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Any cactus gardeners in zone 4?

Posted by peggy_hosta z4 neSD (My Page) on
Tue, Nov 25, 08 at 15:49

I'm already planning new gardens for next summer and am considering a cactus/succulent garden. From what I've read, opuntias are my best bet.Any suggestions?
I'd like to see pics of your cactus gardens!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Any cactus gardeners in zone 4?

I am planning on planting a garden of cacti and succulents as as well. I have been growing some hardy cacti in pots for several years now. I currently have Opuntia fragilis, Opuntia humifusa, and Opuntia polyacantha. They overwinter in an unheated shed so they are definitely cold hardy! I have had no blooms yet, since I started them from seed and they are only 3 years old. This summer I bought an Escobaria vivipara from Iotts Nursery near Ward, SD. I read that it is hardy to zone 3 but I am wintering in the garage until I plant it outdoors.

RE: Any cactus gardeners in zone 4?

I do not have hardy cactus- although I do have some succulents that come back every year long enough for me to see them- then the bunnies eat em up...
Leftwood has some he has grown from seed!! I do hope he adds his 3 cents.

RE: Any cactus gardeners in zone 4?

I have a cactus and succulent garden that is on the south side of my house. Some of the plants are in their 4th winter. It has a slight slope away from the house so no
water collects. I dug out about 1/3 of the soil and added gravel and sand to give it good drainage.

I have the following cactus. These are all Optunia: polyacantha, ymochila, fragilis, humifusa, kleinae, macronhiza, fragilis little Gray mound. Also; Yucca glauca, Echinocereus viridiflours, Escobaria vivipara, Escobaria leei, Escobaria missouriensis.

Last spring the Friends Plant Sale had several kinds of hardy cactus. I even purchased one that bloomed before I got it into the ground.

Here are lists I have collected from various sources. There are repetitions since I have not cross checked.

High Country Gardens
Cactus and succulents for zone 4
Agave parryi
Parry's Century Plant, Flagstaff form

18" x 18-24" wide, (seed propagated). An incredible non-suckering selection of Parrys Century Plant, the seed for our crop was collected on the brutally cold, exposed high-altitude plateau near Flagstaff, Arizona. Without question, this is one of the largest, most cold-hardy forms of Agave you can grow. Plant in a lean, well-drained soil where it will get plenty of sun and heat. In time, the plant will bloom with a towering 12 tall, flowering candelabra that will attract hummingbirds from miles around. Zones 4-10.
Item # 12753 each $7.49 3 to 6 $7.29

Delosperma congestum 'Gold Nugget'
Gold Nugget Ice Plant

1/2" x 8" wide (cutting propagated) Gold Nugget is a true alpine succulent, coming from the highest peaks of distant South Africa. In bloom, Delosperma congestum is irresistible; the large, shiny yellow flowers sit right on top of the succulent foliage and have a distinct white eye. Being an alpine species, it appreciates more regular moisture than other South African succulents. Plant Gold Nugget where it receives some afternoon shade, particularly where summer temperatures are hot. A gem for mountain rock gardens. Zone 4-8.
Item # 39715 each $5.49 3 to 6 $5.29 7 or more $4.99

Delosperma nubigenum
Hardy Yellow Ice Plant

2" x 24" wide (cutting propagated) Formerly sold under the name of Delosperma congestum. This is an outstanding ground cover and rock garden plant, recommended for its vigorous carpeting growth habit. The foliage is succulent and evergreen, with a bright red winter color. Blooming for a month in late spring, the plant covers itself with hundreds of yellow daisies. Not as heat tolerant as Delosperma cooperi because it comes from colder, higher mountains in South Africa. Excellent for use in areas like Vail, CO and other mountain towns. Zones 4-8.
Special Notes:Great carpeting groundcover.
Item # 39720 each $5.49 3 to 6 $5.29 7 or more $4.99

Echinocereus coccineus 'Sandia Mts.'
Needle Spined Claret Cup (red cactus)

