How-to

Clumps of Blooming Airplants

Tillandsia stricta “Green” is huge. And it has purple blooms! What more could you want? You could want for nothing more. I assure you.

People ask us how do you take care of airplants? And I tell them to keep them in bright indirect light, a little direct sun is OK but not too much. Mist 2-3 times per week, or dunk in water once per week – I usually run my under a faucet weekly and then shake it off. Always make sure they dry out within about 4 hours of watering them or they might rot. And finally you should add nutrients to the water once per month. We use an organic Liquid Seaweed at low strength.

Easy!

Playing with Cactus

Musicians have been playing with cactus ever since John Cage wrote a piece for cactus many years ago. Probably people were playing cactus even longer ago than that, but there you go – John Cage gets all the credit.

Farkas, 30, plays percussion

instruments such as marimba and snare drum, but nothing captures attention like playing the spines of a cactus in a pot….

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As strange as it may sound to others, Farkas said, cactus playing is a thing in the percussion world — mostly thanks to avant-garde composer and music theorist John Cage. Cage’s “Child of Tree,” composed in 1975, uses instruments made of plant materials, including the cactus. 

Best if all this particular article comes with instructions! Now you can know how to play the cactus yourself!

How to Play the Cactus

1. Get a cactus with long, evenly spread spines.

2. Make a contact microphone using a piezoelectric transducer, plug it into an amplifier and attach it to one of the cactus spines.

3. Use your fingers or other objects to pluck or rub the spines to create sound. Bonus points for rhythm without injury.

Electrified!

Pumpkins? Succulents? What Kind of Halloween Horror is This?

The Washington Post is making a horrible nightmarish Halloween centerpiece out of a stitched together agglomeration of hideous opposites.

Though it is kind of cute.

Daigle, 31, who is one of the authors of the blog Needles & Leaves… told us a bit about succulents and shared a few photos of DIY holiday ideas from her book. There you can find detailed directions on how to create them.

Oh, so it’s in a book! Very timely.

Where is the best place to buy succulents?

Try and go directly to a local nursery. You will get a better plant from them, and you can pick it out yourself.

Nice! She likes us! She really likes us!

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

Cactus Nails

filed-and-styled-free-hugs-640x525c[1]

Goth Garden sends along a remarkable photo of Cactus Nails.

Nails of the Day says:

Well if this isn’t the cutest nail art I’ve ever seen!

OK, so maybe. Maybe not. What do I know about nail art anyway?

What to Do in Your Hometown

Are succulent events coming to your hometown? Maybe. Debra Lee Baldwin is traveling this spring, and maybe she’ll be coming to your hometown. And then you can have a wonderfully succulent spring time in your hometown. But not otherwise.

My Spring-Summer Whistle Stops
Succulent garden railway

Here’s where and when I’ll give presentations. If your city’s on the list, please save the date!

Fri. and Sat., Feb. 28-Mar. 1, Spring Home & Garden Show, Del Mar Fairgrounds, San Diego~~~Attend the Spring Home/Garden Show as my guest. Print a free pass for two. $16 value.~~~

Thurs. and Fri., March 20-21, San Francisco Flower & Garden Show, San Mateo Convention Center

Sat., March 22, San Diego Master Gardener’s Spring Seminar

Tues., Wed. and Thurs., April 1-3, Epcot Center International Flower Festival, Orlando, FL

Sat. and Sun., May 17-18, 2014, Eco-Xpo, San Juan Capistrano, Orange County, CA

Sat. and Sun., May 31-June 1, Sunset Celebration, Menlo Park, CA

Fri. and Sat., June 6-7, Succulent Celebration at Waterwise Botanicals nursery, Escondido, CA

Sat., June 28, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis

I’ll be signing all three of my books (including the new one, Succulents Simplified) at all events.If you enjoyed one of my presentations, I’d be grateful if you’d post a comment on the Great Garden Speakers website. Many thanks!

That’s a lot of California hometowns, including two in the Bay Area, so you know you should all move out here to California.

Propagating Echeverias

Echeveria perle von nurnberg

Echeveria “Perle von Nurnberg”

These have been propagated from leaf cuttings. It takes a couple years before you get such large and beautiful plants from a single leaf. But it happens!

