You might be surprised to learn that cacti are among the best-known warm-weather plants and can suffer freezing damage. However, even in Arizona’s hot and dry summers, wintertime lows of 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius) are not uncommon. Cactus may suffer freezing damage as a result of this. You’ll need to know how to care for a frozen cactus if you discover that your cactus is harmed after a cold spell. Can you revive a frozen cactus? How can a frozen cactus be revived? For advice on helping a cactus harmed by cold, continue reading.
How cold does a cactus have to be before it perishes?
Most people think of desert plants as cactus plants. This conjures up images of arid regions with exceptionally high annual temperatures for many people. The truth is that hardly all deserts are really hot, and those that are typically get rather chilly at night. It follows that the ability of cactus plants to survive in cold climates is not surprising. This brings up the most contentious issue surrounding these plants.
Cacti can withstand the winter. Yes is the clear answer to this. Even during the darkest days of winter, cactus plants may still enliven your indoor space even if the bulk of them are used to surviving in arid places. Any cactus plant’s optimum temperature varies depending on its species. Others can survive in temperatures below 0oF whereas certain species cannot endure temperatures below the freezing point.
In order to prevent the surplus water that is held in the roots and stems of many cactus species that can withstand extremely cold temperatures from freezing, these plants typically release water at night.
How would a frozen cactus behave?
The flesh of a frost-damaged cactus may initially appear white. After that, frost-damaged cacti will soften, wilt, and become black. Some cactus can naturally shed these frozen regions. However, if you believe the dead plant sections are becoming contaminated, you might choose to trim them off.
Does covering cactus during a freeze make sense?
All areas of Phoenix and Tucson should cover particularly sensitive plants and certain annuals when a freeze is predicted. Lantana, bougainvillea, natal plum, hibiscus, most succulents, tomatoes, peppers, basil, and of course ficus trees are the typical issue plants.
How To Cover Your Plants To Protect From The Cold:
Never cover with plastic or other impermeable materials unless a heat source will be placed underneath. Use burlap, cotton sheets, thinsulate, or frost cloth. During the coldest winter months, keep the coverings on at all times.
Make sure plants are well-watered; in fact, running water under larger-than-coverage plants or trees can be beneficial. If possible, warming appliances like heaters, fans, and lights (such as festive Christmas lights) can all be useful. If you have potted plants, bring them completely beneath your patio roof or, if they aren’t too heavy, keep them there for a day or two.
Do not immediately prune off any damaged plants if your plants do sustain harm. The damage will most likely worsen in a day or two, but it will assist shield the unharmed portion of the plant from any additional cold that may come. Before cutting down, wait till all potential frost has passed. That usually occurs in the middle or near the end of February.
Can A Hard Frost Harm My Cacti?
Yes, it can, though prickly pears and saguaros, which are endemic to Arizona, can typically withstand the lowest winter temperatures. A harsh frost, though, might harm or even kill other cacti in your yard that may have been native to different regions of the world. Because of this, you should also cover them or place foam cups on the points of their arms. When in doubt, take safety measures, refer to the aforementioned advice, and contact a nursery.
When should cacti be brought indoors?
Even while certain sturdy cacti may survive the winter in the garden, when the outside temperature falls below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, bring frost-sensitive species inside. For pests, gently inspect the cactus. Scale and mealybugs can be removed rapidly using an alcohol-soaked cotton swab. Additionally, aphids and spider mites may travel inside. These little pests can be quickly eliminated with a water blast.
Move a lot of plants inside. Depending on the species, place the cacti far from heat vents and in full sun or brilliant filtered light. Place the prickly cacti in areas where you, your kids, and your pets won’t likely bump into them and end up with a collection of spines and puncture wounds. Contrary to popular belief, cacti don’t actually reach out and grab you, but even simply brushing up against their spines can be uncomfortable.
How can I prevent the freezing of my cactus?
