As succulents, plants that are adapted to store water during extreme drought (like a desert), you might be surprised to learn that an arboretum (in Iowa) has a cactus garden!
But … our cacti don’t stay outside during the winter months. With each plant set in an individual pot of lime and crushed stone, our volunteers move them from the Cacti Garden — pots and all! — into our heated greenhouse every October. [Interestingly, during the winter months, the cacti are not watered at all. In fact, overwatering could kill them.]`Then, about the first of May, they bring them back outside and re-embed them in the sand.
The Arboretum does have one type of cactus that is able to survive the winter: The prickly pear. This plant was given to us by the Iowa Arboretum; it has a flattened stem. We also have globular cacti, which are rounded, and columnar cacti, which have elongated stems. The most famous columnar cactus is the saguaro, often pictured on postcards depicting the Southwest. This collection also includes agaves, yuccas, and the flapjacks paddle, which has a pleasant reddish color to augment our Garden. Each plant is labeled with both its common and scientific name.
WITH APPRECIATION to Tom Sheehan and the Cactus Team for the care and maintenance of the Cacti Garden.