Cactus & Agave from Cold Hardy Cactus

Fort Collins Nursery has a wonderful collection of cactus and agave from Cold Hardy Cactus.  The collection was compiled by renowned Colorado nurseryman and propagator Kelly Grummons, and contains the most garden worthy species and varieties of cactus and agave from across North America. 


Agave is a delightful genus of succulent plants, mainly from the American Southwest and Mexico. They feature succulent leaves that end in sharp points with blue-green or grey-green foliage.  Most agave varieties eventually flower but take at least seven years to do so. The plant typically dies once they have bloomed but at that point will have produced many pup plants which grow in their place.

There are many practical uses for agave in landscapes and gardens. A large agave makes a nice sculptural focal point and smaller varieties can be featured in patio containers or rock garden settings. They make a nice border grouping and their hard edges provide texture and contrast with softer plants and grasses.

Here are a few great varieties to consider:

Guadalupe Mountains Agave

Agave gracilipes

  • Description: Guadalupe Mountains Agave is a particularly hard-to-find species originating from the Guadalupe Mountains of Southern New Mexico. It is considered a recently evolved species thought to be a combination of Agave parryi. v neomexicana and Agave lechuguilla. Guadalupe Mountains Agave is one of the hardiest agave for our region and produces spectacular flowers in its old age.
  • Height: 14”
  • Width: 30”
  • Water: Low
  • Hardiness Zones: 5

New Mexican Agave

Agave parryi v. neomexicana

  • Description: New Mexican Agave is an extraordinarily beautiful and very hardy plant with broad, blue-green leaves and striking black terminal spines. New Mexican Agave is native to a higher elevation which means this plant likes a little afternoon shade.
  • Height: 1.5’
  • Width: 2’
  • Water: Little to no water when established
  • Hardiness Zones: 5-9
  • Bloom Color: Yellow


Plants in the family Cactaceae are all native to North, Central and South America and some Caribbean islands. Cactus are succulent perennial plants that have modified tissues for water storage, making them well adapted to survive in arid regions.  They have spines, which are modified leaves, to help prevent water loss and provide shade for the stem. Cacti vary in size, color, shape, and growth habit and often produce stunning flowers.  They are widely cultivated as ornamental plants and can fill many roles in the landscape by adding texture, shape, and various degrees of height to a space.

Here are several varieties to consider that are hardy to our region:

Mandarin Sunrise Opuntia

Opuntia WALKIN BEAUTY™ ‘Mandarin Sunrise’

  • Description: Mandarin Sunrise Opuntia features bouquets of unbelievably stunning orange flowers. In May and June, hundreds of blossoms cover the spineless greed pads. Mandarin Sunrise Opuntia is a new hybrid from Kelly Grummons.
  • Height: 8”
  • Width: 48”
  • Water: Low
  • Hardiness Zone: 4
  • Bloom Time: May-June
  • Bloom Color: Mandarin Orange

White Sands Giant Claret Cup Cactus

Echinocereus triglochidiatus v. gonacanthus ‘White Sands’

  • Description: White Sands Giant Claret Cup Cactus is a grand form of Claret Cup Cactus. It is one of the tallest varieties of triglochidiatus and spreads quickly to form large clumps. Scarlet red flowers bloom early in the summer, bringing a burst of bright color that contrasts
  • with their dark brown spines.
  • Height: 12-18”
  • Width: 18”
  • Water: Low
  • Hardiness Zone: 5
  • Bloom Time: June
  • Bloom Color: Red

Coryphantha vivipara

Coryphantha vivipara ‘Southern Colorado’

  • Description: Corypantha vivipara features flamingo pink flowers that burst from each solitary head of the cactus. Following the bloom, the plant produces a green, berry-like fruit that tastes like kiwi. Corypantha vivipara is hardy to 7500 ft. which makes it ideal
  • for planting in high elevations.
  • Height: 4”
  • Width: 2-3’
  • Water: Low
  • Hardiness Zone: 3-4
  • Bloom Time: May-June
  • Bloom Color: Pink

Originally published on April 4th, 2019. Updated on May 2nd, 2019.