Cactus Blog Archives

Cactus Blog Writers

Peter Lipson
Hap Hollibaugh

Black Spined Agave


Agave “Pablo’s Choice” has a certain fresh blue leaf color.

A. macroacantha “Pablo’s Choice”

1 to 2ft. blue-grey Agave, compact and low. Large black terminal spines, recurved marginal spines. Full sun at the coast. Will form dense clusters that can spread 3 to 5 feet wide. Cultivar originated near Santa Barbara. Plant in fast-draining soil, grows fast with summer water.

Works well in gardens or in containers.

Temperature: Hardy to 25F

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We Get Questions


Hello
I found your website/blog while searching images of plants in an attempt to identify mine (pics attached). I acquired this about a year ago when the yoga studio it was living in was closing. The owner told me she had it for several years but, prior to that, it was owned for a number of years by a friend’s relative in Boston. (I am in CT so assume the plant has been indoors it’s whole life).

The prior owner told me that at one point she had it up on a trellis and it seemed to do better. She also told me she had not repotted it since she acquired it. So, I brought it home, tried to let it acclimate for a few months, then repotted it in cactus soil that I’ve used successfully in the past (Fat Plants San Diego Cactus & Succulent soil).  Then several weeks later, I moved it to a south facing window for more sun, then tried to put it up on a trellis, but it does not look as good as when I got it.

The post that brought me to your site originally was on page 11 of the “questions” — the title was “Dragon Flower” which is what you advised the plant was. BUT that one did not have any of the little “tufts” of leaves at the ends like mine does (now fewer and more wilted 😞). I also read in another post of yours that a milky white sap indicates euphorbia and mine does have that sap.

ANY advice you can offer to help ID this and/or advise on care would be SO much appreciated.

I have watered sparingly (maybe every 2-3 weeks) because of all I read about too much water being worse than not enough, but maybe the change of soil would require more (since it was originally in plain potting soil as far as I could tell). Maybe it’s also getting too much sun now???

I really love this plant and want very much to do it justice.

Thanks in advance for any information you can provide. I love your site and wish I was closer!

Marlene

Hi,

Your plant is a Monadenium ritchei. I would recommend pruning it back, no reason for it to be going everywhere like that. The basic issue seems to be that uit was in low light for a long time and so it has gone travellingeverywhere, and is a bit floppy too. More sun is better, but you need to take time when moving a plant into full sun – generally move it closer over the course of 1-2 weeks. You may at this time have some sunburn on parts of the plant. Since it is such an overwhelming size anyway, trim off any parts that are too floppy or sunburnt and bring it back down to a more manageable size. Careful of the milky white sap, wear gloves.

Peter

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Desert Milkweed


Asclepias subulata

It’s a Milkweed pod, because of course we have milkweed pods. Soon to be milkweed seeds, ie Milkweed, everywhere.

Asclepias subulata

Desert Milkweed

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Panda Plant Questions


Hey guys, I’d absolutely love to pick your brain about this monster I’ve created. A couple years back I received a leaf from what I feel is clearly a panda plant, Kalanchoe tomentosa.

It rooted fine, but then what grew out of the leaf was…something strange. It’s just a whole bunch of sad fuzzy leaves on squiggly vine-like stems. The leaves never get very big (the two containers are the same in both pictures), and it just keeps making more and more squiggly growth.

At first I thought maybe it needed more light to reach its panda destiny, so I moved it right under my grow lamp. No change. I got mad, ripped some off, and threw it in a deeper pot thinking maybe the roots wanted more space? Doesn’t seem to matter. Tried rooting from its own leaves again…they root fine, but then just keep turning their noses up at me and doing the same thing.

I’ve racked my brain/the internet looking for examples of panda propagation gone wrong, alternate growth patterns, kalanchoes turning into vines, but I’ve found nothing to help with my mystery. Any ideas you could share with me would be so much appreciated!

Cheers,
Jordan (more…)

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Christmas Cactus


It’s Christmas Cactus season!

Schlumbergera hybrids have the best flowers.

Christmas Cactus will bloom for up to 2 months in the winter. A jungle cactus that grows in trees – needs bright indirect sun, or dappled light

Tips to get your Christmas Cactus to re-bloom every year:
1. August, September and into October: Use bloom food every time you water
2. September and October: 14 hours of darkness, with 8-10 hours of indirect light every day
3. November and December: bring out to bright indirect light and watch it bloom!

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Euphorbias


Euphorbia aureoviridiflora with wide spreading leaves, thick green succulent leaves.

Madagascar

Stocky trunk, green turning grey-brown with age. Prominent leaf scars. Freely branching. Yellow-green bracts. Rocky soils.

Possibly hardy to 35F

Part Sun to Part Shade

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Pincushion Cactus


Mammillaria crinita has great color, lots of spines, very cute!

