They Get Questions

The <a href=";entry_id=1619" title="" onmouseover="window.status=’’;return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">Las Vegas Review Journal</a> takes a question about cactus.<br /><br /><div style="margin-left: 40px;"><span style="font-style: italic;">Q: In my neighborhood is a house with three large saguaro cacti. They are at least 30 feet tall and very big around. One of the huge ones is splitting. What should be done?<br />
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A: Splitting of saguaro cactus is most likely due to frequent overwatering. These cacti have ridges and furrows running vertically along with their trunks and stems so that they can expand and contract like an accordion.<br />
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When water is available, saguaro cactus stems expand with stored water. When water is no longer available from the roots, stored water in the trunk and limbs is used for survival, ultimately causing the trunks and stems to contract.<br />
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Applying water frequently never gives the trunk and stems a chance to contract. As it grows, the already-expanded trunk splits.<br />
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Water these plants less often. They are shallow rooted, so water them deeply and apply it quite a distance away from the trunk. This will help keep the trunk sturdy and prevent it from possibly falling over. Watering this large cactus close to the trunk could be dangerous.<br />
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Another possibility is bacterial necrosis, but the split would be foul smelling with ooze coming from it and flies attracted to it.<br />
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There is nothing you can do about a split saguaro. It should heal on its own if you follow good irrigation practices.</span><br /></div><br />

We Get Questions

Q: Can cactus be found growing in Oregon’s nature or are the conditions not right? Hopefully you could align me with some hikes but I’m still a bit doubtful it even exists.<br />
Thank You,<br />
Andrew<br /><br />A: Andrew,<br />
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There are several species of Opuntia as well as other genus of Cacti (Pediocactus and others) that grow throughout Eastern Oregon. I have seen Opuntia fragilis as well as a much larger mystery prickly pear (Opuntia polyacantha?) while hiking in the hills south and well east of Salem… but that was about twenty years ago… so other than to tell you it was somewhere way up &quot;Thomas Creek&quot; if my memory is not confusing that hike with where the best rope swing and swimming hole is…<br />
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You should check with the Oregon Cactus &amp;Succulent Society:<br />
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Meets: Sacred Heart Villa, 3911 SE Milwaukee, Portland, Oregon. 7pm every 3rd Thursday (except December, June, July, and August when meetings, locations, and times will be announced.<br />
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They should be able to tell you where to hike to see some of the native cacti.<br />
Good Luck,<br />
Hap<br /><br />

We get Care Questions

Q: Hello. I bought a Macodes petula orchid from you about a year ago. I am having a hard time finding information about how to care for it online. It has not grown much and doesn’t usually have more than two leaves. Is this normal? I am watering once a week, and I keep it out of direct sun but in a somewhat lighted place. Can it get too cold near a window?<br />
Anyway, if you can give me any care instructions for it I would be extremely grateful! It is one of my favorite plants.<br />
Thank you!<br />
Tasha<br /><br />A: Tasha,<br />
These are a tricky plant. We find they often will have only 2 to 3 leaves, with old ones dying as new ones grow. Generally, they want bright indirect light only. Water once a week, letting it drain. And mist the leaves every 2-3 days. If it is near a window in winter, keep it at least 4&quot; from the glass.<br />
If it’s been a year, now would be a good time to fertilize with something like liquid kelp (actually 2-3 times per year would be good). You may also want to use a bloom food in March. And repotting into fresh orchid soil yearly is always a good idea.<br />
Peter<br /><br /><br />


They got them a lot of ants in Florida.<br /><br /><div style="margin-left: 40px;"><span style="font-style: italic;">Q: One of my cactuses has ants in the container, and I would like to get them out without using pesticides. What should I do?<br />
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A: Ants don’t like water, so a good soaking should get them out of the pot. Perhaps this is best done outdoors in an area where you don’t want an ant explosion. Dunk the cactus’s pot with root ball under water for about five minutes. The unhappy ants should scurry to the surface. When you think all the ants are out, set the ant-free cactus out to drain before giving it a permanent location.</span><br /></div><br />Those clever devils at the <a href=";entry_id=1611" title=",0,7389558.column" onmouseover="window.status=’,0,7389558.column’;return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">Orlando Sentinel</a>. What will they think of next. <span style="font-style: italic;">Dunking</span>.<br /><br />

We Get Questions

Q: Hello,<br />
<br />
I came across your blog regarding info for Jatropha Podagica and found it very helpful. I did, however, have a question. I live in the NE, and have recently purchased seeds. I was wondering when is the best time to plant them? Any info you may have would be great. Thanks in advance!<br />
<br />
Steve<br /><br />A: Steve,<br />
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If you are starting indoors, under lights it does not matter when you start your Jatropha. We start ours through out the year. We use High Output Fluorescent lights with bottom-heat with good results. Jatropha seems to want 75-80 degrees soil temp. and to sprout under bright light. Nicking the seed coat or rubbing on course sand paper usually speeds up germination. We press the seed in to moist cactus and succulent soil and put a half inch layer of horticultural charcoal on top. It seems to inhibit algae and fungal problems.<br />
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Good luck,<br />
Hap<br /><br />

