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Peter Lipson
Hap Hollibaugh

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More Local Cactus News

This time it’s from Edmonton, Canada. Can it be considered local if it’s from the frozen tundra of Western Canada? Sure!

Question: This year I am planning on creating living plant gifts for birthdays and special occasions. Specifically, I want to make cactus bowls and I was hoping you could give me some advice on how I could do this. Thank you for all your great advice.

Answer: Cactus planters are easy to make and even easier to maintain, perfect for those of you with a brown thumb. All you need is a dish or bowl large enough to hold some soil, a layer of pebbles and cacti….

Some cacti for you to consider for your garden:

– Bunny ears cactus

– Prickly pear cactus

– Rose pincushion

Aloe bellatula

Echinopsis oxygona

Interesting list there. Some generic opuntia options, and then a couple very specific species. I wonder why this particular Aloe? And that particular Echinopsis? Has the writer been trading in cactus futures?


Top Ten Cactus of 2011

Family stuff intruded at the end of 2011 so I am late with the Top Ten Lists. I threw in some old photos last week to pass the time, but now I’m buckling down and getting them set up. I may only do 2 of these, but then I may be lying to you too.

Up first, 10 Cactus, all of them Top Cactus, from last year.

10. Rebutia fabrisii
We always try to bring out different mini blooming barrel cactus every year, and this was the year for this one. A nice orange-red color to contrast with all the other rebutias with orange or red flowers. I wonder what we’ll have for you this year?

9. Parodia magnifica
Another small cactus but this one has yellow flowers! Our crop last year was really pretty. It’s a plant we’ve been growing for ever, but these had a little bit extra last year. (And no, I’m not talking about mealy bugs).

8. Echinopsis spachiana
We’ve carried a lot of Echinopsis hybrids, usually not named, but this one with the giant white flowers is a pretty nice species all on its own.

7. Echinopsis, unnamed cultivar
This was my favorite flower color from the Echinopsis hybrids of last year.

6. Tunilla erectoclada
We’ve had these incorrectly named for years. Now they’re fixed. These are some of the most dangerous of tiny little cacti. As the French would say, ne touche pas!

5. Denmoza rhodacantha
I love these barrel cacti with the weird tubular flowers, clearly indicating they’re related to the Cleistocacti and the Oreocereuses.

4. Mammillaria perbella
We always have a lot of different Mammillarias hanging around, some of which we still haven’t gotten around to identifying, but this is one of the most satisfying of the Mammillarias, so welcome to our Top Ten List!

3. Espostoa melanostele
We used to only have a few giant specimens of these yellow-spined plants from South America, but now we have more and smaller too. On the smaller plants the yellow spines kind of look fake. Nice!

2. Ferocactus emoryi
This is a reliable bloomer for us, reliably producing seed too. And yet, last year the blooms were just a little bit prettier, a little bit more special. The bees loved the too, so you know they’re good.

And the Top Cactus of 2011 is…

Wait for it…



Stolen Cactus Followup

Another article about the New Zealand cactus thieves I blogged this morning indicates they thought they were stealing San Pedro cactus, which makes more sense.

The writer also assumes they had stolen San Pedro cactus.

But it was a Cereus. Also known as the Peruvian cactus apple they have delicious fruit, but no mescaline.

One Hamilton garden centre staff member, who did not want to be named, said she had been approached in the past by people wanting to buy cactus and boil it up for a “high”.

Associate Professor Merilyn Manley-Harris, of the chemistry department at Waikato University, said the stolen cactus looked strikingly familiar to the Echinopsis pachanoi, the San Pedro cactus, that contains the hallucinogenic mescaline.

The cactus held a “chemical cocktail of psychedelic agents” that if taken in the wrong dosage could kill, Ms Manley-Harris said….

And always they must tell you that drugs are bad and even here that drugs can kill.

“If you muck around with it this sort of thing can kill you.”


El Cerrito Cactus

Apparently there’s a newspaper in the next town over from Berkeley and they have a cactus that blooms so it’s featured in the newspaper every year. They don’t know what it is, but they don’t stop over here and ask us, now do they? Reporters should call us you know, we’d answer all their questions for them.

Long-time residents know that the plants bloom once a year, subject to the vagaries of weather and traffic. At one time, there were more cacti in the group with multi-colored flowers, but so far this year we just have a single bloom atop one plant.

Gardeners will probably know the names of the plants, but for most of us, the beauty is in the patterns and the blooms.

Geez, don’t reporters have phones anymore?

Not sure what variety of succulent this might be, but it’s an interesting visual effect.

Oh, the humanity. Should we tell them what they are?


