It’s not often we get photos that are as clear and indicative as these today from Susan, who wants to know the species. And yet, even with the clearly round leaf, the marginal plantlets, and the bloom picture, the best we can do is narrow it down to one of two genuses (genii?). Maybe you can help identify the species?
Well, this started as one little stem and it’s grown. Then it was many stems falling out of the pot and rooting with long aerial roots in anything close by. Then it formed little buds and I waited and waited and thought for sure the flowers would be white. I was wrong. They’ve opened up into beautiful bell like flowers in a dark peachy color. Something came into the yard and broke a few of the stems. Never one to toss a stem, I layed the leaves down and suddenly I had more little plants coming up. From looking through your database of images, is this some sort of kalanchoe? The flower in the picture doesn’t really glow but a sliver of sunlight was hitting it just right so I snapped a photo. So? Whatcha’ think?
P.S. I’m in Culver City
Yes, it is a Kalanchoe, or a Bryophyllum, it’s hard to say exactly which species from the photos. I’ll post it on the blog, and see if anyone out there knows for sure.
Hello- I purchased this beautiful plant a few weeks ago from you and I am concerned about it’s dropped leaves. Is this normal due to the stress of a new environment? She lives inside, gets about an hour at most of late afternoon sun. She still looks healthy, new growth still alive but just by looking at her she drops leaves! Please help, I love this plant! Thanks, Jen
It does look like it is most likely “new home stress” with an additional bit of autumn leaf drop, to make it look worse than it really is. In the current low light conditions, make sure not to water more than every two to three weeks, perhaps even less this winter. It needs to “nap” through winter and grow when there is more light coming in the window. If it starts getting “floppy” it is letting you know it needs more light. However Portulacaria are durable plants and as long as they are getting the right amount of water for their location can usually adapt well to all sorts of situations. Please let me know if the leaf drop continues.
Great answer Hap, and quite caring too. Have you noticed how Hap answers questions in a more kindly tone? I’m more direct. Hap’s the friendly one.
You guys are awesome and I’m hoping you can help me identify the plant in the pictures I’ve attached. I’ve done hours of online research and I think it’s a caudiciform that’s related to the Pachypodium; maybe that’s redundant. I only say this because of the coloring, overall look, texture, and thorns but I haven’t been able to find anything that shares the exact characteristics (yellow flowers, long narrow leaves, binary growing pattern). Maybe it’s some sort of hybrid??
I bought the plant last December at a winter craft fair and the dude who sold it told me it was a succulent daisy. This is the first time it has had flowers, and they do sorta look like daisies but I dunno… Other factoids: it is dormant in spring and summer (when I bought it it was covered in those green leaves), I haven’t watered it in at least 2 or 3 weeks and there’s new growth, the new growth sprouts from those fuzzy-looking white things in the pictures. Does any of this info help or sound familiar?
thanks in advance for anything you can offer!
After a day (or two) of blanking it finally came to me! Othonna euphorbiodes! A cool succulent shrub in the Asteraceae (daisy) family from the Cape province of South Africa. It is a winter grower, so keep in good light and water occasionally this winter, it should leaf out and put on a show.
My beloved euphorbia pseudocactus has been having some problems lately. I’ve noticed two distinct issues, which I was hoping you could help me diagnose.
1. Black and brown discoloration, over wide areas of all 3 pseudos. (see picture)
-I know this can happen with overwatering, but I’ve owned this plant for 3 years and have watered at most once every 4 to 6 weeks.
2. Chunky holes (see picture)
-possible pest infestation?
I am currently having a mealy bug problem with other succulents in my garden, but I haven’t see any signs of mealies on the pseudocactus. Any ideas as to what might be causing the above issues and how I can treat them?
Thanks a million!
The holes look like they have healed over, whatever had caused them in the first place, so I wouldn’t worry about them at this time. However, the black spots, with rainbow coloration around it, looks like a fungal infection. This needs to be fixed ASAP or you will lose that portion of the plant over the winter.
