Why Grow Cacti and Succulents
Drought tolerant species of cacti and succulents make a lot of sense. Many areas of the globe are already facing impending water shortages. As global warming intensifies, the uncertainty concerning our water supplies can only worsen. To put this into perspective, let’s look at one historical example. During 2007 almost half of our country experienced some drought conditions.
At the present time in late 2010 much of the South has experienced significant drought conditions for much of the year. Eighteen counties here in North Carolina are in moderate drought. Here in my county in the western part of the state we’re classified as abnormally dry, and have been so since spring.
Residents in affected areas can expect to face strict regulations on outdoor and non-essential use of water. Since many cacti and succulents are drought tolerant, these are the perfect candidates for many gardeners.
Challenging Growing Conditions
In addition, there can be weather and climate-related conditions that can make growing conditions more challenging for plants. High wind conditions are one such example with succulents and most cacti being wind-resistant. Heat and elevated temperatures can play a role.
Prolonged heat waves similar to those experienced in much of the country during 2010 is an example. It was the hottest summer on record. In the future gardeners in all areas can expect the number of extremely hot days per summer to increase. According to maps that appeared in the Geographical Research Letters 2010, many locations can expect the temperature extreme to be as hot or hotter than the area’s usual seasonal record high from the 1951-1999 period.
This new climate modeling data released in the latter part of 2010 estimated the number of events per decade for the next three decades. By 2030-39 much of the western half of the country can expect nine such events per decade. Desert cacti and succulents are able to withstand elevated temperatures. So, for the long-term they appear to be the best suited plants in many cases.
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