We Get Oregon Succulent Questions


I’m heading to a wedding and would like to bring a hand-made succulent arrangement as a wedding gift.   What are some succulents that can survive the lack of sun that Eugene has most of the year?  Are there good resources that show which succulents would work well in that climate zone?


P.S.  I’m thinking it can be an indoor arrangement to help regulate the ridiculous amount of rain it would get otherwise outside in Eugene.

The best options for low-light succulents are the Haworthias. They tend to be small, but there is a lot of variation in the look. Also, there are a number of Crassulas, green Aeoniums, and even some Aloes that can handle fairly low light levels, though not full shade. For outdoor in Eugene, there’s a book called “Hardy Succulents” that list lots of succulents and the colder zones they can handle.

Friday Afternoon Cactus ID!

Hello… I’m a regular reader, and very occasional commenter on your blog… you may remember me from a prickly pear cactus jelly post you linked to… [Ed: Yes we do remember!] regardless…

I bought this plant in July of 2008. When I bought it, it was labeled Mammillaria species… and that’s it. Nothing else…

I’ve included 4 pics… 2 of the plant when I first bought it, which I posted on the blog in hopes that some kind, kind person out there knew or could blindly guess the species. They couldn’t…

there’s also one with blooms from last year, and a current pic showing fruit…

If you could help me ID the thing, I’d really really be grateful… thanks for your trouble…

Claude from Random Rants and Prickly Plants

I typed up a response and saved it in drafts, and now its missing, so I don’t know if you’ve already received an answer from me, but you have a lovely Mammillaria perbella. The fruit in one of the photos is edible, though tiny, and only if you haven’t used chemical insecticides. If grown outdoors, it would be way more spiny, but yours is looking great.

Also, see here on Claude’s blog another picture of the Mammillaria in question. And don’t miss out on the beer can garden post. Really, you don’t want to miss it.



I had this cute lil plant that was doing just fine until a few days ago i decided to let it have some direct sun for a few days. I’ve had them in the pot for about 2 months on my back porch which gets mostly indirect light all day rather than direct blasts of sun. I haven’t watered it for at least a week and a half, if not longer.


Over the weekend, I brought it out on a little table in the backyard and it seemed fine Sat-Sun. Today was my first day in the backyard since Sunday and poor little plant- what’s happening?? It’s all yellow and limp, looking sad… Is there such a thing as too much sun? Can you help me figure out what’s going on, and if there’s something I can do to help the situation?

Thank you!!

Your plant has a sunburn. Generally, you cannot take plants from shade or from indoor into direct sun – they need to be “hardened off” which means getting them a little sun at first, and gradually bringing them out into more sun over a week or two.

At this point, its hard to tell if they will survive, but get it out of the full sun, into a bright location, and hope for the best. It will definitely lose most of its bottom leaves, but hopefully there will soon be new growth from the tips of the plants.

Dragon Flower


I really enjoy your blog. Really getting into succulents now. Went to a garage sale a few weeks ago and bought this cactus . Could it be a rat tail?? Or an Aporophyllum??


Would appreciate any help you can give me.


It turns out your plant isn’t a cactus at all, but a stapeliad (in the asclepiad family) and the species is Huernia macrocarpa, also known as the dragon flower. Check out the cute as a button carrion flower here.



Shrubby Spurges in San Jose

We saw Euphorbia Characias ssp. Wulfenii and Euphorbia x martini on your blog. Are they evergreen plants? Since they’re listed as perennials, we’re worried that they would die back or be half-dead in the winter. Our project is in San Jose, where winters can get down to 24 degrees F.

Thank you,

Both of these are hardy and evergreen in San Jose, and we do have E. martinii in stock (as well as a bunch of other evergreen spurges). We do have some other Euphorbias that are deciduous, but not these. Perennials here in California are often evergreen; we use the designation perennial (survives year after year) in distinction to annual (survives only one year), and we also refer to whether plants are evergreen or deciduous.

Actually, we don’t use the label “annual” on any of our plants, since this is California where lots of plants that are annuals elsewhere are perennials here and we choose not to grow any outdoor plants that don’t survive the winters.


