Cactus plants that thrive in cold climates prefer many of the same environmental factors as their southern cousins, such as lots of light. Some of the most typical maintenance needs for cold-weather cacti are listed below.
How to Plant Cacti
Cacti need soil that drains fast, but pure sand shouldn’t be used because it doesn’t contain enough nutrients to support their growth. It is recommended to combine typical garden soil or topsoil with 40 to 60 percent coarse sand and up to 10 percent compost for a nutrient-rich, quick-draining mix when growing cacti. Fine-grain sand should be avoided since it can clog soil instead of improving drainage. Cactus plants should not have the soil around their shallow roots disturbed after planting. Pea gravel or other small rock mulch helps control weed growth, keeps the soil temperature constant, and protects soil from blowing away.
In order to offer optimum drainage, raised beds are advised. You need more drainage the more rain your area receives. Cacti should be grown in pots under cover, such as a roof overhang, in extremely moist areas. Cacti should never be planted on normal or clay soil since they are easily overwatered and will perish.
In the winter or fall, refrain from watering cacti. To get ready for the upcoming weather, cactus plants start to contract and seem withered and unappealing. This is a typical phase of their hibernating process; but, if you water them at this time, the extra water may freeze and destroy the plant.
The best strategy is typically to let Mother Nature take care of watering your cactus over the rest of the year. You can feel free to water your cactus, though, if there are several weeks in a row of hot, dry weather without any rain. The plants are probably trying to notify you they need water if the soil is completely dry and they appear limp or are starting to droop. Avoid watering the plant directly and properly soak the soil for the greatest effects.
In-ground cactus plants don’t require a lot of fertilizer, although they can benefit from spring applications of compost or a liquid fertilizer made for use on vegetables or bulbs. Avoid fertilizers that contain a lot of nitrogen (the first number of the three shown on the package). Nitrogen promotes quick growth, but it can also make a plant too delicate and prone to winter damage, especially later in the growing season.
Protecting Cactus Plants
Contrary to popular belief, cold-hardy cacti can thrive in regions with a lot of snow. Cacti can, however, suffer from frostbite in regions with cold temperatures and strong winds but minimal snowfall. As late in the growing season as feasible, carefully wrap the plants in burlap to prevent damage. The burlap shields the plants from the sun, cold, and wind while allowing them to breathe. In order to protect the cactus plants from too much moisture during warmer winters, carefully erect a structure over them, such as a canvas tent.
What temperature is too low for cacti?
If you have enough light, cacti are some of the most rewarding houseplants. Few blooms can match them in terms of color, size, or beauty. Space is typically not an issue because most cacti grow slowly. They are extremely resilient and flexible. Contrary to common perception, they do not “thrive on neglect; rather, they “survive on neglect; like most plants, they “thrive on gentle loving care.
The general care instructions below are for cacti and the majority of other succulent plants, with the exception of epiphytic (tree-dwelling) cacti and succulents such as Christmas cacti, rhipsalis, orchid cacti, etc., which require more humidity, more watering, and less sunlight than other species. They also benefit from a higher percentage of nitrogen in their fertilizer, and require less sand in their potting mix. Haworthias
Give cacti and other succulent plants the brightest or most sunny windows you have indoors (four to six hours of direct sun). They will grow abnormally long and thin in low light conditions. Your plants will benefit greatly from spending the summer outdoors in the morning or late afternoon sun, when there is greater air movement and light. The majority of succulents can withstand intense outdoor sun, but they must get used to it. When putting plants outside, place them in partial shade or shadow at first and gradually expose them over the course of a few weeks to the strong late spring and summer sun.
Spiny and woolly species need the greatest sunlight, whilst spineless species typically need shade during the midday hours. If your plant has a reddish tint, it may be because the amount of sun it can withstand is reached or exceeded.
