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Peter Lipson
Hap Hollibaugh


Titanopsis calcareum is the knobbly little mesemb with the big dreams. They dream of living their best life in the city on a sunny windowsill in a small apartment where they can get the best care from you that your limited attention can give them. And nothing more! It’s enough!



Not Looking Good


I noticed my cactus browning. It looks like it’s rotting. Please see picture below. Is it something serious? What should I do?


It’s hard for me to know what happened, but it looks like it might be a virus. Whatever it is, it has encircled the cactus which means it is not going to survive. Sorry about that.

New Cactus Cutting Issues

Thanks for replying in response to my email request. The subject cactus, which I was told by its owner Tyler is Trichocereus pacnoi monstrose. It has this callous on the cut end but it also has some yellowish spotting that I am concerned may be a virus. Tyler bought this specimen, along with a bridgesii cutting on eBay, and the first pic shows the plants right after they were unpacked. The other pics are closeups of the cactus of concern. Please reply to me and Tyler as to what actions need to be taken to try to salvage both plants, if that is possible. Thanks so much for responding to my request in a timely manner. Tyler just recently got involved with cactus growing and reached out to Texas A&M Extension to get help with his cacti. I was asked, as a Master Gardener, to try to help him, and I decided to reach out to some cactus experts so I do not send him off in the wrong direction.


I don’t think there is any virus. I think the cactus is just less than perfect, which cactus often are. It may be some active fungus or rot from the shipping process. You can spray with an organic fungicide like Neem Oil or use a systemic like Infuse if you are worried. After you plant it in fresh fast-draining cactus soil and wait 2 weeks to water, if you see any spots start to grow then you might have an issue. If the spots have rings then it might be a virus. But I don’t see anything like that now.

Species name is Echinopsis pachanoi fa. monstrose.



Cactus in the Wet Winter Years

Good day –

I have purchased things from you over the years & need a little help.

Please see in the attached photo our fallen Eve’s Pin (I think that is what it is??) that we have had for years & is huge! The soil was too wet with all this rain & It just toppled over.

Can I somehow put it back in the hole – really don’t know how I am going to pick it up – those thorns are plentiful and large!

I think it roots easily – or should I just take pieces of it off & try putting the back in the ground to see if it will root?
Any advice would be appreciated & thank you for your time.

Thank you – Kevin A

This is definitely because of the wet winter. You can see that the root ball on the Eve’s Needles, Austrocylindropuntia subulata, is very small so it couldn’t support the large cactus above. If you want to try to right it I recommend some bamboo stakes, making a bit of a cage, and tie it all together while it is on the ground, and then use some fabric pieces to wrap around for a handle hold to lift it up. You might want to get more cactus soil where it is and mound up and get as large an area of faster draining soil and then replant upright.

You can of course also take it apart and plant the cuttings, they will root easily.

In the future I would water less, or to be more speicific this gets enough water in winter that after the first summer you should never water it, so that it groiws a bit slower and doesn’t get top heavy.



Portuguese Squill

Scilla peruviana is busting out in blooms all over.

Giant Scilla

Deciduous Bulb

Summer dormant bulb in the Hyacinth family, in fall develops a compact rosette of 18″ long leaves. In spring, forms 6″-12″ tall flower stalks densely topped with numerous small lavendar flowers.

Temperature: Hardy to 10F

Sun: Full Sun


Black Spined Agave

Agave “Pablo’s Choice” has a certain fresh blue leaf color.

A. macroacantha “Pablo’s Choice”

1 to 2ft. blue-grey Agave, compact and low. Large black terminal spines, recurved marginal spines. Full sun at the coast. Will form dense clusters that can spread 3 to 5 feet wide. Cultivar originated near Santa Barbara. Plant in fast-draining soil, grows fast with summer water.

Works well in gardens or in containers.

Temperature: Hardy to 25F


We Get Questions

I found your website/blog while searching images of plants in an attempt to identify mine (pics attached). I acquired this about a year ago when the yoga studio it was living in was closing. The owner told me she had it for several years but, prior to that, it was owned for a number of years by a friend’s relative in Boston. (I am in CT so assume the plant has been indoors it’s whole life).

The prior owner told me that at one point she had it up on a trellis and it seemed to do better. She also told me she had not repotted it since she acquired it. So, I brought it home, tried to let it acclimate for a few months, then repotted it in cactus soil that I’ve used successfully in the past (Fat Plants San Diego Cactus & Succulent soil).  Then several weeks later, I moved it to a south facing window for more sun, then tried to put it up on a trellis, but it does not look as good as when I got it.

The post that brought me to your site originally was on page 11 of the “questions” — the title was “Dragon Flower” which is what you advised the plant was. BUT that one did not have any of the little “tufts” of leaves at the ends like mine does (now fewer and more wilted 😞). I also read in another post of yours that a milky white sap indicates euphorbia and mine does have that sap.

ANY advice you can offer to help ID this and/or advise on care would be SO much appreciated.

I have watered sparingly (maybe every 2-3 weeks) because of all I read about too much water being worse than not enough, but maybe the change of soil would require more (since it was originally in plain potting soil as far as I could tell). Maybe it’s also getting too much sun now???

I really love this plant and want very much to do it justice.

Thanks in advance for any information you can provide. I love your site and wish I was closer!



Your plant is a Monadenium ritchei. I would recommend pruning it back, no reason for it to be going everywhere like that. The basic issue seems to be that uit was in low light for a long time and so it has gone travellingeverywhere, and is a bit floppy too. More sun is better, but you need to take time when moving a plant into full sun – generally move it closer over the course of 1-2 weeks. You may at this time have some sunburn on parts of the plant. Since it is such an overwhelming size anyway, trim off any parts that are too floppy or sunburnt and bring it back down to a more manageable size. Careful of the milky white sap, wear gloves.



Desert Milkweed

Asclepias subulata

It’s a Milkweed pod, because of course we have milkweed pods. Soon to be milkweed seeds, ie Milkweed, everywhere.

Asclepias subulata

Desert Milkweed

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