Cactus Garden Makes It Through Winter in Dallas

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Manfroni
Manfroni's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-06-02
Cactus Garden Makes It Through Winter in Dallas

Hello guys!

I am sorry I have been away for so long, but I have also been busy with school and a lot of exams... However, the good news is that I took a lot of pictures meanwhile! Here in Dallas I doubt it will go below 20F any longer until next winter, just by looking at the forecast until the middle of March, it seems like the temperature will not even try to go lower than 40!

So that's why yesterday I removed the winter cloches from the cacti! All the plants that were inside the cloches survived and even.... BLOOOMED!!!

But first let's see what I did for winter!

Before the cold front snatched our area, I planned to create some cloches to cover the cacti that were the most tender. This was my project...

And here it shows how I implemented it!


https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/385023_324279120939664_100000727366705_1040253_955722238_n.jpg

I also wanted to test whether it was necessary to open the lids every day when it was going to be too warm. I actually left all the cloches closed throughout the entire winter and the cacti did just fine... I was worried about the amount of moisture that would have collected inside and kept the cacti wet... but apparently it seems like it did not harm them at all... My Mammillaria hahniana (Old Lady Cactus) even started to bloom under these conditions!


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And so did the Malephora crocea (Coppery Mesemb)!


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But the best show was give by the Hardy Living Rocks!!! They did not need to be covered because they can stand temperatures that go even up to 0F. However, when I planted them I technically had to make a big hole and just fill it with gravel and nothing else!!! I have been told they hate to get wet in winter, and I did not want to run the risk.... This is what I was rewarded with!

Rabiea albipuncta (Rabia) (Ready to get close at night)

https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/405355_310211252346451_100000727366705_995823_1794198411_n.jpg

Here my Rabia open during the day.... such a huge flower! It bloomed in December for Christmas! (Note the cable used to connect the speakers playing the jingles! lol

https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/391915_307606135940296_100000727366705_989655_1435841992_n.jpg

And then later between January and February, it was the turn for the Aloinopsis!

This is the Aloinopsis spathulata (Pink Hardy Living Stone) closed in the morning!

https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/431303_350021215032121_100000727366705_1098677_889563317_n.jpg

....and here it is when it opens from noon until it gets dark!

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This is an Aloinopsis 'Karoo Red Mix' (Orange Hardy Living Stone)

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This is how they looked for the visitor

https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/420862_353736371327272_100000727366705_1107937_731827579_n.jpg

So, yesterday I took off the cloches, and finally I can see the rock garden at it's natural status once again after so many months! And what did I find? I found other plants about to bloom!!!!

Armeria maritima 'Compacta' (Sea Thrift) --- This one did not need to be covered under a cloche...

https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/407381_353577078009868_100000727366705_1107434_844423645_n.jpg

Echinocereus triglochidiatus (Strawberry Cactus)

https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/423773_358626154171627_100000727366705_1121987_1745537928_n.jpg

... and this cactus, which I think is a Mammillaria mystax but I don't recall it's name! I bought it in Fort Worth at a cactus nursery, and the guy who sold it to me told me it did not need to be protected in winter. I followed his advice, and now it's blooming. I however would love to be sure this is actually a Mammillaria mystax. Since I also have other two of these plants that I bought from the Lowe's, I will be able to tell when they will bloom... The other two seem to be making some flower buds as well!

https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/429794_358610464173196_100000727366705_1121958_1961118114_n.jpg
That plant to the left shooting up buds is a Dianthus x allwoodii 'Desmond' (Allwood Pinks).

Even the Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens) is growing back its leaves! Very few people know this plant can survive up to 0F! However, many people think it is ok to buy 5-foot tall plants from New Mexico just to have an instant show. Those plans are usually eradicated from the wild and they can only do so by keeping just a square foot of roots. These plants have a survival rate of 10%. If you want to help nature and preserve these precious plants in the wild, please buy seed-grown plants from eBay! Their survival rate upon transplant is close to 100% and eventually you will have a huge plant blooming! I think this plant is just as terrific as a baby one!

https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/420969_353565498011026_100000727366705_1107388_682110960_n.jpg

Manfroni
Manfroni's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-06-02

Pics of the rock garden


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Rino, zone 7/8a Dallas TX, rainfall 38 inch or 1 meter per year (highest rainfall in May with 5.29in/134mm, March with 4.34in/110mm and October with 4.21in/107mm), mild winters with 1-2 days of snow (Record low -1F/-18C) and hot, semi-humid summers (Reco

DesertZone
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-08-20

Very nice!  I sure like your garden. 8)

Dry garden, little irrigation, 9" precip

Shoshone Idaho USA. Zone 5b-6a

Hot and dry in the summer, cold and snow in the winter.