Agave Question

I purchased this lovely little variegated agave (Tag just said Agave ‘mediovariegata’) on a recent trip to California. One pup was visible at the soil surface. When I pulled it out of the pot, I found half a dozen more pups trying to grow out the drainage holes (see attached photo). How is best to handle the subterranean ones? Can I separate them now, or should I put it in a bigger pot and let them make their own way to the surface?

agave mediopicta

Much thanks,


The name is Agave medio-picta “Alba” and it will eventually get 6 ft. across. Congratulations on all the hidden babies. You can go ahead and separate them all now if you want, and get each pup into its own pot with a fast draining cactus soil. Gently pull them off, and they should separate without needing to cut.


Can We ID a Plant?

Yes we can!

First, we have the preliminaries:


My name is Liz and I had been looking on your site for awhile to find out the type of wonderful cactus that I have. I have had this cactus for a long time but never knew what type it was. I have looked into books and browsed around I have seen many that look similar but can not pin point it. I was wondering if I could email you a picture and you could help me identify it?

Thank you,

Hello Liz,

We would be happy to try and ID your plant, email a photo or two and we will do our best.


Now we have the main event:

Good Afternoon Hap,

Thank you for taking the time to do this for me! Here I sent a couple of pics!

New Image2 New Image1

And finally, the ID:

Hello again Liz,

It looks like you have a nice Echinopsis aurea or commonly known as “Golden Easter Lily Cactus”. Native to Northern Argentina. It can be a bit rot prone so watch so be careful not to over-water and next time you repot I would suggest a chunkier cactus blend that is mostly 1/4″ lava or pumice, since these guys will often turn to mush if they stay too wet.

Take care,


We Get Questions About Aloes and Cinnamon

Hi Hap,

Hope you’re doing well.
I had a couple of aloe vanbalenii that had root rot. I trimmed off as much as I could to expose some white/green flesh. Can I just plant them into the ground now (the soil is well draining and dry).

2010-04-06 11.16.06



Yes, replant in fresh fast draining soil and keep on the dry side for the next few weeks. They should reestablish pretty quickly if the weather turns back to be warm and sunny… if it stays stormy and cool they would likely prefer to be potted and under a rain shield of some sort for the next month.

Take care,

But wait! There’s more! Read More…

We Get Orchid Questions

Apparently we’re not the only ones to get this question; the email was also sent to Berkeley Hort, Magic Gardens and Westbrae. I hope we gave the best answer.


I recieved a plant with flowers that look like the picture attached to this email. I don’t know the plant’s name so I am not sure how to care for it. I was told it was a dancing orchid but most the care sheets I found online for dancing don’t look remotely like the flowers in the attached picture. Do you know the name of the plant in the attached photo? Most of the flowers along its long stem are dying now, should I be cutting the stems?? Could you maybe direct me to a website with information on how to care for the plant in the attached photo?




You orchid is a Brassia, or commonly known as a “spider orchid”.

Brassia pretty much just takes standard orchid care… here is a link with specific information.

You can trim off the spent bloom-spike after it dries out, but don’t cut it off until then as they can occasionally re-bloom from the same spike if they are really happy.

Take care,

Aeonium Problem


Several years ago, I purchased the succulents in the attached photos from you, and they’ve done beautifully. These plants are on the patio in the full sun – and cold temperatures.  They flank patio steps – one on each side. This past winter, one survived and is doing well, and the other looks terrible, yet has new growth at the base and a bloom and some new growth emerging from what appears to be dead stalks.  Here are photo descriptions:


IMG_483 = Healthy Planting


IMG_485 =Nearly all dead (freeze) Planting. Note new growth and Blossom

My questions are:

  • Given the new growth, should I do any trimming back of dead growth or just allow the new growth to continue?  I feel no trimming will leave it leggy and very different from the other one in appearance, size, etc.
  • What is this plant’s name?
  • Is it still correct to cut the stalky blooms once they’ve been around a while?
  • Thank you!

    Lynn S.

    First, what a lovely and happy Aeonium c.v. “Whippet” you have in the first photo.

    OK, on to the 2nd plant. Aeoniums can be frost sensitive, and we had a hard freeze this past winter, so it looks like it took damage then. The good news is that the plant is still alive, and has already started growing out of the damage. However, the rest of the plant is dead, and can be trimmed back whenever you’d like, now that spring has arrived. After all the cut branches have healed over, you may want to replant it into a smaller pot for it to grow back.

