly rhino cactus: This pettable columnar cactus is sure to elicit comments from friends. Its thick concentration of soft spines allows you to pet this cactus in one direction — down. If you want to make a statement in your yard, this will certainly do it.

■ Devil’s tongue barrel cactus: This barrel cactus is deep green with thick, wide red spines curving down, hence the name devil’s tongue. The deep purple flowers last about a week, which is much longer than most cactuses, with continued blooming into winter. There are other barrel cactuses with yellow and candy-striped flowers on display. They add color and form to any part of your yard.

■ Variegated Spanish dagger: Yuccas make great additions to any yard and come in many forms. Each spring they produce large white blooming stalks. This particular yucca has contrasting yellow and green striped leaves getting about shoulder high, and it’s hardy. It also makes an excellent container plant along with its cousin yucca “gold ribbons.” You’ll love its weeping leaves providing a subtle contrast of gold and green.

■ King of the agaves: Here is another agave to add to your garden with its looks and shapes. This regal agave has a dark green body with an interesting white striped pattern on its upright leaves. It takes our summers and winters. It gets about knee high at maturity. Try complementing it with the queen Victoria agave, a smaller agave with an equally dramatic white striped pattern. Use this one in containers as well.

■ “Jaws” hardy agave: This agave has bold teeth along its edges resembling a shark’s mouth, hence the name “Jaws.” The deep rich green body provides a strong contrast to the more typical gray or blue tones of other agaves. “Jaws” fits in any desert setting and becomes a strong companion with colorful groundcovers such as lantana or in front of a little leaf cordia.

■ Whale’s tongue agave: It’s another show stopper. As it gets bigger, its gray-toned leaves broaden and widen. It takes our sun and cold winters. It gets waist high and creates a statement or bold accent in any yard.

■ Super white zebra haworthia: Here’s a must for lots of various colors, shapes and forms and it fits well in container gardens for arrangements. It has thick, wavy three-dimensional horizontal lines across the plant like a zebra. Complement it with flowering cactuses or soft leaved succulents or vibrant aloes. However you arrange your container garden, the colors, shapes and forms will express your creativity and provide constant enjoyment.

Container gardens allow you to bring them in on frosty nights so you can enjoy your living artwork throughout the holidays.

Come enjoy the show.

Linn Mills writes a garden column each Sunday. You can reach him at or call him at 702-526-1495.