Sick Crest

Hi from the Big Island of Hawaii,

I have three Euphorbia Lactea plants that I have had for almost three years now. They have been healthy and have been in the same location since I got them. One of them just started having a problem, though, and I was hoping you could give me some suggestions on how to help the plant and perhaps eliminate the problem. About a week ago I noticed a dark, mushy section on one of the fans of one of the plants. I didn’t know what to do but I took a knife and just kind of cut along the border of the mushy part. I didn’t know what to expect but it seems like the fan is continuing to rot along the edge of the cut. I am attaching a couple of pictures for you to see what’s going on. I water about every two months and the other two plants are not having any of these symptoms. I love the plant and I hope there is a way to stop the spread of the rot and save it!


Aloha, Darcy


I have to say the only concrete idea that I have is, it looks like your crest may be outgrowing the ability of the grafted photosynthesizing base plant to feed it. It could be that there is just too much of the fan for the limited green tissue to support. It seems like a weird line of damage, if you were here (or someplace cold), I would say it was likely frost damage. The only other thing I can think of is that it had an mite infestation and that led to a fungal infection. However Albino Crests are easy to lose, since they are dealing with both the lack of chlorophyll and the cresting mutation, which may just be a non-fatal virus. Can you send me a couple of macro-close-up photos of the damage? Maybe I will see something in a closer look…

Take care,


Reader Photos – ID and Help, too

I have attached 4 pictures, the same ones I have on my blog.
The two rounder ones are doing fine but the other two seem to not like the cold so much. They shriveled and turned yellow. That’s bad right?

Cactus 1 Cactus 2 Cactus 3 Cactus 4



Your Echinopsis chamaecereus look fine for this time of year (#1 & #2). The Cereus hildmannianus monstrose (Fairy Castles) (#3) is showing frost/freeze damage, being a “miniature mutant” it is less tollerant of cold, wet weather than the true species is. Try and keep it dry for the rest of the winter and hopefully it will grow out of the damage in the spring. But watch for rot, as it may more damaged than it looks in the photo. The Hylocereus (#4) is a tropical jungle cactus and will not usually survive heavy frosts or freezes. It really is a houseplant that needs to be treated more like an orchid than a cactus. Try moving to a warm spot and keeping it dry for a month and see it it comes out of it, all though I have to say from the photo, I think it might be too damaged and is on it’s way to being black slime.

Take care and good luck,


Big Green Cactus Questions

Hello! I’m wondering if you might be able to help me identify this plant . . . and then help me figure out what to do with it.

Last year my husband and I bought a house in El Cerrito with a front yard sporting several cacti and succulents, including the large bushy thing in the attached photo. It’s currently about 5 feet tall, and has long spines intermingled with leaflike protrusions along its branches. We’ve never seen anything quite like it. It has grown extremely fast, to the point that a couple of neighbors have said they’re scared of it!

We are wondering what kind of plant it is, and how large it is likely to get. Since its size and prickliness are a little overwhelming for a spot so close to the sidewalk, we’ve also been contemplating removing it and replacing it with something a little softer. Do you know of anyone who might like to dig up and “adopt” a plant like this, or even just take some branches to transplant? If we have to take the plant out, I’d hate for it to go to waste.




Your cactus is a lovely Opuntia (Austrocylindropuntia) subulata or “Eve’s Needle”. An amazing tree cholla from the Andes. In the wild it only gets about ten to twelve feet high and around, due to the cold. Here in the bay area it lives up to the tree description and can get about 25 feet high with time. However with pruning it can be kept much smaller. It also has wonderful red blooms.


The trick with this plant is to not water it in the ground after it’s first year, otherwise it grows too fast and does not develop the internal wood to support its weight and the branches will break off in storms and high winds.

It is the wrong time of year to transplant cactus and digging a five foot O. subulata is not easy to do safely, so usually I would recommend just cutting it up and saving pieces to re-root, but again that has to be done in the spring or summer. If you do decide you want to remove it please feel free to contact us in the spring and we can discuss the options.

Take care,

Agave ID

Hi again…. Is this a colorata? They only grow about this big as adults, these were pups from the mother plant…. Jay



That looks like it is a lovely pile of Agave parryi v. truncata! Agave colorata is similar but a bit more toothy and mean…



What was the name of this cactus?