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

At first, I was thinking your cloches were keeping the individual plants too warm, since they were already blooming.  An effect I feared from the start.  But then you showed uncover plants blooming too, so it all seems quite successful!

How much condensation did you experience inside the cloche walls over the winter?  Enough to drip down the sides?  Did it always re-evaporate during the day?

I tried Rabia (I think albipuncta) way up here outside.  It didn't survive a normal zone 4 winter, even with protection.  Not that I expect survival, but you never know until you try...

Fantastic everything, Rino!
That Ocotillo is very cool - reminiscent of an upright Crown of Thorns, sorta.  You really aced that photo, too.  I can't even tell it is in your yard... it looks like it's growing in a public botanical garden.

Your private botanical garden is coming along beautifully in leaps and bounds!  (I tend to take baby steps.)

P.S.  The inclusion of the URL for the individual photos is a great idea.  It makes it a lot easier to expand the pics to see the detail, rather than using my browser extension.  I would say a lot of readers don't even have that option.  Was that you, Rino, or was it one of our thoughtful website administrators?

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Lori S.
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-10-27

Wow, seems like lots of changes since you last posted, Rino - looks great!  You've clearly been having a blast at acquiring plants and planting it up! 
Excellent recreation of desert scenes, as Rick noted.
What is this thorny shrub(?). 
https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/429818_359196404114...

It looks vaguely like something we might have seen back when we used to visit the Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts... ? 
Are the black objects in that photo your plant markers? 
What an excellent private (and yet public - I'm sure the passersby love it!) botanical garden, again echoing Rick's comments!

Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada - Zone 3
-30 C to +30 C (rarely!); elevation ~1130m; annual precipitation ~40 cm

Manfroni
Manfroni's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-06-02

RickR wrote:

At first, I was thinking your cloches were keeping the individual plants too warm, since they were already blooming.  An effect I feared from the start.  But then you showed uncover plants blooming too, so it all seems quite successful!

How much condensation did you experience inside the cloche walls over the winter?  Enough to drip down the sides?  Did it always re-evaporate during the day?

I tried Rabia (I think albipuncta) way up here outside.  It didn't survive a normal zone 4 winter, even with protection.  Not that I expect survival, but you never know until you try...

Fantastic everything, Rino!
That Ocotillo is very cool - reminiscent of an upright Crown of Thorns, sorta.  You really aced that photo, too.  I can't even tell it is in your yard... it looks like it's growing in a public botanical garden.

Your private botanical garden is coming along beautifully in leaps and bounds!  (I tend to take baby steps.)

P.S.  The inclusion of the URL for the individual photos is a great idea.  It makes it a lot easier to expand the pics to see the detail, rather than using my browser extension.  I would say a lot of readers don't even have that option.  Was that you, Rino, or was it one of our thoughtful website administrators?

Ahah! I just learned from previewing the posts that the pictures were too tiny and it was hard to tell what was in there! So since I like to come back to my old posts too, I would have made it simpler to use the image loader as a thumbnail and the link below to enlarge the pictures...

I find it strange that your Rabia did not survive!!! It loves where it is in here! I didn't even need to cover it and it bloomed like it was nothing among all the Christmas lights I put outdoor last Christmas!!! I think you should try it again! I consider Rabia as just like another hardy living stone. I dig a hole probably 3-4 times bigger than the size of the nursery pot, then I sit the plant inside, and fill all the voids with only gravel. The reason why I do that is because the plant seems to have enough of the soil that was already in the nursery pot, and also I just know that eventually dirt and any sort of stuff will deposit between the stones. Meanwhile the plant has all the time to get established and avoid getting too wet. I think hardy living stones are a sort of exception to the rock garden because you would generally want the gaps to be filled in order to avoid that cold air would affect the roots of the plant... The fact is that they may stand cold temperatures, but they will not tolerate cold wet soil for a long time...

Rino, zone 7/8a Dallas TX, rainfall 38 inch or 1 meter per year (highest rainfall in May with 5.29in/134mm, March with 4.34in/110mm and October with 4.21in/107mm), mild winters with 1-2 days of snow (Record low -1F/-18C) and hot, semi-humid summers (Reco

Manfroni
Manfroni's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-06-02

Lori wrote:

Wow, seems like lots of changes since you last posted, Rino - looks great!  You've clearly been having a blast at acquiring plants and planting it up! 
Excellent recreation of desert scenes, as Rick noted.
What is this thorny shrub(?). 
https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/429818_359196404114...

It looks vaguely like something we might have seen back when we used to visit the Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts... ? 
Are the black objects in that photo your plant markers? 
What an excellent private (and yet public - I'm sure the passersby love it!) botanical garden, again echoing Rick's comments!