Cover your cactus’ developing tips with styrofoam cups. This will keep them from freezing. They won’t be harmed by it. The majority of cacti are currently inactive and not growing. This past summer’s growth was delicate and has to be protected.
To prevent it from being blown off by the wind and endangering your plants, tie on any frost protection you use. Large-bulb Christmas lights will also keep plants warm, especially those big specimens that could be challenging to cover.
Never use plastic on your plants directly! Plants will freeze as a result of this moisture trap.
Fix root rot in Cactus
Cactus root rot can be identified by symptoms like discoloration, shakiness, and mushy roots. Your cactus becoming brown or black is another sign.
Here’s why cacti plants frequently develop root rots:
In order to enhance water collection in their native habitat, cacti have a large, shallow root system. Root rot can develop very quickly in a pot due to overwatering, compacted roots, or poor drainage.
Water that does not drain properly and is standing around the plant’s base can occasionally only impact the cactus’ base and not its roots. These are some of the most frequent issues with growing cactus inside.
If you act promptly after noticing that your cactus plant is becoming mushy, you might be able to fix the issue. With the right care, even cacti that have decayed all the way to the soil level can recover.
As soon as you’re certain that your plant has root rot, immediately perform the following steps.
Take your plant out of the pot and examine the roots to see how they are doing. Use a sterilized knife to remove the discolored, mushy roots and any rotten parts at the cactus’ base if any are still white.
Prior to repottiing the plant in a fresh container with new cactus potting mix, let it dry out and heal outside of the soil. Always use protective hand gloves or a piece of folded newspaper to shield your hands from the cactus’ sharp spines.
Watch Your Watering
One of the most effective techniques to rescue a dying cactus is through optimal irrigation. Similar to how lacking water is harmful, having too much water is also harmful. However, it’s best to err on the side of caution when dealing with cacti. You should water your succulents as regularly as indicated above.
Additionally, it’s critical to water the cactus plant thoroughly while keeping an eye out for the following:
Under-watering your cactus
If you don’t water your cactus often, it can pucker or shrivel as well as becoming discolored (usually getting brown and dry, or calloused). These symptoms are your succulents and cacti’s method of communicating to you that they are thirsty and dehydrated. Give them a nice thorough watering to fix the problem.
Over-watering your cactus
Encourage the cactus to shed as much water as rapidly as possible if overwatering is a persistent issue.
Choose an unglazed clay container that is only marginally larger than the cactus and fill it with a ready-made cactus mixture to accomplish this. To avoid upsetting the cactus’ delicate roots, pot it gently in the mixture. In contrast to the loose cactus mixture, which allows water to drain rapidly and completely, the clay pot will wick away more moisture from the root zone.
Landscape plants provide you less control over drainage, therefore you should only plant very large landscape cacti directly in the ground.
Change the potting soil
As we’ve already seen, the main factor contributing to cacti root rot is overwatering. Let me be very clear about one thing, though.
The rots aren’t directly brought on by water; instead, Phytophthora spp., a type of water mold, is to blame. But the rot won’t start unless there is enough moisture, which you happily provide it when you overwater.
The pathogen that first caused the rot is likely still present in the current soil, which is the first explanation. The second and most significant issue is that some potting mixtures are considered to be heavy and likely hold too much water.
Due to this, you must switch to a lighter, more permeable potting soil, such as this Classic Potting Mix. What I appreciate about this mixture is that it has a high level of disease resistance, offers excellent drainage, and absorbs just the right quantity of water.
Read this post about how to increase drainage in potted plants to learn more about how to do it.
Repot your cactus
Giving the cactus plant a greater growing space is a frequent justification for repotting.
When houseplants ultimately outgrow their pots, the roots cluster together and get compacted. Without enough room for the roots, a plant will frequently grow slowly and may even perish.
Water that seeps right through the container, roots that are obviously congested, leaves that appear unhealthy, and roots that are growing through drainage holes or above the soil line are indications that the plant has outgrown the container.
