Cactus Blog Archives

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Peter Lipson
Hap Hollibaugh

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Black Spot on my Cactus


Hi Cactus Jungle,

May I ask, do you know why this cactus body is become black spot?
I just bought my plant last week. Yesterday I clean the brown patch (dead scale) from the cactus body.. However, the spot that I clean become black spot.. Today I tried to clean that again and scratch & wipe it using alcohol. However the wound is turn to black again.. Is it normal? Is it a disease and can it spread to next plant? Do I need to repot the plant?

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We Get Euphorbia Questions


Good evening

I have heard what I think is a Euphorbia ingenes for around three years now and it’s always been a healthy plant with lots of growth however we moved house in October and it has been in my hallway to the right of my glass front door it always has in direct sunlight and it’s quite a bright room it has been absolutely fine here until two weeks ago as you can see from the photographs the problem has escalated quite quickly from the week of photographs taken I did water it and a couple of days after I did find that it was sat in about 3 cm of water so I took that out immediately however this discolouring had already taken place I have never and don’t normally water a lot so I don’t see how that one time of watering could do this much damage is it an infestation perhaps I really don’t know a lot about this plant or even if it is the right Euphorbia and I really really want to save this plan I love it so much what can I do and please give me as much information as possible because I’m getting conflicting advice thank you so much and you have a lovely website
Regards harriet x

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We Get Emails from Nederlands


The Euphorbia antisyphilitica photos on your site from the Growing place are nice.
But I grow the plant in Holland, without growing place and was looking were he grow.. now I know Texas and Mexico
So I came on your site..[The photos you can put in iff you want,]
Becose this plants have Male and Female flowers and set seeds on his own, only by some wind, just a bit in the greenhouse !
Becose most Euphotbia have Male and Femail plants.. so this is an special rare one !
Cok

Nice photo of the flower!

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Heritage Plant Question


Hi,
I have a Christmas Cactus, (pink flowering, 18″ long ‘paddle’ leaves),
that is said to be from a cutting in Kansas, ca. 1865.

Is there a possibility it is a rare, unknown or presumed ‘extinct’
variety!!!???

Do you know of any experts, collectors or breeders that might like a
sample to check it’s DNA -Maybe it could be of value as a foundation plant!?

There’s a Dec 8, 2015 article from UGA, (University of Georgia Ag
Extension), Extension about some cacti being 100, 150 – 200 years old!,
“Confusion about the Christmnas Cactus – They aren’t from the desert.

Best,
Mark
Olympia WA

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Repotting a Cactus


Hi there,

I don’t know if you can help me, but I need some advice on cactus care so I figured I’d give it a shot. I inherited this big girl (she is about 3.5 feet high) when a friend of mine abruptly left town. I was advised by a plant ID group that this is an Espostoa senilis. It seems to me that the cactus should be transplanted, either into a larger container or into the ground? I live in Portland, OR (8b) and although we don’t typically get down past 25F, it is quite wet here and often cool or gray. If I transplanted it, is it likely to survive? And should I wait until the hot, dry summer to transplant or would Spring be a good time (just had our likely last frost)? Also, any tips for transplanting are appreciated. She is SHARP.

Thank you so much!
Jenny

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Is My Cactus Still Alive?


Hello,
I’m seeking help for my cactus, and I don’t know who to talk to. I’m not sure what’s going on, but it looks like my cactus is deteriorating. The base of the cactus turned brown and the brown color is creeping up each branch. Even worse, the branches are cracking and look like they’re going to fall off. In fact, one already did. I also noticed that the base is oozing fluid, and I see a red spot that’s attracting flies. I was wondering if you have any idea what the problem is, or if you can refer me to someone who can help. Is there any way to save the cactus, or should I lop off the parts of the branches that are still green and replant them? The cactus is about 20′ tall (higher than my house), and I’d hate to let it go.

I’ve attached a few pics so you can see what I’m describing.

Thank you for any assistance you can provide,
Brian

Brian, Your cactus is no longer among the living, it is a former cactus – it has died. I do not know what happened but often this can be a problem of a pot that is too small, or kept in the same pot for too long. In the ground it can be caused by too much water, or poor soil. Plants also have limited life spans and are susceptible to pests and viruses so it may have caught something.

Peter

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Capsule Cactus


Hello, i have recently bought a cactus keychain and i am unsure how to look after it. I’ve attached a picture of it. Could you please inform me what the type of cactus it is so i can look into it further. Also, if possible would you be able to provide some advice on the correct conditions and ways to keep it happy.
thank you
Lauren C

Lauren,

Putting a living plant into a tiny plastic capusle is a cute idea. If you want instructions into keeping it alive in there I recommend following the instructions that should have come with it. But the real way to take care of the plant is to remove it from the capsule and plant it in a small terra cotta pot with fast-draining cactus soil (not sand), give it lots of direct sun and a little bit of water. When it is bigger and healthy send a photo and I can try to ID the species for you then.