ID a Cactus

Hello! I was wondering if you might be able to identify the attached for me? Someone thought it might be an Echinopsis – but the flowers look wrong for that to me. If you have any suggestions, I’d appreciate it very much!

Again, I really enjoy your blog, and read it all the time.

Thanks very much!



Very nice cactus! And not an Echinopsis at all. It’s a Parodia magnifica. Very distinctive.



Stock Check

Joel wants to know if we have a blooming cactus in stock.

I love my neighbor’s cactus plant which flowers often. Do you know the name of it and can you get it for me? I live in Santa Rosa. I would also like to take one of these plants to plant at a friend’s house in Rancho Mirage (near Palm Springs). Would that work?



It is a hybrid, Echinopsis x Echinocereus and we have them in a myriad of bloom colors.
They will grow in both locations and the older they get the more flowers you can expect.One of our parent plants had over 400 blooms last year!

Thank you for your interest,



Southfield Nurseries, of Bourne Road, Morton, won ‘best in show’ for an exhibition of cacti at the Spring Gardening Show at Malvern.

They received their award from the Duke of Gloucester.

That is very good news for the Bourne Road Cactus Growers of Morton. Nice Echinopsises, too. For some reason the local paper didn’t take a picture of the award winning exhibition, but instead after the show had closed went to Bourne Road in Morton and took a picture of the growing greemhouse with the blooming Echinopsises and some Cleistocactus and Echinocactus in the background too.


We Get Reader Photos and Questions

Hello Peter,

Thanks for this month’s newsletter. I am happy to see you have some Myrtillocactus blue crests! I have a little baby one about 4” tall with only one little fan…yours look wonderful.

I am sending some pictures – hope you don’t mind. The first one I bought at H*** D****. It was/is gorgeous!! It is labeled as Trichocereus grandiflorous Hybrid and your website (I do believe) calls it an Echinopsis terscheckii. Are they one and the same?

The second pic is my poor little beat up Myrtillocactus.

And the third picture is of three plants I bought at a local cactus and succulent club sale… from left to right they are… Euphorbia Knutii, the poisonous Tylecodon and on the right is the Euphorbia Aeruginosa. Sound right to you?

I also bought a Rebutia torquata with lovely orange flowers – can’t find it in any books, though.

Thanks for your time!



The first one we call Echinocereus grandiflora hybrid. The Trichocereus name was changed to Echinopsis years ago, but many nurseries have kept the old name. These are intergenic hybrids, including both Echinopsis and Echinocereus parentage, so we picked the Echinocereus name, while others have picked the Echinopsis or Trichocereus name. It’s definitely not going to turn into a giant tree cactus like the Echinopsis terscheckii.

The small Myrtillocactus Crest looks like it needs to get repotted into a bigger pot and fresh cactus soil. It has very good shape, but needs more root space and nutrients.

Your Euphorbia knuthii is a really nice young specimen. They will grow a beautiful big caudex over time. The Tylecodon could be T. paniculatus, although it’s hard to tell for sure from the photo. Finally, the ID on the Euphorbia is correct. If you pot it up it will sprawl everywhere and with those spiny stems they are quite the challenge to repot.

Rebutia torquata is more properly called Rebutia pygmaea. This one can handle less sun than most cactus, and would prefer some afternoon shade.



Giant White Cactus Flowers

Echinopsis spachiana’s stems will get to about 6 feet tall, with a few branches. The big white flowers get to about 6 feet across, or so it seems. Maybe a little bit less.

Found in Argentina; you might want to know that while the flowers are white, the “floral tubes are very hairy” according to Anderson.

Honestly, I’m not absolutely sure about the ID on this as it is very similar to E. thelegonoides and E. thelegona. Anyone have an opinion?


As Seen on Flickr

Click through for all the pretty photos on Flickr.

  1. First up we have a peachy Echinopsis with not one but two flowers from Annibel.
  2. Secondly, we see there was a “Happy Cactus” for Cinco de Mayo. I’m not happy about it at all. From Shaire.
  3. Lastly we find a round of cactus and succulents on a bench from Robert Miles Design. From the left going clockwise, Mammillaria, Parodia, Espostoa, Ferocactus, Astrophytum, Echeveria, Pachyveria(?), Pleiospilos.

That was it for flickr today, nothing else new there. I wish people would upload more photos.


South American Cactus Flowers

Here we see that the nursery is awash in giant beautiful colorful cactus flowers. We don’t know the species for each of these, but we believe they’re all Echinopsis, which are from South America.

They really do make you jealous of the bees that get to dive right inside and roll around.

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