The roots can spread when the plant grows larger when the plant is moved to a larger container.
To get rid of any unwanted guests, make sure to properly disinfect the new pot using a solution of one part water and one part bleach.
Choose your pot wisely
Although I highly advise potting up, you should be careful not to pick a pot that will actually cause issues.
The roots may eventually rot if the pot is too large and contains too much dirt, which will allow it to retain too much water.
You need to stimulate some new root growths when roots or tissues have been severely harmed by overwatering or other undesirable cultural practices.
A full cactus plant can regrow from even a small amount of healthy tissue, but if you leave the rot in place, it could spread further.
Till a thick scab appears on the portions that were sliced, let the cactus dry on the counter for a few days. If there is still much of the cactus, bury it about halfway; otherwise, place the remaining piece of the plant in a clay container with cactus soil.
Water the cactus lightly during the first week and then only when new growth starts to show.
Let your cacti rest
Sometimes, your cactus may not require rescue, and you may simply be being overly cautious. It’s possible that when certain portions die off or lose their buds, they are merely requesting a rest.
Don’t worry if the cacti lose their buds one winter; they should bloom the following year.
There shouldn’t be any cause for concern as long as the crucial areas, including the roots, appear healthy.
Provide optimum temperature
If your cactus isn’t flowering, it can be because of the temperature or the amount of daylight it receives.
For six weeks, days must be between 8 and 10 hours long and nights at least 14 hours long to start blossoming. You might need to cover your cactus if your home has bright indoor lights at night.
Only at cool temperatures of 50 to 55 degrees F will flowers bloom.
Watch out for mealybugs
Mealybugs exude wax and sticky honeydew, which lowers plant quality and weakens the phloem of your cactus plant by sucking sap from it.
a large population Although leaf drop and plant growth can be slowed by feeding on the foliage or stems, healthy plants can withstand low populations without suffering serious harm.
Since indoor plants are typically not exposed to the natural enemies that frequently keep mealybugs under control outdoors, cacti are particularly vulnerable since year-round mild temperatures foster mealybug populations.
To ensure that you find and control them in good time, regular monitoring and inspection of your plants is essential. By reading this article on how to control pests, you can discover more about handling mealybugs (mealybugs).
Feed them well
The majority of plant issues, including a dying cactus, can be due to inadequate nourishment.
As a result, it’s crucial to feed your cactus at the most appropriate rate and frequency with a fertilizer that has been prescribed.
Feed a complete cactus fertilizer every two weeks from early spring to early fall. Feed the cactus once a month in the fall and winter.
A plant that has received too much fertilizer may wilt despite being watered, have leaves that feel like they are made of fabric, or have brown leaf tips.
Follow the directions on a fertilizer packet carefully, and if in doubt, use a smaller amount than advised. Ensure that the fertilizer you use is labeled as being suitable for indoor plants.
Light is more important for the cactus than you think
When a plant needs more light, it can eventually grow lanky, floppy, pale, or start to drop its leaves. It is probably not getting enough light if it is expanding yet the new growth is pallid and fragile.
Protect your cactus from prolonged exposure to direct sunlight
An otherwise healthy plant will develop this stiff, dark, bark-like tissue just above the earth. Actually, it’s a result of cacti’s natural aging process. Always work your way up from the cactus’ base when corking.
A cactus is an indication of sunburn or another issue if it turns brown from the top down, though.
A whitish discoloration, typically at the top and side facing the sun, is a symptom of mild sunburn. On the charred surface, severe burns leave behind hard, dark scars.
Brown scars on cacti indicate permanent harm. Moving your cactus into the shade will help it recover if the only discoloration it has is a whitish one.
In order to acclimatize cacti that aren’t used to being in the sun, full sun must be provided for a brief period of time each day, followed by an increase in exposure over the course of several weeks. Some creatures should never spend the entire day in the sun.