Help - Cactus in Florida!

mal7843(Zone 9 (Tampa, St Pete _FL))March 31, 2010

Hello All!

I recently moved back to Florida after living in Arizona for about a year. When I moved there I found the different forms of cacti quite fascinating. While I was there I acquired some of the native Sonoran cacti such as a Saguaro, Buckhorn Cholla, and fishhook barrel cactus, and a few others (some not native). I know that some of the cacti such as the prickly pear (I have one of these also :P) will grow in Florida outside in the humidity but IÂm not sure about the others. Does anyone know? Should I keep these inside where itÂs less humid or will they be ok outside as long as they stay dry? Guess I should mention they are all potted and they will all stay in pots.

Thanks in advance!


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Sorry to give you some (potentially) bad news, but I don't think that the saguaro will do well in FLA's near-constant humidity, but if you can figure out how to dehumidify the space, I'd reckon they might do OK. These are not indoor plants.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 10:17PM
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emyemy(z10 Miami FL)


Where are you in Florida?

An outfit in Plymouth, FL for many years had very large Saguaro planted in front of their parking lot. They survived the humidity but did not survive two severe windstorms which made all of the to crash and break into little pieces like a piece of fine china. A friend who lives in Homestead had a Saguaro for over 20 years in a pot. It was over 7 feet tall when a thief went into his property and hauled it out!

As to Cholla and Prickly Pear, they grow well in Florida--just ensure that they are planted in a very well draining mix.

As to Barrel Cacti, I have not had any luck with them outdoors. The ones I have managed to keep are growing in my greenhouse where I keep them dry and where humidity is very low due to extremely high temperatures coupled with a system which extracts hot air from the house and exchages it with fresh air from outside.

Good luck Matt,

Emy de la Fuente, Jr.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 8:14AM
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It's great to see you here.


Meet one of the preeminent growers of Florida, nay, the entire SEC and a great fellow to boot.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 10:01AM
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mal7843(Zone 9 (Tampa, St Pete _FL))

I am In Pinellas County - St Petersburg. Pretty close to the water.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 9:56PM
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The Pinellas have a whole county named for them? That's great and I'm sure Uncle Lou is proud.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 10:37PM
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Yeah... It was Lou Pinellas County but they shortened it. :)

Hey Matt, I'm in Pasco and I just have to be careful how much water I give them because of the increased humidity.
I have Mamms, Opuntias, Chollas, etc.. All seem to do ok for me.

When I first moved to Florida I had a Saguaro (only about 18 inches tall but about 8-10 in diameter) for quite some time but thought it would do better in the ground. Well, I lived in a 2nd floor condo and that wasn't an option so I asked my sister and Brother-in-law if I could plant it in their yard but they'd have to make sure to NEVER WATER it and make sure they kept the grass from growing up around it! So I planted it in a sandy patch in their yard with some gravel added. I also planted a bunch of my other cactus in this patch... about 10'x10'. All did fine for quite a while (at least that's what they kept telling me on the phone)... but I hadn't stopped by for a while (Months) as they live 3-4 hours from me on the east coast. When I finally did get there to see them, The Grass was 2 feet high! I frantically ripped it out as fast as I could, and all plants were still there doing ok... but not as much growth as I would have expected. They saw how upset I was and kept apologizing and I said to them I'll dig them back up and repot them and take my chances at home if they're not going to take care of them.. but they assured me they would and had just been busy. So I left them.

Next time I stopped by the grass was really tall again and most of my cactus were gone! Rotted! I was SO mad! I kept calling and asking if they were pulling the grass and they kept telling me yes... but apparently they weren't!

But I believe if they really had kept the grass away, they'd have done fine.

Well, that was about 6 years ago and I have rebuilt my cactus collection and all are doing great! Again, just keep the waterings to a minimum and watch for rot. I do get some funky fungi but as long as I cut back on the waterings, they dry out and recover. I haven't had to cut any out yet...but I currently have an Oroya neoperuviana that has an odd brownish patch that appeared on it.. I repotted it to check roots and all seems fine. The patch is also not soft so I'm not sure what it is, but am guessing it's the spring watering that caused it. We'll see.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 11:08AM
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My grandparents have had a Sonoran Cactus sitting in their front yard in rocky soil now for 8 years and its never experienced problems. Infact, they are always constantly sending pictures of their sonoran cactus blooming. I would also like to add they live in Central Florida.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 5:41PM
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