|The Cactus Patch
NEWSLETTER OF THE
October 2000 Number 10
|How Wet Is My Winter?
by Stephen Cooley
|I have often heard and read that with many succulents it is best to
give them water in the summer and keep them on the dry side in the winter. There are those who would even go as far as to
say that no water is needed at all during winter (This, of course, does not apply to all succulents but a good number of
them seem to prefer at least the 'dry side in winter'). As winter approaches I once again begin to wonder about all the
cacti that I have planted in the backyard. I wonder, "When the rain comes, will my cacti rot?" Over the years I have noticed
that the they don't seem to care about the rain and this got me to thinking that maybe Bakersfield doesn't get enough water
in winter to even qualify as being 'wet.'
|Bakersfield has an annual rainfall of 5.72 inches, Most of it coming
from November through April (about half our yearly total comes in January, February, and March). This is not a lot of rain.
So, I decided to compare Bakersfield's climate to that of another deserty, cactus-loving town, Tucson, Arizona. Tucson is
right in the middle of cactus country in the great Southwest and is home to some well known cactus nurseries.
|At first glance, Bakersfield and Tucson seem very similar in
temperature. Both have fairly warm winters and hot summers with Tucson averaging a bit warmer in the winter and Bakersfield
a bit warmer in the summer. However, Tucson winter temperatures can get very low during cold spells, well below
Bakersfield's record cold of 19 degrees. Still, on average the two towns are remarkably similar. Rainfall is a different
matter. We've all heard about the monsoon moisture that sweeps into the southwest in the summer. Looking at the graph on
the next page you can clearly see the monsoon season starting in mid June. This may give me confidence that I'm not hurting
my plants by dousing them down during our dusty hot summer months but it isn't really what I'm looking for. Turning my eye
towards the winter I notice that Tucson's rainfall is quite comparable to Bakersfield's. Enough so that I'm am inclined to
believe that my plants get just about the right amount of water during our 'rainy' period. Maybe I don't need to worry so
much about it. But then, I don't have that many plants that are native to the Tucson area. Perhaps I'd better look up some
weather reports from Mexico, Argentina, Africa,,,,
|More detailed information about Bakersfield's and Tucson's climates can be found by visiting:
The National Weather Service, Tucson Arizona
The National Weather Service, San Joaquin Valley
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