What temperature is too cold for cactus?

What temperature is too cold for cactus?

Temperature more than 80° F or 27° Celsius is too cold for cactus to survive.

Cacti are tough plants from the desert, right? But even tough guys have their weak points; for cacti, it’s the temperature! Do you know why cactus are sensitive to the temperature when it is too cold?

Well, cacti are used to the heat, but they can get cranky if it gets too cold. Finding the right temperature for them is like solving a puzzle and deciding whether your cactus will be happy or sad. In this article, we’re going to explore why cacti are sensitive to temperature and how getting it right is super important for anyone who loves their cactus friend!

What is the ideal temperature range for cactus?

The ideal temperature range for cactus is usually around 18° to 27° Celsius (64° to 81° F). This range is like a comfortable sweater for them, not too hot and not too cold.

You see, cacti are like sun-loving adventurers. They come from places where it’s really hot during the day but can get chilly at night. So, they’ve learned to like warmth but not extreme heat. If it’s too hot, they can get a bit grumpy and parched.

On the flip side, if it gets too cold, cacti start feeling like they’re in the wrong place. Their water can freeze, which is like ice cubes forming inside them, and that’s not good. It’s like us shivering in the cold without a jacket.

So, the ideal temperature range is like a cozy middle ground where cacti can be happy and healthy. It lets them grow, store water, and show off their prickly beauty without feeling too hot or too cold.

But the question is how cold can cactus tolerate?

Can cactus survive freezing temperatures?

Christmas cactus
Christmas cactus

Cacti can be pretty tough, but they do have limits when it comes to cold. How much cold they can handle depends on the type of cactus they are. Different cactus species have different levels of cold tolerance. But in general words, cactus can not survive freezing temperatures. Though there are some exceptions.

Some cacti are like the winter warriors – they can handle quite a bit of cold without complaining. Others are more like summer lovers – they get upset if it gets even a bit chilly.

So, the wiser idea is to keep your cacti above freezing temperatures, which is 0° Celsius (32° F). Freezing temperature is the point where water turns into ice. Cacti have water inside them, and if it freezes, it can cause them harm.  (Just like when ice freezes and cracks things)!

6 Types of cactus that can survive the cold of winter

Only a few species of cactus have the survival ability in the extreme cold, though the range varies. Here are a few cacti that are known to be more cold-hardy and can survive freezing temperatures:

  1. Opuntia humifusa (Eastern Prickly Pear): This cactus can handle cold climates and even snow. It’s found in parts of North America and has flat pads with spines.
  2. Opuntia polyacantha (Plains Prickly Pear): Another hardy prickly pear species that can tolerate cold winters. It’s found in various regions of North America.
  3. Escobaria vivipara (Spinystar): This smaller cactus is well-suited for colder areas and can even endure snow-covered conditions.
  4. Echinocereus triglochidiatus (Claret Cup Cactus): Native to higher elevations, this cactus can withstand colder temperatures and has vibrant red or orange flowers.
  5. Mammillaria species: Many Mammillaria cactus species are known to tolerate colder temperatures, particularly those from higher altitudes.
  6. Cylindropuntia species (Cholla Cacti): Some cholla cacti species have good cold tolerance, making them suitable for regions with chilly winters.
Prickly Pear cactus

But Remember, while these cacti are more cold-resistant, it’s still important to provide them with some protection if you’re expecting extremely low temperatures.

How to take care of cactus in winter or  cold temp.?

You need not to do a lot of stuff for overwintering your cactus. Taking care of cactus in winter requires a little extra attention to keep these desert plants cozy and happy. Here’s a simple guide to help you out:

1. Check Temperature Tolerance: Know the cold limits of your cactus species. Some can handle colder temperatures, while others need more protection.

2. Move Indoors: If you live in an area with harsh winters, consider moving potted cacti indoors. Find a sunny spot near a window where they can still get plenty of light.

3. Reduce Watering: Cacti go dormant in winter, so they need less water. Allow the soil to dry out completely between waterings to prevent root rot.

Reduce watering your cactus when it is too cold
Reduce watering your cactus in winter

4. Provide Good Light: Even indoors, cacti need sunlight. Place them near a south-facing window to ensure they get enough light. You might need to rotate them occasionally to ensure even growth.

5. Watch Humidity: Indoor heating can lower humidity, which cacti don’t mind. However, if you notice the air is too dry, you can mist them occasionally or place a tray of water nearby.

6. Avoid Drafts: Keep cacti away from cold drafts, like those from windows and doors. Sudden temperature changes can stress them.

7. Limit Fertilizing: Cacti don’t usually need much fertilizer during winter. If you do fertilize, opt for a diluted solution and only apply it sparingly.

How to Protect Outdoor Cacti from the cold of winter?

save cactus from too cold temperature
save cactus from too cold temperature

If your cacti are staying outdoors, use these tricks to let them survive this winter-

  1. Mulching: use a thick layer of mulch around the base to insulate the roots. Cover them with a frost cloth or blanket during cold snaps.
  2. Monitor for Pests: Winter can attract pests looking for warmth. Keep an eye out for signs of infestation and address them promptly.
  3. Pruning: If you notice any winter damage or dead parts, wait until spring to prune. Cacti heal more effectively during their active growing season.

I hope, With a little attention and care, your cacti can sail through the winter months and continue to thrive. Happy winter!!


  1. Do cactus survive winter?

Yes, many types of cacti are adapted to survive winter conditions. These plants have evolved various strategies to endure cold temperatures of winter. They store water, slow down their growth, and stay low to the ground to handle the cold. Some of the cacti those survive the winter are Opuntia, Echinocereus, Ferocactus, Escobaria, Cylindropuntia, etc.

2. Can cactus survive without water?

Yes, many cacti have adapted to survive in arid environments by storing water in their thick stems. This stored water allows them to endure extended periods without rain. However, while they can survive without regular watering, providing some water when possible can help them stay healthier and thrive. The ability to store water is one of the reasons cacti are well-suited to dry climates.

3. Can cactus survive without sunlight?

It’s difficult for them. Cacti generally need sunlight to survive. Sunlight helps them make food through a process called photosynthesis. While some cacti might tolerate lower light conditions for a while, they won’t do well in the long run without enough sunlight.

4. Do mini cactus need sunlight?

Yes, mini cacti still need sunlight to thrive. While they might require less sunlight compared to larger cacti, they still need some light for photosynthesis and overall health. Placing them in a bright indoor spot near a window with indirect sunlight is usually a good choice.


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Tarek Siddiki Taki

Hi! This is Tarek Siddiki Taki, a plant science graduate, passionate about biotechnologies and their role in addressing environmental issues. I aim to contribute to the advancement of plant science, particularly in horticulture, climate, and gene behavior. I am dedicated to sharing my knowledge and insights with others through my writing and research.