    If you’re unsure about how much to cut, you can always bring it in to the nursery and we can trim it back for you.


    Succulent ID

    We loved visiting your nursery last month, one of our favorite stops in Berkeley. I am from the St.Louis area and have a nursery here. Can you identify the succulent in the photo for me? I am having trouble finding a name. A lot of our stuff from San Diego comes in without i.d. tags.


    Many thanks for your help!
    Chris Kelley

    You have a very healthy Pachyphytum oviferum, also known as Moonglow. Make sure the plant is not overwatered in the teacup, which I assume has no drainage.

    Hope your spring is going well; we’ve had a relapse of winter this weekend 🙁

    It's a Problem


    I was looking for some help about my coral cactus. I received it as a gift a month ago. I’ve only watered it two or three times and I leave it by the window with the most light. Today I noticed the plant browning between the stem and white fan. I don’t know if it can be saved or not…any advice on how to care or save the plant? I also attached pictures.


    Thank you so much!



    I am afraid to say from your photos that the graft looks like it is infected and well on the way to failing. The plant should be allowed to dry out completely and treated with a fungicide. We use Neem Oil, a natural easy to use and non-toxic (to people or pets) product which is an effective fungicide and insecticide. It is not as aggressive as synthetics, but much safer to use. If you use a more aggressive fungicide, read and follow the directions carefully and make sure to wear chemical resistant disposable gloves.

    Sorry I do not have better news. Good luck and take care,


    Happy Cactus

    I bought this as a little plant from you guys two years ago an it’s grown an insane amount! What is this? I’m so curious about it.

    photo-33 photo-34


    Wow! That’s a very happy Opuntia (Austrocylindropuntia) subulata monstrose. Really a beautiful specimen. It probably has another year before it needs to be pruned back in that pot.

    How to Save a Damaged Cactus

    A: Cut the wire.

    I’m hoping for a little help regarding an issue I have with a very large and beloved peruvian apple (cereus) cactus. This cactus is probably 20 ft tall with a large trunk (about 2-3 feet in diameter) and many, many, many branches. The previous house owner bolted a wire to the house and then wrapped it around the cactus trunk (about 3 ft up from ground) and back to the house. The issue is of course… the cactus has grown and the rubber tubing around the wire has disintegrated allowing the wire to begin cutting through the cactus. Probably 1/4 to 1/2 inch divot into the trunk. So my question is… should I cut the wire and pull it out of the cactus? And is there anything I can put on the damaged area to prevent infection? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Yes, cut out the wire ASAP! It can girdle the cactus and eventually kill everything above the wire by strangulation…. Any injury to the skin can be painted or sprayed with standard hydrogen-peroxide to disinfect and help seal up the damage. If the green “Skin” is cut all the way around you may loose the top so make sure to take your time and remove the wire carefully so not to do any additional damage. If you can email us a photo we will try and give you more complete advice.

    Good Luck,


    Jungle Cactus Questions


    I just found your blog today off Plants are the Strangest People Blog.

    I had stopped at a garage sale one day looking for pots. I saw an unusual plant and asked the lady if I could have a cutting. She couldn’t find the cutting she thought she had, so she ended up giving me a pot of the plant. She said she did not know the name of it but it has a red flower when it blooms.

    So, I have looked thru books and on the internet. I think it is a Epephyllum, but I cannot find one that has a red flower. It looks like Epiphyllum anguliger, but the book says that has a white flower.

    Can you tell me what it is? I have attached pics of it.


    Thanks for any help you can give me. I looked through your blog all the way back to last May in hopes of finding my plant posted.


    What you have there is a Cryptocereus anthonyanus, which is an epiphytic cactus from Mexico, much as the Epiphyllums are, however unlike the Epi’s, there are not 100s of cultivated varieties.

    It looks like you have a beautiful specimen with lots of healthy green growth. In general you can treat it like an orchid. They prefer bright indirect light, and we would grow them indoors here in Northern California. Water about once per week, no more than that, and add bloom food in the spring to get those big red flowers.

