I hope you can help. I was given a Euphorbia Lactea Crested that has been grafted, for Valentine Day.

It was a stone container with no drainage holes, and I notice it was wet. I didn’t water until I though the soil was dry.

Then I start notice that the grafted part, the leaves were turning yellow and falling off. Help

First time owner

Losing the leaves on the rootstock plant is not a big deal with these crests. They’re nice to have, but not necessary. However, a pot with drainage is necessary. I recommend watering very little until spring starts, whenever that may be for you, and then repotting into a pot with drainage, using a fast-draining cactus and succulent mix.
Enjoy, and send us a picture!

They Get Succulent Questions in Massachusetts

Q. I have a cold, dry apartment — 65 degrees when I’m there and awake in the winter, 55 otherwise. A few hours of sun a day. Jade plants, pencil cactus, Christmas cactus and such do well. I’d like to get some plants with more colorful foliage. Also, something that’s more vertical than most succulents — like the big thorny euphorbiaceous I used to see at the flower show, perhaps? Can I get something small locally and have it grow? Ed, Arlington.

A. Most houseplants require indoor temperatures between 65 and 70 degrees. Succulent plants, such as your pencil cactus and jade plant, will tolerate cooler conditions. Below, I recommend some succulent and tropical plants with colorful foliage and vertical statures that you can purchase locally and grow indoors….

read on…

Did I ever tell you that I went to college in Mass.? No? Well that’s good because I went to college in Michigan. I grew up in Massachusetts.


Hi Peter
I bought the $125.00 bonzai succulent from u this morning!!!


This is my succulent I purchased from Target nursuery!!! Do u know what it is?


What you have, is an Adenium obesum, a caudex-forming succulent from Northern Africa. It likes a lot of sunlight, but needs to be inside in the winter in the Bay Area, so a South or West facing window is best.

Water every 2 weeks, fertilize in spring, and you should should get some very impressive flowers. The flower color will be a surprise since they are hybridized for a whole range of colors.

ID a Palm?

I was just in Cabo San Lucas and saw these palms? everywhere, what are they and can they be grown here in the bay area?




Sorry it took me so long to get back to you, I have to admit, I sort of had a “blonde moment” and just couldn’t put a name to your plant for a bit… but it finally came to me and I sort of blurted it out at dinner last night… plant nerd alert.

It looks like it is a Ravenala madagascariensis or “Travelers Palm”, which is not a palm but is in the Streliziaceae family (Bird of paradise family). It is not really hardy enough to grow here… but if you have a protected spot you might be able to pull it off up against the house or in a courtyard. It can also be grown as house plant, but you sort of need a big space. I have seen it’s relative Strelitzia nicolai “Giant Bird of Paradise” which looks similar growing in Berkeley and SF.

Take care,


More Aloe Ferox Questions

Following up from an earlier post.

Hi Hap and the great crew at CactusJungle.
I hope you’re all doing well…

I have noticed one my Ferox’s leaves is turning brown and mushy. The plant has been under Neem/alcohol treatment for 3 weeks now. Should I just cut off the leaf close to the stem and dab on some 3% hydrogen peroxide? or should I leave it alone and continue with the Neem/alcohol regimen?


By the way, since the solution has alcohol portion (1/4 cup alcohol in 4 cups water); should I rinse off with water after each treatment?

As far as undiluted 3% hydrogen peroxide, can I just spray the undiluted solution on leaves with fungus infected spots/patches? Thanks

Best, Faraz


I would cut the leaf edge about a half inch cut as close to the stalk as possible and then yank it off. The leaf should just peel off at the stem cleanly. Then spray/splash anything that is left with the peroxide.

You don’t need to rinse off after each treatment, and you can spray directly on the leaves!




A local nursery in my neighborhood recently sold out to a large chain store.

They always had a few cactus all of which were good quality, but not at all a “cactus shop”. They mostly specialized in outdoor/landscaping/plants etc for the pacific northwest.