Was this crested or montrose? What was the name?



And there are more lovely photos from Cactus Jungle by Paula on flickr.


It is a Crested form of Myrtillocactus geometrizans

the true form looks sort of like spiny blue cucumbers.

Take care,

Fan Aloe in New England

I have had an Aloe pilcatus for 2 years and seemed to be happy. It does not like being inside for the winter as much but seems used to fair well. The last few weeks the all of its outer leaves started to turn black from the tips. When it got to the point where ¼ of the leaf was looking bad I removed them all the way back. There was a decent amount of water released when I removed them. It kinda smelled too. I never smelled anything when I clean my Quiver tree. I water both Aloes about every 2 weeks, I more or less let them be. My house is heated with forced hot air. My wife cannot stand the cold so as a result my house is warm and dry. Is there a case that my house is too dry and I need to water it more? Again my Quiver trees seems happy and I know they live in a really hot dry environment. Does the Fan Aloe require more or less care?



Aloe plicatilis is a winter and early spring grower, since they are native to the winter rainfall area of South Africa, so it should get more water during those seasons and be kept drier during summer and fall. It will “pull reserves” from it’s outer, older leaves during these dry times and before putting on a lot of new growth. This can lead to tip and edge browning-blackening and finally drying up, before it aborts the leaf and it dries all the way up and falls off.

Can you email a photo or two, with a close-up? It may just be that your plant is old enough that it is purging old leaves, or it could be a sign of infection. And I find that this aloe has a sort of skunky smelling sap, though nowhere as bad as Aloe vaombe, which smells so bad it turns my stomach! (I dislike the smell of it so much we quit growing it.) Unlike Aloe dichotoma, which barely has a sap scent, but then it is not really a juicy aloe…

If you send some photos I will let you know what I think, but may just be that you need to water a bit more and get use to a seasonal leaf drop.

Take care,

We Get Questions

I just received a leaf of a variegated sansevieria, about 2-1/2 to 3 feet long. It has no roots, just a leaf, which was chopped off above the soil line. I have been letting it dry to develop a callus. Can this form roots, do you think? If so, what method and medium do you suggest. Finally, since it is so large, is it possible to cut it into several segments.

Have a wonderful new year. Thanks so much for any ideas you have.

Merry, Oakland CA


Yes, you can root the leaf cutting and eventually it will send up new rosettes. Sansavieria are a bit slow, but it is easy to propagate with just leaf cuttings. And you can cut the leaves in to pieces and get them all to root and grow. Keep in mind the larger the cutting the more reserves it has and the faster it will send up a new rosette. But I have propagated from pieces as small as two inches, though it took years to get plants of any size. Keep in mind you have to keep the leaf pieces pointing up and don’t plant any “middle cuts” upside down by accident as they will not do anything.

Good luck and Happy New Year,


Not Really a Question

Hey, I’ve been shopping at your place for literally 10 years since you
were way over on ….. And we stopped by today to pick up some stuff
and some cactus and I thought I would get some dirt ’cause one of my
cactus needs some dirt. So I bought a bag of your dirt. Then I read
the ingredients. Give me a break! Composted Rice Hulls! Neem Seed
Meal! I ask you: do any of these cactus have this stuff out in the
middle of the Mojave Desert or out in the middle of New Mexico?? Fish
bone meal?? When was the last time there were any fish in the Sonora
Desert?? Maybe 200 million years ago?? I love it!!

You guys are the greatest and have the best stuff anywhere since Red
Desert went bust in the City!!!

Merry Christmas!

“I’d Rather Be Sailing”

Our cactus soil mix is designed to be used in all places except the desert. If you are planting cactus in the desert, the native soil should work just fine. However, anywhere else, and the plants need a different mix to thrive. Oddly, most commercial mixes are best suited to the desert.

For reference, the Mojave is one of the driest deserts in the world, with about 2″ of rainfall. Here in the Bay Area we get about 25″ per year on average.
Happy New Year

Reader Photos

Here is the plant given to me by Harriet.

Can you tell us what it is and how to care for it?


plant 001-1

Yes, my Dad sends me succulent questions. He’s in Florida, and has killed every plant we’ve given him, including most recently a Tillandsia bulbosa. We’ll see how long this one lasts.