It doesn’t sound like it was overwatering. Has light or airflow conditions changed recently?
Treat with Neem oil, or we also have a product called Mildew Cure.
I hope you can help me identify whatever has been eating
the new bamboo shoots. What ever is eating the shoots
appears to be doing it at night and doesn’t seem to be
interested in the mature stalks. In all other respects the
plants seem to be doing fine, I purchased them about a month
or so ago from you and your advice was terrific. I thought
it may be slugs as I have seen them around, so I placed some
dead line around the plants in hope of determining if they
were the cause, but no luck. There doesn’t seem to be any
evidence of rodent presence as far as I can tell. I have
included some images of the bamboo. In the background you
will see some stalks that are older that seem to be eaten in
the same way. Any advise you could shed on the cause or
culprit would be much appreciated.
I have to say this one is a bit odd. But I think you have something large, but it looks like deer can’t get to the plants, so perhaps a raccoon, opossum or rats. After all bamboo shoots are tasty. I suggest you sprinkle the shoots with both a liquid animal repellent, like Deer Off or Critter Ridder and copious amounts of cayenne pepper (You can get this inexpensively in bulk at an ethnic market or Costco). You may just want to try the cayenne first, since the repellents smell pretty bad for use close to public use spaces. at least for a few days….
I have been searching the net for some clues about a cactus – I have no idea whether it is suffering from lack of water or too much water! It is a tall, silvery blue-grey cactus with side branches (we were told it was a ghost cactus when we bought it). It does not have large spines.
It has been healthy for 2 years and we have been very careful not to over-water. However, today one of its stems is shrivelled at the bottom and has flopped over. Higher up on the stem is an area which has gone soft and brown – almost as if it has rotted. There are a few drops of sticky, milky white sap on one of the other stems. The other stems all seem fine at the moment.
I did give the cactus a little bit of water a few days ago, but not enough to drain through the holes at the bottom. I have felt the soil today and it is dry as a bone.
I am too afraid to water it as I know it is easier for a cactus to recover from under-watering, and thought I would seek advice first!
It does not seem that you are overwatering, so that is probably not what has caused the arms to rot.
You will need to treat the rotting areas right away to keep it from spreading. Cut off the dead branches, making sure there is no rot left on the remaining portions, and spray with household peroxide. You will probably need to cut out the area in the middle of the branch, and also treat it. However, before you do all this, if the plant is a Euphorbia, you will need to be careful not to get any of the milky white sap on you, as it is caustic. Can you send a photo, so we can see if it has an infection, and what type of plant it is.
Finally, how much light is it getting?
Follow me for more after the break. Cool! Read More…
You helped us with our cactus about a 2 years ago and he is growing,
Can you please take a look at these pictures? Currently he is in a 20″
diamater pot and is just over 10′ tall. He is now leaning pretty heavily
against our window/wall. We are wondering if he needs a bigger pot. We
also noticed he still has big brown spots at the base.
If so, we are interested in a quote to re-pot.
Thanks for your help.
Wow. It has grown! It does look like it is time to move it up to a bigger pot, however it is the wrong time of year to do it successfully. It is about to go dormant for the winter, so it would be best to wait until spring, early March or later. If we repot now it could lead to problems since it will be under stress for the winter due to low light levels. Given it’s leaning towards the light of the windows it might be best to repot on top of a turntable or wheeled dolly so it can be given a quarter turn once a month so it grows straighter. The brown spots just look like age spots and not something to be worried about. Over time the base will get bark like an oak tree, it is natural and adds strength.
Let’s touch base in late February and I will get you a bid then
I am hoping you can help me out. I recenlty moved into a home in Southren California that has 50 large golden barral cactus. The problem is that I am not sure when they were watered last – before we moved in (the house was vacant). We moved in around June and I did water two or three times until someone told me not to water at all. Now all of them are turn dark brown at the base (even the thorns) plus they are also wrinkley at the base. Not sure why this is happening and if this is normal – a few have holes in them. The good things that they have babies.