Stay safe,
Peter

 

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Cactus Leaves


Cactus leaves, they’re real! Tubular on the opuntiods. This one is Austrocylindropuntia subulata Monstrose. Myrtillocactus cresting in back.

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Taking Euphorbia Cuts


Hello. Our Euphorbia has a top part that has grown quite large and the stalk will not be able to support it much longer. it is already leaning a lot (this photo is a few months old and it has gotten larger).

Is it possible to cut the top part off and plant it? How do these plants do with propagation and how do you suggest we do this. How will the bottom respond/heal from it? Is this a good time of year to do this?

I seem to recall there was a solution you suggested to put on this plant if we cut it as it releases some irritating sap.

Thanks!
Stephanie

 

You can cut below the branching top – leave at least 6 inches of stem below. You should wait until spring, winter is not a great time for this.

First be aware that this is a Euphorbia ammak which has a caustic milky-white latex sap. You need to wear gloves and long sleeves and eye protection when working around this plant. Given its height, this is going to take at least 2 people to safely take cuttings. One to hold the plant, one to do the cutting. If it is taller than it appears you may need a 3rd person to help hold the branch as it is being cut. Please make sure you feel safe with all this before you start. I recommend using a serrated bread knife to cut, and blankets to wrap the branch before cutting.

Basically you need to cut with enough left to be able to plant below the branching. Spray the cut with hydrogen peroxide and set aside to dry for 2 to 3 weeks. Spray the remainder as well, make sure to protect from direct sun until calloused over.

When the branches are fully healed over you can plant them in dry cactus soil and keep dry for a few more weeks. Water only every 3-4 weeks.

Stay safe, Peter

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70+ Years From Now


Dear team,
I would like to plant three Dasylirion Wheeleri in my garden. However, could you comment on their lifespan? can they live longer than 70 years?

Thank you,
Matt

Dasylirion are long lived, will grow a trunk and all, but I do not know if they live 70+ years – you can check with a botanic garden to see if they have any that are that old.

Peter

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We Get Golden Barrel Questions


Hello,

I came across your web site and saw that you answer questions, so I thought I would try sending one. My friend gave me a large golden barrel pup from her father’s outside golden barrel cactus that lives in LA. I have been waiting for it to callus, and I went to check it today and the cut area was covered in a white fuzzy substance (pictures attached). I immediately thought of fungus, especially since it had been sitting in a box cut side down. I also thought it could be mealy bugs, and there was some orange color when I dabbed at it with alcohol on a paper towel, but not as much color as I would have expected if it was a dense mass of mealy bugs. I also looked at the cut surface and one of the pieces that came off with a 10x hand lens and I did not see any adults, just a dense matrix of white fluff. I had looked at it briefly when she brought it to me a week ago, and I do not recall seeing such a dense area of white fluff, although it was dark and I only looked very quickly. So whatever it is seems to have grown quite a bit in a week, although I can’t be 100% sure.

   

I attached some pictures, in the last one the spots where the cut surface is orange is where I dabbed it with the alcohol on the towel. It seemed to dissolve from the alcohol, it didn’t really seem to rub off onto the paper towel.

Do you think this is fungus, mealy bugs, or something else, and can it be saved? I was admonished not to kill the cactus so I would be very disappointed if I lost it even before planting it. If you don’t just answer random questions, I understand but thought I’d give it a try!

Thanks,
Rachel
California Department of Fish and Wildlife

It’s going to be a problem since it’s winter, to treat this successfully. It’s a fungus and likely bacterial. I recommend sulfur on the cut edge and treat the whole plant with a systemic fungicide like Infuse, after the sun goes down. Keep dry! Air circulation. It will be at least a month before you can try planting it, and a heat mat under the pot might help it root (warm and dry).

Peter

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Houseplants at Cactus Jungle


Our houseplants are fully stocked, ready to go! Online, in the shops, and here we are at the Marin store! Have you been to our store in San Anselmo? Come by, stop and check us out. We are open! We are delivering locally!

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Canary Islands Euphorbia Tree


Hi my name is jack.
I currently live in the canarys islands fuerteventura.
I have just took over a property to maintain there garden.
I am just looking for some advice how to prune the euphorbia candelabrum. The customer would like it reduced in height.
They are not particularly bothered about it flowing at this moment in time as it is round a pool area and would like it tidied up and reduced before guests arrive

Looking forward to your response
I have attached a photo.

Best wishes
Jack

Jack,

That is huge! Actually has pretty good form as is. Anyway, the trick with Euphorbias is that they have a poisonous sap so you have to wear a lot of protection, long sleeves gloves and eye protection. At that size it will probably take multiple people unless you have larger equipment available. We would use a crew of 4-5 people to safely cut that back.

You can cut any of the branches at the joints. That will reduce the overall mass. As for reducing the height, I don’t actually think that is possible. You could in theory remove all the branches and keep a tall stump which will start to grow back over time.

Peter

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