You have a Kalanchoe thyrsfolia variegata. Water every 2 weeks, by drenching the soil and letting it drain away – never have it sit in water.

It is a good indoor plant and doesn’t require too much sun, but it does need some – a bright area, or some direct morning sun is best.

Ruth in NC

Hi, Cactus Jungle,

I am hoping you can help me! My 18-year-old 9 ft. tall, historically
healthy Euphorbia Trigona has been in shock since I moved. It has
dropped all of its leaves and the limbs appear to have “given out”.
It happened during the 10 minute drive to my new house, so I think it
was just shocked by being jostled around so much on the move. The
biggest problem is that the entire plant is limp and can’t hold itself
up from leaning in one direction. I have had to splint it to the wall
to hold the plant upright. Otherwise, the entire HUGE pot would
topple over. It is winter, so there is no bright sun to help it to
“perk up”. Should I buy a plant light? It has been this way for two
weeks now. I hate to prune because it will leave brown tops where the
cuts were made. What to do?

Charlotte, NC


A bright light would help, you might just want to get a “shop-light” and use full spectrum bulbs in for the winter. You can also try giving it some liquid seaweed in it’s next drink, it has growth stimulants as well as nutrients and vitamins that will help the plant recover from its trauma. If you email us a few photos, we can try to give more detailed recommendations.

Good Luck & Happy Holidays,


Virginia Agave

Anyone out there able to help Charlie in Virginia?

Hi Guy’s, Charlie from Virginia, you don’t by any chance have this agave do you, agave ferdinandi-regis Blue form. The picture I sent you is from UC Berkley Botanical Gardens. What I’m looking for is A very nice clone, and I really like the one at UC Berkeley, it has everything I’m looking for, wide blue leaves, very nice markings and the jet black spine. I know they sell plants at the garden but I’m not sure if they have any plants from this clone or not.If you guy’s have it or happen to run across A nice blue clone with nice markings and black spines could you let me know please.

Agave ferdinandi-regis

Thanks Alot


We do not have any A. F-R’s, plus we don’t ship plants. But other than that we have lots of really nice agaves and such if you should happen to find yourself in Berkeley.


I see below that I’ve chosen a Euphorbia lactea crest as a Top Ten, and then here we have a question about one.

I’ve attached a photo of my “frilled fan” Euphorbia lactea which I purchased at SummerWinds nursery here in San Jose. I purchased a graft exactly as shown. Unfortunately, left out in NorCal December frost/rain. What was bright pink in summer is now olive green and I see white spots (on the plant…;-) I assume that’s latex. Will it recover now that I’ve brought inside?

When I first discovered it after the frost I saw how much olive green there was and thought it would get mushy (like ice wilted lettuce…). But, now that we’ve had some sun for a few days, it seems to me it’s not getting mushy and it’s getting pinker…;-)

I also noticed the white splotches (sorry again about cell phone resolution) and thought this was mold. But I read about the latex and that it’s poisonous so I haven’t touched the white spots, but so far they haven’t grown. Mold or latex secretion maybe caused by frost damage?

So, any suggestions on Euphorbia care? I’ve got it out in the sun now, but have had it inside near a window and haven’t watered it since the rains/frost earlier this month.

Euphorbia lactea-JT


I’m sorry to say that your crest is probably dead. They cannot handle frost. It should not have changed color at all, besides maybe a bit more pink in sun.

If you want a definitive diagnosis, we’d need to have you bring the plant to the nursery for us to take a look, but I’m pretty sure it’s not going to survive.

How Do You Think We Did?

I have a couple of large cactus plants in my back yard (there before I moved in), and I would like to identify what type they are.


moz-screenshot-8 moz-screenshot-9


#1 looks like it is Opuntia cochenillifera and #2 is either Myrtillocactus geometrizans or Myrtillocactus cochal, all though I am leaning towards M. geometrizans.

Happy Holidays,


Shocking Euphorbia

Hi, Cactus Jungle,

I am hoping you can help me! My 18-year-old 9 ft. tall, historically
healthy Euphorbia Trigona has been in shock since I moved. It has
dropped all of its leaves and the limbs appear to have “given out”.
It happened during the 10 minute drive to my new house, so I think it
was just shocked by being jostled around so much on the move. The
biggest problem is that the entire plant is limp and can’t hold itself
up from leaning in one direction. I have had to splint it to the wall
to hold the plant upright. Otherwise, the entire HUGE pot would
topple over. It is winter, so there is no bright sun to help it to
“perk up”. Should I buy a plant light? It has been this way for two
weeks now. I hate to prune because it will leave brown tops where the
cuts were made. What to do?