Please let me know what to do, do they have a disease/ bugs, do they need to be watered, what to do with the babies….?
Thank you for your time,
The plants look fine. The bottom being brown is age. They do look a bit stressed, and could use some water and fertilizer. I would recommend liquid kelp this time of year, and more nitrogen in the spring. The hole looks like old damage that will probably not be a problem. Make sure that water doesn’t pool in it during the winter – if it does, then cover it through the rains and you may need to do some repairs in the spring.
Im trying to identify this plant.. i
don’t know what it is, and I really need
to find out for a school project.
I live New England (I live in southern mass.) if that helps.
The picture is attached.
My partner has an Euphorbia cactus which is growing “out” rather than “up”. How can he cut or trim it down do that it is not growing wild?
The Euphorbia looks like it needs more light for more robust vertical growth. With it being so floppy and “stretched towards the light” it is hard to be sure which species but I think it is Euphorbia trigona or one of the close allies.
Yes you can prune for shape, but please note that Euphorbia sap which looks like milk, is both a contact irritant and toxic. Do not get it in your eyes or lips! Think cayenne pepper pain and a trip to the emergency room if it gets in your eyes. So wear safety goggles! Gloves and long sleeves. It is generally best to prune off the whole branch rather than just part of it, but you can do cuts where ever you want, it just scares so cuts in the center of branch will always show. Before you cut cover the floor under with newspaper of a disposable drop cloth so you can get rid of the sap drips easily. After cutting spray each cut with standard hydrogen-peroxide to stop the flow of sap. This is sort of messy, so make sure you have your drop cloth or newspaper well deployed.
The branches you cut off can be saved and re-rooted if you want to clone your plant. Let them dry out and heal up from being cut for a week or two and then pot up in dry cactus soil. Do not water for three or four weeks. It the branches look thirsty you can mist them in the evening. Keep them in a warm sunny location and they should have roots by spring.
Clay Thompson at the Arizona Republic answers questions about cactus in Arizona.
This is actually similar to a lot of questions we get, so it seems appropriate. I’ve edited out most of Clay’s humor to get to the nub of the question, so click through to get the full feel of Clay’s personality as he answers cactus questions.
Q: I have a large, mature saguaro that bloomed in September. I have lived in Arizona for 40 years and know that they always bloom in May or early June. There are dozens in our neighborhood, with only this one blooming now. What’s up?
A: (M)y guess was that it had something to do with the cactus being under some sort of stress, like from drought or something….
Lenora Stewart, a master gardener with the University of Arizona… told me… that plants, like people, sometimes do odd things….
Maybe it was stress of some sort — “Stress is a (saguaro’s) middle name,” she said she — or maybe it wasn’t. Or maybe your cactus just took it in its mind to confound you or just didn’t happen to feel like blooming when all of its kinfolk did.
For us in the Bay Area, our bloom season is later in the summer than theirs, so cacti are more likely to bloom at odd times for no reason.
I send you two pictures of three cacti that I’ve found abandoned last year. In the past month the big one developed some spots (maybe fungi? maybe a virus?), and both of them have also excrescences growing up from their bodies (same fungi or other parasites?).
Can you please give me some suggestions on how to treat them?
Gualtiero, Liverpool (UK)
It looks like your plants need more sunlight and less water. The tall bluer cactus (Pilosocereus) has a bad infection and should be treated with a fungicide (like Neem Oil, a natural treatment that works and is not resorting to chemical warfare) and then kept dry for a month or two. The smaller green cactus (Echinocereus) has aerial roots, which generally occur if kept too moist and humid. I think you should try finding them a sunnier location and perhaps re-potting in a soil mix that has more “chunky grit”, we use pumice and lava to make up the bulk of our soil, but I do not know if you have access in the UK, but perhaps you can get a gravel based soil mix for alpine plants at your local nursery. Stay away from soils heavy in sand as it retains too much water.
All the way from Walnut Creek, Ruth Bancroft asnwers your questions in a reputable publication, the Contra Costa Times or some such.