We Get Questions

Q: Peter,<br />
Since you are experiencing a dearth of questons and have had to resort to asking and answering them yourself, I’ll help you out. <br />
What source do you suggest to keep up with all the latest reclassifications of cacti? Also, what is your very favorite cactus and why?<br />
Inquiring minds want to know.<br />
<a href=";entry_id=1573" title="" onmouseover="window.status=’’;return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">Aiyana</a><br /><br />A: Aiyana-<br />
Thanks for the questions! <a href=";entry_id=1573" title="/archives/1569-Another-Not-Question.html" onmouseover="window.status=’/archives/1569-Another-Not-Question.html’;return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">I wrote my own questions</a> really just for the fun of it, to spice up the blog.<br />
But for your questions:<br />
1. We use &quot;The Cactus Family&quot; by Edward Anderson (2001), which we also used to sell but it is now out of print. For recent name changes, we just go with the flow, changing to current names when it suits us, and using older names too. Basically, we don’t always agree with new names and don’t try to keep on top of it in the short term (sometimes they change back!) but wait ’til it feels right to us. The Cactus and Succulent Society of America (CSSA) keeps up with changes <a href=";entry_id=1573" title="" onmouseover="window.status=’′;return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">in their journal</a>. <br />
2. My favorite cactus changes depending on the season. We have so many we grow from little seedlings to big guys and then someone comes in and buys it! It’s really about the challenge of growing them into specimens. But I do like the <a href=";entry_id=1573" title="" onmouseover="window.status=’’;return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">Operculicarya decaryi </a>(not a cactus) with its tiny shiny leaves and its great name (say it out loud), and the blooms on the <a href=";entry_id=1573" title="" onmouseover="window.status=’’;return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">Ortegocactus macdougallii</a>, although it is a pain to grow and must have limestone in its soil mix.<br />
-Peter<br /><br />

Another Not-Question

I liked yesterday’s <span style="font-style: italic;">We Don’t Get Questions</span> feature so much that I decided to run another one of my own questions to myself. Like yesterday, I have emailed myself a question, and then emailed myself a response, and then posted it here on the blog. Check the timestamps if you don’t believe me.<br /><br />Q: Cactusblog, <br />I found a small cactus in my backyard that I like, and I was wondering, can I pot it up and bring it inside?<br />Thanks,<br />Peter<br /><br />A: Peter,<br />Well, that depends. Do you want to keep the plant alive? If so, then you should pot it into a good well-draining cactus soil, taking care not to disturb the roots when doing this. And then put it in a sunny south or west-facing window. Keep the soil dry for the first few weeks. And then water every three weeks, allowing the pot to drain completely. <br /><br />But here’s the key to the whole endeavor: <span style="font-weight: bold;">Wait ’til Spring.</span> Don’t do it now. The cactus is dormant, and won’t like being transplanted, and in fact the whole plant will become rot-prone and could catch an infection and could even turn into a lovely little brown ball of mush.<br /><br />Hope that helps,<br />Cactusblog<br /><br />

Minnesota Cactus

They Get Questions about what to do with christmas cactus after the holidays are over and your plant is showing wear and tear. After all, you bought it at a big box store, now, didn’t you? Well, now that you’ve &quot;rescued&quot; the plant from one of <span style="font-style: italic;">those</span> stores, it’s time to give it the care it needs.<br /><br />This is from the <a href=";entry_id=1566" title="" onmouseover="window.status=’’;return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">Worthington (MN) Daily Globe</a>.<br /><br /><div style="margin-left: 40px;"><span style="font-style: italic;">Q: I was reading your Web site about the care of Christmas cactus plants, but haven’t found exactly what I need to know. I was trying to find out why my plant, which I have had for several years, is looking droopy, and the leaves are turning purple at the tip instead of the normal green. The weird thing is that the top of the soil in the pot is covered with algae. (e-mail reference)<br />
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A: I can’t tell you why the plant is changing color and the leaves are droopy. I can tell you that the plant probably will respond well to repotting in fresh soil. This often brings about favorable changes. Your soil may be too acidic, as indicated by the algae growth, and could be causing the discoloration. As the soil becomes more acidic, the balance of what is available to the plant shifts from being deficient in some cases to being toxic in others.<br />
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Q: Rabbits are digging their way under my house and nesting. </span><br /></div><br />An intriguing next question, no?<br /><br /><br />