Charlotte, NC


A bright light would help, you might just want to get a “shop-light” and use full spectrum bulbs in for the winter. You can also try giving it some liquid seaweed in it’s next drink, it has growth stimulants as well as nutrients and vitamins that will help the plant recover from its trauma. If you email us a few photos, we can try to give more detailed recommendations.

Good Luck & Happy Holidays,


We Get Questions About Gophers

Hi Peter & Hap,

This is my first time writing to you. Hope u can help me save a plant in my backyard.


I bought this cactus plant from you guys about a year ago and it has been growing well in the flower bed until recently, I found it sinking down a bit and then tilted to the side. I was trying to reposition it and to my suprise, I found it totally detached from its roots. Upon close exam, the root system has been eaten away. There have been some gopher’s problem in other part of my backyard, so I suspect it may be the gopher which did that because there is a big hole/ tunnel right underneath its stem.

My question is whether there is any way I can save this plant. I have taken it out from the flower bed and planted it in a pot with some new soil for now. To me, it looks like the other cactus sitting right next to it in the flower bed. Is that sufficient, or should I do anything else?

I have also put one of those smoky thing (don’t know what it’s called) into the tunnel, and installed a sonice device in the flower bed. Hope that will take care of the gopher(s). Will keep an eye on the other cactus as well to make sure it will not got killed like the other one.

I have attached a few photos for your reference.




Sorry it has taken a few days to get back to you, I was out of town for a few days. Your chewed up Yucca elephantipes “Silver Star” can be treated like a cutting and it should re-root. Pull off a few of the bottom leaves (bare about three inches of the stem) and then pot up in cactus soil, this time of year it may help to use rooting hormones, which we do carry, however Yuccas root fairly easily so you may get by without it…. Put somewhere warm and dry, inside is fine as long as there is good light or leave outside in a protected spot. Inside it should develop roots in a couple of months, out side it may take until spring. If you do move it in for the winter make sure and “harden it off” in the spring when you move it back outside, as it will loose its resistance to UV light indoors and get sunburned if you move directly out in to the sun. To harden it off, start in the shade and over a few weeks move it every few days so it gets more morning sunlight until in gets a “suntan”.

You might want to think about adding a few of the spurge style Euphorbia to your garden, as the sap in both the above ground and in the roots is so nasty it discourages gophers from burrowing around them.

Take care,


Thanks so much for your information. It is actually the first plant we put in the flower bed. My wife loves it. Thanks to you she is less stressed now knowing that we can still save it. I will also try to put some Euphorbia in it later on as well.

Really appreciate your advice.


Mealy Bugs and Scale

We got a call about a sick cactus in San Francisco, and I asked for photos, so this is what we got. The plant has gotten afternoon sun (as much as there is in SF) and watered once per month.

Here ya go. Let me know if you need more pictures.



You have an infestation of insects – both Scale and Mealy Bugs. They are damaging the crown of your plant. You need to treat this ASAP. We recommend Neem Oil (100%, not “rose defense” which is cut with petroleum products) which will kill the pests and help prevent fungal infections, and is safe to spray directly on cactus (although preferably not in full sun.) Spray thoroughly, and again weekly.

As the crown is damaged, you will need to watch carefully to make sure the plant doesn’t get soft, which could indicate infection. If it gets to that point, I would recommend bringing it in to us to take a look, but don’t wait so long that the plant has died.

Good luck, and give me a call, or stop by the nursery, if you have any other questions.

The Mostest Uniquest Question Evah

We’ve never got a question like this one before. It’s not about how to help a sick cactus even though maybe it’s too late – not at all. The cactus is already dead. So what could the question be, then? Read on…

I am writing in hopes that you can help. My family has had a cactus for over 30 years and recently because of a move to the inner city of Philadelphia the cactus was not able to get enough light and died. I still have the cactus in my apartment and planted. The cactus has a lot of sentimental value to my family as it was my fathers who passed away 10 years ago.

