Questions

Cactus ID for Everyone!

Subject: cactus photo

sent you a message asking for your help finding out what kind of cactus this is thanks for all your help


Mr Leslie Paulson

Your cactus is a Cereus c.v. Monstrose!

Peter

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

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

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

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

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!

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.

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

Montana Sends a Cactus Photo

Hi!
Could you tell me the name of this cactus? It’s a very small, low-growing, spreading, clumping one with fine spines and orange flowers.

Thanks in advance,
Montana

Montana,

That little cactus is Rebutia fiebrigii.

Peter

Winter Succulent Damage

Hi cactus jungle

A few of my cacti have struggled after the rains.

I have attached a photo and I’m wondering if you can tell me what is happening with this plant.

Is it a lost cause😞? If not, how can I help it?

Thank you
Brian

Brian,

The plant is a Euphorbia, and hopefully it is just the tip that got damaged in the winter. Depending on where you live, they are only semi-hardy here in the Bay Area, so they can take damage to the tip when we get below freezing, or with heavy rains, or especially with both (See: This year.)

You can cut the top part off the plant and it looks like the damage is limited there. Cut at an angle, using a bread knife, and make sure the flesh is clean and white. If there is still some rot there, cut lower. Be careful when cutting a Euphorbia as it has a caustic milky-white sap. Where gloves, long sleeves, and eye-protection. Spray the cut end with Hydrogen Peroxide and put a paper bag over it to keep the sun off it until it is healed. Good Luck!

Peter

Haworthia Questions

Hi Peter
Would you be able to tell me the name of the succulent in the attached?

And perhaps more importantly, what is happening with the dry, papery bits toward the crown? Can this plant be saved? I am not sure what to do next. It was lovely and plump and then this started happening and I am not sure what I did (or am doing)

Much thanks to you!
Ann

Ann,

The plant is a Haworthia. It looks like it’s growing towards sun, maybe not enough sun where it is? It’s doing well since it can handle lower light levels for a succulent, but the result is the long stems with the dried leaves along it. You can pull them off or leave them in place, doesn’t really matter. But it is time to repot into a fresh fast-draining cactus soil and a larger pot.

Peter

Cactus ID Is Difficult 

Hello!

I recently purchased a cactus to put on my windowsill to brighten up my room a bit, my problem is that I threw away the container right after I repotted it and now I don’t know what it is exactly. Could you help me?

The pot it’s in in this picture is four inches across and the ends of the spines are a dark red color.

Thank you so much!

Emma

Emma,

Hard to know for sure at that size, but I would guess a Gymnocalycium, although my 2nd guess would be a Ferocactus. If it blooms young, it’s probably a Gymnocalycium. Also, it looks like it could use more sun.

Peter

We Get Florida Cactus Questions

Hello,

I live in Florida & would like to plant some cacti in my front courtyard.

Do you know some names of cacti that do not grow too big in size for me to plant in that area?

Kathleen

Kathleen,

Florida is a big state with many different climate zones. Also, if you are interested in true spiny cactus, most of them are not going to do well in most of Florida due to humidity. However if you are looking for more succulent plants then there are many that can do well – I would ask that you visit your local nursery and they will be best able to get you something that is climate appropriate where you are.

Thanks,
Peter

Pachypodiums in Winter

Hi there, I have gotten many plants from you through out the years. One of the plants I have, got damaged. Just noticed it at an angle this AM.

14963015_10211189328553147_2039222673_n1 14937975_10211189328473145_204465858_n1

I am hoping you can kindly help me again like in the past. Can I (and how), propagate the fallen portion? It has fresh growth on top, but lower portion looks/feels soft but intact. I’m including some pics if that helps. Any suggestions would be great. Thank you for your time with this.

Stan F

The branch comes off a Pachypodium saundersi. Generally it won’t root at this time of year, and if you do get it to root it won’t form the fat base like the original plant. It is a branch, so like many plants if they lose a branch usually you can just toss them after making sure the main plant is OK. In this case, the branch looks thin, which may be due to it wanting more direct sun or less water. If you want to try to root it, cut it further up until it is dry and firm and then let it heal for a couple weeks. Use a rooting hormone – we sell “Dip ‘n Grow” – and place in dry cactus soil. Use bottom heat since we’re going into winter – that would be a heating pad, or place on a warm but not hot heater at home.

Peter

We Get Questions

Hi,
I keep this in a sunny window, lately I’ve been seeing this brown shriveling in some sections of the plant. I water weekly with Schultz cactus food in the water. Any suggestions on how to bring back to health? Possibly I’m watering too often? Thanks very much.

img_1777

Jim

Jim,

You’ve got a couple different problems. One is that you are watering and fertilizing too much, causing the plant to grow too fast, rather than slow and healthy growth. Less water and a lot less fertilizer. Second, you appear to have mealie bugs on the plant. You’ll need to spray with an organic pesticide, like a Neem Oil.