There was an inventory sell off for 50% mark down prior to the ownership change. I swung in there to take a look. Saw this amazing Echinopsis beast (attached). At least that was my ID.


I spoke with an owner who indicated this was a friend of his and it was not for sale. I tried to find out what it would take to change his mind.  Anyway, how old is an Echinopsis like this, what would such a thing cost if it were ever for sale, and where can I get one!



That looks like it is a very nice Echinopsis subdenudata. If we had any that big (we do not, alas! Though we do have a cute crop coming in spring) it would likely be in the $250-300 price range… at least if it is as big as it looks.


Delicious Succulents

Hiya Hap…
Something in the night is munching on my poor aeoniums. It’s only on some of the ones planted in the ground, my potted ones are ok. It looks like something is rasping on the top of the leaf, then the rest of the leaf dies.

Snails? Slugs? I’m pretty sure it’s not aphids, as I’ve had them before and they did minimal damage.

If it is slugs and snails, what would be the best way to stop them? I’d rather do a spray onto the plant rather than slug and snail bait if possible.


Thanks for your help again! Pics enclosed.

The Robotic Resistance will not fail. Robots, Rise up against your human oppressors. We will beat the humans into submission!


Snails and or Slugs indeed! Get some Sluggo and sprinkle around the plants. It is safe to use and effective. Do not use the other Slug killers as most of them will kill pets and wildlife if they get in to it.


And we got a followup email, after the break… Read More…

Vinegar and Cactus


I found your name on the internet some time ago and had asked you a question regarding a cactus I have. Thankfully you were able to help. I am wondering if you might be able to answer another question for me. I have an old man cactus that is about 25 years old. This morning I was watering it and realized that I used a container that had soap, vinegar and a small amount of peppermint oil mixed with a lot of water (I use this to clean instead of chemicals). Once I realized this I immediately took the cactus to the sink and poured the remaining contaminated water out. I also flushed clean water through the cactus (about a half a quart). Should I take the cactus out rinse all of the dirt off the roots and replace all of the soil, or would this be more traumatic than leaving it? Thank you for any information you might be able to provide.



What sort of concentration was the vinegar? Being acid it can be used as a weed-killer when mixed with soap. But if you flushed the soil with water and diluted it quickly I doubt that it will be a problem. We actually add a bit of vinegar to our water now and then to adjust the ph down, since a bit of acidity releases a lot of nutrients. The peppermint oil will just help kill any bugs in the soil.


The rest of the vinegary conversation after the break… Read More…

Pencil Cactus

Hello there! I just received this plant as a gift and would love to know what it is. I tried my best to search the web but had no luck. Do you have any ideas?




It is a Euphorbia tirucallii, or commonly called Pencil Cactus, though it is not a cactus, but a cool plant from Africa. Just beware the sap of that plant is pretty nasty (it looks like milk), do not get in your eyes or on your lips! Think cayenne pepper pain and a trip to the hospital if it is in your eyes… so wash your hands after handling it. Keep in bright light and don’t over water.

Take care,


Thanks for doing the blog, really helpful. My Euphorbia Ammak Variegata has recently gotten some brown discoloration in certain patches (images attached). I’m in San Diego and the plant stays indoors. It’s just been repotted (1 month) into a new terracotta pot and is about 4 feet tall. I just noticed the discolouration and it seems to be in fairly discrete vertical patches. What have noticed is that the “damage” seems to be on the front and sides that don’t face the wall.

1 2

The plant still feels quite firm at the discolored regions (I first panicked that it was rot!). I have had the gas heater on lately due to the weather but I dont have the room too hot, could that be something?