Quick Facts
Full and Afternoon Sun Morning Sun and Afternoon Shade Xeric Attracts Hummingbirds Resists Deer Resists Rabbits
5" x 12-15" wide, (seed propagated). This collection of Echinocereus coccineus comes from the high slopes of the Sandia (Watermelon) Mountains east of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Here, it is found growing on rocky outcroppings, often in the partial-shade of Ponderosa pine trees. Mature clumps bloom in late spring with hummingbird-attracting scarlet flowers. Very cold hardy. Zone 4-9.
Special Notes: Grow in very well draining soil.
Item # 46933 each $5.99 3 to 6 $5.79 7 or more $5.59

Echinocereus viridiflorus
Green Flowered Hedgehog (cactus)

Quick Facts Full and Afternoon Sun Xeric
5" x 5" wide, (seed propagated). This small hedgehog forms small clusters of two or three stems. Bright red and white spines contrast nicely with the bright green flowers that ring the stem in late spring. Flowers are fragrant, often with a hint of citrus. These plants were grown from seed collected in north central New Mexico.
Zones 4-9.
Item # 46990 each $5.99 3 to 6 $5.79 7 or more $5.59

Escobaria (Coryphantha) vivipara
Spiny Star (cactus)
Quick Facts :: Growing Tips
Full and Afternoon Sun Xeric Western Only Legend
4" x 4-6" wide, (seed propagated). Dense gray and white spines obscure the clustered stems and help highlight the large magenta flowers. Escobaria is an adaptable, easy-to-grow species, making it a fine choice for rock gardens and xeriscapes. Native to western grassland Zones 4-9.
Item # 38890 each $5.99 3 to 6 $5.79 7 or more $5.59

Escobaria leei
Lees Dwarf Snowball (cactus)

Quick Facts :: Growing Tips
Full and Afternoon Sun Xeric
2" x 6" wide, (seed & cutting propagated). This plant clusters quickly, forming a small clump of 20 to 40 tiny pure, white stems. As the plant matures, it covers itself with a profusion of salmon pink flowers that appear in late spring. Plant on a south or west facing slope, wedged between some rocks where it can receive sharp drainage and maximum sunlight. Zones 4-9.
Item # 49810 each $6.99 3 or more $6.79

Escobaria missouriensis
Plains Pincushion Cactus

Quick Facts
Full and Afternoon Sun Morning Sun and Afternoon Shade Xeric Description:
2" x 10" wide (seed propagated) This is a widely distributed species ranging from New Mexico and Texas north through the short grass prairies into the Dakotas. A long blooming variety, easy to grow in any well-drained soil. Zones 4-8.
Item # 49825 each $5.99 3 to 6 $5.79 7 or more $5.59

Kniphofia uvaria 'Hybrid Mix'
Red Hot Poker

Quick Facts :: Growing Tips
Full and Afternoon Sun Xeric Attracts
3 x 3 wide (seed propagated). A sturdy South African native known for its tough, easy-to-grow nature. It has long grass-like foliage and unusual bi-color flower spikes in shades of orange and yellow. A substantial plant, it looks great alone or in long beds lining driveways or entrances where dryness and alkaline soils might defeat even a daylily. Particularly attractive with Achillea Moonshine. Rabbit resistant when mature.
Zones 4-10
Item # 96491 each $7.99 3 to 6 $7.79 7 or more $7.59

Lewisia longipetala Little Plum
Little Plum hybrid Bitter Root

Quick Facts :: Growing Tips
Full and Afternoon Sun Morning Sun and Afternoon Shade Xeric
4" x 6" wide (seed propagated) Little Plum is an outstanding European hybrid between two of our native Bitter Root species. Its large rose-purple flowers cover the succulent rosette of foliage in mid-spring and often re-appear in the fall. Use this fantastic plant in xeriscapes and rock gardens. Tuck Bitter Root plants into well drained pockets of soil next to north or east facing rocks to provide shade in the summer months. Delosperma congestum (Gold Nugget Iceplant) is a superb companion plant. Zones 4-8.
each $5.293 to 6 $4.99 7 or more $4.79

Lewisia rediviva
Idaho Bitterroot

Quick Facts
Morning Sun and Afternoon Shade Xeric Western Only Legend
3" x 4-5" wide, (seed propagated). The state flower of Idaho, this succulent wildflower was first recorded by Lewis and Clark who learned to eat (but never like) the bitter, carrot-like roots as they crossed the mountains of Idaho. Lewisia redivida has succulent foliage and a showy early spring display of 2" wide satiny rose-pink flowers. Plant in a spot with afternoon shade and well-drained rocky or lean loam soils. Dont irrigate in summer to let it rest in a state of summer dormancy. Zones 3-7.
Item # 63603 each $5.99 3 to 6 plants $5.79 7 or more $5.59