You can prune off the dead branches and leaves and the rest of it should survive fine.

Peter

Palm Springs Cactus

Hi there,

I was wondering if you could help to identify this cactus. I saw it while walking down a street of mid-century homes while visiting Palm Springs. I love its color and form, really got my attention. I live on the east coast and would love to care for a (much) smaller plant of this type indoors, if you happen to know any specifics.

Thanks for your time!
Nicole

The cactus is a Myrtillocactus, also known as the Whortleberry Cactus.

Peter

Questions!

Hey there. I recently purchased this barrel cactus from a shop in Denver and then took it with me back to NYC. (As carry-on.) It looks basically healthy except for this discoloration, which seems to come in two parts. At the upper end of the plant there are these lighter (yellowish) spots. With an x-acto knife I can slice them off, tho it’s not the easiest thing in the world to do. Towards the bottom, the discoloration isn’t raised, and it’s pretty thorough at the bottom two inches, creeping up in some places.

IMG_1400

Maybe the bottom is natural barking, and the top is related to frost in Denver? In which case, let it be?

Or maybe it’s a scale infestation? In which case, should I take that knife to everything I can?

Spent forever online looking for advice but have gotten nowhere. Any thoughts you have would be so appreciated!

David

It’s hard to tell from the photo. It’s either some previous damage that has healed over, in which case you don’t need to do anything. Or it’s scale, which is an insect, so please put away the exacto blades. If you think it’s scale then you should spray it with an organic insecticide. You can also dip a soft paintbrush into rubbing alcohol and that will break the shell down so that you can clean them off after they are dead.

Peter

ID'ing a Beehive Cactus

Hello again Peter,

Hoping you could ID some succulents for me

My gf has been trying to search for their IDs and is stumped.

IMG_1777

Appreciate your assistance as always!

Jess

Jess,

You have there a very adorable little Beehive Cactus, a Coryphantha difficilis.

Peter

Quick Cactus Question!

Is there any way to grow cactus faster then what they usually grow?

Antonio

They will grow faster with more heat, more direct sunshine and more water. But if they grow too fast then they are not growing strong and they won’t live very long.

Hope that helps!
Peter

A Euphorbia Grows in Kansas City

Hello!

I live in kansas city and was gifted this beauty for mothers day.. I want to take the best care possible of this gorgeous cactus! Our home has tons of natural light and we were told by the nursery we purchased it from that the spot we have it in is a good one even though it doesn’t received direct sun. I’m terrified of under/over watering. With a plant this size, how often should I be watering , and when I do, how much should I give? Do I fertilize? It’s about 8 ft tall. Thank you for your expertise.. Love your blog!

euphorbia ammak

Gina

Gina,

That’s quite large! In general I would recommend some direcgt sun, though these Euphorbias can sometimes handle a bright room with no direct light, but it’s tricky.

Basically, with lower light levels you want to water less. A lot less. I would try starting with watering every 2 months – try to soak the soil as much as possible without the plant sitting in water. I would fertilize just a little bit once per year in the spring. You want to slow down its growth so it doesn’t grow more than 2 or 3 inches in a year.

However it would be best if you can move it to where it gets some directct sun and then you can water more often.

Peter

How to Plant a Cactus

I have a couple of cactus that are in need of serious re-planting. And I want to make sure it gets done right.

falling1

I have included some pics. Looking for any advice on the best way to go about this.

leaning1

Tom

Tom,

Those are some impressive looking cactus! I assume you are not going to try to replant the whole clusters, but rather are asking about taking cuttings from the fallen branches. Generally we recommend take tip cuttings and about 2-3ft. in length. Use a serrated blade, like a bread knife. Take a clean cut at a slight angle. Spray the cut end with household Hydrogen Peroxide and then set it aside in a shady location for a week or two so that the cut end callouses over.

When you are ready to plant, if it’s in a pot use fast draining cactus soil. Plant it 4 to 6 inches deep into the soil and stake it up. Don’t water for another week or two. Then start regular watering (every 2-3 weeks in the Bay Area, more or less depending on where you live.)

Peter

Green Ghost

Hello Peter.

Here’s a pic of a cactus I keep inside.

Euphorbia lactea crest

The dark green growth is shooting up from the variegated “ghost” , should I remove it and replant it? The white part isn’t showing new growth, I think the green is stealing the limelight.

