The Ultimate Drought Smart Plants

plant guide

As the epitome of drought tolerant plants, cacti are really great at surviving what in most plants could be considered a death blow.

Ripping off a goodly chunk of the plant, cutting its armor off, plopping it in a box and sending it off in the mail might be a good way to kill most plants – not cold hardy cacti!

Opuntia fragilis, happily flowering in the high altitude and arid climate of the Chilcotin Plateau

These amazing plants spend their time wisely while traveling, and when they arrive at their destination (your garden) they’re ready to send down roots and grow.

When you receive your cold hardy cacti order, inspect it carefully.

The worst thing that can happen is that the pads have been too wet when packed, and may rot.

Calloused Cactus Pad

If this is the case, not to worry, these plants have the ability to compartmentalize the damage, sealing it off and preventing it from spreading.

Rot should always be excised to clean tissue and left to callous for a week or two.

Roots Emerging from underneath

Set the pads on top of some fast draining soil.

They dislike staying wet for long, so something that consists of larger sand, perlite and pumice, in equal amounts will be perfect.

These plants don’t require much fertilizer, so start off the way you intend to continue. Small amounts of manure in the soil – well rotted and mixed in before planting, compost tea or fish fertilizer once or twice during active growth will help these plants flourish.

Opuntia compressa starting to bloom – look at all those buds!

Be cruel to be kind – most often, failure to thrive in cacti is caused by trying to grow them in conditions that most other plants require to survive – manure or peat based potting soils and too much water.

In time, maybe a couple of seasons, your cold hardy cacti will be established and start to bloom. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if the bumps on the edges of the pads are new growth (cladodes) or flower buds.

Got a cactus thorn in your finger? Find out how to get it out here.