We Don't Get Questions

Today’s question comes from me. You didn’t send it in, and neither did that other person reading this small corner of the blogosphere. So I emailed it to myself and then I replied to myself and then I posted it right here.<br /><br />Q: Can you identify this plant for me? It’s mostly green, with spines on all sides. It’s about 4&quot; across, but taller.<br /><br />Thank you,<br />Peter<br /><br />A: It’s a <a href=";entry_id=1565" title="" onmouseover="window.status=’’;return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">Euphorbia trigona.</a> As it grows, it can get up to 6&quot; around, and will eventually be a 20′ tall tree if planted in the ground, which we don’t recommend here in the Bay Area. <br /><br />If you do plant it in the ground in this area, you will need to protect the growing tips when it gets close to freezing. We recommend a styrofoam cup on the top of each branch. <br /><br />A frost blanket will work too, but we recently created a tent out of one around a tall cactus in a pot, and then the 65mph winds came blowing through the area last week and the tent became more of a sail than a tent and the plant blew over. Luckily, we know enough to stay away from the nursery until wind storms are over, what with the spiny cactus and all.<br /><br />Hope that helps,<br />Peter<br /><br />

We Get Questions

It’s about watering your indoor succulents in winter, with pictures!<br /><br />Q: hi!<br />
<br />
would you mind reminding me whether i should stop watering the two succulents in the attached photo for the winter — and, if so, for how long?<br />
<br />
also, same question for the two aloes in the other attached photo.<br />
<br />
thanks so much for your help!<br />
mats h<br /><br /><img width="432" hspace="5" height="324" border="2" src="/blog/uploads/misc/aloe-lo.jpg" /><br /><br />A: Hello Mats,<br />
<br />
The two Aloes would like regular winter water, the Pachypodium saundersii should be watered less, 4 to 6 weeks between water during the winter should be fine.<br />
<br />
Hap<br /><br /><img width="324" hspace="5" height="432" border="2" src="/blog/uploads/misc/succulents-lo.jpg" /><br /><br />

We Get Questions

Q: Hi,

Our cactus of 12 years is dying, I dont know the type of cactus so I have taken some pictures of it so you can help. I wanted to see if I could get your opinion before i started cutting it up it has grown to over 5′ and we would hate to cut it up if we dont have to.

All the best


A: David,

From your photos, it looks like your Euphorbia trigona it has a very bad sunburn. Did it recently get moved or turned so it faces a new direction? That is the usual cause of skin bleaching. If not then it most likely has a bad fungus infection and you can try curing it by spraying with a 1% Neem Oil solution. However the scar tissue will remain and will eventually turn to “bark”.

Sorry I can’t give you better news.



Christmas Cactus Questions

Everybody wants to know about the christmas cactus this time of year. How to take care of it, how to get it to bloom.<br /><br /><a href=";entry_id=1505" title="" onmouseover="window.status=’’;return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">Our secrets to your success are located here</a>.<br /><br />And then here’s the <a href=";entry_id=1505" title="" onmouseover="window.status=’′;return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">Ontario (CA) Daily Bulletin</a>, as they get questions.<br /><br /><div style="margin-left: 40px;"><span style="font-style: italic;">Q: How do I maintain the gorgeous Christmas cactus which I just purchased?<br />
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A: Christmas cactus, Schlumbergera, is native to the jungle as an epiphyte, (it grows in the trees). It is not a desert plant; therefore it does best in rich porous soil. The arching, drooping branches are made up of flattened, oblong, scalloped-edged, 1-1/2 inch joints. These branches are green, smooth, and spineless. A well grown plant can become 3 feet across and hanging below the raised pot, sometimes reaching the floor.<br />
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The flowers are long-tubed, with many petals about 3 inches long. Most varieties are red, but the new hybrids are pink to fuchsia, and a rosy purplish red in color. A large plant could have hundreds of flowers at this time of the year.<br />
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Water frequently and use a diluted liquid fertilizer every 7 to 10 days when the plant is growing and flowering. It does best in bright indirect sunlight with night temperatures of 60 to 70 degrees and 70 degrees or higher in the day. After the blooming period, do not water, except to keep the soil moist.<br />
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To help bud set and flowers at the holiday time, keep the plant where it is cool (55-60 degrees) with 12 to 14 hours of darkness. This should be done in November.<br />
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Schlumbergera, truncate, (Zygocactus truncates) is also known as Crab Cactus). The joints are 1-2 inches long, sharply toothed with two large teeth at the end of the last joint. Short tube flowers with pointed petals bloom from November through March. Colors range from white, pink, to salmon and orange. This plant has been nicknamed the Thanksgiving cactus as it begins to bloom at this time.</span><br /></div><br />Now you know everything.<br /><br />


August 2020

US Constitution


We Get Questions

Email your questions to:

blog [at] cactusjungle [dot] com