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.
What degree of cold is too cold 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. They do not “thrive on neglect,” unlike what the general public thinks. They “thrive on gentle loving care, like most plants, but they will at least “survive on neglect.”
Except for epiphytic (tree-dwelling) cacti and succulents like the Christmas cactus, rhipsalis, and orchid cacti, which demand less sunlight, greater humidity, and more watering than other species, the general care instructions below apply for cacti and most other succulent plants. They also prefer fertilizer with a higher nitrogen content. Compared to other species, add less sand to your potting mixture. Other succulents such as haworthias likewise favor brilliant indirect light over direct sunlight.
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.
In the winter, can I put my cactus outside?
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.
How are cacti kept alive throughout the winter?
Cacti and succulents are excellent low-maintenance plants that add color to the home even on the gloomiest winter days. They provide aesthetic appeal to any table or windowsill with their unique forms and textures, and with proper care, they’ll last the entire long, cold season.
Cacti and succulents are suitable indoor plants all year round. Plants simply only a little light and sporadic watering during the winter. By the time fall arrives, the majority of cacti and succulents have gone dormant and will no longer grow as the weather and light conditions change.
5 Techniques for Winter Cactus and Succulent Care:
1. Plant your dormant plant in a location where it will flourish to make your cacti or succulents happy. During the winter, succulents require less light and can also tolerate indirect light. Make sure your plant receives at least three to four hours of bright light each day for the best results. Locations are happiest close to windows that face south or east.
2. Sandy, well-drained soil is best for growing succulents. Give your plant the nutrients it requires by using Espoma’s cacti and succulent mix. Make sure containers have drainage holes to allow extra water to drain because succulents can’t tolerate excessively moist soil.
3. Set the thermostat. Few succulents can withstand temperatures that are much colder than 50 to 55 degrees.
4. Succulents require deep watering, although they won’t need as much as they do during active growth. Use little water and only from the top, letting water seep through to the bottom. Keep plants out of water for brief periods of time. Keep water away from the cactus’ body since it can cause decay.
5. Look for vermin. Check your leaves every month for mealy bugs and aphids. If a plant is infected, remove it from the vicinity of other plants and spritz it with a solution of 3 parts rubbing alcohol to 1 part water.
Will cacti survive the nighttime chill?
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 takes us to the most disputed question concerning 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.
Will my cactus survive outside?
Many gardeners think it’s nearly impossible to cultivate cacti outside or that these succulents can only survive in hot, dry climates. Thankfully, that is not the situation. Plants like cacti and other succulents are excellent for landscaping. They can grow and thrive in a variety of climates, need minimal upkeep, and are always simple to grow and take care of.
So, are cacti a healthy outdoor plant? Yes. Although cacti plants often flourish in indoor settings, many kinds can also thrive when planted outdoors. You can always locate a suitable cactus species that can survive outside, regardless of the climate in the area where you live.
While some cacti species can withstand extreme heat and light, other types thrive in cold winter settings. It is up to you to identify the species that will thrive in your region.