Q: I heard that succulents could be grown from a single leaf, which has the ability to sprout roots and grow a new plant. This sounded doubtful to me, but I took a leaf off my aloe plant and put it in soil to see if anything would happen, and it simply dried up.
Is there a secret to making this work?
A: Succulents vary widely in terms of their ability to grow from a leaf. There are many, such as aloes, which will not do this at all.
With other groups, such as echeverias or haworthias, it is sometimes possible to successfully root a leaf…. Certain… leaves will easily root, including sedums and crassulas….
Gasterias and sansevierias are even more eager-to-please, and can be grown even from a piece of a leaf, though they are slow to put out roots as well as to send up new shoots.
We find crassulas and pachyphytums (and pachy hybrids) to be very easy leaf-rooters. As for cutting a leaf into bits and rooting – rex begonias are a classic, but they take more moisture than we care to provide, so we have very little success with growing begonia leaf cuttings ourselves. I’ve never tried to grow the gasterias from leaves, only from offsets, and am surprised to learn they readily grow from even a leaf-piece, since they are closely related to the aloes and haworthias. But that is certainly good news for us. Thank you, Ruth Bancroft.
I live in Illinois and I’ve become a little cactus/succulent collector over the last few years. I know it’s getting to be winter, but I’ve been scared to fertilize my plants in the spring. I’ve heard fertilizer for tomatoes is good at half-strength. I don’t want to kill any of them, but I also think they might flower more. What do you think? Can you give me some tips?
We do not recommend fertilizing cactus and succulents in winter while they’re dormant. They need fertilizer in spring when they’re starting to grow. (Except for winter-growing succulents like Aeoniums and some Aloes.)
We mix our own cactus fertilizer, which we do ship – it’s slow release and good for a year. We also have a bloom food. They’re listed on our page here.
As for tomato fertilizer, it may be OK at very low strength, but I’d have to see the brand. In general, we only use organic fertilizers and ingredients for cactus and succulents since their roots are easy to burn, and the plant is easy to overfertilize.
I have a cactus that I have grown since it was tiny in 1990. It is about eight feet tall now but never got any bigger around than its original two inch diameter. picture attached.
I moved it from my office to my house in Tacoma Washington last year with much concerted effort and it didn’t break! But I have to move it again soon. Oddly, for the first time in these 19 years, a little baby cactus sprouted on it about two feet from the top. It has grown to about 6 inches. The cactus part above the new growth isn’t looking very good, as if the new little arm is taking out the nutrients. I am afraid the old cactus won’t survive another move. If not, can I break the new arm off and grow it?
You can certainly carefully cut off the new branch. I recommend spraying the cut end with hydrogen peroxide to help it heal. Let it callous over for 1 to 2 weeks, and then plant in fresh, new, dry cactus soil. Don’t water for 2 more weeks.
In general, I would recommend not doing this ’til spring, but if you are moving it soon, you might as well try now.
In addition, it looks like the original plant is under-potted (I think, looking at the photo), and not getting enough light, which is why it never got any bigger around.
Good luck, and send us a picture of the baby in it’s new pot.
….but only if you consider grubs in your bulbs to be an issue.
(We) dug up all our bulbs to sort and replant. We were having a wonderful time in the cool Felton afternoon. Lo and behold some of the bulbs are squishy. Not all and not most but still. Once I squished it and a poopy looking type stuff came out of one of the bulbs followed by a creature. Once we squeezed the other soft bulbs we saw they all had these grubs in them.
There is not much on the internet about bulbs and grubs. I’ve never seen this before. What do we do? Where are they coming from. These are all planted in a wine barrel not even in the ground.
Do you have any suggestions? Obviously we won’t be putting the grubs we find back in the pot. But how do we prevent this from happening again.
I love that you are there to ask.
