How To Prepare for Cactus Winter Care and Dormancy

Hi Guys,

welcome to this months Article that is all about How to prepare your Cactus plants for their Winter rest.

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere like I do then its that time of year again when the growing Season is coming to a close and we have to think about the Winter plans for overwintering our cactus plants.

If you live in the Sothern Hemisphere like Australia then you are now into your Spring ( lucky you haha ) and you will be all set for the upcoming growing season ahead, but if you are like me and live in the Northern hemisphere  and in Spring and Summer and early Autumn you grow your cacti either outdoors in your garden or balcony or in a greenhouse or polytunnel, then during the Winter months you will need to protect any of your cacti that can not tolerate the cold temperatures and rainfall that we get here on this side of the planet.

The Weather
Don’t let your Cactus turn into a Snowman this Winter haha. Make sure you start overwintering your cacti NOW before the frost arrives.

What Cactus/Cacti do you grow and where? this is very important on how low the temperature can go for them in Winter.

There are so many different varieties of cacti and they all vary so much in their minimum Winter temperatures, because of this it is very important to know what type of cactus/cacti you are growing, the minimum temperatures cacti can tolerate in winter can vary so much depending on where they are growing, for example cacti that are being overwintered cool and dry in a dry arid desert climate with low humidity can survive much lower temperatures in winter than cacti that are being overwintered in a climate that is rainy and high in humidity in Winter, such as where I live here in Ireland and UK.

It is the high humidity that can cause the biggest problem in winter for cacti, my climate in Northern Ireland is mild temperature wise in winter and we rarely have a deep frost, but the air humidity is nearly always around 80% and high humidity and cold is not good for cacti.

There are some extremely cold hardy Opuntia cacti such as Opuntia humifusa that can tolerate being covered in freezing Snow if the overall air humidity around them is dry.

Opuntia variety happily surviving covered in heavy snow in Winter BUT the air humidity is also low.

If you are not sure what types of cactus/ cacti you grow then there is a very good website for cactus identification called as well as a plant ID App called PlantSnap but if you are still unsure of the type of cactus you are growing then its best to stay on the safe side and overwinter your cactus/cacti at a minimum winter temperature of 10c /50F as this is a safe all round temperature for nearly all of the cacti varieties.

What is the best temperature to overwinter Cacti ? and do they need Sunlight during Winter ? 

Most of the Cacti like to be overwintered cool and dry ideally at a temperature between 5 – 10 Celsius /  41 -50 Fahrenheit, this encourages them to stop growing and they get to rest over the winter and also encourages blooming in the Spring and Summer of the following year, light is not such a necessity during the Winter as the cacti will not be growing and only resting, and you can overwinter cacti in a sunless unheated room, some growers including myself like to use additional grow lights in the winter for their cacti, especially for any cactus seedlings they are growing, light is still important for young cactus seedlings as cactus seedlings will need to continue to grow during winter, however light is definitely not a necessity for the mature cacti, because mature cacti are not growing during the winter, and I personally know many growers who overwinter their cacti in garages and cellars, and as long as they re introduce their cacti slowly to the light in the spring, ( e.g by protecting them with shade cloth for the first few days to acclimatise them to the higher light levels of Spring ) they have great success with overwintering their cacti this way and still manage to get a wonderful display of blooms in the Spring and Summer on their cacti. 

Rebutia perplexa, Rebutia perplexa flowers
Many Cacti will produce blooms in the Spring and Summer if given a cool and dry rest period in Winter. (Cactus above is my Rebutia perplexa )

Cactus dormancy

Cacti dormancy is triggered by the shorter day length and also the drop in temperatures, because cacti naturally slow down their growth as the days get shorter and the nights get colder as the Winter approaches, its important to stop watering your desert cacti well in advance as dormant desert cacti will not need water during the winter.