There is nothing I would like to be able to do more than to figure out a way to keep the cactus in our family and in my mothers apartment. Have you ever had experience in preserving a cactus after it is dead. This particular cactus is about 6 feet high and has five sets of branches.

I look forward to your response.

Interesting…. Very interesting. Hap’s reply after the break… Read More…


It’s not often we get photos that are as clear and indicative as these today from Susan, who wants to know the species. And yet, even with the clearly round leaf, the marginal plantlets, and the bloom picture, the best we can do is narrow it down to one of two genuses (genii?). Maybe you can help identify the species?

Well, this started as one little stem and it’s grown. Then it was many stems falling out of the pot and rooting with long aerial roots in anything close by. Then it formed little buds and I waited and waited and thought for sure the flowers would be white. I was wrong. They’ve opened up into beautiful bell like flowers in a dark peachy color. Something came into the yard and broke a few of the stems. Never one to toss a stem, I layed the leaves down and suddenly I had more little plants coming up. From looking through your database of images, is this some sort of kalanchoe? The flower in the picture doesn’t really glow but a sliver of sunlight was hitting it just right so I snapped a photo. So? Whatcha’ think?

download download2

Thank you.
P.S. I’m in Culver City

Yes, it is a Kalanchoe, or a Bryophyllum, it’s hard to say exactly which species from the photos. I’ll post it on the blog, and see if anyone out there knows for sure.

Cactus in Israel

Opuntia have naturalized throughout southern Europe and the middle east for food, both the pads and the fruit.


We are looking for some prickly pear that has been bred for the edibility of the tunas (fruiting bodies) and the pads. Would you know where we might look?

Thank you,

Nazarene Israel

Do you mean in Israel? They’re everywhere. Here’s a website about it.

If you’re looking in Northern California, we have them.

You can also use any of the pads (full, not cut up) you find in a grocery store, and plant them in the ground and they will usually grow.


Dropped Leaves

Hello- I purchased this beautiful plant a few weeks ago from you and I am concerned about it’s dropped leaves. Is this normal due to the stress of a new environment? She lives inside, gets about an hour at most of late afternoon sun. She still looks healthy, new growth still alive but just by looking at her she drops leaves! Please help, I love this plant! Thanks, Jen



It does look like it is most likely “new home stress” with an additional bit of autumn leaf drop, to make it look worse than it really is. In the current low light conditions, make sure not to water more than every two to three weeks, perhaps even less this winter. It needs to “nap” through winter and grow when there is more light coming in the window. If it starts getting “floppy” it is letting you know it needs more light. However Portulacaria are durable plants and as long as they are getting the right amount of water for their location can usually adapt well to all sorts of situations. Please let me know if the leaf drop continues.

Take care,


Great answer Hap, and quite caring too. Have you noticed how Hap answers questions in a more kindly tone? I’m more direct. Hap’s the friendly one.

Unusual Plant

hello Cactus Jungle,

You guys are awesome and I’m hoping you can help me identify the plant in the pictures I’ve attached. I’ve done hours of online research and I think it’s a caudiciform that’s related to the Pachypodium; maybe that’s redundant. I only say this because of the coloring, overall look, texture, and thorns but I haven’t been able to find anything that shares the exact characteristics (yellow flowers, long narrow leaves, binary growing pattern). Maybe it’s some sort of hybrid??

plant 1 plant 4

I bought the plant last December at a winter craft fair and the dude who sold it told me it was a succulent daisy. This is the first time it has had flowers, and they do sorta look like daisies but I dunno… Other factoids: it is dormant in spring and summer (when I bought it it was covered in those green leaves), I haven’t watered it in at least 2 or 3 weeks and there’s new growth, the new growth sprouts from those fuzzy-looking white things in the pictures. Does any of this info help or sound familiar?

thanks in advance for anything you can offer!



After a day (or two) of blanking it finally came to me! Othonna euphorbiodes! A cool succulent shrub in the Asteraceae (daisy) family from the Cape province of South Africa. It is a winter grower, so keep in good light and water occasionally this winter, it should leaf out and put on a show.

Nice plant!

Take care,


Euphorbia Fungus

Hello friends at Cactus Jungle,

My beloved euphorbia pseudocactus has been having some problems lately. I’ve noticed two distinct issues, which I was hoping you could help me diagnose.