This thorny shrub is called Parkinsonia florida (Blue Palo Verde). This and the Opuntia that I posted above (the one with new growth) are those that I wanted to try without covering during winter and they were partially damaged. The Blue Palo Verde got all of its branch tips burned from the freeze below 20F....


https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/418335_359316117435964_100000727366705_1123571_1836245878_n.jpg

Well, I don't worry about it too much because when I bought this plant last year in July it was only 10 inches tall, and now it's about 3 feet tall already! I actually consider it as a natural way of pruning!!!  :D I even had to prune it last year in September again because it was taking over!
I wanted this plant because it should screen that window behind it because it gets too much sun and it makes my office room too hot even with the a/c on... and it's a desert plant that blooms with awesome yellow flowers in the Spring!

The other black things instead are solar panels!!!! You know, I not only wanted to have a water wise garden, I also wanted to have an energy-wise garden! They provide energy to illuminate the pathway that goes from the street up to the front door... here it is how it looks at night...(that was last year when I was building it and sweating my buttcheeks off lol!!!)

https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/252146_239854892715421_100000727366705_784993_3077091_n.jpg

Here it is how it looks with the whole house... I think I finished those stairs by the time it was Halloween...

https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/302432_253781401322770_100000727366705_833560_5346953_n.jpg

I am thinking of going back to the quarry and get a bucket full of black flat stones! I want to write the names of each plant on the stones using white paint and just place them next to each plant so the people who walk by will have a better experience! Oh! Did I mention that I have been chosen for the October 2012 Rainbow Garden Club monthly meeting of North Texas???

Rino, zone 7/8a Dallas TX, rainfall 38 inch or 1 meter per year (highest rainfall in May with 5.29in/134mm, March with 4.34in/110mm and October with 4.21in/107mm), mild winters with 1-2 days of snow (Record low -1F/-18C) and hot, semi-humid summers (Reco

Manfroni
Manfroni's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-06-02

Oh, about the moisture in the cloches.... The plants literally were all wet inside because of all the condensation and the water evaporating from the ground!!! My two Oreocereus trollii (Old Man of the Mountain) and three Espostoa melanostele had all their white fur soaked and wet all winter long!!! And that did not do a thing on them! They actually have new growth!!!

This is the Old Man of The Mountain growing new spikes and a new "beard"...

https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/428141_359355910765318_100000727366705_1123672_33056823_n.jpg

You are not the only one who finds this very confusing... all my cacti have literally stayed with condensation on them for more than 2 months!!!! :o

Maybe there is something to learn from this? My hypothesis is that as long as the water does not freeze, they should be fine... I also believe that the water was actually working in the same way other people sprinkle their cacti with water when the temperature goes below 32F. The plants would grow icicles on them, but they still would survive because the new water is never below zero.... otherwise it would not be liquid and "sprinkable"...

In the same way I guess I realized that the moisture inside the cloches was so high that it technically held the heat accumulated during the day, hence making sure that the interior of the cloche would never freeze...

The bottom line then seems to be that as long as water does not freeze on top of the cacti, they still will do just fine being wet!!!

This may be going against all odds and rules, but I have a proof! I had other three cacti that I tried not to cover, and they all died (I already took them off a month ago)... while ALL the cacti that I had in the cloches, they ALL survived and even thrived!

Rino, zone 7/8a Dallas TX, rainfall 38 inch or 1 meter per year (highest rainfall in May with 5.29in/134mm, March with 4.34in/110mm and October with 4.21in/107mm), mild winters with 1-2 days of snow (Record low -1F/-18C) and hot, semi-humid summers (Reco

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

Manfroni wrote:

Did I mention that I have been chosen for the October 2012 Rainbow Garden Club monthly meeting of North Texas???

Congratulations !!!
Clearly, someone else is in awe of you accomplishments besides us.
  And just think of how much better it will be in years to come!

Are you a member?  How did they find out?

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

Regarding winter moisture in the cloches..... Fascinating!

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Manfroni
Manfroni's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-06-02

RickR wrote:

Manfroni wrote:

Did I mention that I have been chosen for the October 2012 Rainbow Garden Club monthly meeting of North Texas???

Congratulations !!!
Clearly, someone else is in awe of you accomplishments besides us.
  And just think of how much better it will be in years to come!

Are you a member?  How did they find out?

I have been a member since two years ago, and I showed the pictures to the officials and they very enthusiastic about it!!! We are also working on a Japanese garden in the back yard, but because we have a Great Dane that still does not have her own place reserved for just her, she can run everywhere. Because of this we are still not able to transplant the plants into the ground for fear that she would chew everything up and make huge holes where we prepared the soil... But this will be our big project this year!

Rino, zone 7/8a Dallas TX, rainfall 38 inch or 1 meter per year (highest rainfall in May with 5.29in/134mm, March with 4.34in/110mm and October with 4.21in/107mm), mild winters with 1-2 days of snow (Record low -1F/-18C) and hot, semi-humid summers (Reco

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