What about the Christmas & Thanksgiving Cactus or any Winter blooming Epiphytic cacti ?

the reason why I say desert and not all cacti is because there are some cacti like the Schlumbergera ( Christmas and Thanksgiving cactus ) and some of the Rhipsalis Epiphytic cacti that will still need to be lightly watered during the Winter as they are Winter flowering, there are also certain cacti like Uebelmannia and Melocactus that dont like to be kept totally dry over the whole of the winter and appreciate a light watering once every 4-6 weeks in Winter, these types of cacti also need more warmth in Winter than the other cacti do, and need a minimum winter temperature of 10c / 50F. It really helps if you know the type of cactus you have, and if you are unsure what type of cactus you have then as previously mentioned do check out to help with ID, there are also apps to help with cactus identification such as PlantSnap.

Stop Watering your desert cacti NOW! 

I stop watering all of my cacti except my Epiphytic cacti from mid to late September, this is to allow plenty of time for the soil in their pots to totally dry out before the Winter approaches, the larger the pot the earlier you should stop watering, as cacti in large pots with lots of soil will hold on to more moisture in their soil, it really is important that the soil in their pots is dried out before the night temperatures get to low, If you have your cacti in a greenhouse or polytunnel or a covered balcony etc then stopping watering from late Summer early Autumn is the first thing to do to get your cacti prepared for the Winter, but if you have your cacti outside in the open in the garden then you need to move your plants to a covered position to keep the rain off them, by the time you bring your plants inside the house or greenhouse to overwinter the soil should have dried out, if you still have damp soil in pots you can use a few sheets of absorbent kitchen roll or newspaper tucked underneath the drainage holes of the pots to encourage the soil in the pots to dry out faster. 

When do I bring my cacti inside for Winter ?

Its important to bring your cacti inside before the chance of any night frosts are forecast, this can depend on the country you live in, here in Ireland and the U.K we don’t usually need to worry about frost until late October / November time.

If you are overwintering your cacti inside the house then a cool and dry unheated room ideally no warmer than 15c / 60F is best, any warmer than this can prevent your cactus from going dormant and you can have issues like etiolation ( stretched out growth ), If you are not able to overwinter your cacti in an unheated room and can only overwinter them in your living room, bedroom or kitchen etc, then I would still keep them as dry as possible and only water them if they show signs of excess shrivelling, keeping them dry may not prevent them from going into a proper dormancy if the room temperature is warm but it will still help to prevent them from growing stretched out.

During the Autumn and Winter months I heat my polytunnel at a minimum Winter temperature of 5 Celsius / 41 Fahrenheit and I have a thermostat control that switches on if the temperature drops below 5 c / 41f inside the polytunnel, I also use a dehumidifier that is especially for cold and damp environments like greenhouse, polytunnels, garages, cellars etc, I use the dehumidifier on the wet and windy days to keep the humidity no higher than 50% inside the polytunnel, on the dry winter days I will open up the door in the polytunnel to allow plenty of air circulation as air circulation is important if you have your plants in a closed environment and the temperatures are cool, with the heater and the dehumidifier this allows me to keep a large proportion of my cacti safe over the Winter to overwinter them during their Winter rest period, but also still warm enough for the winter growing cacti such as  the Schlumbergera cacti commonly known as the Thanksgiving and Christmas cacti that still continue to grow and flower during the Winter.

Schlumbergera buckleyi in flower, Christmas Cactus in flower
Some of the Epiphytic Cacti varieties such as Schlumbergera (Christmas & Thanksgiving Cactus) and Rhipsalis will bloom during the Winter months when all the other Desert Cacti are having their overwintering rest, its important that you still continue to keep these Epiphytic cacti watered over the Winter.