Native to Mexico, it grows on volcanic rock. Ouch. But then there are yellow flowers…

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Extended!


Our PodArt Art Show, by Natalia Szidon, has been extended thru the end of the year!

Here’s the original postcard, but you can ignore the end date – it’s been extended!

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Art Show Opening


Hand turned wood bowls from local artist Mike Newlin, Nov. 16 – Dec. 24, 2018 at our Marin store in San Anselmo.

Opening night party is Friday 11/16 4p-6:30p

Delayed! Due to smoke in the Bay Area the Opening Night Party has been rescheduled to:

Friday Nov 30, 4-6:30p

Fun and snacks and drinks and wood bowls for everyone!

 

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Identifying Cactus


Hello,
I found your blog online and it had been very helpful to me. I am really grateful that you answer questions from people that are not your customers, as well! I recently got a pot with three small cactuses in it and am having trouble identifying them. I have attached a few photos. For reference, the center cactus is about 2″ tall. What do you think? I am particularly curious about the one on the right as I can’t find anything similar searching online. I would like to know about their care requirements and if they are suitable to continue growing in the same container.

Thank you,
Regina

PS – I am aware that the l little red flowers on the center cactus are fake. I’ll remove them eventually…

Regina,

The left is a Mammillaria and the right is a Euphorbia (probably E. meloformis) while the one in the center, after the paper flowers are removed, is maybe a Myrtillocactus although it can be hard to be sure when they are young.

They can grow together in that container for a couple years and then they will outgrow it and need to be separated. Care depends on where you live, but the 2 cacti need a lot of direct sun – at least half day, while the Euphorbia is less. Not a lot of water, but the watering depends on whether the pot has a hole. Either way, make sure the soil is dry between watering, probably every 2-3 weeks.

Peter

 

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European Euphorbia Questions


HiYa, Greetings from Germany.
We are looking for an expert advice and hope you might be able to help. Our Euphorbia has on the bottom of the main stem a blackish discoloration. It is not soft or in anyway different texture from the rest of the cacti 🌵. We just worried it is some kind of rot. Do you know how best to proceed? Leave it for now or cut it and replant?

 
Kind regards

Mel

It looks like the start of rot. The soil looks too rich for the Euphorbia, so it may be taking too long to dry out after watering. You can use a systemic fungicide now and wait to see if it gets worse, or you can take the cuttings now to be sure. I recommend cutting just above the first branch, and taking that branch as a separate cutting. Spray with Hydrogen peroxide to help the ends heal, dust with Sulfur Dust. Wait a week and then plant into new fresh fast draining cactus soil. Be careful with the milky white latex sap as it is caustic and you do not want it near your eyes or lips.

Good luck!
Peter

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Glued Rocks and Rescuing Plants


I have had euphoria lacteafor almost 9months. It has glued rocks to support and has no hole in bottom of pot. Should I transplant it to another withhold and if so, how to do it? No change or growth in 9 months.

Thank you for information you can provide!

Norma
Pensacola, Florida

Norma,

If it is a crested lactea then you won’t see much growth anyway – they’re very slow! But yes, please do repot – no drainage and glued rocks can be a disaster for plants – please rescue your plant ASAP!

If you are not sure how to repot it, maybe there is a local nursery you can visit who has cactus soil, and tips for repotting into a larger pot with drainage?

Peter

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Cacti in the UK


Hello

I’m hoping you could give me some advice, I live in the UK and bought an Echinocactus grusonii a few months ago. The guy told me to water once a fortnight and add Baby Bio plant foot or tomato feed in each alternate. The first few times I watered it it was fine but this time I think I’ve killed it. Within a day of feeding the spines have started to die around the base, it’s got dead looking patches and darker green patches that look like water marks. It doesn’t feel squishy but the bottom looks like it’s shrinking in on itself.

Have I broken it? Can it be saved?

Thanks in advance
Victoria

Hi,

It’s hard to tell for sure from the photo, but it is not looking great. I think there may be 2 different pests, but again it’s hard to tell from the photos. The base looks like it has started to rot, in which case it is too late to save it. But if it is firm, maybe I am misreading it. If it is firm, you can try to use a systemic fungicide, and spray the rest with an organic pesticide. Not sure what’s available in the UK, but we use Bonide Infuse and Monterey Take Down Garden Spray.

In general we would suggest watering every 4 weeks (every 2 fortnights?) for the cooler parts of the year, and every 2-3 weeks when it is hot and sunny. Do not fertilize regularly with any tomato fertilizer – it’s too strong for cacti. Use an organic low strength granular all-purpose (like Down to Earth All Purpose) and use it at lower strength than recommended. Use only twice in a year – spring and mid-summer. Let the plant grow slow and it will be healthier.

Peter

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