Outdoor cacti in temperate climates

Started by Martin Bohnet, June 06, 2022, 01:57:15 AM

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Martin Bohnet

As I love to cultivate plants people won't expect outdoors in my area, I've started to grow cacti in the open garden in southern Germany. As  so often with our bulbs, drainage is key, and as I relocated the path from gate to front door to a more shady area (can't have the "premium places" along the south wall plastered ;) ) I kept a part of the gravel base intact, so there's now a 60 cm deep well drained bed - deep enough to even tolerate some fill up in the gravel in very rainy winters. It also houses my borderline hardy bulbs like Scilla peruviana
, Prospero autumnale
, Acis species and Moraea ochroleuca
, as well as Anacamptis pyramidalis
Height: 30-60 cm (1-2 ft)
Flower Colors: pink, purple
Flower Season: late spring to early summer
Life form:  tuber
, Anacamptis x gennarii
Height: 20-30 cm (0.7-1 ft)
Flower Colors: pink, purple, white
Flower Season: late spring to early summer
Life form:  tuber
and Gymnadenia odoratissima
Height: 30-60 cm (1-2 ft)
Flower Colors: pink
Flower Season: early summer

When people think of hardy outdoor cacti, most will start with Opuntia species in mind, but 've actually got better results with globose cacti: The first one to flower is always Echinocereus viridiflora some time in May, depending on the year, followed by E. triglochidatus and E. coccineus. E. reichenbachii is actually a small column and the one I'm sure won't survive permanently, as the mechanical tension on the base is increasing every year. Of course it isn't all Echinocereus: Escobaria vivipara also proved reliable.
Martin (pronouns: he/his/him)


My problem, of course, isn't the winter cold, but the winter rain...the summer drought doesn't help either. However, with a bit of summer water (when we have a few warm days, I'll give them a sudden shower). Grown on a sandy rocky mound (also dug deep), I have several of the same species, with the addition of a couple mounding euphorbias. So far, all of these winter wet tolerating succulents also don't seem to mind the lack of summer warmth.

in San Francisco, where the summer geophytes are having their annual struggle to get going.