Sept and Oct 09 022 Sept and Oct 09 023

1. Black and brown discoloration, over wide areas of all 3 pseudos. (see picture)
-I know this can happen with overwatering, but I’ve owned this plant for 3 years and have watered at most once every 4 to 6 weeks.

2. Chunky holes (see picture)
-possible pest infestation?

I am currently having a mealy bug problem with other succulents in my garden, but I haven’t see any signs of mealies on the pseudocactus. Any ideas as to what might be causing the above issues and how I can treat them?

Thanks a million!


The holes look like they have healed over, whatever had caused them in the first place, so I wouldn’t worry about them at this time. However, the black spots, with rainbow coloration around it, looks like a fungal infection. This needs to be fixed ASAP or you will lose that portion of the plant over the winter.

It doesn’t sound like it was overwatering. Has light or airflow conditions changed recently?

Treat with Neem oil, or we also have a product called Mildew Cure.
Take care,

Cactus in Florida? Help!

This cactus came with our new house. I don’t know what it’s name is or how to care for it. Thanks for your help.

St. Petersburg Florida

Cactus 1

Your cactus is a Cleistocactus, and it is not looking happy. You are probably too wet and humid for it, long term, and it probably it needs to be inside in a very sunny location.

Bamboo Shoots

I hope you can help me identify whatever has been eating
the new bamboo shoots. What ever is eating the shoots
appears to be doing it at night and doesn’t seem to be
interested in the mature stalks. In all other respects the
plants seem to be doing fine, I purchased them about a month
or so ago from you and your advice was terrific. I thought
it may be slugs as I have seen them around, so I placed some
dead line around the plants in hope of determining if they
were the cause, but no luck. There doesn’t seem to be any
evidence of rodent presence as far as I can tell. I have
included some images of the bamboo. In the background you
will see some stalks that are older that seem to be eaten in
the same way. Any advise you could shed on the cause or
culprit would be much appreciated.

Bamboo photos 001


I have to say this one is a bit odd. But I think you have something large, but it looks like deer can’t get to the plants, so perhaps a raccoon, opossum or rats. After all bamboo shoots are tasty. I suggest you sprinkle the shoots with both a liquid animal repellent, like Deer Off or Critter Ridder and copious amounts of cayenne pepper (You can get this inexpensively in bulk at an ethnic market or Costco). You may just want to try the cayenne first, since the repellents smell pretty bad for use close to public use spaces. at least for a few days….

Good luck,


Euphorbia Problems

I have been searching the net for some clues about a cactus – I have no idea whether it is suffering from lack of water or too much water! It is a tall, silvery blue-grey cactus with side branches (we were told it was a ghost cactus when we bought it). It does not have large spines.

It has been healthy for 2 years and we have been very careful not to over-water. However, today one of its stems is shrivelled at the bottom and has flopped over. Higher up on the stem is an area which has gone soft and brown – almost as if it has rotted. There are a few drops of sticky, milky white sap on one of the other stems. The other stems all seem fine at the moment.

I did give the cactus a little bit of water a few days ago, but not enough to drain through the holes at the bottom. I have felt the soil today and it is dry as a bone.

I am too afraid to water it as I know it is easier for a cactus to recover from under-watering, and thought I would seek advice first!

Any ideas?


It does not seem that you are overwatering, so that is probably not what has caused the arms to rot.

You will need to treat the rotting areas right away to keep it from spreading. Cut off the dead branches, making sure there is no rot left on the remaining portions, and spray with household peroxide. You will probably need to cut out the area in the middle of the branch, and also treat it. However, before you do all this, if the plant is a Euphorbia, you will need to be careful not to get any of the milky white sap on you, as it is caustic. Can you send a photo, so we can see if it has an infection, and what type of plant it is.

Finally, how much light is it getting?

Follow me for more after the break. Cool! Read More…

Cactus Growth

Actually, it’s a Euphorbia, but who’s counting?

You helped us with our cactus about a 2 years ago and he is growing,
growing, growing!

Can you please take a look at these pictures? Currently he is in a 20″
diamater pot and is just over 10′ tall. He is now leaning pretty heavily
against our window/wall. We are wondering if he needs a bigger pot. We
also noticed he still has big brown spots at the base.


If so, we are interested in a quote to re-pot.

