cactus and succulents outside here?

Front Royal, VA

Has anyone tried a cactus garden outside here in the Shenandoah Valley? I saw a cactus on a job site that looked all flattened an wrinkly back in April, and my boss said it would perk back up in the warm weather. Does anyone here grow cactus outside? How about those cool things called living stones?

Shenandoah Valley, VA

Those flat cactus are prickly pears. They are very hardy and I assume are a native plant since they grow all over here.

Front Royal, VA

I find it very wierd that those cactuses grow here. It could be interesting in the garden.

Shenandoah Valley, VA

They get very pretty yellow flowers. Mine are blooming right now. DON'T pick up the pads with your bare hands. You'll be trying to pick those teensy, invisible spines out of your skin for the rest of the day.

If you go to the Cactus ahd Succulents Forum, Chantell has some pictures of her her pretty cactus garden.

Alexandria, VA

Prickly pear (Opuntia sp.) have one of the widest ranges of any cactus I know. Granted, it's not saying much since I've only been gardening for about 5 years or so, but it was all in the desert, so I'm pretty fond of anything cactus.

I've seen some documentation that indicates Opuntia species are found as far north as Southern Canada. Heck, they grow in the Galapagos, so they must be hardy!

Middle of, VA(Zone 7a)

hart,
You are so kind...my baby cactus patch is just a newbie...trial and error...I've got buckets of Prickly Pads rooting...waiting to go IN the ground...along with various Cholla.

For any interested or those that can add more info...here is the link that was started on cold hardy C & S':
http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/616009/

Shenandoah Valley, VA

Chantell, you don't have to root them before you plant them. Just stick them in the ground and they'll root. The pads that just lay against the ground will root too.

My gosh, I have so many that are already rooted. I'll bring you a bunch at the swap next month if you want.

Middle of, VA(Zone 7a)

I've been afraid to put them in the ground with all this rain. Last fall when I received some they wouldn't root just laying them flat...it might have had more to do with the season though - i.e. not warm enough....days shorter. Thanks for the offer...but a patient of ours brought in a good sized bag of pads....I actually shared with some other folks...LOL

Front Royal, VA

will Aloe grow outside here through the winter?

This message was edited Jul 7, 2006 6:39 AM

Front Royal, VA

One more question. What sort of bed do you create outside to grow the prickly pears etc. in? Do you make a very gravelly place? I am assuming that cactus and succulents need a spot with super good drainage and sun. Hart, if you do bring a couple of prickly pear pads to the swap I would be thrilled!I'm thinking that I might do some sort of container garden outside with these sorts of plants, because my yard gets so wet.

Shenandoah Valley, VA

If you go to the cactus forum, you'll find all kinds of information on hardy cactus and succulents. I don't think the aloe plants found at most stores are hardy but the cactus people could tell you for sure.

I'll be glad to bring a bunch of prickly pear to the swap. Yes, it needs a lot of sun and a pretty dry spot. A lot of rocks or sand in the soil to help it drain or on a dry slope would be good although they don't seem to mind here when they get a bit of shade or lots of rain. My soil is very dry and rocky, though. If your yard is wet, you could build a raised bed with a lot of stones and sand in the soil. That would drain a lot faster.

If I can hack them out of the ground, I'll bring some yucca too if anyone wants any.

Middle of, VA(Zone 7a)

Ok regarding the Aloe...I've yet to find any that would be hardy to our area. If anyone does please tell me!! :) As far as preparing the soil - this is what I do. Someone told me about Turkey Grit...also known as Granny Grit at Booth Feed Stores. This looks to me like a very small gravel. Most to all feed stores carry it i.e. Booth Feed, Southern States etc. When I dig the hold I dig deeper then I need and fill the bottom with this "grit." I stick the plant in there with a soil mixture consisting of: contractor's sand (very course sand found at Lowes/HD etc.), the grit & C & S soil. I'm sure you could use regular soil if you mixed enough of the others with it. So far everyting, despite the rains, has done ok with this process. My Prickly Pads and Cholla are going in this weekend...finally. Yip-peee!

Front Royal, VA

Thanks again for the info. I'll be checking out the cactus and succulent forum. I really have to find some things to bring to the swap. Don't know that I have much that anyone would want. I'm so excited about all this my toes are wiggling!

Glen Rock, PA

Hi Chantell. About the hardiest Aloe is polyphylla, and it will take temps down to the mid-20sF for several hours. Many succulents that are hardy to below freezing do it best if kept completely dry. For this to happen, the soil must be sharply draining.

For rock gardens or boulder fields, there are some Delospermas (cooperi and nubigenum come to mind, there are more) that will work here in zone 6 provided the roots are kept well drained in the winter. Raised beds work great.

For folks who think only warm areas have outdoor cacti, remember that North Dakota has 4 species of native cactus, and I think only one is an Opuntia. If you make up a gravelly bed in the sun, you can grow Escobarias, Pediocactus, Echinocereus and other species any place as "warm" as North Dakota. "It's not the cold, it's the humidity".

Middle of, VA(Zone 7a)

Pete!!! So nice to see you!!! You should see how full and tall the tuberose is now...waiting for some blooms to appear...yippeee!!
The A. polyphylla is that the one that grows in a circle spiral type fashion? If so I tried to get one from the Aloe Institute but sadly they had none at that time...I'll check w/him later. Are Delospermas the "ice plants?" I should look these up instead of asking you...sorry. I thought the ice plants were an annual...hmmmm. Very pretty flowers on them...they're brightening up my cactus patch nicely right now!!
Matter-a-fact I'm going to look up those Escobarias, Pediocactus, Echinocereus when I come back in from planting!!! Thanks Pete!!! Good "seeing" you again!!

Shenandoah Valley, VA

Chantell, iceplants I know are perennials in warmer places but I've never managed to get any to survive through the winter here and I've tried several times over the years. This includes in Manassas which is I'm sure the same zone as you.

This was always in flowerbeds, though, and maybe it just wasn't dry enough for them through the winter.

Middle of, VA(Zone 7a)

They sure spread though while alive don't they? Thought they'd add a "touch" of color...yikes...it's gone mad crazy!! LOL

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