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Cactaceae Open discussion of Cacti and related species

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Old 01-15-2017, 09:46 AM
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Default Cold and winter wet tolerant cactus

As a kid I had hundreds of cactus and built a glasshouse for them so they were happy. I lived in an area that was hot during summer and mild during winter and I religiously watered them during the warmer months and kept them dry during winter. Now I live in Tasmania and I had plans to start a collection again and intended to do the same; build a glasshouse and keep them in there. It gets down to about -5,-4 during winter, and it is a winter rainfall zone. We often get mild frosts (enough to freeze the top 1cm of water in the lily pond) and we sometimes get snow. We get a lot of rain; about 1m a year.

Life got in the way of getting my cactus again... and I now only have a handful but to my complete surprise, these are growing outdoors all year in pots where they get rained on during winter, frozen, smashed by Roaring 40s gales, and even snowed on and they seem to shrug it off and just keep growing. They've been doing it now for over 6 years. These include Mammilaria elongata, Mamm. plumosa, Mamm. gacilis var snowcap, Mamm. marksiana, another Mamm. whose name I can't remember, Parodia scopa, and some random Echinopsis that I grew from a pup from a plant that was growing in the ground (on red lateritic soil!), in a house we rented when we first landed in Tasmania 10 years ago. I did have Sulcorebutia rauschii until recently but lost it because our local possums dug it out and ate it It's my favourite cactus!

So I've started thinking seriously about making an outdoor garden for them so I can liberate them and add more to the collection. I thought I'd start this thread for others to add names to the list and give me some more ideas. I have a preference for the smaller clumping types like the offsetting Mamms. , Rebutia, Sulcos, and I don't much like taller column-type cactus but think these would look good in a garden setting.

Has anyone else had any luck growing cactus outdoors in situations similar to mine?
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Old 01-16-2017, 01:38 PM
hoodidoo hoodidoo is offline
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I'm sure Tasmania is quite different from Texas, but I've had the most luck here with outdoor cacti from my general longitude here in central Texas - some native to the area, and some from farther south. We sometimes have long wet periods in the winter, which can be the undoing of many species, even in raised beds. Just recently, there was a low temperature of 16F, or roughly -9C, and I've seen it get a couple of degrees colder in the past. I'm having better success recently with the more desert-dwelling species from farther west by growing them in pots with a high percentage of Turface and expanded shale in the growing medium. In the beds, I've tried numerous Mexican and South American species, with a long list of casualties. Sometimes it takes a few seasons for them to succumb to the weather. Among my long-term successes are Mammillaria prolifera, M. sphaerica, M. heyderi, Echinocereus enneacanthus, E. reichenbachii, E. pentalophus, Echinopsis formosa, a few Echinopsis hybrids (some appear hardier than others), unknown Trichocereus hybrids, Coryphantha sulcata, Echinocactus texensis, E. platycanthus, Chamaelobivia 'Rose Quartz', Ferocactus hamatacanthus, Peniocereus greggii, and Cylindropuntia imbricata, C. leptocaulis, and C. kleiniae. Even though native Opuntias are abundant around here, I haven't had much luck growing them in my garden, other than a couple of spineless varieties, as they have so many pests. Other xeric plants - Nolina, Dyckia, Dasylirion, Yucca, Agave, Manfreda, Puya, and Aloe have actually taken over the bulk of my dry beds.
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Old 01-16-2017, 06:08 PM
Viegener Viegener is offline
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Most of the Echinopsis / Trichocereus hybrids are quite tough for me. I've seen them tolerate great amounts of abuse, cold, wet, etc. Opuntias for the most part couldn't be tougher, and because

I've been to Tasmania & think your climate is pretty similar to the Pacific Northwest in the U.S., neither too hot nor too cold & with rain primarily in the winter. Both have temperate rainforests but also dry areas. You might be interested in this nursery: www.desertnorthwest.com. They specialize in desert-looking but also freeze-hardy plants. They're especially savvy about agaves, but they're interested in cacti as well.
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Old 01-17-2017, 07:35 PM
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Thank you for all your suggestions

I also have Ferocactus hystrix, Mammillaria bombycina, Gymanocalycium damsii, and Echinocereus pectinatus, to add to these tolerant cactus species and I remembered the name of the other Mamm. I mentioned below. It is Mamm. rhodantha var. pringlei (long golden spined form). I need to make a correction, too. The Mammillaria elongatus I mentioned above did not make it through our winters but Mammillaria microhelia did. I was most upset at losing the M. elongatus as I was given it when I was 18 and am now 46; it had some decent age on it before it succumbed.

Tasmania dries out as you go east. The eastern third of Tassie is in a rain shadow and Hobart is rated as being the driest Australian capitol city. The west coast receives in excess of 3m of annual rainfall and I am up on the mid-north coast near Devonport where conditions are intermediate between these two extremes. Summer and late spring are usually very dry whilst our winters and early spring are very wet. Things never actually dry out during winter. In autumn the dry begins to break but things usually dry out before getting soaked again and temperatures are mild. Summer temps top out at around 30-35C (86-95F) and days above that are rare. The summer norm is more around 25-26C (77-~79F).

I don't want to add Opuntia to the garden as I'm not a huge fan and the local quarantine people don't like it because it was identified as a minor host to both Queensland and Mediterranean fruit fly (???). I do like the common microdaysis in all its forms but that's about it for Opuntia and Cylindropuntia, etc. It's good to see a few Echinocereus in the list above as they are also a group I enjoy a lot. I also find it interesting that all of my epiphytic cacti (Schlumbergera, and Rhipsalis) did fine outdoors during winter, though they are much happpier since I moved them indoors.
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