By: Melissa Peterman
Are you wondering what to plant in the August heat? Tired of watering every day? The hottest part of the summer is a great time to plant cacti and succulents. Since all cacti are actually succulents, I will use the word “succulent” to apply to all cacti and succulents in this article. Agaves, yuccas, and other succulents love it hot and dry and will thrive when planted during the hottest months. They will do well in containers, raised gardens, or soil that has been amended with expanded shale. The biggest threat to succulents in your garden is excessively moist soil or heavy rains.
When choosing a cactus or succulent plant for your garden, it is important to consider the cold tolerance of the plant and where you will be planting it. Generally speaking, most yuccas, agaves, and prickly pears are very cold tolerant. Bulbine is another great choice for continuous summer flowers and it will not freeze. Aloes, barrel, and pipe organ cactus may be sensitive only to hard freezes. In Southeast Texas, we are lucky to have a semi-tropical environment which allows us to plant tropical cactus and succulents outdoors. If you have a pool or live near the bay, the water creates a microenvironment for your yard that will allow you to plant jungle cactus like dragon fruit or ponytail palms outdoors. Others could plant cold-sensitive tropicals in a protected spot like the south side of your house or near the house where it will get reflected heat. When in doubt, the nursery carries special plant blankets that you can use to cover your succulents when we get a freeze.
You should also consider whether the succulent you are planting will appreciate full sun or partial shade. Epiphyllums, hens and chicks, and many succulents will perform better under a tree or with morning sun only. Yuccas can tolerate full or partial sun. Barrel cactus, pipe organ cactus, desert rose, crown of thorns, and agaves all do best in full sun. Sedums are excellent groundcover succulents that can tolerate full to partial sun and are generally cold tolerant or root hardy, meaning they will die back to the ground and then come back in the Spring.
For the month of August, many of our cacti and succulents will be on sale for 50% off! Come by the nursery and check out our new cactus section! They are fun, exotic, and easy to grow! Also, as any cactus-lover will tell you, cacti and succulents have the most beautiful flowers!