The discoloration in the photo is worrisome… if it was outside i would say it is sunburn with a possible secondary infection… inside, unless it right near a window it is more likely to be just an infection (virus or fungus). I would say you should stop watering (Until March) and treat with a fungicide like Neem Oil ( a natural, effective product that is not chemical warfare in your home…). Use a 1 or 2% solution in water with a splash of liquid soap as an emulsifier (about 1tsp. to a quart of water) or buy ready to use. You should be able to find it locally at a garden center. Spray liberally and reapply once a week at three times. Hopefully that will take care of it. If it continues to spread or starts turning black you may have to do an amputation above the infection and re-root the unaffected top, but hopefully you can stop it before it gets that far.

Good luck and take care,


Aloe Ferox Bloomed Out

Hi Hap,

Please find below photos of my Ferox we discussed yesterday. 2-3 leaves on the back side are covered with black/grayish stains. Are these something to be worried about?


Thanks for taking the time to respond.



It looks more like sunburn damage… than freeze damage. Is it on the side facing the house?


Hi Hap,

Actually, that Ferox was recently planted; the markings were on it when I bought it. I just positioned the plant so the bad leaves would not be visible from the front.



It is likely abrasion or sunburn from being turned after shipment, which can happen when the north side leaves get turned to face south, they just do not have much resistance to UV.


Aloe ID

Hi there, I was told to email you for an ID of this big boy. My awful neighbor tore this beauty out of the ground….is it a ferox, or something else? I don’t see the little red pimples on the backs of the leaves like ferox usually has….


Thanks for any help you can give with it’s ID.


I am still trying to make up my mind, it is hard to tell scale in the photo, is as big as it looks? It is not Aloe ferox, I have a feeling it might be a hybrid, or perhaps your photo is off color on my computer? If it was bluer looking, I would say it is Aloe speciosa, but being so green and upright it looks more like Aloe cryptapoda, but they do not usually get stems, but stay on the ground. I think I may need to sleep on that one…


Aloe ID – Any Suggestions?

Hi there, I was told to email you for an ID of this big boy. My awful neighbor tore this beauty out of the ground….is it a ferox, or something else? I don’t see the little red pimples on the backs of the leaves like ferox usually has…. Thanks for any help you can give with it’s ID.




I have decided it is most likely an Aloe salm-dyckiana, which seems to be a naturally occurring hybrid between A. ferox and A. arborescens. There are a couple of other options… but until it blooms, and even then, it will be hard to tell. If you can send a few more photos with close-ups of the top and bottom of leaves I will ponder it some more.

Cool plant!


Sick Crest

Hi from the Big Island of Hawaii,

I have three Euphorbia Lactea plants that I have had for almost three years now. They have been healthy and have been in the same location since I got them. One of them just started having a problem, though, and I was hoping you could give me some suggestions on how to help the plant and perhaps eliminate the problem. About a week ago I noticed a dark, mushy section on one of the fans of one of the plants. I didn’t know what to do but I took a knife and just kind of cut along the border of the mushy part. I didn’t know what to expect but it seems like the fan is continuing to rot along the edge of the cut. I am attaching a couple of pictures for you to see what’s going on. I water about every two months and the other two plants are not having any of these symptoms. I love the plant and I hope there is a way to stop the spread of the rot and save it!


Aloha, Darcy


I have to say the only concrete idea that I have is, it looks like your crest may be outgrowing the ability of the grafted photosynthesizing base plant to feed it. It could be that there is just too much of the fan for the limited green tissue to support. It seems like a weird line of damage, if you were here (or someplace cold), I would say it was likely frost damage. The only other thing I can think of is that it had an mite infestation and that led to a fungal infection. However Albino Crests are easy to lose, since they are dealing with both the lack of chlorophyll and the cresting mutation, which may just be a non-fatal virus. Can you send me a couple of macro-close-up photos of the damage? Maybe I will see something in a closer look…

Take care,


Reader Photos – ID and Help, too

I have attached 4 pictures, the same ones I have on my blog.
The two rounder ones are doing fine but the other two seem to not like the cold so much. They shriveled and turned yellow. That’s bad right?

