What Can I Do for My Cacti Plants in Winter

susue7 added on November 8, 2015 | Answered

I bought 3 large cacti outdoor plants in the summer. We are in Reno, Nevada. We had unexpectedly cold weather and a hard freeze already, and it's expected to continue because of storms coming. It's been between 44-57 daytime temps and 25-34 overnight. I have little knowledge about plants, just trying to fix the yard up. They did really well and grew great in big planters until this cold snap. Average here is in the 60's for fall. The cacti really look bad now. They have all become limp and some limbs broke from bending over. I tried to research for help and read about the freeze cloth. I got them and put it on best I could these last 2 nights and uncovered them for the sun today. Didn't look much better. Is it too late for them now? Are they dead? I feel just awful and was not told anything about winter care when I bought them. I asked at the local nursery and got no help really. I found better info online. But what do I do now...the next week is still predicted to be the same weather. If you have any answers, I really would appreciate your help. And I also wonder why are the cacti sold here if this is not conducive to this area? Thanks so very much, Pam

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Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on November 10, 2015

Keeping the Cactus dry is key to frost and freeze protection. Many Cactus can survive cold temperatures, it's the moisture they cannot.
Do not water the containers leading up to the cold period.

If rain precedes or corresponds with the cold temperatures; this is a bad combination.

The temperature tolerance depends on the species.
There are some species of Cactus that will survive very cold and below freezing temperatures.

Cover the plants with a non plastic covering and secure it on the ground.

Moving the planters to a covered or sheltered location during cold weather is the best way to protect the plants.

Plant damage can show right away and sometimes can take weeks to show in the plants condition.
Don't try to trim the damage away at this time, wait and see.

Loss of plants is always difficult and I try to remind myself that a loss in the garden makes for new opportunities.

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