Cactus Blog Archives

Cactus Blog Writers

Peter Lipson
Hap Hollibaugh

Los Angeles Area Cactus Show 


Were you wondering what to do next weekend? Are you going to be in Encino next weekend? You are in luck!

If your garden yearns for crazy, colorful, drought-hearty plants, the Los Angeles Cactus and Succulent Society aims to satisfy at its first Fall Sale Sept. 16 in Encino.

A variety of cacti and succulents are up for sale. (Calvin B. Alagot / Los Angeles Times)

I say, “Woot!”

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Dragonfruit Recipe


I found this delicious Dragonfruit Sherbet recipe from our local Berkeleyside!

It’s been a very hot weekend (Record heat throughout Berkeley, San Francisco and Oakland? Yes!) so it’s what you want. Right now.

Incredibly addictive, this sherbet offers a celebration of refreshing and complementary flavor in every spoonful. The cool dragon fruit is faintly milky, citrusy and herbal with its gentle infusion of lemongrass. Meanwhile, the strawberry layer offers a hint of tartness and a welcome trace of classic berry sweetness.

Dragon Fruit Sherbet with Lemongrass and Strawberry

Makes about a quart

1 1/2 ounces (about 1 1/2 stalks, depending on size) fresh lemongrass
3/4 cup canned light coconut milk (not full-fat)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces fresh ripe strawberries
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons light, somewhat neutral liquor of your choice, at least 80 proof (think vodka, light rum or a clear fruit brandy)
2 1/4 to 2 1/2 pounds dragon fruit (about 3 medium dragon fruit)

As always, click through for the full instructions.

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Delicious Prickly Pear Fruit


That is some delicious looking large red cactus fruit, aka Tunas, Prickly Pears, Sabras, nōchtli and more names! This is on one of our larger Opuntia robusta plants. When they get in the ground they can produced a lot of fruit, just for you if that’s what you want, or for all your neighbors and friends too, if you have neighbors and friends. I always prefer to eat my prickly pears by blending them in with my margaritas. Delicious, and healthy!

Prickly Pear Margarita Recipe
Using Prickly Pear Juice
Restaurant Cocktail Recipe

Preparation time: 3 minutes. Serves 1

Ingredients:

2 ounces Tequila
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce prickly pear juice
1/2 ounce Cointreau
Lime slice for garnish
Ice
Kosher salt

Instructions: Click through for the rest of the instructions!
Note that I always leave off the salt, because that’s just the way I prefer my margaritas, without salt.

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It’s an Echeveria


this was a gift but i don’t know what it is….could you possibly id it?

Greatly appreciated …mike

Mike,

Sure! It’s an Echeveria, possibly Echeveria “Gilva”.

Peter

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Stapelia with Scale Infestation


I bought two plants but am not sure what they are . one look like it was sufering from rot so I removed the bad sections and repotted in new cactus type mix. Wound up with two pots from one because root system was large. Some of the plant is whiteish, Is this sunburn?

Santi

Santi,

The one that is whitish is a Stapelia, the other is a Huernia, both closely related.

The Stapelia has an infestation of Scale, which is an insect that is feeding on your plant. As bad as it looks I would recommend removing all the white stems and taking cuttings from the green stems to replant them, letting the cut ends heal for about a week before planting them in new fresh dry cactus soil. I would spray the green stems you are keeping with a strong insecticide that can handle Scale. We sell a product called Don’t Bug Me. You will need to start over again with new fresh soil. Spray in the evening and out of direct sun to prevent sunburn.

You also might want to spray any plants that are near this one as a preventative measure.

The Huernia looks fine to me in the photo.

Peter

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Oakland Succulents


Hello! I purchased a few succulents there about a month ago. They were doing great but when I went to check if they needed watering yesterday (they did) I noticed two had brown edges and the aloe was spotty. I think this just means the two just need more water but can’t remember if the aloe was always spotted. I attached a photo of each. Am I correct?

They’re all outside on our east-facing deck and get full sun until mid-late afternoon. Is that too much? We’re in Oakland so cool evenings and mornings but warm afternoons usually.

Thanks!
Tyler

Tyler,

The 2 Aeoniums look fine – a little browning on the leaves could be from being moved to your location – i.e. similar to transplant shock, but it looks minimal so nothing to worry about. Also, Aeoniums are winter growers so they will tend to lose leaves throughout the summer until about October anyway, and then the rosettes will start to grow big and full again through our winter rains.

The Aloe looks like it got some sunburn when it got moved. Even though you are very close to us in Oakland sometimes a change in sun/heat/location can cause some stress. That is what the spotting is. It looks like the spots are healed over, so as long as they don’t get worse over time eventually you will see new leaves grow from the center and the old leaves will get replaced – succulents do lose bottom leaves regularly.

You might want to pro-actively spray the Aloe with organic Neem Oil (in the evening out of full sun) just in case there’s any fungal infection from the spotting.
You can also bring any of the plants or all of them in to the store and we can take a closer look in person. Let me know if anything changes either way!

Peter

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Euphorbia squarrosa


Coming soon!

Euphorbia squarrosa

Origin: South Africa
Description: Green spiny branches atop an irregular caudex which is underground in habitat. Green inflorescence with yellow and red centers.