I hope you found this Cactus Winter Preparation Article helpful, and for an in depth video on How to Overwinter Cacti and Succulents then do check out the video I have made on my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on How To Overwinter Cacti and Succulents, and you can watch this video below: 

If you want to know what heater I use for heating my Greenhouse/ Polytunnel then do check out this video I have made for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on How I heat my Polytunnel Greenhouse in Winter, and you can watch this video below:

If you want to know what dehumidifier I use to keep the air inside my Greenhouse /Polytunnel dry in Winter, then check out this video I have made for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon, on installing the dehumidifier and you can watch this video below:

If you want to see my complete Greenhouse/ Polytunnel set up then check out this video I have made for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on my Cacti & Succulent Polytunnel set up and you can watch this video below: 

Thank you so much for reading and for lots more tips and tricks on growing Cacti and Succulents check out my You tube Channel Desert Plants of Avalon and don’t forget to Subscribe <3 



Why is my cactus dropping buds ?

Why is My Cactus dropping Buds ?

Hi Guys 😀 

I hope you are enjoying the Summer growing season this year and I hope that many of you will be enjoying seeing your Cacti coming into bud and bloom, but what happens if your Cactus is growing buds but they fall off ? It can be very disappointing when we are so looking forward to seeing the blooms especially if its a cactus that will be the first time blooming for you, but its very common for the buds to grow so far and then drop off, there are quite a few reasons why this can happen and In this Article I will be talking about the reasons why your Cactus is dropping buds.

Why is my cactus dropping buds ?
Why is your Cactus dropping Buds ? read this Article to find out.

I have made a special video on my Cacti and Succulent You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on Why Your Cactus is dropping Buds ? and I will include this video at the end of this Article.

Here are the most common reasons why your Cactus is dropping Buds.


Cactus blooms
Days of warm sunny weather followed by days of overcast cool weather can encourage developing buds to fall off.

Here in Ireland and the U.K we all love to talk about the weather haha, but this Summer has been very much a talking point as it has been one of the hottest Summers on record with temperatures way above the average for many parts of the U.K and Europe as well as the U.S and other parts of the world. Many people will think of Cacti as plants that enjoy basking in the hot dry desert sun, but in reality excess sun and especially excess heat can make developing cactus buds drop off suddenly, remember cacti in their natural habitats can enjoy the sunshine and high temperatures as they have been grown there and they also have fresh air and ventilation around them, but cacti growing in cultivation on our hot sunny windowsills and hot sunny greenhouses/polytunnels don’t have the natural outside air that Cacti growing outside in their natural habitats have, Cactus plants in cultivation are almost always nursery grown and can not tolerate the excess heat and sun in a indoor environment especially during an unusually hot Heatwave. I know of many growers who have told me their cacti have dropped quite a few buds this Summer due to the 2022 Summer Heatwave. 

Cactus bud drop can also commonly happen when we have quite a few days of good sunshine followed by days of grey cloudy weather, I always have a battle with this living in Northern Ireland with our wet and rainy Summers haha, we can get a few good days of very sunny weather and then days of grey skies and rain. Sunshine will help the cacti to produce their buds, but if the weather changes and you get a week or two of grey skies and cool temperatures the buds can dry up and fall off, unfortunately we cant control the weather and it is something we cant prevent, and with global warming on the increase heatwaves could become a much more common occurrence, and all I can say is to provide shade cover for cacti in excessive high heat during a heatwave and install a fan/s to keep the air circulation in your greenhouse/polytunnel moving, this may not prevent your cacti from dropping buds but it will definitely help to protect your cacti from any sun and heat damage.


Watering Cacti
Both over watering and under watering can cause cactus bud drop.

Cactus bud drop can often happen if you are either over watering or not watering your cacti enough, desert cacti like to dry out in between watering them, and if a desert cactus is sitting in wet soil 24/7 this can make your cactus stressed and drop their buds as well as cause rot and fungus issues especially in high heat, as can keeping a desert cactus that is coming into bud too dry with little to no watering during the growing season. A cactus that is kept too dry over the growing season will become stressed and may drop any developing buds, during the active growing Season in Spring and Summer you should water your desert cactus once the soil has dried out in their pots, the exception to this would be the Rainforest Epiphytic cacti like the Epiphyllums, Rhipsalis and Schlumbergera ( Christmas and Thanksgiving Cacti ) this is because the Epiphytic cacti like to be kept well watered in moist soil during the Spring and Summer months, these Epiphytic cacti do not like to go too long without water during the growing season. With both the Desert cacti and the Epiphytic cacti always make sure all of your cacti are planted in a very well draining soil mix so the excess water can freely run out. 