Pediocactus simpsonii v. minor
Mountain Spiny Star (cactus)

Quick Facts :: Growing Tips
Full and Afternoon Sun Morning Sun and Afternoon Shade Xeric
3" x 5" wide, (seed propagated). Pediocactus simpsonii v. minor is a wide-spread species found in scattered locations throughout the mountains of the western U.S. Found at altitudes of up to 10,000 ft., this is a very cold-hardy, early-blooming species. A slow grower, its variable flowers range in colors from salmon to bright pink. Pediocactus likes a pure mineral soil with no organic matter and needs afternoon shade at lower altitudes. Not recommended for hot, low elevation locations. Zones 4-8.
Special Notes:

Not recommended for hot, low elevation locations. These three-year-old plants will be shipped bare-root. Zones 4-8.
Item # 74950 each $5.99 3 to 6 $5.79 7 or more $5.59

Sedum sieboldii
October Daphne Stonecrop

Quick Facts :: Growing Tips
Full and Afternoon Sun Morning Sun and Afternoon Shade Xeric Attracts Butterflies Legend
6" x 15" wide (cutting propagated) This stonecrop is valued for its fall display of deep pink flowers and its arching stems of succulent gray green foliage. October Daphnes unique and beautiful foliage provides contrasting color and texture when planted with small ornamental grasses like Festuca Siskiyou Blue and various Lavender varieties. This Stonecrop provides a last hurrah to fall with its butterfly-attracting floral display. Very cold hardy! Zones 3-10.
Item # 89270 each $4.99 3 to 6 $4.79 7 or more $4.59
Special Notes:

Plant with Festuca Siskyou Blue and Lavender!

Try Sempervivums,
Europeon Sedum, Chinese, Japanese Sedum. Cactus from the high mountains of Boliva, Argentina, Peru, etc. `USA high mountain plants
the padded opuntias
small ball cacti, like Escobaria missouriensis and vivipara

Intermountain Cactus
Plantasia (one of which is Idaho and the other is Utah)

Normas succulents that will do well also
if you're adventurous and have really good drainage, you could try whipplei or imbricata.

For an interesting twist, there's a plant called Fameflower, Talinum is the genus name, there are species native as far north as North Dakota. It's a member of the portulaca family and has lovely ephemeral pink/purple blooms. The leaves look like fat little sausages.

The June issue of Horticulture Magazine had an article about cactus that suggested these.

Escobaria vivipara(Coryphantha vivipara; beehive cactus) hardy to zone 4
Echinocereus reichenbachii subsp. baileyi (lace cactus)hardy to zone 5
Echinocereus triglochidiatus (claret cup hedgehog cactus) hardy to zone 5
Opuntia humifusa (prickly pear cactus)hardy to zone 4
Opuntia phaeacantha (purple-fruited prickly pear)hardy to zone 5
Cylindropuntia imbricata (cane cholla)hardy to zone 5

You may also want to check with the;

Cactus and Succulent Society of America
P.O. Box 2615, Parhump, NV 89041-2615

Purple Texas Cholla(Opuntia imbricata)


From the Garden Web
Posted by Pchafe 6a NS (z5a ONT) (My Page) on
Tue, Aug 2, 05 at 14:39

Hi all. I posted on here a while ago and now I'm looking for another trade. I have many species of Cold hardy cactus, I'll list the ones that I have in greatest abundance. All need excellent drainage and a southern exposure is preferred. I'm looking for whatever you have to trade, especially other hardy cacti. I'll even trade seeds if you like (and I'm interested in them!).
I have:
Cylindropuntia whipplei: Rat tail choya. Native to high elevations of the American Southwest. Extremely hardy, hardiest choya type cactus. Zone 4 (at least). Widely branching, to about 2-3 feet tall.

Opuntia humifusa: Native to Swest Ontario and throughout the eastern US. Low growing, bright attractive yellow flowers. Hardy to zone 4 (at least).