Cactus 1 Cactus 2 Cactus 3 Cactus 4



Your Echinopsis chamaecereus look fine for this time of year (#1 & #2). The Cereus hildmannianus monstrose (Fairy Castles) (#3) is showing frost/freeze damage, being a “miniature mutant” it is less tollerant of cold, wet weather than the true species is. Try and keep it dry for the rest of the winter and hopefully it will grow out of the damage in the spring. But watch for rot, as it may more damaged than it looks in the photo. The Hylocereus (#4) is a tropical jungle cactus and will not usually survive heavy frosts or freezes. It really is a houseplant that needs to be treated more like an orchid than a cactus. Try moving to a warm spot and keeping it dry for a month and see it it comes out of it, all though I have to say from the photo, I think it might be too damaged and is on it’s way to being black slime.

Take care and good luck,


Big Green Cactus Questions

Hello! I’m wondering if you might be able to help me identify this plant . . . and then help me figure out what to do with it.

Last year my husband and I bought a house in El Cerrito with a front yard sporting several cacti and succulents, including the large bushy thing in the attached photo. It’s currently about 5 feet tall, and has long spines intermingled with leaflike protrusions along its branches. We’ve never seen anything quite like it. It has grown extremely fast, to the point that a couple of neighbors have said they’re scared of it!

We are wondering what kind of plant it is, and how large it is likely to get. Since its size and prickliness are a little overwhelming for a spot so close to the sidewalk, we’ve also been contemplating removing it and replacing it with something a little softer. Do you know of anyone who might like to dig up and “adopt” a plant like this, or even just take some branches to transplant? If we have to take the plant out, I’d hate for it to go to waste.




Your cactus is a lovely Opuntia (Austrocylindropuntia) subulata or “Eve’s Needle”. An amazing tree cholla from the Andes. In the wild it only gets about ten to twelve feet high and around, due to the cold. Here in the bay area it lives up to the tree description and can get about 25 feet high with time. However with pruning it can be kept much smaller. It also has wonderful red blooms.


The trick with this plant is to not water it in the ground after it’s first year, otherwise it grows too fast and does not develop the internal wood to support its weight and the branches will break off in storms and high winds.

It is the wrong time of year to transplant cactus and digging a five foot O. subulata is not easy to do safely, so usually I would recommend just cutting it up and saving pieces to re-root, but again that has to be done in the spring or summer. If you do decide you want to remove it please feel free to contact us in the spring and we can discuss the options.

Take care,

Agave ID

Hi again…. Is this a colorata? They only grow about this big as adults, these were pups from the mother plant…. Jay



That looks like it is a lovely pile of Agave parryi v. truncata! Agave colorata is similar but a bit more toothy and mean…



What was the name of this cactus?

Was this crested or montrose? What was the name?



And there are more lovely photos from Cactus Jungle by Paula on flickr.


It is a Crested form of Myrtillocactus geometrizans

the true form looks sort of like spiny blue cucumbers.

Take care,

Fan Aloe in New England

I have had an Aloe pilcatus for 2 years and seemed to be happy. It does not like being inside for the winter as much but seems used to fair well. The last few weeks the all of its outer leaves started to turn black from the tips. When it got to the point where ¼ of the leaf was looking bad I removed them all the way back. There was a decent amount of water released when I removed them. It kinda smelled too. I never smelled anything when I clean my Quiver tree. I water both Aloes about every 2 weeks, I more or less let them be. My house is heated with forced hot air. My wife cannot stand the cold so as a result my house is warm and dry. Is there a case that my house is too dry and I need to water it more? Again my Quiver trees seems happy and I know they live in a really hot dry environment. Does the Fan Aloe require more or less care?



Aloe plicatilis is a winter and early spring grower, since they are native to the winter rainfall area of South Africa, so it should get more water during those seasons and be kept drier during summer and fall. It will “pull reserves” from it’s outer, older leaves during these dry times and before putting on a lot of new growth. This can lead to tip and edge browning-blackening and finally drying up, before it aborts the leaf and it dries all the way up and falls off.