growing cacti outdoors
Moving your Cactus to a different position can cause the buds to drop off

Moving your cactus to a different location or turning your cacti around to face the direction of the sun once it is developing buds can be a very common cause of bud drop, it can be tempting to move a cactus in bud into a position where you will be able to enjoy the flowers better, but it really is best to leave a cactus that is in bud in the same position until it has finished flowering, many cacti can be very prone to dropping buds if they are even slightly moved or turned around, Echinopsis and Schlumbergera ( Christmas and Thanksgiving Cactus ) are extremely prone to this. Many cacti are often sold for sale in the shops while in bud, these cacti have often been grown in large nurseries under powerful grow lights to encourage buds, and although its still very possible that cacti for sale in the shops can still flower once you have bought them, it can be more likely they will drop their buds before you get to see the flowers, however I have noticed that if you get a new cactus and it is in very early bud development then it can often still go on to flower for you, it seems to be the middle to later stages of the bud development that causes cacti to drop buds when newly purchased or moved. I also want to mention if you buy a cactus that is in flower already and the flowers seem to be lasting a very very long time, then its very possible that they are straw fake flowers, many newbies to the hobby get caught out by thinking they are buying a flowering cactus when really the flowers are straw fake flowers that have been glued onto the cactus. 


Mealy bugs on cactus
Mealy Bugs on Cactus and Thrips and other pests love to hide at the base and tip of the developing buds causing the developing buds to drop off, if pests are seen remove them immediately with a brush or q tip dipped in rubbing alcohol 

Insect pests can be a real pain for the developing cactus buds as many pests can hide on and in the buds, Mealy Bugs and Aphids are the most common pests of cactus buds, Mealy bugs love to hide at the base of the bud where you can’t see them causing damage to the growing bud/s making them drop, Aphids may not be as common as Mealy Bugs especially on cacti, but they can still attack the buds especially in the later stages of the bud development, I had quite a few Aphids attack my Epiphyllum buds this Spring, just like Mealy Bugs Aphids can be tiny and are very good at hiding and camouflaging themselves on cactus buds and they can be very hard to spot on your buds until its too late. If you notice your cactus buds seem to have stopped growing or are starting to shrivel up, put on your strongest glasses or get a strong magnifying mirror and check for insect pests, if pests are seen then remove them immediately by dabbing the pests with a little brush or q tip dabbed in rubbing alcohol/isopropyl alcohol, but be very gentle when doing this so not to harm the buds. Its best to avoid using chemical pest insecticides on the buds as this can harm the developing buds and disfigure the flowers and may also cause bud drop too.


Cactus plants for sale
Buying a new Cactus that is already in bud at the store may not go on to flower once you have brought it home.

Buying a new cactus that is already in bud in the shop is a common cause of the buds dropping off once you have brought your new cactus home, as mentioned before, a change of position for cacti can definitely cause bud drop and this is very common for Echinopsis cacti often seen for sale in the Summer months already in bud. Cacti that are less likely to drop their buds and are commonly seen for sale would be Mammillaria, Mammillaria cacti are one of the few types of cactus that will often still keep their buds and go on to flower when you bring them home. Schlumbergera  (Christmas and Thanksgiving Cacti ) are nearly always sold around the November -December time in bud and its very common for some if not all of the buds to drop off a week or two after you have them. Schlumbergera buckleyi ( True Christmas Cactus ) is much more sensitive to bud drop than the Schlumbergera truncata ( Thanksgiving Cactus ) and this is why you nearly always see Sclumbergera truncata for sale over the Christmas Holiday period than Schlumbergera buckleyi. The good news is any cactus that drops buds once you have brought it home will still go on to flower for you the following year once it has acclimatised and as long as you are growing it correctly.