Opuntia polyacantha: Native to z. 3 and 4 areas of Alberta and Saskatchewan. Sprawling growth. Yellow flowers with red throats. Zone 3.

Opuntia fragilis: Native from Ontario west. small, tight little cactus. Flowers likely yellow. Have a few varieties. Likely hardy to zone 2 (at least 3)

Opuntia cymochila (bought it as humifusa): taller growing and more conpact that normal humifusa, leads me to believe this is Opuntia cymochila. Yellow flowers. Zone 4.

Hello again
I would like to share a website where I bought other winter hardy cuttings. I also have O. macrorhiza and O. rutilans, but they are small (one pad each here! I cannot share those yet).
I bought them at
Great site, lots of varieties (Ottawa region)
I have found this site too
They sell many other winter hardy cacti: Escobaria, Pediocactus, etc.

I don't have Opuntia cymochila, I'D like to have a cutting too!

Hardy cactus and succulents in book marks. 3rd book mark
Cold Hardy cacti and other succlents

Opuntia fragilis (Fragile Prickly Pear)
- average moisture resistance but rain is not a problem
- very good cold resistance (-34C, -30F), rumours about -60C, -75F
- light shade preferred
- var. fragilis grows in the most southern parts of Canada and even reports of growing in British Columbia near the Arctic Circle!
- description in Northern Prairie Wildlife RC

Opuntia humifusa (Eastern Prickly Pear)
- very good cold resistance (at least -34C, -30F)
- resistant to moisture and rain
- tolerates light shade
- a picture
- and another picture

Opuntia macrocentra (v. nova)
- available from SuccSeeds
- sensitive to moisture and rain
- reports of surviving from -40C, -45F
- a picture of O. macrocentra

Opuntia macrorhiza (Plains Prickly Pear)
- resistant to moisture and rain
- very good cold resistance (-34C, -30F)
- easy to grow
- grows up to the border of Canada
- available from SuccSeeds

Opuntia polyacantha (Hair-Spine/Plains Prickly Pear)
- average resistance to moisture and rain
- very good cold resistance (-34C, -30F)
- grows up to the border of Canada and USA
- available from SuccSeeds

Opuntia polyacantha x. fragilis
- very good resistance to moisture and rain
- very good cold resistance (-34C, -30F)
- grows in Canada
- this species is a miracle, a real survivor, must be one of the most hardy cacti (correct me if I am wrong)

Other sources

Try Sempervivums,
Europeon Sedum, Chinese, Japanese Sedum. Cactus from the high mountains of Boliva, Argentina, Peru, etc. `USA high mountain plants
the padded opuntias
small ball cacti, like Escobaria missouriensis and vivipara

Intermountain Cactus
Plantasia (one of which is Idaho and the other is Utah)

Normas succulents that will do well also
if you're adventurous and have really good drainage, you could try whipplei or imbricata.

For an interesting twist, there's a plant called Fameflower, Talinum is the genus name, there are species native as far north as North Dakota. It's a member of the portulaca family and has lovely ephemeral pink/purple blooms. The leaves look like fat little sausages.

Echinocereus coccinea, E. viridiflora, E. reichenbachii (I think! - it grows in western Oklahoma), Coryphanta missouriensis, Opuntia humifusis.

Here starts a list of Opuntia I will give the temp. that it can go down to. acanthocarpa -upright grower, withstand low temps.
acicularis-red flowers doesn't give temps.
arbuscula not temps. given
atrafusca- no temps. given
basilaris 'Beaver Tail/ withstands lower temps. pink fl.
basilaris var. aurea golden yellow fl. no temps.given
basilaris v. woodburyi very cold hardy

chlorotica-blue pads
cholla-Hardy in low temperatures
clavata 'Dagger Clubcholla /forms dense mats
compressa tiny flat padded takes 0 temps.
corrugata 'Thimble Cactus' miniature pot plant red flowers.
erinacea down to 10 degrees
fulgida- cold hardy

Utahhensis -15
O.fragilis zone 4 with snow cover
O.pusilla with snow cover
Escobaria (coryplanthia) vivipara
Pediocactus simpsonii (canada)
Titanopsis Zone 4
Delosperma cooperi l5F

Sempervivum, especially the species
Cholla cacti
Opuntia polyacantha
Echinocereus viridiflorus
Escobaria vivipara, missouriensis
Sedum- 'Autumn Joy' and all of it's coursins
Spathulifolium, Chinesese and Japanese species of Sedum
Yucca- glauca, filamentosa I'm sure that there are more

RE: Any cactus gardeners in zone 4?