Echeveria derenbergii

Echeveria derenbergii

These are growing in what we call a “Mud Flat”. Here, let me google that for you. Well, that’s not what I’m talking about. I wonder if I can find any pictures online? Here we go. And here’s a pretty application.

So that’s how we do it.

And a bonus! Here’s a leaf cutting with plantlet and rootlets for you.

Crassula leaf cutting with plantlet and rootlets

Succulent Terrariums

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Yesterday was a how to for succulent wall panels. Today we present Succulent Terrariums. But I can’t really explain all that well in words how to make them. You know, you plant some succulents in a piece of glass. Add some charcoal at the bottom, and some toys on top. Woohoo!

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And a big and fancy succulent terrarium, although it’s hard to tell from the photo how much bigger it is than the others above.

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If you look close, you can see a little dinosaur there, and you can compare it to the one in the top photo for size.

Succulent Wall Panels

succulent_wall_detail

It’s a closeup, a detail even, from one of our own custom Succulent Wall Panels. 

We make them! Right here in the Berkeley California workshop we call a Cactus Jungle.

How do we make them? Well we start with the finest of recycled wood boards and make a box! 4 sides and a back, with a wire mesh front. The material inside is green moss, i.e. sphagnum moss, with a backing of rock wool. That’s it! No soil, never no way.

So then you lay the completed box flat on a table and poke the moss with a pointy stick, or a pencil if you prefer, to generate a small hole that you can stick a succulent cutting into. Lots of succulent cuttings. Sedums, Crassulas and Sempervivums work well. An occasional Echeveria but not too many.

Make sure the cuttings are healed over by letting it dry for a few days before sticking it in the box. So this may be a multi-day process.

Then you let the box sit in a warm sunny location for 4-8 weeks until the cuttings have rooted into the boxes.

We also use greening pins to help hold the succulents in place, because we do have to transport the boxes to our greenhouse to root, and then back again, but you don’t need to use greening pins if you don’t want to. However, after the box is fully rooted and you want to hang it up on a wall, then you might want to check to see if any of the succulents have been less than fully rooted at that point at which time you may want to use some greening pins yourself to help keep the loose succulents from falling out.

succulent_square

Transplanting Cactus

Peggy called and needed to transplant the cacti she had bought from us, but she now lives elsewhere so we talked her through the process and pictures ensued.

Hi
We purchased an Oreocereus trolli in 2009. We since moved to Los Angeles and cacti out grew its container and spawned three-four new growths. I called a month or so ago and spoke to someone about transplanting it. I was able to transfer it this morning, I promised to send photos.

Best
Peggy

Here’s what it looked like before the repotting. Nice!

1_transplant 2_transplant 3_transplant

And the final result…. After the break…. Read More…

How to Grow Cactus

Line the seedlings up in a tray. Give them lots of sun, maybe some late afternoon shade. Water occasionally.

Enjoy!

Pachycereus marginatus

Pachycereus marginatus, Organ Pipe Cactus

Cleistocactus hyalancanthus

Cleistocactus hyalacanthus

Oooohh, photogenic!

Joe Makes a Terrarium

Making a Terrarium

The process is secret. Don’t look too closely or you’ll be stealing our patented processes.

Terrarium

Finished! Very sophisticated. And a very good price, if I do say so myself. And I do. Say so myself.

How Often do You Water Cactus?

The Midwest Cactus Guru, Wichita’s own Ron Hardesty, says this:

“You got to live with them. If you live with them, you know when to water them,” Hardesty finally found the words to say.

Excellent advice.

I would also suggest in a sunny and warm environment that watering cactus every 2 to 3 weeks is good.

Terrariums

I was thinking I might post about making terrariums. Or I could just share this photo of Keith making a terrarium.

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Nice!

Thanks, Keith.

Cactus Cupcakes

CactusBlog reader Elizabeth saw these cactus cupcakes and for some reason thought of us! They do look delicious.

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The secret ingredient is a lot of frosting.

And the Alanna Jones Mann website this is from comes with a full, complete and fully daunting set of DIY instructions so you can make these yourself.

As I mentioned on Wednesday, I took inspiration from a recent gardening project to make a variety of house plant cupcakes.  And it resulted in a whole bunch of cacti cupcake cuteness! Click below to check out a tutorial for these delectable edible house plants

San Diego Succulents

Ever wonder what to do when you’re hanging around San Diego? Well, you could meet famed succulent author and gardener Debra Lee Baldwin. Bring the kids! It’s a fun day for everyone.

