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If you live with snow a few months a year and yearn to have a desert garden but think it is not possible, think again: It is possible. There are many cacti that are cold hardy down to -30 degrees, but I will discuss mainly Opuntia cactus planting, designs, and companion plants that will give the appearance of a desert garden. There are numerous hardy Opuntia cacti that are hardy to -30 degrees and will survive under a foot of snow. When spring arrives for us northern gardeners, the opuntias usually are lying flat and may look dead, but they will plump up and reward you with 4" - 6" peony-form flowers in colors of yellow, pink, peach, and red in June-July.
Oct 9, 2014 6:31 PM CST
|Cinta, you made me want to give this a try after reading your article. And the photos of blooms sure didn't hurt any. How beautiful they are. I had no idea that the blooms would get that big.|
Oct 9, 2014 6:58 PM CST
|If you want to give them a try let me know next summer and you can give it a try. I have it in the area that my deliveries are dropped off and the mail man, FedEx, guys are amazed it is quite the conversation garden.|
I will give you some more temptation pics.
Oct 9, 2014 7:08 PM CST
|Beautiful. I like the way your instructions are complete from start to finish, right down the the 'jewelry'. Perfect. |
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Oct 9, 2014 8:57 PM CST
|Would the work in a cement walled planter that runs along the road out front of our place?|
Oct 9, 2014 9:03 PM CST
|Yes Lynn that would work good. A home owner in the area have their cactus garden in the front of their property planted in cinder block edging.|
Oct 9, 2014 9:08 PM CST
|Now I have more to think about.|
Oct 10, 2014 8:10 AM CST
|Free. Come and get all you want! Please! |
Oct 10, 2014 8:57 AM CST
|Our next-door neighbor in Salt Lake City had a whole border of them. In spring a nice show of tulips would pop up between the flattened cacti, then they'd grow up nicely to cover the tulip foliage. She even used to get a harvest of prickly pears some years, and would make little jars of jelly to give out for the holidays. It's very good.|
Coolest thing to me was when I asked her how the heck she weeded that prickly border, and she said "oh, Roundup. It kills the weeds but not the cacti."
(this was 15 years ago. I'm sure she doesn't use Roundup any more.)
"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Oct 10, 2014 11:46 AM CST
|Roundup won't kill the cactus? |
Donald, those are gorgeous. What time of the year do they bloom?
Each bit of information on growing these makes it more interesting for me to grow in the hot dry bed along the road.
Oct 10, 2014 11:55 AM CST
|All of my photos were taken May 25, 2014.|
Oct 10, 2014 12:06 PM CST
|So they are spring blooming.|
Oct 10, 2014 1:17 PM CST
|Yes, spring bloom. Now they have made fruit which has been getting ripe for some time. It's that fruit which folks use to make prickly pear jelly. It's quite good. My nephew took a load off last year to make mead. I haven't heard how that turned out. The plant is wicked to handle. Covered in big sharp strong thorns which have a kajillion tiny hair like thorns at the base of each thorn. Sort of double duty protection I guess. It's impossible to handle them without getting some of the tiny ones embedded and they are extremely difficult to find and remove. The big ones make soft shoes like sneakers a bad choice to wear around them unless you are really watchful of your foot movement. But the fruit especially, and to a lesser extent the leaves, are food to a lot of wildlife. That scatters the seeds and they thrive in drought conditions taking advantage of other plant growth being diminished. A few would be okay, but they are aggressive on range land when conditions are right. When they are growing thickly with numerous large growing plants, they provide cover for many animals. That includes feral hogs which is also not a good thing. In my area, the balance has shifted and they are a bad plant. The blooms are really beautiful, though.|
Oct 10, 2014 2:31 PM CST
|They bloom June-July in my climate. My first day of no frost is suppose to be May 14th. After the snow and cold they are not usually standing until the middle of June.|
You talking Texas heat. Do you get any snow Donald?
Oct 10, 2014 2:35 PM CST
|I never had a need to use round up or even pull weeds because of the sedum ground cover and it is so hot and dry in that area they dry up and die. |
If you want to use them to make jelly I would not use any type of weed killer.
Oct 10, 2014 4:42 PM CST
|Where I am we usually get at least one snow/sleet spell in the winter. Sometimes we get more. I think I can remember we had snow 4 times one winter. It usually doesn't last but a day or two. When it sticks around longer than that, this area isn't prepared. Usually those spells have a short duration.|
Oct 11, 2014 10:31 AM CST
|Well Donald I have snow from Nov until March maybe another big one 6 - one foot of snow in April. That is why you are getting blooms so early. I have mine planted next to the mud room and I shovel the snow on them so they usually are not fully un-snow covered until May.|
Oct 11, 2014 11:39 AM CST
|Wow, those are some tough plants. But how would they hold up to relatively cold winters with almost no snow, but lots of rain for approximately 5 months?|
So cold and very wet?
Oct 11, 2014 1:54 PM CST
|Probably would hold up better than you think. Normally I'd think the rain would be more detrimental than the cold, but look at this photo. It's clearly an Opuntia, though probably ssp. This was the last photo I took on a trip to Costa Rica. It was growing, and obviously thriving, at Zoo Ave in Alejuela. This was in the rainy season there. Dang thing was probably 15' tall .|
Oct 11, 2014 2:52 PM CST
|That is impressive. But all that rain isn't accompanied by cold temps. That is what I would worry about.|
Oct 11, 2014 6:13 PM CST
|My winters start out rain and cold then we go to ice, and freezing rain. Some winters we get very little snow. I think since you grow Sempervivum I think you could grow these easy. I think the key is have more gravel than soil that is why I gave the large ratio of gravel for people growing them in cold weather. |
This garden is almost pure gravel which is why there are no weeds to pull.