THANKS! Zenpotter! I printed your list and will have fun researching these over winter. I live 3 hours straight west of Mpls just into So Dak so I have the same climate as you. Nice hot summer sun and nice cold winter snow!

RE: Any cactus gardeners in zone 4?

Zenpotter, that's great info!

I tend to shy away from those cactus that "shoot" thorns, like the Opuntia species. Although this year I am growing Opuntia imbricata from seed.

This is my tried and true list of cacti and succulents. Obviously there are more. These are just most of the ones I grow.

Chiastophyllum oppositifolium
Delosperma basuticum
Delosperma nubigenum
Echinocereus coccineus
Echinocereus viridiflorus
Escobaria vivipara
Escobaria leei
Lewisia cotyledon
Lewisia pygmaea
Pediocactus simpsonii
Rhodiola rosea
Sedum acre (variegated)
Sedum cauticola
Sedum hispanicum
Sedum obtusifolium
Sempervivum - many
Talinum calycinum
Talinum spinescens

Of course, Chiastophyllum and Lewisia (and to some extent Rhodiola) do NOT like dry, hot or full sun positions. They should never be planted with "normal" cacti or succulents.

Escobaria vivipara is quite variable, as it has a large growing range from the high Rockies to the plains of S. Dakota and the edge of Minnesota. Eastern forms seem to possess less thorns, and are presumeable more moisture and humidity tolerant than mountain forms. Opuntia species are more moisture resistant than Escobaria species. Escobaria vivipara seed is incredibly easy to germinate, while most cactus seed is stubborn. I have found a "secret" to fairly good germination however (besides GA3), that seems to be working for me: high temps, 85-90F. Until tiny seedlings get their coat of stiff thorns for protection, I have found they are candy for slugs.

The native Talinum of the Dakotas and western Minnesota is Talinum parviflorum. While interesting in its own right, I don't look at it as horticulturally significant, as its tiny flowers only bloom on sunny summer days and after 5pm, and are rather fleeting. I have seen them near Bigstone Lake, and while I never thought of the leaves as being tiny, long "sausages" before, it could be an accurate description. They fill an unusual niche in the landscape, ocupying thins soil lays that pool up with water when it rains, but quickly dries to dust soon after. They do not tolerate plant competion of any kind.

Talinum calcynum produces MUCH larger flowers and in more profusion. While still not tolerant of plant encroachment, they are much more worthy of growing.

Non-hardy Delosperma (like D. cooperi) can easily be overwintered insided in a sunny window.


RE: Any cactus gardeners in zone 4?

Rick, I live on Big Stone Lake. Did you see the T.parviflorum on the Big Stone Auto tour route east of Ortonville, MN?

RE: Any cactus gardeners in zone 4?

Why yes, Peggy. It is quite an interesting geological area. The state biologist that oversees the NWF and I spent an hour or so out there once. It was really good for both of us, as I knew more about the plant life there and she knew so much more about the insects, animals and general ecology. I learned so much in such little time, and I think she did too. Did you know they released that beetle that eats the terrible leafy spurge there? When we were out, she found some and showed me. That meant that colony was at least surviving, and she was very pleased. I wonder what it is doing now . . .

RE: Any cactus gardeners in zone 4?

Sorry, I don't have any pictures, but I had kind of a fun cactus garden when I lived near Detroit Lakes. I put together a mix of hardy cactus and succulents, along with some indoor potted cacti. Also mixed in were artemisia and some thistle-looking things. I had been to visit a friend who lives in the Nevada desert and she would scavenge all sorts of things from the desert and mix it in with her cactus (i.e. animal bones, rusty sinks, whatever). It was just a fun garden.