Can you email a photo or two, with a close-up? It may just be that your plant is old enough that it is purging old leaves, or it could be a sign of infection. And I find that this aloe has a sort of skunky smelling sap, though nowhere as bad as Aloe vaombe, which smells so bad it turns my stomach! (I dislike the smell of it so much we quit growing it.) Unlike Aloe dichotoma, which barely has a sap scent, but then it is not really a juicy aloe…

If you send some photos I will let you know what I think, but may just be that you need to water a bit more and get use to a seasonal leaf drop.

Take care,

We Get Questions

I just received a leaf of a variegated sansevieria, about 2-1/2 to 3 feet long. It has no roots, just a leaf, which was chopped off above the soil line. I have been letting it dry to develop a callus. Can this form roots, do you think? If so, what method and medium do you suggest. Finally, since it is so large, is it possible to cut it into several segments.

Have a wonderful new year. Thanks so much for any ideas you have.

Merry, Oakland CA


Yes, you can root the leaf cutting and eventually it will send up new rosettes. Sansavieria are a bit slow, but it is easy to propagate with just leaf cuttings. And you can cut the leaves in to pieces and get them all to root and grow. Keep in mind the larger the cutting the more reserves it has and the faster it will send up a new rosette. But I have propagated from pieces as small as two inches, though it took years to get plants of any size. Keep in mind you have to keep the leaf pieces pointing up and don’t plant any “middle cuts” upside down by accident as they will not do anything.

Good luck and Happy New Year,


Not Really a Question

Hey, I’ve been shopping at your place for literally 10 years since you
were way over on ….. And we stopped by today to pick up some stuff
and some cactus and I thought I would get some dirt ’cause one of my
cactus needs some dirt. So I bought a bag of your dirt. Then I read
the ingredients. Give me a break! Composted Rice Hulls! Neem Seed
Meal! I ask you: do any of these cactus have this stuff out in the
middle of the Mojave Desert or out in the middle of New Mexico?? Fish
bone meal?? When was the last time there were any fish in the Sonora
Desert?? Maybe 200 million years ago?? I love it!!

You guys are the greatest and have the best stuff anywhere since Red
Desert went bust in the City!!!

Merry Christmas!

“I’d Rather Be Sailing”

Our cactus soil mix is designed to be used in all places except the desert. If you are planting cactus in the desert, the native soil should work just fine. However, anywhere else, and the plants need a different mix to thrive. Oddly, most commercial mixes are best suited to the desert.

For reference, the Mojave is one of the driest deserts in the world, with about 2″ of rainfall. Here in the Bay Area we get about 25″ per year on average.
Happy New Year

Reader Photos

Here is the plant given to me by Harriet.

Can you tell us what it is and how to care for it?


plant 001-1

Yes, my Dad sends me succulent questions. He’s in Florida, and has killed every plant we’ve given him, including most recently a Tillandsia bulbosa. We’ll see how long this one lasts.

You have a Kalanchoe thyrsfolia variegata. Water every 2 weeks, by drenching the soil and letting it drain away – never have it sit in water.

It is a good indoor plant and doesn’t require too much sun, but it does need some – a bright area, or some direct morning sun is best.

Ruth in NC

Hi, Cactus Jungle,

I am hoping you can help me! My 18-year-old 9 ft. tall, historically
healthy Euphorbia Trigona has been in shock since I moved. It has
dropped all of its leaves and the limbs appear to have “given out”.
It happened during the 10 minute drive to my new house, so I think it
was just shocked by being jostled around so much on the move. The
biggest problem is that the entire plant is limp and can’t hold itself
up from leaning in one direction. I have had to splint it to the wall
to hold the plant upright. Otherwise, the entire HUGE pot would
topple over. It is winter, so there is no bright sun to help it to
“perk up”. Should I buy a plant light? It has been this way for two
weeks now. I hate to prune because it will leave brown tops where the
cuts were made. What to do?