When you water, make sure to water well and wait until the soil has dried before doing so again. In particular, succulents are vulnerable to rot from excessive watering. If the earth around your plant is already moist, NEVER water it. Pots that are dry weigh less than wet ones. When the soil inside clay pots is moist, they feel chilly and damp to the touch. When the soil has enough moisture for the plant, succulent leaves are solid and plump.
The majority of cacti and several other succulents prefer to maintain a significant amount of dryness during the cooler months of the year (usually October through April). Over this time, drink less water than usual. To encourage new growth in the spring, spray your plants in the early morning hours of warm days. The spines of plants will allow them to absorb moisture. In order to prevent new roots from being stifled by excessively damp soil during the early spring, we also advise watering plants from the bottom of the pot. Fill the plant’s saucer with water, give the soil, pot, and plant around 30 minutes to absorb the moisture, and then drain the extra.
If you embed your plants in a mixture of 50% coarse builder’s sand and 50% peat, they will grow to their fullest capacity if they are in clay pots. This stops the soil from drying out too quickly and enables the roots to grow in the consistent wetness that the peat/sand mixture creates. Make sure there is excellent drainage in the tray that contains the peat/sand mixture.
Keep succulents and cacti above freezing in the winter. Some plants require a temperature range of 35 to 40 °F at night (some cacti and other succulents can endure temperatures well below freezing if kept absolutely dry.) A minimum temperature of 50–60 degrees is preferred for more tropical succulents like adeniums, euphorbias, lithops, and stapeliads.
Plants need to be shielded from intense heat in the summer since potted plants’ root systems are more susceptible to harm. Good air circulation and cautious watering will prevent fungal and rot issues in humid and hot conditions.
From May to September, feed your plants once per month using a fertilizer that contains low nitrogen (10% or less), such as 5-10-5 or 10-30-20. Nitrogen overload promotes excessively quick green but weak development. As the majority of cacti have evolved to thrive in nutrient-deficient soils, always dilute the fertilizer more than the label recommendations suggest.
In the spring or early summer, repotte. When young, most plants like annual repotting with just one pot size increase. Without relocating the plant to a larger pot, you can carefully remove the top inch or two of soil after you reach roughly a 6-pot size and replace it with fresh mix. Since succulents are typically heavy plants, especially when potted in clay, moving them into ever bigger containers can be challenging.
Steer clear of soils that contain a lot of peat moss. Peat retains moisture for too long and is difficult to remoisten after being fully dried (a frequent occurrence with most succulents). You can add some coarse builder’s sand to the soil to promote drainage and a tiny amount of peat to the soil to improve texture. As much as 40% sand is appreciated by stapeliads, wooly cactus, and lithops (living stones). The base of the plant should have a top dressing of fine gravel since it encourages greater water absorption into the soil, shields it from excess moisture, and looks good too. For every 3 inches of pot size, add a tablespoon of gypsum and bone meal, if possible.
Use a pair of wooden tongs or a piece of newspaper that has been rolled up to help plants with a lot of spin out of their pots. If the plant is resistant, resist the urge to pull it out because doing so will harm the roots. Try again by striking a hard surface with the pot. As much soil as you can take out without harming the root ball. To prevent rot, always repot the plant at or higher than the prior soil level. You might need to stake species of columns. To give new root hairs time to grow after repotting, wait a week or two before watering.
Due to the fact that some species of cactus are native to freezing desert environments, they can withstand temperatures as low as 20 degrees below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. These plants may exude water, which will give them a slightly deflated appearance, or they may contain spines or hairs that deter frost. However, many cacti cannot withstand cold or temperatures below zero. Always examine the hardiness zone of a cactus before purchasing. Bring your cactus inside as a houseplant if you reside in a location outside of its range. Row covers, tents, and frost cloths can all be used to protect your cactus from the bitter cold outside.