I wanted to recreate it, so I found small rusty farmyard junk and put it in the cactus garden--rusty wheels, oil cans, old boots, nice rocks, etc. Because I had heavy clay soil, I dug it out and put in a lot of sand and did a ground cover with pea gravel--it got full sun. The prickly pears did great and bloomed every year. I would set the indoor potted cactus in the ground (still in their pots) and bring them in before a hard freeze. It was actually my favorite garden. Some people would "get it" and other people would offer to bring me their junk. (some people just don't appreciate great art!) Since moving to Duluth, I have pretty much given up on a cactus garden. My prickly pears have never bloomed here--I guess it is just too cloudy and damp here.

RE: Any cactus gardeners in zone 4?

I live not very far from Minneapolis and so we obviously get more rain in the part of Minnesota I live in compared to where you are at. You may be able to grow some species I can't grow here.

I have tried these and either the cold or being cold and wet at the same time killed them: Opuntia imbricata, Agave utahensis. Agave utahensis may only be hardy to -10 degrees F. Opuntia imbricata survived one winter and its supposedly hardy in Michigan which is a slightly warmer zone than here.

The spot where all my cacti and succulents are isn't elevated but it has been amended with sand and also rocks on the bottom of that to allow better drainage. There is at least a 1 foot layer of just rocks at the bottom. I figured its better so it drains through instead of using well drained soil with a clay or poor draining soil below. Bath tub effect if you know what i mean.

These have survived: Opuntia polyacantha, Opuntia compressa/humifusa, Echinocereus viridiflorus.

I also tried Pediocactus simpsonii and I know for a fact it wasn't the cold that killed it but probably because it wasn't always watered well in the summer( it grows high up in the mountains where it usually gets adequate rainfall) or else it was the summer heat. Pedio's don't mind cold they actually grow alot in the springtime, what they hate is heat especially humid heat.

Your best bet is to start them from seed yourself and especially not provenance information.

The Opuntia polyacantha that i started the seeds were collected from Alberta, Canada so they are obviously cold hardy. Im suprized they survived though since it is also a much drier climate in Alberta than the Twin Cities.

The Echinocereus viridflorus was collected from Hot springs, South Dakota.

Opuntia compressa from New Jersey. It said cold and wet no problem but one year one plant either got damaged from a winter storm or something it rotted. I took a pad and planted indoors in March and replanted it in a pot and put outdoors in the ground in May. I think Opuntia polyacantha is hardier.

I never tried Escobaria vivipara but it would be a good one and its similar to Echinocereus viridiflorus except it would have the pink flowers. I mean they are the same in size and belong to the same subfamily: Cactoideae

Opuntias are less evolved and belong to Opuntiodeae.

RE: provenance

I meant to note provenance information.

Escobaria vivipara for instance grows from Canada all the way to Tucson Arizona.

Buying seeds collected in Tucson, Arizona probably wont produce hardy plants in Minnesota. has provenance information on all the cacti seeds they sell.

RE: Any cactus gardeners in zone 4?

Thanks for sharing all those experiences, dogbane. Do you get seed rom your Echinocereus viridiflorus? I'd be very interested, as I only have one small plant, and suspect it will be self infertile.

RE: Any cactus gardeners in zone 4?

I have some Echinocereus viridiflorus seeds if you are interested. I also have Pediocactus simpsonii and Escobaria vivipara.

Im going to try some of the Escobaria vivipara seeds myself since ive never tried it before.

I might try the Agave parryi that was mentioned above, but ill make sure to have it planted on a raised bed of gravel and rocks.

RE: Any cactus gardeners in zone 4?

  • Posted by klavier z4 Bing, z5 Pou (My Page) on
    Mon, Jan 12, 09 at 18:02

Opuntia humifusa and compressa have been going for five years now in south eastern new york zone 5. The cholla tree bit the dust however (Opuntia imbricata). That one was because of the cold.

RE: Any cactus gardeners in zone 4?

Hello dogbane,
I am still interested in the E.viridiflorus seed. The Pediocactus only if you are not going to use them yourself. I can give you Escobaria vivipara seed from plants I grew from seed from wild ones at the Minnesota/South Dakota border. I would send you an email through GW, but I don't see that you have that option on your member page. If you could click on my name (Leftwood) and send me a note off the board here, we can connect.


RE: Any cactus gardeners in zone 4?

I am not sure how I missed any of the posts from December 1 on. I must compile a list from all of the lists here. I do believe I will need to extend by cactus garden soon.

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