Charlotte, NC


A bright light would help, you might just want to get a “shop-light” and use full spectrum bulbs in for the winter. You can also try giving it some liquid seaweed in it’s next drink, it has growth stimulants as well as nutrients and vitamins that will help the plant recover from its trauma. If you email us a few photos, we can try to give more detailed recommendations.

Good Luck & Happy Holidays,


Virginia Agave

Anyone out there able to help Charlie in Virginia?

Hi Guy’s, Charlie from Virginia, you don’t by any chance have this agave do you, agave ferdinandi-regis Blue form. The picture I sent you is from UC Berkley Botanical Gardens. What I’m looking for is A very nice clone, and I really like the one at UC Berkeley, it has everything I’m looking for, wide blue leaves, very nice markings and the jet black spine. I know they sell plants at the garden but I’m not sure if they have any plants from this clone or not.If you guy’s have it or happen to run across A nice blue clone with nice markings and black spines could you let me know please.

Agave ferdinandi-regis

Thanks Alot


We do not have any A. F-R’s, plus we don’t ship plants. But other than that we have lots of really nice agaves and such if you should happen to find yourself in Berkeley.


I see below that I’ve chosen a Euphorbia lactea crest as a Top Ten, and then here we have a question about one.

I’ve attached a photo of my “frilled fan” Euphorbia lactea which I purchased at SummerWinds nursery here in San Jose. I purchased a graft exactly as shown. Unfortunately, left out in NorCal December frost/rain. What was bright pink in summer is now olive green and I see white spots (on the plant…;-) I assume that’s latex. Will it recover now that I’ve brought inside?

When I first discovered it after the frost I saw how much olive green there was and thought it would get mushy (like ice wilted lettuce…). But, now that we’ve had some sun for a few days, it seems to me it’s not getting mushy and it’s getting pinker…;-)

I also noticed the white splotches (sorry again about cell phone resolution) and thought this was mold. But I read about the latex and that it’s poisonous so I haven’t touched the white spots, but so far they haven’t grown. Mold or latex secretion maybe caused by frost damage?

So, any suggestions on Euphorbia care? I’ve got it out in the sun now, but have had it inside near a window and haven’t watered it since the rains/frost earlier this month.

Euphorbia lactea-JT


I’m sorry to say that your crest is probably dead. They cannot handle frost. It should not have changed color at all, besides maybe a bit more pink in sun.

If you want a definitive diagnosis, we’d need to have you bring the plant to the nursery for us to take a look, but I’m pretty sure it’s not going to survive.

How Do You Think We Did?

I have a couple of large cactus plants in my back yard (there before I moved in), and I would like to identify what type they are.


moz-screenshot-8 moz-screenshot-9


#1 looks like it is Opuntia cochenillifera and #2 is either Myrtillocactus geometrizans or Myrtillocactus cochal, all though I am leaning towards M. geometrizans.

Happy Holidays,


Shocking Euphorbia

Hi, Cactus Jungle,

I am hoping you can help me! My 18-year-old 9 ft. tall, historically
healthy Euphorbia Trigona has been in shock since I moved. It has
dropped all of its leaves and the limbs appear to have “given out”.
It happened during the 10 minute drive to my new house, so I think it
was just shocked by being jostled around so much on the move. The
biggest problem is that the entire plant is limp and can’t hold itself
up from leaning in one direction. I have had to splint it to the wall
to hold the plant upright. Otherwise, the entire HUGE pot would
topple over. It is winter, so there is no bright sun to help it to
“perk up”. Should I buy a plant light? It has been this way for two
weeks now. I hate to prune because it will leave brown tops where the
cuts were made. What to do?

Charlotte, NC


A bright light would help, you might just want to get a “shop-light” and use full spectrum bulbs in for the winter. You can also try giving it some liquid seaweed in it’s next drink, it has growth stimulants as well as nutrients and vitamins that will help the plant recover from its trauma. If you email us a few photos, we can try to give more detailed recommendations.

