Construction of beds
for hardy Cactus,
 and how to grow and propagate them.

Construction of beds to hardy succulents:
Growing Hardy succulents and other drought resistant plants from seeds:
Diseases in hardy succulents:
A few good plants for beginners:
Propagation of hardy cactus and other hardy succulents.


Construction of beds to hardy succulents:

The bed must raised and lean to the south (on the Northern hemisphere!!), so the plants get "baked" by as much sun as possible. To raise the bed above the subsoil, I use granite boulders. In the bottom of all beds there are a 20 to 40 cm thick layer of granite boulders, on top of this a 5 cm layer of gravel  (1 to 3-4 cm across), and above this a 15 to 25 cm layer of the soil where the plants shall grow in. The soil that I use is gravely sand with lot of stones in all sizes. The sand down to dust like clay. On top of it all I have a 3-5 cm layer of 1- 1,8 cm granite chippings. The granite chippings will help keeping the root neck dry, and prevent that the rain splashes soil on the plants.


Construction of my bed for plants from South Dakota.
June 1995.


On the picture to the right you can see that the granite stones for drainage are on their place, and the large stone for walking too. All that miss is the small stones the gravely sand, the granite chippings and you can plant the cactus.   

This bed is for my plants from Utah.
June 1995.

It is also important that there are many large rocks, they are important when you have to walk in the bed, and they make a healthy micro climate for the plants. 
It is not advisable to walk on the soil, while the roots of Opuntia is just below the surface of the soil, and often just below the granite chippings.

Bed with plants from South Dakota.
June 1998.

Bed with plants from Utah.
June 1998.

Care during the winter:

Here in Northern Denmark, it is best for the hardy succulents, that they are protected against winter moisture. This can be done with a sheet of glass or another clear material. If you grow very moisture sensitive species, it's best to cover the entire bed.



In a Cactusbed made mentioned above the roots of many plants will go down to underlying strata in search of minerals. Rainwater and dust from the
atmosphere will also carry small amounts of minerals to the bed, most importantly nitrogen (as nitrate), which may be sufficient for the most
Cactus and other slow growing plants.

I do however fertilize my cactus, as this make the plants more healthy, hardy and bloom more.

I make my own fertilizer, it's made of this:

1 liter solid potassium phosphate 0-22-28
1 liter liquid fertilizer with trace minerals. I use the brand "Hornum gødning"
8 liter water.

Put 1 liter potassium phosphate in a 10 liter can and add 4-5 liter warm water (NOT HOT WATER!!!!), when it's dissolved (needs a lot of shaking!!!), I add 1 liter liquid fertilizer and finally I fill the can with cold water.

The above fertilizer is used in this strength:

1 dl. to 10 liter water which is enough for 10 square meters.

I fertilize every two weeks from May 15th to August 15th, and always in the morning before the sun hit the plants (or on a rainy day). Remember! to rinse away the fertilizer on the plants, or they might get burned spots on the leaves, by the remaining fertilizer salts!!!!  I just give the plants a quick shower with tap water.

Diseases in hardy succulents:

There can occur rust fungus, specially after a wet warm winter, If the damage is done there are noting to do, but the rust fungus rarely spread to the new growth, so next year you can make new cuttings and start it over again. The rust fungus can be prevented if the bed with the plants are protected against winter moisture from May 1th to October 1th., or with a sheet of glass above each plant.

In the spring is is important to watch out for pads that are beginning to rot, while it can very fast spread to the whole plant. All the infected pads has to be cut of with a sharp knife, until there are no more "orange" to see in the cut. But even with only a little piece left of the Opuntia pad it will grow to a new plant (hardy Opuntias are tuff plants)

Snails and slugs can be a little hard on the new growth, and they can be killed with poison or with the beer method!

I have never had other diseased in my hardy succulents.

A dozen of good plants for beginners:

The number is my "catalogue number" and the letter shows if it's a clone of the same plant.

All of the below plants are hardy in an unprotected bed:


Opuntia 'Smithwick'Opuntia 'Smithwick'

Photos by Benny Moeller Jensen © 1999

29.   Opuntia ' Smithwick '
from South Dakota. large yellow flowers with red stamens. This is just the best bloomer and the best hardy cactus there is!

Opuntia ' Budapest '

Photo by Benny Moeller Jensen © 1999

35. Opuntia ' Budapest '
dark green shiny pads, greenish yellow flowers, shy bloomer.

Opuntia ' Hybrid '

Photo by Lary J. Junge, Colorado ©.

40. Opuntia ' Hybrid '
rose - red flowers, fat pads with thick white spines, good bloomer.

Opuntia cymochila, Larimer Co., Colorado, DJF933.13Opuntia cymochila, Larimer Co., Colorado, DJF933.13

Photo by Benny Moeller Jensen © 1999

173. Opuntia cymochila
Larimer Co., Colorado,DJF933.13, large dark green pads with white spines, large yellow flowers. 
Large yellow flowers that fade to orange the second day,
Wonderful large dark green pads with white spines .
Very hardy from, grown without protection

Photo by Benny Moeller Jensen © 1999

61A. Opuntia fragilis
from South East Colorado, 2 - 3 cm long small round pads with few red-brown spines, flowers unknown (most likely yellow!)

Photo here soon!

227. Opuntia fragilis var. brooksii n.n.
from Russell Co., Kansas, small pads with many spines, yellow flowers with red stamens, good bloomer.


Photo here soon!

Opuntia fragilis ' Smørblomst ' 
small pads with MANY white spines, yellow flowers.


Photo by Benny Moeller Jensen © 1999

674 Opuntia humifusa
from South Dakota, yellow flowers with red center.


Photo here soon!

242. Opuntia tortispina
pale yellow flowers, has purple fruits the following year. VERY HARDY, but a shy bloomer.


#11 Opuntia polyacantha ' Carmin ', South Dakota, very hardy form.
Photo by Benny Moeller Jensen © 1999

11. Opuntia polyacantha ' Carmin '
from South Dakota, 7 - 10 cm round pads, with MANY white spines, that starts as brown-red on the new pads, carmine flowers, good bloomer.


#117A Opuntia polyacantha, Weld Co., Colorado, DJF932.11#117A Opuntia polyacantha, Weld Co., Colorado, DJF932.11
Photo by Benny Moeller Jensen © 1999

117. Opuntia polyacantha
from Weld Co., Colorado. 7 - 10 cm round pads with white pads, yellow flowers.


Photo by Benny Moeller Jensen © 2000

49. Yucca flaccida
This is the most hardy Yucca, dark green floppy leaves, tall inflorescence with white flowers.


 There are many other good plants that I could mention, you can take a look at my plant list to see which species I grow this far north in Denmark. Or you could visit my Photo gallery.

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