Temperature: Hardy to 32F
Sun: Full Sun to Part Sun
Soil: Extra Chunky
Water: Low Water

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Dudleyas for Everyone!


Hi Peter

I was at Cactus Jungle this morning – here is a picture of my succulent that is unidentified. It has been in the ground three years in full sun has not grown much in that time. Looks like a chrysanthemum.

Thank you Hortensia

Hortensia,

That’s a Dudleya. We do have those here at the store, out on the floor, but they do not have as much red on the tips as in the photo. It is a very slow growing succulent that forms only small clumps.

Peter

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Agave Questions, Answered


Maryann with the Marin Independent Journal wants to know about all the agaves blooming all at once all over Marin. Interesting!

  • I read that the American agaves really do die after blooming – but live on through their offspring. Is that so?

Yes, if they’ve had the offspring by then. Also, the giant bloom stalks are filled with hundreds of blooms which can be pollinated and develop seed and spread thousands of seed in every direction.

  • Do you know how long the current blooms will last?

It can take 4-6 months for the full bloom cycle

  • Could the large number of blooms be attributed to the heavy rains we witnessed this year?

It can be because they were popular to plant 25-30 years ago, or it can be caused by stress as well, which can be the aftermath of the drought, and even the heavy rains this winter.

  • If they really make mezcal from the plant, can I do that at home? 😉

It would be difficult, to say the least. Once they’ve bloomed it’s too late, but if you want to make mezcal from an agave you need to cut all those giant spiny leaves off and harvest just the heart of the plant. That’s a lot of work!

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Summer Cactus Flower


It’s a cholla in full bloom! Well, it’s a single cholla flower. At least! Maybe I could zoom out and we’d see if there are more flowers.

And it’s a California native cactus too.

Cylindropuntia fulgida

Chain-Fruit Cholla, Boxing glove Cholla

Origin: California, Arizona, New Mexico, Baja California

Medium height tree cholla, to 6ft tall. Flowers in summer.

Hardy to 5F.

 

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We Made Best of the East Bay! 


Finally! 

Best Place for Learning How to Grow Designer Succulents

Cactus Jungle Nursery and Garden 

If your green thumb is nonexistent, but you still want to try your hand at growing beautiful plants, there is hope. In this lush nursery of both cacti and succulents, you’ll find low-maintenance plants of every color, height, and even texture — from the furry to the prickly. Glass terrariums dangle from the inside of the nursery’s shop, along with a collection of garden soaps and sparkling amethyst clusters, which can be placed outside or in one’s home. For the beginner botanist, terrarium-making classes are held monthly, where you’ll learn to craft a DIY miniature plant environment out of sand, succulents, and animal sculptures. There are numerous terrariums to choose from, including those made of both hand-blown and recycled glass. And the finished product can be easily used as a creative birthday gift for a friend or family member. Cactus Jungle also offers garden design and installation services, if you’ve been thinking about turning that shoddy front yard into something more similar to vibrant, tropical rainforest. Chances are, you can discover some type of plant suitable for your home here, whether or not you have the gardening experience to go with it. 1509 Fourth St, Berkeley, CactusJungle.com. (Cassandra Vogel)

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They Get Venus Flytrap Questions


It takes a lot of patience to answer some questions, sometimes…, like this one that the Straight Dope got about…

Venus Flytraps from Space!!

So there’s that.

Dear Straight Dope:

I checked your archive and I couldn’t find anything about this, so I thought I’d ask you. Years ago I remember reading that scientists were extremely vexed about the evolutionary appearance of Venus flytraps. The article I read said that the little evil-looking plants simply appeared some time in our planet’s history without any apparent relatives, and the creepiest thing is that their (very small) native area is right in the middle of where a meteor hit the earth years ago. Is this true? It sounds very “Little Shop of Horrors” to me. Additionally, how do the plants “know” when an insect is in their maws? I didn’t think plants had nerves. I patiently await your reply.

SDStaff Doug replies:

There are no scientists puzzled about the Venus flytrap, only “scientists.” The VFT is the only member of its genus, Dionaea, but it has several relatives in the genus Drosera, which also happen to be carnivorous plants, known as “sundews.” Together, these two genera make up the plant family Droseraceae. Sundews occur all over the world, while the VFT is limited to bogs throughout North and South Carolina — and, despite any X-Files episodes to the contrary, neither of the Carolinas used to be a meteor crater….

Read the rest of the answer here.

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Dasylirion Bloomstalk


Good morning –

We purchased the plant next to my son in this photo from you about 2+ years ago.

I cannot recall the name of it – but note it is now producing a giant shoot or blossom that is about 10 feet tall.

What can you tell me about this – I have heard that the plant will die once this shoot blooms?

Thank you for your time –
Kevin

Kevin,

That is a Dasylirion wheeleri, known as the Desert Spoon, from Northern Mexico. They do not die after blooming – you’re thinking of the Agaves – same Plant Family, but different plants!

The giant bloom stalk will produce lots of flowers which will be very attractive to the bees.

Enjoy!

Peter

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61 Cactus Blooms


Dominic sends along this San Pedro photo. Wow! The bees must be going nuts!

I bought this San Pedro cactus from you many years ago. It has bloomed a few times with only a few flowers. This year we got 61 flowers from it!

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