|Hardy opuntia up North|
We have been up on the train to arguably the best botanic garden in The UK. We had a wonderful day and I would like to share in three consecutive daily posts some of the things that thrilled me. The first two are somewhat idiosyncratic but in the third post I will show you Peter Williams’s pictures to really persuade you to go.
Growing cactus outside in Scotland
(Well nearly the open)
Although most cacti are not at all hardy many actually grow in their native habitat in extremely cold conditions and some can be grown outside in the UK. The main problem is excess wetness, usually in Winter. They hate continuously wet surfaces due to rain and heavy dews and the roots of most forms do not stand Winter wet soil.
If you select hardy varieties no artificial heat is required to grow them but most require the dry of an unheated greenhouse for three or four of the coldest months of the year. That is unless you create a simple permanent structure such as the Edinburgh display
A simple cover is needed to keep the leaves dry. It will not keep out all the rain but will be sufficient to avoid prolonged wet periods and keep the soil fairly dry. The back wall is probably more for display purposes than heat retention and extra protection. There would be more light without it. The raised bed is optional as long as the growing medium is very well drained
|Opuntia, the prickly pear is the hardiest genus|
I felt very nostalgic about the hardy varieties I have previously purchased but which sadly no longer survive. Not this one that grows very well at home completely outside.
|You can see how thrilled I am at discovering one of my gardening passions|
|Echinopsis are easy to flower|
|An eclectic mixture of plants that appreciate ‘a little help’ in Winter|
The Edinburgh display is not exclusively cacti and some ferns like the same Winter conditions. Providing they do not cast too much shade companion plants give extra protection.
|Stones and gravel mulch look good and help provide ideal conditions|
This is an excellent source of small hardy cactus plants
My own main post about growing hardy cactus
You might like to read about our visit last year to Kew