Thx again, Karen

Karen,

Wow – that is a very green sport from that Ghost Euphorbia. I kind of like it, but if you want it can definitely be cut off and replanted into another pot. If you’re stopping by here we can do it for you.

Peter

We Get Plant Questions

Hello, you once posted a picture of a vine that looked like grass, but it is no longer in your photo data? I am trying to find it but can’t remember it’s name. Does this ring any bells? I thought part of the name had something like tweedia in it but not the tweedia with the blue flowers.
Thanks, 
Jamie (in SF)

The one you are looking for is called Mormon Tea, Ephedra tweediana. I guess the Tweedy part is the memorable part of the name. Although ironically Ephedra is sometimes used for memory.

Peter

Variegated Aloe – Natural Variation or Mutation?

A house on my street has these mounds of aloes. Not too attractive as far as it’s design, but something very cool popped up out of it.

Aloe nobilis mutation

Is this how variegated versions of plants are made? By mutation?

I’m considering asking to buy this lil special guy and try to see if I keep it healthy it will put out pups. Have you ever seen one like this? Cuz I never have.

Thx!!!
Jbot

Jbot,

It does look like an albino variegation mutation on that Aloe nobilis. In full sun and low water it will likely fail long term, so indeed try to bargain for it. That type of mutation is usually better grown where they get afternoon shade and a bit more care since they lack so much chlorophyll they are a bit “sickly”, but look pretty good with the right care.

Good luck and if you get it and grow it out and want to share a pup in a few years let me know!

Take care,

Hap

No cats, Dogs!

I bought this cactus many years ago for a dollar 99 and there were 4 inches of it straight up. I’ve kept it usually just back in the corner not really paying attention to it and probably in the same dirt it was in for 12, 13, 14, years.

image
image

Cannot get pictures not when it was real tiny but when I was about 3 feet high and then I’ve got pictures of a more currently when I transplanted it in cactus soil and a larger pot (it was root bound). And it has grown Beyond belief shooting out things everywhere my question is I don’t know if I planted it in enough cactus soil with enough depth. There is a bout 10 to 12 inches of soil hello pot that is probably 2 feet around tapering down to a foot around. And I don’t know how to describe how far Down the plant goes.

The question is how deeper the roots go on something like this finished just one stock coming out of the center from the center supporting all these things and I will attach photos. I look forward to some answers and maybe even what kind of cactuses if it should be repotted again. It sits in the large picture window so it’s getting good sun. I live in Minnesota supported out during the summer would just open it up to bugs that.

Thanks…
Kevin

Kevin,

Your plant is a Euphorbia. They are a great indoor houseplant. They can be underpotted for years, as you know, and then given some new fresh soil and some water they will grow like crazy! Water less for slower growth. We water no more than once per month. If you pot it up to a larger pot now it will keep getting bigger. However in the ground this is a full size tree, so it’s OK to not repot it for a few more years.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euphorbia_ingens#/media/File:Euphorbia_ingens_(habitus ),_crop.jpg

Peter

Thanks you so much! Yay… Do you have cats at home?
Kevin
DuckyWorld Products Inc.
Minneapolis, MN

No cats, dogs!

image

We get Questions- Odd gall

Hello Peter,

I’ve got a challenge for you with this Crown of Thorns plant. The plant is obviously not as healthy as it was when it was attached to the roots. I cut off the top because it had these weird growths on it. If I had to guess, I would call them galls. What do you think?

close2 full P1050419 top

Elizabeth

Elizabeth,

Uggh! It looks like a virus that is mutating the tissue. It should be disposed of right away. Sorry about that! The bottom parts of the plant may or may not be infected, so give it a chance, but if the stuff shows up then dispose.

Peter

Dudleya Questions

Hi,
Bought plant year ago and you repotted. Plant is on balcony in Mission Bay SF. Watered 4-6 cups every 2 1/2 weeks; fertilized in Sept.

IMG_0751

Lower leaves of plant gets soft and shrivels so I cut off. However, as plant grows, the lower leaves continue to get soft and shrivel; is this normal? Also, some of the leaves get these brown spots as you can see in the lower leaves in the photo. What is this? From water? In strong rain and wind over a number of days, I cover plant with a plastic bag; is this necessary?
Thank you for your help!
Mary

Mary,

Your Dudleya is looking great! All succulents lose bottom leaves, and Dudleyas are no exception. They do get the brown spots and if its on a bottom leaf that will be falling off soon then there’s nothing to worry about. On upper leaves the problem is that Dudleyas prefer not to have water sitting on them, so in the ground it is often best to plant them at an angle so the winter rains roll off. Not as possible in a pot, but generally a little water on top won’t hurt the plant more than the occasional spots. Or bring it under cover when we get those too-rare rains these days!

Peter

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