In the old days we rolled the bulbs in nasty chemicals that persisted and killed the grubs for a year or two… but those chemicals are now banned with good reason! You can however add some Neem Seed Meal to your planting holes as both a fertilizer and to help keep away the grubs without making your garden a chemical warfare site. You could also spray them with Neem Oil, but that is sort of messy and the crushed seed seems to usually do the job. There are a number of weevils and beetles, as well as gross looking waspy-flies that lay eggs in the soil and the grubs feed on roots and bulbs before pupating and coming up to breed and cause above ground havoc as well. Life is complicated….
Check with your local nursery for a box of Neem Seed Meal (or get it from us next time you are up) and then sprinkle a tablespoon or two around each bulb as replant and it should do the trick.
Q: I have a friend from China who told me it is a good idea to put a cactus by your computer so it will absorb the radiation from your screen and protect you. She says this is because cactuses live on the desert where they are under a lot of radiation. Is there any truth to this?
A: Why not put a roadrunner by your computer? They live on the desert and probably absorb radiation, too. This cactus-and-computer thing is a new one to me, but apparently, it is a fairly widespread batch of hooey….
For the sake of argument, however, let’s say a cactus really did protect you from radiation flying out your computer screen. Putting the cactus beside your computer wouldn’t help much… you would have to put it right there between you and screen… Wouldn’t you feel a little silly doing that?
That Clay Thompson, he’s such a card. He even has a video.
Q: I bought a Mission cactus last year. The tag said to water it well until it “was established,” but I didn’t really know how much water to give it after that. I looked up Mission cactus on the Internet and most sites said little or no water, or arid dry. It has grown quite a bit since I planted it, and even now has small new growth on a few ends. Lately though it has twists and folds with a yellowish color in the middle of the “hands.” I have no idea whether I am watering it enough or too much as it doesn’t respond much differently. I really like this plant, and it is a focal point when anyone comes through our gate into the courtyard.
A: Mission cactus is basically a beavertail or a nopal-type cactus.
When you are watering a cactus it is important to water it deeply but infrequently. This is what is meant by telling you to water it “well” until it gets established. If, by chance, you interpret that to mean watering frequently with small amounts of water, you run the risk of having it fall over when it gets bigger or possibly killing it….
If you click through to read the rest of the article, you’ll find out a lot more about growing cactus in the desert, like,
Many cacti will indicate they need water through the appearance of their “skin.” Their outer surfaces will become slightly wrinkled…
fertilize it once a year…
All good advice, and the article is just chock-full of advice.
My campfire plant developed this fungus, I did mist it recently?
Can you help
Tom and Joy
Tom and Joy,
It looks like your plant has a fungal infection. I recommend you treat it with a Neem Oil 1% solution, sprayed on once a week for the next month. That kind of infection is usually brought on by over watering, how often are you watering your plant? It needs to dry out completely between watering’s and is happiest with at least 4 hours of sun.
Hey Hap…hope things are going well…a bit of rot has set in in both branches of the mealybug cactus…should I cut off above the rot and put both branches in the potting room for a couple a weeks after a dousing of roottone and then have you come back to repot it? thanks dianne
treat the rot spots with hydrogen-peroxide and leave on if you can… it is hard to get cacti to root this time year.
Hi Hap…me again…so I’ll spray the hp…how often?
Sorry about that I should have told you!
Spray three days apart, repeating three or four times. The rot should dry out and scab-over in a couple of weeks. If it doesn’t by then, more drastic measures will need to be taken.
My name is Allen and I live in half Moon Bay. I’ve got 4 large cactus growing in pots and they seem generally healthy and are growing. But they are developing what appears to be a scale or fungus and I’d like your advice on how to treat them. I’ve attached some photos of the worst/most representative areas of concern. I’ve sprayed several times with Neem oil and it’s possible that it’s making a difference but it’s to early to tell. The columns are firm, no mush is developing and all is good other than what you see in the photos.
Your thoughts on the malady and the cure?
Thanks, realy appreciate your help!
It looks like your cacti has either a virus or a fungus (or both) as well as a few scale. Neem Oil should deal with both the fungus and scale with a few treatments. I recommend retreating it with Neem Oil, spray to the point of run-off, once every seven to ten days at least three or four more times. If any of the infection looks like it is turning to rot, (the spots will turn either orange or slimy-black), treat those areas with regular 3% hydrogen-peroxide, paint or spray on the infected area. Alternate with the Neem treatments.
