In the Southwest climates, cacti and succulents often replace ornamental shrubs and trees as landscaping. The philosophy of playing up what you already have rather than trying to hide it, home decorators have been decking cacti with holiday lights for years.
So, how do you string lights on a succulent or cactus? Very carefully, for starters. Wear a pair of suede or leather gloves that can’t be penetrated by the needle-like spines of a cactus, which can even poke through the strongest types of gloves. Then follow these tips.
Illuminating Desert Plants for the Holidays
It’s a bit more time-consuming and a specialized task to adorn cacti, succulents, yucca, and unusually-shaped desert plants with string lights. Here are a few tips and tricks:
- Invest in a good pair of gloves, that won’t allow spines and needles to penetrate. Also, wear long sleeves.
- For taller cacti or hard-to-reach branches consider getting a reaching, grabbing, or pick-up tool. Some even come equipped with a light. Doing so, carefully, allows you to wrap a cactus or limb without having to touch it.
- Barrel cacti look best wrapped with one color of string lights, like red or white, so they sound out.
- Net lights draped over a cactus are much more manageable than wrapping with string lights, although they have a different effect and don’t outline the shape as much. Most are LEDs, and some are solar, although they need several hours of sunlight to work.
- Use a light hand while decorating–don’t stretch the light strand or wrap it tightly around a cactus.
- Some of the more delicate specimens might benefit from the more traditional incandescent lights, which can create enough warmth (not heat) to keep the cactus or succulent from freezing.
- Laser flood or spotlights are an easy way to light up a desert garden without damaging plants. Each year, they go down in price and the technology is improved.