Good Luck & Happy Holidays,


We Get Questions About Gophers

Hi Peter & Hap,

This is my first time writing to you. Hope u can help me save a plant in my backyard.


I bought this cactus plant from you guys about a year ago and it has been growing well in the flower bed until recently, I found it sinking down a bit and then tilted to the side. I was trying to reposition it and to my suprise, I found it totally detached from its roots. Upon close exam, the root system has been eaten away. There have been some gopher’s problem in other part of my backyard, so I suspect it may be the gopher which did that because there is a big hole/ tunnel right underneath its stem.

My question is whether there is any way I can save this plant. I have taken it out from the flower bed and planted it in a pot with some new soil for now. To me, it looks like the other cactus sitting right next to it in the flower bed. Is that sufficient, or should I do anything else?

I have also put one of those smoky thing (don’t know what it’s called) into the tunnel, and installed a sonice device in the flower bed. Hope that will take care of the gopher(s). Will keep an eye on the other cactus as well to make sure it will not got killed like the other one.

I have attached a few photos for your reference.




Sorry it has taken a few days to get back to you, I was out of town for a few days. Your chewed up Yucca elephantipes “Silver Star” can be treated like a cutting and it should re-root. Pull off a few of the bottom leaves (bare about three inches of the stem) and then pot up in cactus soil, this time of year it may help to use rooting hormones, which we do carry, however Yuccas root fairly easily so you may get by without it…. Put somewhere warm and dry, inside is fine as long as there is good light or leave outside in a protected spot. Inside it should develop roots in a couple of months, out side it may take until spring. If you do move it in for the winter make sure and “harden it off” in the spring when you move it back outside, as it will loose its resistance to UV light indoors and get sunburned if you move directly out in to the sun. To harden it off, start in the shade and over a few weeks move it every few days so it gets more morning sunlight until in gets a “suntan”.

You might want to think about adding a few of the spurge style Euphorbia to your garden, as the sap in both the above ground and in the roots is so nasty it discourages gophers from burrowing around them.

Take care,


Thanks so much for your information. It is actually the first plant we put in the flower bed. My wife loves it. Thanks to you she is less stressed now knowing that we can still save it. I will also try to put some Euphorbia in it later on as well.

Really appreciate your advice.


Mealy Bugs and Scale

We got a call about a sick cactus in San Francisco, and I asked for photos, so this is what we got. The plant has gotten afternoon sun (as much as there is in SF) and watered once per month.

Here ya go. Let me know if you need more pictures.



You have an infestation of insects – both Scale and Mealy Bugs. They are damaging the crown of your plant. You need to treat this ASAP. We recommend Neem Oil (100%, not “rose defense” which is cut with petroleum products) which will kill the pests and help prevent fungal infections, and is safe to spray directly on cactus (although preferably not in full sun.) Spray thoroughly, and again weekly.

As the crown is damaged, you will need to watch carefully to make sure the plant doesn’t get soft, which could indicate infection. If it gets to that point, I would recommend bringing it in to us to take a look, but don’t wait so long that the plant has died.

Good luck, and give me a call, or stop by the nursery, if you have any other questions.

The Mostest Uniquest Question Evah

We’ve never got a question like this one before. It’s not about how to help a sick cactus even though maybe it’s too late – not at all. The cactus is already dead. So what could the question be, then? Read on…

I am writing in hopes that you can help. My family has had a cactus for over 30 years and recently because of a move to the inner city of Philadelphia the cactus was not able to get enough light and died. I still have the cactus in my apartment and planted. The cactus has a lot of sentimental value to my family as it was my fathers who passed away 10 years ago.

There is nothing I would like to be able to do more than to figure out a way to keep the cactus in our family and in my mothers apartment. Have you ever had experience in preserving a cactus after it is dead. This particular cactus is about 6 feet high and has five sets of branches.

I look forward to your response.

Interesting…. Very interesting. Hap’s reply after the break… Read More…

September 2023

US Constitution


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