Debra Lee Baldwin, and her new book, Succulents Simplified, will be at the San Diego Horticultural Society on Monday July 8.

The meeting starts at 6:00 p.m. at the Surfside Race Place at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Admission for non-members is $10. She’ll be signing her new book, Succulents Simplified.

And then there’s a followup at Roger’s Gardens in Corona del Mar (Orange County) at 9 a.m. July 27. Free.

Cotyledon

Cotyledon orbiculata v spuria

Cotyledon orbiculata v. spuria has gorgeous flowers this time of year. Wow!

And then there’s the pest problem. Aphids. Don’t scroll down if you don’t want to see the gruesome little buggies in closeup. But just so you know, these are on a different plant than the one above.

As it is, aphids love succulent blooms, especially those in the Crassula Family (Crassulaceae) like Cotyledons and Echeverias. Often when the blooms get aphids I will just cut the bloom stalk off and be done with it. In the case of the flowers below, though, they are too pretty for that and too early in the bloom cycle, so we dipped a soft paintbrush in rubbing alcohol and very carefully wiped them off the flowers. Then we sprayed the stalk and area below the flowers with neem oil to try to prevent them from coming back. Good luck!

So now we get to the aphid picture. Turn away!

succulent aphids

Oh. You looked. OK then.

Euphorbia Sap

Euphorbia sap in the eye in Iowa?

Ow.

Let that be a lesson to you all to not get Euphorbia sap in your eye. Don’t get it on your hands and if you do wash your hands thoroughly and immediately. Don’t wait ’til later because you will have forgotten long enough to touch your eye and then look at what happens.

By the way, don’t touch your lips either.

In the meantime, here’s a Euphorbia picture.

euphorbia_lactea_crest9

Euphorbia lactea “Crest”

How to Take Euphorbia Cuts

Hello, my cactus is getting a light brown discoloration on his arms, I am very worried, please advice on what to do to save my cactus. I stupidly placed the cactus inside a barrel that didnt have proper drainage and when I noticed one of his arms truning light brown i figured it was because of the water, I drilled some holes into the barrel and drained a little water until it was dry. the cactus arms started turning light brown and it seems to be spreading. I am attaching 3 pictures, the first one was taken one week ago, the second one was taken today. Is there any way the cactus can recover from this? What should I do?

euphorbia ammak euphorbia ammak branch

Thank you for your time,
ed

Ed,

The branches can be saved, but since the rot has started from the bottom the whole base of the plant, roots and all, can’t be saved.

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 3 people to safely take cuttings. One to hold the plant, one to hold the branch being cut and a third to do the cutting. If it is taller than it appears you may need a 4th 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 each branch off above the rot, making sure there is no rot inside at the cut edge. Spray the cut with hydrogen peroxide and set aside to dry for 2 to 3 weeks.

If you see rot when you cut, keep cutting higher until there is no rot in the branch.

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. Do not re-use any of the old soil as it is possibly infected.

Good luck

Peter

Succulent Boutonniere

Buzzfeed is an interesting website. And “interesting” too. But they do have a good DIY How-to on making Succulent corsages and such, with step by step photos showing you how to kill your succulents for one beautiful night of boutonniere funtimes.

succulent corsage

Here are some pictures I’ve “borrowed” from them, so please click through and give them some click-love.

succulents

The succulents needed.

tools

The tools needed.

They think of everything!

Easter Succulents

DIY takes on the traditional Easter Egg and cracks open a fine succulent surprise.

Do you decorate for Easter? Do you like to make unique tablescapes? Do you like to upcycle items?

succulent-garden

If your answer to one or all of these questions is yes, then this miniature succulent garden in an egg carton is for you!

Upcycle is an interesting word. I hope that means you are supposed to eat the eggs before upcycling the shells. Otherwise its just wasting food.

Corking Your Succulents

Apparently this idea is an idea for upcycling – otherwise known as re-using, but with a fancy name.

wine-cork-succulent

There’s no instructions at the Upcycle site. And it doesn’t tell you how long they will last in those tiny “pots”. Good luck!

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