If it has a virus, the best thing you can do is give it some liquid kelp (Maxicrop or other brand) to help boost it’s immunity and fight off the virus, just like you taking a vitamin, or drinking orange juice when you have a cold. Hopefully the plant will fight off the infection and heal. It will likely always be scarred, but the infected areas will “bark” and give it character.
The questions they get in Florida are totally different than the questions we get in California.
Several years ago we placed a potted cactus at the base of our lakeside cypress. We did not know that it was a climbing cactus. It has climbed 45 to 50 feet to the top of the cypress and is branching out in each direction. It has become a conversation piece for visitors, but will its growth harm the tree? — Maggie Robin, Plantation
The climbing cactus is a night blooming cereus, which has spectacular night opening blooms that are very fragrant. People used to stage entertainments around the opening of the flowers at night.
The white flowers can be 1 foot wide. I think the cactus will not harm the cypress as the tree is strong. The cactus is heavy but the cypress should be able to handle the weight.
I wish they had pictures, don’t you? Now, as for it being a “Night-Blooming Cereus” that could mean anything, as there are dozens of species that are called that. Do they mean Cereus, Peniocereus, Epiphyllum, Hylocereus, etc…? Harsh.
Walls should be lexan, polycarbonate, or glass. In general, larger is better, make sure it has great air ventilation, and tall enough for you to stand. Shade cloth the roof in summer so it doesn’t get too hot.
I’m not sure if the cactus is better. I’ve used the milk solution weekly, the good news is that the scaly bugs have significantly reduced. However, the browing doesn’t seem to be improving and seems to have spreaded.
I appreciate any additional input.
It looks like you need to spray with something more aggressive than milk and baking soda. I would suggest trying a Neem Oil spray, in a 1 or 2% solution. Retreat with Neem about every week to ten days for three or four treatments. You should also “paint” the dark brown spot on the lower part of the cactus in one of your photos with hydrogen-peroxide to stop the infection there from spreading and turning in to rot.
If you would like, you can bring it by the nursery and we can do the first treatment with you, so you can see just how we do it and we can make sure we are making the correct recommendations.
We lover your store. We bought these plants there.
They are getting brown curling on the ends of some leaves, and some leaves have fallen off?
Help? Save us?
Tom and Joy
Tom and Joy,
You have 2 different problems.
1. Rex Begonias are a generally easy houseplant, preferring bright indirect light, but there’s a few tricks. The first thing is they like a moist environment, even though they’re drought-tolerant. So water weekly. And when it’s warm, mist the leaves twice a week. But the problem is, they don’t like wet leaves. So the trick is to water the soil, not the leaves, and to mist with a very fine spray, with no visible water droplets on the leaves. Also, direct sun can burn the leaves. Even then, they are semi-deciduous and will have fewer leaves in winter. For the brown leaves, just cut them off.
2. The Aeonium kiwi looks like it’s not getting enough sunlight, or it’s getting too much water. Or maybe there are little pests on the underside of the leaves? Hard to say from the photo.
I have been a follower of your blog for quite some time. We are raising some hen and chicks and wondered if you had any tips on increasing the number of “chicks” produced. Our stock of hens is increasing slowly.
There are 2 different types of plants commonly called “Hens and Chicks”. A good place to start is a fertilizer. We mix our own organic nutrients called cactus meal, and recommend you apply them once per year for healthy, natural growth.
If it’s a Sempervivum, they like a lot of root run, so if they’re in a pot, they will stay small and multiply slowly. In the ground they take off. To help them along, we use Supergro, a balanced organic ferilizer.
If it’s an Echeveria, the growth rate depends on many factors, however some species are just very slow to multiply. You can cut off the main rosette, and that will often cause branching at the cut end. Supergro is also beneficial.
Other factors include watering and sun, depending on your climate.