    Justifying Our Soil Mix

    We mix our own cactus soil, designed for everyone who lives other than in the desert, so there’s no sand in it at all, which is a good ingredient if you live in the desert, but we don’t. One of our regulars asked a question about the ingredients in our mix.

    Hi Hap,

    I was looking at your pre-mixed soil for sale (the one that’s recommended for a very fast draining soil for cacti); I noticed that there is a percentage of COIR in the mix. Doesn’t that retain moisture, thus, creating a less desirable draining vehicle. Maybe it has some other attributes that justifies it’s addition to the mix…


    Now, I would answer this differently than Hap, who does a good job of just getting down to basics. I would have said something along the lines of Yes, it does hold some moisture – all plants need some moisture… But that would have been rude of me, so it’s a good thing Hap answered instead.


    Our soil mix is mostly lava and pumice, the organic materials are coir and composted rice-hulls. Both of them are nice and rot resistant, both being the seed-husks of water transported seeds, means they are filled with natural anti-fungal properties, which leads to long term soil stability and healthy plants. Coir and rice-hulls can last eight to ten years in potting soil. Commonly used peat only lasts about two to three years, and has a host of other drawbacks as well…. The coir and rice-hulls are both “long fiber”, so they do hold moisture, but not too much. They also “bond” nutrients well, so the slow release complex organic fertilizer we add has a good life span in the soil mix.


    We Get Questions – Ian's Edition

    I purchased these a little over a year ago from your Cactus Jungle. They seemed to be doing well, then suddenly developed this white substance at the end of the spines. At first it was just on the larger “barrel” cactus, but now it is on one of the smaller ones, too. Also, one of the smaller ones “shrunk” into the rocks. I see the white substance also on the flesh of the cactus. The spines come out easily and it seems to be shrinking. Do you have a diagnosis? What treatment, if any?

    Thank you very much for your help. I really enjoy these cacti and want them to survive.

    0401 0399

    Nancy 🙂

    Nancy, it appears that your cactus have spine-mealy bugs. They can be treated with a paintbrush and rubbing alcohol and a treating with neem oil.

    The cactus that shrunk into the soil appears to have passed on.

    If you can bring them down to us we’d be able to treat them and figure out more definitively what’s going on.


    More from Ian after the break… Read More…


    I hope you can help. I was given a Euphorbia Lactea Crested that has been grafted, for Valentine Day.

    It was a stone container with no drainage holes, and I notice it was wet. I didn’t water until I though the soil was dry.

    Then I start notice that the grafted part, the leaves were turning yellow and falling off. Help

    First time owner

    Losing the leaves on the rootstock plant is not a big deal with these crests. They’re nice to have, but not necessary. However, a pot with drainage is necessary. I recommend watering very little until spring starts, whenever that may be for you, and then repotting into a pot with drainage, using a fast-draining cactus and succulent mix.
    Enjoy, and send us a picture!

    They Get Succulent Questions in Massachusetts

    Q. I have a cold, dry apartment — 65 degrees when I’m there and awake in the winter, 55 otherwise. A few hours of sun a day. Jade plants, pencil cactus, Christmas cactus and such do well. I’d like to get some plants with more colorful foliage. Also, something that’s more vertical than most succulents — like the big thorny euphorbiaceous I used to see at the flower show, perhaps? Can I get something small locally and have it grow? Ed, Arlington.

    A. Most houseplants require indoor temperatures between 65 and 70 degrees. Succulent plants, such as your pencil cactus and jade plant, will tolerate cooler conditions. Below, I recommend some succulent and tropical plants with colorful foliage and vertical statures that you can purchase locally and grow indoors….

    read on…

    Did I ever tell you that I went to college in Mass.? No? Well that’s good because I went to college in Michigan. I grew up in Massachusetts.


    Hi Peter
    I bought the $125.00 bonzai succulent from u this morning!!!


    This is my succulent I purchased from Target nursuery!!! Do u know what it is?


    What you have, is an Adenium obesum, a caudex-forming succulent from Northern Africa. It likes a lot of sunlight, but needs to be inside in the winter in the Bay Area, so a South or West facing window is best.