How to repot a cactus
Its best to wait until your cactus has finished flowering before repotting

The best time to re pot a cactus is during the growing season which would be Spring and Summer or early Fall/ Autumn, but the problem with that is this can be the time your cactus may also be coming into bud, I always say that Spring and Summer and early Fall/Autumn is the best time to repot, however if you see any signs of buds developing its best to hold off repotting until your cactus has finished flowering, the reasons for this is because Cacti can suffer from stress just like people do, and repotting your cactus and changing the soil and handling the roots etc can cause stress to your cactus and this can definitely cause any developing buds to drop off prematurely, its best to wait until your cactus has finished flowering before you repot. 

I hope you enjoyed reading this Article and I have made a video for my Cactus and Succulent You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on ‘Why is my Cactus dropping Buds ?‘ and you can watch this video below.

Please don’t forget to Subscribe to my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon for regular videos on Tips and Tricks on How to Care for your Cacti and Succulents.

Wishing you all an AMAZING Plant Powered day or evening.


Crassula muscosa, Crassula lycopodioides, Crassula pseudolycopodioides, Watch Chain Plant

How to Grow & Care for Crassula muscosa, aka The Watch Chain Plant – Crassula muscosa, Crassula lycopodioides, Crassula pseudolycopodioides

Hi Plant Lovers 😀

In this Blog / Article I will be talking about the very wonderful Crassula muscosa Succulent Plant aka Crassula muscosa, Crassula lycopodioides, Crassula pseudolycopodioides, and more commonly The Watch Chain Plant.

Crassula muscosa, Crassula lycopodioides, Crassula pseudolycopodioides, Watch Chain Plant
Crassula muscosa, Crassula lycopodioides, Crassula pseudolycopodioides, The Watch Chain Plant.

I have made a special video on my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on How to Care for and Grow Crassula muscosa and you can watch this video below: 


Crassula muscosa grows in its natural habitats in South Africa in the Winter & Summer rainfall areas of the Western and Eastern Cape growing in well draining rocky quartz fields.

Crassula muscosa is a spreading growing Succulent Plant that can grow fast during the growing period, as the plant grows larger its common for stem segments to drop off and root readily where they land, and you can often see the stem segments that has dropped off growing in nearby plant pots or nearby places in your yard and garden.

Commonly called the Watch Chain Plant because of its tiny tight rosette leaf arrangements resembling the links of a jewellery chain and a watch chain, the word muscosa is Latin for ‘mossy’ due to this plants moss like appearance.

This plant is commonly sold and seen for sale as part of a plant and succulent bowl garden arrangement.

My Crassula muscosa plant ( pictured above) was also part of a plant arrangement that my friend gave to me over 12 years ago.


Grows best in full sun or in very bright light, a sunny window or patio or other sunny and bright position is ideal, but if grown in intense midday sun in the Summer plenty of ventilation should be given, too little sun or too much intense sun without ventilation can cause leaf segments to go brown and hard and woody and they will drop off more readily, these plants grow well under full spectrum LED plant grow lights if you don’t have a sunny window or position to place them in.


Like all succulents these plants need a very well draining soil so that the soil can drain easily and does not stay too wet for long, a good quality commercial cactus & succulent soil can be used, or you can make up your own using 3 equal parts of Loam, grit (or perlite) and horticultural sand. If you want to know how to make your own soil for cacti and succulents then check the video below I have made for my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on How to make your own soil for cacti and succulents in 3 easy steps: 


Spring and Summer and early Fall water every time the soil in the pot has dried out, in my experience these plants can take a lot more watering in Spring Summer and Fall, but ideally its best to allow the soil to dry in between waterings,

in late Fall and Winter its best to keep these plants more on the dry side and a good watering once a month is plenty, although this plant is Winter flowering it is not Winter growing and does not need to be watered as regularly, once a month is best, if you are growing these plants indoors on a sunny window and indoor house temperatures you may need to water them twice a month in Winter if they start to go limp or drop segments, but remember if in doubt its safer to under rather than over water.


