Would you like to grow cactus in Florida? It may be a surprise to some, but it IS possible to do so, with some cactus varieties being native to the state! However, it isn’t every day that you hear the terms Florida and Cactus in the same sentence, since they aren’t usually associated with the American southwest deserts.
That said, those in the Sunshine State can still enjoy and grow their own cactus plants successfully, as long as they choose the right varieties and the care requirements well. Read on to learn how you can grow cactus in Florida!
The Cactus Varieties You Can Grow in Florida
If you have been told that cactus can’t grow in Florida, then that is a total myth! However, just because it’s possible to grow it in the state doesn’t make it an easy process. You will need time, patience, fertilizer, and surprisingly, water for your cactus to thrive.
Before getting into how to care for cactus, these are the cactus varieties that grow well in Florida:
- The prickly pair from the Opuntia genus is a great option, as there are 6-9 prickly pear species native to the state. It would grow between 18-36 inches tall, looking like teardrop-shaped flat pads that are vertically stacked. These produce yellow flowers and pinkish to red berries on the edges.
- The dildo cactus is another great option, and is shaped just like its name, having a long and narrow column. This cactus can grow more than 20 feet tall and produce white flowers and shiny, red fruits that open only during the night.
- The triangle cactus only blooms large flowers during the night and attracts hummingbirds and moths. They can tolerate temperatures as low as 20 degrees F, making it optimal for North Florida gardens.
- Christmas cactus is known for their beautiful pink, white, or salmon flowers. They bloom between November to February, hence its name.
- Night blooming cereus is a unique cactus you can grow in Florida, having no spines. They can grow vine-like and up to 20 feet tall! Their large and fragrant flowers would only bloom for a night.
- The Simpson’s apple cactus and mistletoe cactus are endangered species that can grow well in South Florida.
Growing Cactus Plants in Florida
Cactus are fairly easy to maintain and don’t require continuous watering, compared to other plants. BUT, they take time to fully grow, taking 5-10 years for them to start having flowers. Here are some tips to follow when it comes to growing cactus plants in Florida:
- Cactus plants in Florida can be grown in containers to have more control over the growing conditions. However, you can grow them outdoors as well, with species like prickly pears and dragon fruit cactus growing best outdoors. Either way, make sure that it gets enough sun throughout the day so it can ready itself for darkness.
- Cactus doesn’t require a ton of water, and you will just need minimal watering during the summer and none throughout the winter season. Avoid watering your cactus plants until new growth begins come springtime!
- If you grow cactus plants in containers, be sure that you offer drainage in the soil and pot as they don’t grow well when in standing water. They also hate the cold, so consider transplanting them inside when the frost comes in, or protect them with proper equipment.
- Once your cactus outgrows the pot, you can transplant it to a bigger container, or outdoors. But be careful when doing so, wearing thick leather gloves and even using strong tongs to properly grip your plant to lift and replant it.
- If you see a corky appearance around the base of the cactus, don’t worry! This doesn’t hurt the cactus and is just caused by the humidity levels of Florida. In fact, gardeners like the corky appearance as it would add character.
- Be patient! Again, it would take years until you can see your cactus bloom beautiful flowers, and those blooms only last for a night or two. You won’t need to exert too much effort, but you will need to have the time and patience to wait for your cactus to reach full maturity.
Wrapping It Up
When it comes to growing cactus in Florida, it is possible with the right species and varieties. They are also fairly easy to maintain but take some time and effort until you can reap the rewards of your hard work! That said, growing cactus is pretty rewarding and can help your home look much more attractive.
Hope this short guide on growing cactus in Florida helped you out! Take this information and tips in mind as you plan to grow them in your garden today. Good luck!