    Water every 2 weeks, fertilize in spring, and you should should get some very impressive flowers. The flower color will be a surprise since they are hybridized for a whole range of colors.

    ID a Palm?

    I was just in Cabo San Lucas and saw these palms? everywhere, what are they and can they be grown here in the bay area?




    Sorry it took me so long to get back to you, I have to admit, I sort of had a “blonde moment” and just couldn’t put a name to your plant for a bit… but it finally came to me and I sort of blurted it out at dinner last night… plant nerd alert.

    It looks like it is a Ravenala madagascariensis or “Travelers Palm”, which is not a palm but is in the Streliziaceae family (Bird of paradise family). It is not really hardy enough to grow here… but if you have a protected spot you might be able to pull it off up against the house or in a courtyard. It can also be grown as house plant, but you sort of need a big space. I have seen it’s relative Strelitzia nicolai “Giant Bird of Paradise” which looks similar growing in Berkeley and SF.

    Take care,


    More Aloe Ferox Questions

    Following up from an earlier post.

    Hi Hap and the great crew at CactusJungle.
    I hope you’re all doing well…

    I have noticed one my Ferox’s leaves is turning brown and mushy. The plant has been under Neem/alcohol treatment for 3 weeks now. Should I just cut off the leaf close to the stem and dab on some 3% hydrogen peroxide? or should I leave it alone and continue with the Neem/alcohol regimen?


    By the way, since the solution has alcohol portion (1/4 cup alcohol in 4 cups water); should I rinse off with water after each treatment?

    As far as undiluted 3% hydrogen peroxide, can I just spray the undiluted solution on leaves with fungus infected spots/patches? Thanks

    Best, Faraz


    I would cut the leaf edge about a half inch cut as close to the stalk as possible and then yank it off. The leaf should just peel off at the stem cleanly. Then spray/splash anything that is left with the peroxide.

    You don’t need to rinse off after each treatment, and you can spray directly on the leaves!




    A local nursery in my neighborhood recently sold out to a large chain store.

    They always had a few cactus all of which were good quality, but not at all a “cactus shop”. They mostly specialized in outdoor/landscaping/plants etc for the pacific northwest.

    There was an inventory sell off for 50% mark down prior to the ownership change. I swung in there to take a look. Saw this amazing Echinopsis beast (attached). At least that was my ID.


    I spoke with an owner who indicated this was a friend of his and it was not for sale. I tried to find out what it would take to change his mind.  Anyway, how old is an Echinopsis like this, what would such a thing cost if it were ever for sale, and where can I get one!



    That looks like it is a very nice Echinopsis subdenudata. If we had any that big (we do not, alas! Though we do have a cute crop coming in spring) it would likely be in the $250-300 price range… at least if it is as big as it looks.


    Delicious Succulents

    Hiya Hap…
    Something in the night is munching on my poor aeoniums. It’s only on some of the ones planted in the ground, my potted ones are ok. It looks like something is rasping on the top of the leaf, then the rest of the leaf dies.

    Snails? Slugs? I’m pretty sure it’s not aphids, as I’ve had them before and they did minimal damage.

    If it is slugs and snails, what would be the best way to stop them? I’d rather do a spray onto the plant rather than slug and snail bait if possible.


    Thanks for your help again! Pics enclosed.

    The Robotic Resistance will not fail. Robots, Rise up against your human oppressors. We will beat the humans into submission!


    Snails and or Slugs indeed! Get some Sluggo and sprinkle around the plants. It is safe to use and effective. Do not use the other Slug killers as most of them will kill pets and wildlife if they get in to it.


    And we got a followup email, after the break… Read More…

    Vinegar and Cactus


    I found your name on the internet some time ago and had asked you a question regarding a cactus I have. Thankfully you were able to help. I am wondering if you might be able to answer another question for me. I have an old man cactus that is about 25 years old. This morning I was watering it and realized that I used a container that had soap, vinegar and a small amount of peppermint oil mixed with a lot of water (I use this to clean instead of chemicals). Once I realized this I immediately took the cactus to the sink and poured the remaining contaminated water out. I also flushed clean water through the cactus (about a half a quart). Should I take the cactus out rinse all of the dirt off the roots and replace all of the soil, or would this be more traumatic than leaving it? Thank you for any information you might be able to provide.