Thanks for your help.


Wow. It has grown! It does look like it is time to move it up to a bigger pot, however it is the wrong time of year to do it successfully. It is about to go dormant for the winter, so it would be best to wait until spring, early March or later. If we repot now it could lead to problems since it will be under stress for the winter due to low light levels. Given it’s leaning towards the light of the windows it might be best to repot on top of a turntable or wheeled dolly so it can be given a quarter turn once a month so it grows straighter. The brown spots just look like age spots and not something to be worried about. Over time the base will get bark like an oak tree, it is natural and adds strength.

Let’s touch base in late February and I will get you a bid then

Take care,


Older Barrel Cactus

I am hoping you can help me out. I recenlty moved into a home in Southren California that has 50 large golden barral cactus. The problem is that I am not sure when they were watered last – before we moved in (the house was vacant). We moved in around June and I did water two or three times until someone told me not to water at all. Now all of them are turn dark brown at the base (even the thorns) plus they are also wrinkley at the base. Not sure why this is happening and if this is normal – a few have holes in them. The good things that they have babies.

Please let me know what to do, do they have a disease/ bugs, do they need to be watered, what to do with the babies….?

camera 187

Thank you for your time,


The plants look fine. The bottom being brown is age. They do look a bit stressed, and could use some water and fertilizer. I would recommend liquid kelp this time of year, and more nitrogen in the spring. The hole looks like old damage that will probably not be a problem. Make sure that water doesn’t pool in it during the winter – if it does, then cover it through the rains and you may need to do some repairs in the spring.


Sedum Questions

Im trying to identify this plant.. i
don’t know what it is, and I really need
to find out for a school project.
I live New England (I live in southern mass.) if that helps.
The picture is attached.

– -Eana


It looks like you have a Sedum telephium.

It can handle winters down to 20 below zero, so they’re a good choice for New England (except up  in Northern Maine.)


Pruning Euphorbia

My partner has an Euphorbia cactus which is growing “out” rather than “up”.  How can he cut or trim it down do that it is not growing wild?




The Euphorbia looks like it needs more light for more robust vertical growth. With it being so floppy and “stretched towards the light” it is hard to be sure which species but I think it is Euphorbia trigona or one of the close allies.

Yes you can prune for shape, but please note that Euphorbia sap which looks like milk, is both a contact irritant and toxic. Do not get it in your eyes or lips! Think cayenne pepper pain and a trip to the emergency room if it gets in your eyes. So wear safety goggles! Gloves and long sleeves. It is generally best to prune off the whole branch rather than just part of it, but you can do cuts where ever you want, it just scares so cuts in the center of branch will always show. Before you cut cover the floor under with newspaper of a disposable drop cloth so you can get rid of the sap drips easily. After cutting spray each cut with standard hydrogen-peroxide to stop the flow of sap. This is sort of messy, so make sure you have your drop cloth or newspaper well deployed.

The branches you cut off can be saved and re-rooted if you want to clone your plant. Let them dry out and heal up from being cut for a week or two and then pot up in dry cactus soil. Do not water for three or four weeks. It the branches look thirsty you can mist them in the evening. Keep them in a warm sunny location and they should have roots by spring.

Good luck,


Late Blooming Saguaro

Clay Thompson at the Arizona Republic answers questions about cactus in Arizona.

This is actually similar to a lot of questions we get, so it seems appropriate. I’ve edited out most of Clay’s humor to get to the nub of the question, so click through to get the full feel of Clay’s personality as he answers cactus questions.

Q: I have a large, mature saguaro that bloomed in September. I have lived in Arizona for 40 years and know that they always bloom in May or early June. There are dozens in our neighborhood, with only this one blooming now. What’s up?

A: (M)y guess was that it had something to do with the cactus being under some sort of stress, like from drought or something….

Lenora Stewart, a master gardener with the University of Arizona… told me… that plants, like people, sometimes do odd things….

Maybe it was stress of some sort — “Stress is a (saguaro’s) middle name,” she said she — or maybe it wasn’t. Or maybe your cactus just took it in its mind to confound you or just didn’t happen to feel like blooming when all of its kinfolk did.

For us in the Bay Area, our bloom season is later in the summer than theirs, so cacti are more likely to bloom at odd times for no reason.


September 2020

US Constitution


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