Lyn is a horticulturist and YouTuber with over 35 years of experience growing succulents and cacti.
How Do You Keep Cactus Alive in the Winter?
I get this question a lot. Luckily the answer is fairly simple. Here are my five top tips for keeping your cacti alive through the winter so they can go on to thrive again in spring.
1. Continue to Provide Ample Light
Even in the wintertime, it's important that cacti still receive light. Now, they don't need as much sunlight as they would in the spring of summer months when they're actively growing, but even a dormant cactus still appreciates having bright light (even indirect bright light) in the wintertime. At least four hours is the minimum for winter.
If you don't have anywhere bright enough to place your cactus, install a plant grow light and have it on for about 3 to 4 hours a day.
2. Avoid Temperatures Below 41˚F
Although many cacti, especially desert cacti, can tolerate low temperatures in the wintertime, it's important that the minimum temperature is kept at least 41˚F (5˚C) or above when you're growing cacti. Any colder than that can encourage things like rot and damage to your cactus.
3. Keep Away From Hot Radiators and Cold Drafts
Both excess heat and cold drafts can cause a lot of damage to your cactus plant in the winter when it's resting, so keep your cacti away from heat sources such as radiators and also from cold drafts.
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4. Reduce Watering (Or Stop Completely)
Desert cacti like to have a dry winter rest period, and if you water cacti during the winter months, this can encourage them to rot and cause other issues, such as fungus. That's because cacti like to rest and go dormant during the winter months.
Note: This isn't the case with holiday cacti (Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti) and epiphytic cacti. Because they're still flowering in the winter months, they do appreciate a bit of water during that time. But with all the other types of desert cacti, keep dry.
5. Regularly Check for Pests
Even during the winter months, pests such as mealybugs like to attack your cactus and they can hide in places you just cannot see, such as underneath the pots and underneath the saucers.
At least once every couple of weeks, pick up your cactus plants and check not only the plant itself but also underneath the pots and around the saucer for any signs of pests.
If you see any pests, treat your plant by brushing it with rubbing alcohol (a small paintbrush works well) or putting the isopropyl alcohol in a spray bottle and misting the affected areas of the plant. This will kill the mealybugs on contact.
More Winter Care Tips for Cacti and Succulents
- 5 Cold-Hardy Succulents That Can Survive Sub-Zero Temps
From agaves to sedums, learn about five of the best cold-hardy succulents that can survive below-freezing winters.
- Do Cacti and Succulents Need to Come Inside for the Winter?
Want to ensure your cacti and succulents survive the winter? Consider the type of plants you have, along with the temperature and humidity of where you live.
- How to Repot a Christmas Cactus and Thanksgiving Cactus
With a few simple tips, Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti are quite easy to repot.
© 2021 Lyn Kimberley