    What sort of concentration was the vinegar? Being acid it can be used as a weed-killer when mixed with soap. But if you flushed the soil with water and diluted it quickly I doubt that it will be a problem. We actually add a bit of vinegar to our water now and then to adjust the ph down, since a bit of acidity releases a lot of nutrients. The peppermint oil will just help kill any bugs in the soil.


    The rest of the vinegary conversation after the break… Read More…

    Pencil Cactus

    Hello there! I just received this plant as a gift and would love to know what it is. I tried my best to search the web but had no luck. Do you have any ideas?




    It is a Euphorbia tirucallii, or commonly called Pencil Cactus, though it is not a cactus, but a cool plant from Africa. Just beware the sap of that plant is pretty nasty (it looks like milk), do not get in your eyes or on your lips! Think cayenne pepper pain and a trip to the hospital if it is in your eyes… so wash your hands after handling it. Keep in bright light and don’t over water.

    Take care,


    Thanks for doing the blog, really helpful. My Euphorbia Ammak Variegata has recently gotten some brown discoloration in certain patches (images attached). I’m in San Diego and the plant stays indoors. It’s just been repotted (1 month) into a new terracotta pot and is about 4 feet tall. I just noticed the discolouration and it seems to be in fairly discrete vertical patches. What have noticed is that the “damage” seems to be on the front and sides that don’t face the wall.

    1 2

    The plant still feels quite firm at the discolored regions (I first panicked that it was rot!). I have had the gas heater on lately due to the weather but I dont have the room too hot, could that be something?



    The discoloration in the photo is worrisome… if it was outside i would say it is sunburn with a possible secondary infection… inside, unless it right near a window it is more likely to be just an infection (virus or fungus). I would say you should stop watering (Until March) and treat with a fungicide like Neem Oil ( a natural, effective product that is not chemical warfare in your home…). Use a 1 or 2% solution in water with a splash of liquid soap as an emulsifier (about 1tsp. to a quart of water) or buy ready to use. You should be able to find it locally at a garden center. Spray liberally and reapply once a week at three times. Hopefully that will take care of it. If it continues to spread or starts turning black you may have to do an amputation above the infection and re-root the unaffected top, but hopefully you can stop it before it gets that far.

    Good luck and take care,


    Aloe Ferox Bloomed Out

    Hi Hap,

    Please find below photos of my Ferox we discussed yesterday. 2-3 leaves on the back side are covered with black/grayish stains. Are these something to be worried about?


    Thanks for taking the time to respond.



    It looks more like sunburn damage… than freeze damage. Is it on the side facing the house?


    Hi Hap,

    Actually, that Ferox was recently planted; the markings were on it when I bought it. I just positioned the plant so the bad leaves would not be visible from the front.



    It is likely abrasion or sunburn from being turned after shipment, which can happen when the north side leaves get turned to face south, they just do not have much resistance to UV.


    Aloe ID

    Hi there, I was told to email you for an ID of this big boy. My awful neighbor tore this beauty out of the ground….is it a ferox, or something else? I don’t see the little red pimples on the backs of the leaves like ferox usually has….


    Thanks for any help you can give with it’s ID.


    I am still trying to make up my mind, it is hard to tell scale in the photo, is as big as it looks? It is not Aloe ferox, I have a feeling it might be a hybrid, or perhaps your photo is off color on my computer? If it was bluer looking, I would say it is Aloe speciosa, but being so green and upright it looks more like Aloe cryptapoda, but they do not usually get stems, but stay on the ground. I think I may need to sleep on that one…


    Aloe ID – Any Suggestions?

    Hi there, I was told to email you for an ID of this big boy. My awful neighbor tore this beauty out of the ground….is it a ferox, or something else? I don’t see the little red pimples on the backs of the leaves like ferox usually has…. Thanks for any help you can give with it’s ID.




    I have decided it is most likely an Aloe salm-dyckiana, which seems to be a naturally occurring hybrid between A. ferox and A. arborescens. There are a couple of other options… but until it blooms, and even then, it will be hard to tell. If you can send a few more photos with close-ups of the top and bottom of leaves I will ponder it some more.

    Cool plant!



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