In Spring and Summer fertilise these plants once every 2-3 weeks with a good quality fertiliser especially for Cacti and Succulents, in Winter there is no need to fertilise even when these plants are in Winter flower, because although these plants are winter flowering they are not winter growing.


Re pot in Spring and Summer or early Fall into a pot the next size up, plant into well draining cactus and succulent soil, after repotting its best to wait a few days before watering again to allow any roots to settle into the soil.


In Spring and Summer a good temperature is around 70-75 Fahrenheit / 21-24 Celsius, they can take higher temperatures than this as long as long as plenty of ventilation can be given, open windows if growing on windowsills indoors on very hot summer days or install a circulating fan in hot greenhouses.

In Winter these plants can take very cold temperatures and is hardy to 20 Fahrenheit / -7 Celsius but ideally a temperature around 41 Fahrenheit / 5 Celsius is a safer minimum temperature for these plants in Winter.


Like all succulent plants they don’t like high humidity as this can encourage fungus and rots, plenty of ventilation must always be given in very hot and wet weather, the ideal humidity for these plants is 50% or lower, but they can take much higher than this if the soil is allowed to dry out in between watering, and the soil is kept much drier in Winter.


Crassula muscosa is a Winter flowering succulent, although it is not uncommon to see these plants flower in the Spring, Summer and Fall too.

Crassula muscosa, Crassula plants, Crassula muscosa flowers, Crassula muscosa, Crassula lycopodioides, Crassula pseudolycopodioides, Watch Chain Plant
Crassula muscosa, Crassula lycopodioides, Crassula pseudolycopodioides, Watch Chain Plant in flower.

The miniature flowers start off white and then turn brown as they age and are absolutely tiny, in fact most growers don’t even notice the extremely tiny blooms on these plants and the rather unusual strange scent of the blooms are often noticed before the flowers are seen.

The miniature blooms smell musty and soapy and the scent of these blooms is hard to compare to anything else, its a scent you either love or hate haha.

If you want to see what the blooms on Crassula muscosa look like up close then check out my video on my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon of my Crassula muscosa in Bloom, you can watch this video below:


Crassula muscosa is best pruned every year in Spring to help prevent the stems from growing unruly and pruning this plant back also helps to prevent the stems from dropping off from the weight of the stems as they grow.

These plants can be easily re started again as cuttings if the stems start to look too dry and brown.


These plants are very easy to propagate especially when pruning the stems in spring, cuttings root very readily in water, its always best to root cuttings in Spring and summer, just place the cuttings into a cup of about an inch of water and they will send out roots within 2-6 weeks, you can also plant the cuttings directly into well draining soil. 

I have made a video on my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on How to take cuttings and Propagate Crassula muscosa and you can watch this video below: 


The most common insect pests you are likely to see are mealy bugs, thrips, scale insect and the like, If I spot pests on my plants I like to use Horticultural Neem oil mixed with Horticultural soap and spray the plant/s thoroughly once a week for 6 weeks until no signs of the pests remain.

Fungus and root rot are the most common types of diseases on succulent plants although thankfully not that common on Crassula muscosa, root rot is best corrected by taking cuttings and re starting the plant, but if fungus is a problem its best to treat the whole plant with Horticultural Neem oil mixed with Horticultural soap and spray the whole plant thoroughly every week for a month.

I have made a video on my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon on How to use Neem oil to treat insect pests and diseases on Succulent plants and you can watch this video below: 

I hope you enjoyed this article on how to grow Crassula muscosa, and for lots more tips and tricks on how to care for and grow Cacti and Succulents please check out my You Tube Channel called Desert Plants of Avalon.

Thank you for reading and have a wonderful plant powered day <3