Cacti are among the most popular plants in nature. They have been cultivated since ancient times and they are used for many purposes such as medicine, food, decoration, etc. There are different types of cacti including desert cacti (which grow in deserts), tropical cacti (which grow in hot climates) and temperate species like Echinopsis pachanoi or Agave americana.

The main difference between these types of cacti is their ability to withstand extreme temperatures. Desert cacti can tolerate temperatures up to -40°F (-30°C). Tropical cacti can tolerate temperatures up to 140°F (60°C). Temperate species like Echinopsis pachanoi and Agave americana cannot handle such extremes. These are the two most common types of cactus plants.

Cold Hardiness Of Cacti – Types 1 & 2

Type 1 – Desert Cacti

These are the most common type of cactus plants. They do not need much care and they grow well in almost any climate. They require little water so they don’t get too dry either. Most of them can survive in temperatures down to -20°F (-4°C). Their leaves will turn yellow if it gets colder than that.

Some of the most common desert cacti include hedgehog, barrel and finger prick cacti. These plants can tolerate a lot of sun so they grow very well in dry, hot deserts.

Type 2 – Tropical Cacti

These types of cacti are mostly used as ornamental plants. They cannot tolerate temperatures below 40 F (4°C) so they require a warm environment to grow well. Some of the most common types include golden barrel, christmas and peruvian apple cacti. These plants can grow well both in dry and wet environments.

Cold Hardiness Of Cacti – Types 3 & 4

Type 3 – Temperate Cacti Echinopsis pachanoi

These are also ornamental species. They cannot tolerate temperatures below 28 F (-2°C). They grow well both in dry and wet habitats. Some of the most common include cardon, San Pedro and peruvian torch. These plants are used medicinally and for illegal purposes (they contain psychoactive substances)

Zone 4 Cactus Plants: Types Of Cold Hardy Cactus Plants -

Type 4 – Temperate Cacti Agave americana

These are the most common type of agave plants. They cannot survive temperatures below 20 F (-7°C). They grow in dry and wet areas.

Sources & references used in this article:

Water relations and mucopolysaccharide increases for a winter hardy cactus during acclimation to subzero temperatures by ME Loik, PS Nobel – Oecologia, 1991 – Springer

Opuntia forage production systems: status and prospects for rangeland application by JC Guevara, P Suassuna, P Felker – Rangeland ecology & management, 2009 – Elsevier

… Global Adaptivity of Spinelles, Progeny of Opuntia ficus-indica 1281 x O. lindheimerii 1250 as Forage Cultivars Adapted to USDA Cold Hardiness Zones 7 and 8 by P Felker, RA Bunch, DM Borchert… – … Congress on Cactus Pear …, 2007 –

Temperature limitations for cultivation of edible cacti in California by PS Nobel, E De la Barrera, DW Beilman, JH Doherty… – Madroño, 2002 – JSTOR

Cactus pear fruit production by P Inglese, F Basile, M Schirra – Cacti: Biology and uses, 2002 –



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