To review, humidity is the quantity of water vapor in the atmosphere. Cacti typically like low humidity and good airflow, though they do appreciate water after drying up. Winters are frequently dry, so keeping your cactus next to a heater inside won’t cause any issues. The air outside is frequently dry due to wind chill. Keep an eye on the humidity if you live somewhere where it gets cold and humid. If the relative humidity exceeds those ranges, you might wish to bring your cactus indoors because most cacti like a relative humidity of 40 to 60 percent.
During the winter, should I bring my cactus inside?
Moving your cactuses to a cool location is the second stage in winterizing them (allowing them to become dormant). When temperatures begin to drop around the middle of October, you should consider relocating your cactus to a cooler location.
The ideal range for cactus dormancy temperatures is between 47 and 54 °F (8-12 Celsius). If your cactus has spent the entire year indoors and you have heating, you should transfer it to a balcony, garage, or even outside. In the winter, you must avoid keeping your cactus in a warm or hot room.
You may prevent your cactus from falling dormant in the winter by not transplanting them to a cool place. It will go on expanding (but growth will be uneven and minimal).
In addition, the increased temperatures will cause the water to evaporate, which will cause the air to dry (as you will water it less). Additionally, it should be a dry area. Your cactus will thereafter develop thin, elongated growth.
Lower temperatures will slow down your cactus’s metabolic processes and reduce water evaporation. Growing throughout the winter will impede the development of flower buds, result in nutritional depletion, and lead the cactus to dry out.
Step 3: Keep your cactus in cool conditions for winter
Keep your cactus in the cool spot you’ve chosen until the end of February. Your cactus will be dormant and its growth will have stopped. Keep them where they may receive the most winter sun possible.
You should gradually acclimate your cacti to sunshine circumstances once the temperature starts to rise once more. But you have to do this gradually.
Your cactus are prone to burn in sudden sun because they won’t get bright, sunny conditions all winter. Cacti adjust to low light levels, therefore it’s crucial to reintroduce them gradually. Additionally, avoid fertilizing your cactus during the winter.
Your cactus won’t actually show any signs of dormancy. But stagnation results in dormancy.
Step 4: Slowly introduce to sunny conditions
You must gradually acclimate your cacti to sunlight after the winter dormancy phase, around March, to avoid sunburns. Put them on a windowsill or another permanent/usual location to do this.
Then, protect your cactus from direct sunlight by using a thin white cloth or gauze. You can expose your cacti to more and more sunlight as the weather warms up over the course of a few weeks to a month.
Your cactus will burn if you don’t protect it from direct sunlight after a winter of little to no sunlight. A cactus’ epidermal tissues will be affected, which could result in death or interruption of vital metabolic processes. Additionally, be sure to give adequate ventilation because cacti detest stagnant air.
If you have recently re-potted your cacti into new containers, please minimize sun exposure and watering for a week. Additionally, don’t increase watering too quickly—increasing it gradually as the temperature rises. Your cacti’s successful dormancy will be ensured by gradual modifications in the surroundings.
Can cacti in pots remain outside in the winter?
The anxiety that comes with growing cactus plants outdoors during the chilly winter months is arguably one of the most difficult aspects of the process. Will your cacti withstand the bitterly cold weather and nonstop rain?
Occasionally, during the chilly winter season, temperatures can fall below freezing in some places of the world. Additionally, there is a chance that certain areas may have considerable snowfall and prolonged frosty nights.
Normally, daily temperature variations in deserts range from 68 to 77 oF. The extreme lowest temperature can occasionally be as low as -0.4oF while the extreme maximum temperature can occasionally be as high as 120oF.
Many cacti species can withstand the cold winter temperatures with difficulty because they have adapted to these temperature variations in the desert. But you should always make sure your plants are kept dry and get plenty of light and warmth during the day.
Remember that your cacti plants may not survive if exposed to extremely low temperatures with additional moisture from snow or frost if you don’t take measures to make sure they are kept dry and have access to light (even if it is artificial light from your house lamps).
Gardeners must take every precaution to elevate the minimum temperature in regions with long, cold winters and brief, overcast days in order to secure the survival of their plants.