Cactus in the snow

Cactus in the Snow – A guide to growing hardy cacti in the wet and frozen north”. By Bruce Brethauer


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This  119 page book published 2000 starts with a table of temperature conversion from Celsius to Fahrenheit.  This is followed by a short discussion about why we want to grow winter hardy cacti.  Beautiful blooms and low maintenance – once the plants are established in outdoor beds, were some of the reasons given.  Next is a discussion of the anatomy of cacti (flowers and fruits) and also the basic elements involved in growing winter hardy cacti (wind, earth, fire, and water).

There is  a lengthy chapter with many pictures about the different types of cactus beds such as open beds, mounds, plants among rocks, etc.  The pictures, although black and white, are pretty good and show fairly well what the author is talking about. This section is followed by a discussion about pests, fertilization and information about hardiness among other cultivation subjects.

The next section has photos for each plant mentioned and describes the hardy species. There is detailed information about origin, habitat and cultivation for plants in the genus Opuntia, Echinocereus, Escobaria and Pediocactus.

The final pages cover topics such as surviving winter – the expansion of ice crystals inside plants is described as being the main reason for damaged tissues.  Keeping a pad from each Opuntia as an insurance policy, the acquisition of plants and growing plants from seed are the final subjects discussed.

The book ends with a short section on plant and seed sources and a reading list.

Reviewed by Rosario Douglas