Growing Cactus Outdoors

Cactus houseplants add interesting texture and color to any space they inhabit and make a wonderful addition to an outdoor area, like a porch or patio. Cactus plants thrive in warm temperatures, so wait until late spring or summer to move the plant outdoors. Get the cactus back indoors before the weather turns cold in the fall. Forest cacti do well in high humidity, while desert cacti often prefer low humidity. A climate with elevated humidity may not work well for desert cacti, so be aware, monitor the plant, and be prepared to move it back indoors if necessary.

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When To Put Cactus Outside

Most cactus cultivars come from warm climates, so wait until the temperatures are warm before moving the plant outdoors. Temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit are necessary to maintain a healthy cactus. Anything lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit will damage tender cacti. Generally, the warmer, the better, so don’t rush to move the plant once the thermometer reads 50 degrees and be mindful of temperature fluctuations. 

When To Bring Cactus Indoors

Houseplants often have an easier time transitioning from outdoors to indoors rather than vice-versa. The conditions indoors are more consistent than those outside. Temperature is the most important guideline to determine when to bring a cactus indoors. Temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit will damage and potentially kill a tender cactus, so move the plant before the temperature becomes too cold. 

Inspect the plant before bringing it back inside, and consider spraying it preemptively with horticultural oil, even if there are no signs of pests. Place the cactus in a warm area with bright, indirect sunlight to help it acclimate to the inside. Quarantine the cactus for a couple of weeks when it is back indoors, just in case, to protect other plants. 

Caring For Cactus Outdoors

Cactus houseplants are easy to grow outdoors during the warm months. Be careful if you live in a climate with high humidity. Desert cacti prefer low humidity and may grow better indoors year-round. Place the plant in an area that receives bright, indirect sunlight. Some cactus cultivars can handle limited direct sunlight, particularly in the morning. Use a well-drained potting mix and a container with drainage holes to prevent overwatering. If possible, place the plant in a protected area where significant rainfall will not be an issue, or be prepared to routinely empty the cover pot or saucer after each rainstorm.

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Author Alison Cotsonas - Published 12-05-2023