I purchased an Aloe plant from you about 3 months ago. Everything seemed to be going fine with it until about a month ago I noticed that at the base of each leaf, it appeared to be dying out. Over the past week its gotten worse and now the whole plant is rotted and needs to be throw out (see photos). Im wondering if you have any tips or ideas as to why this would have happened? It was in excellent temp and light all day long.
Any thoughts would be great, as Id like to get another one. Feel free to call me or email me.
It does appear that the plant rotted out from the stem. I don’t know what caused it to rot, but it may be over-water, or sitting in water so the soil doesn’t dry out. I don’t see any sign of pests, but something could have been chewing on the roots and that could cause this problem too.
If you see something like this happening again on another plant, send us a photo or bring it by the store before it’s too late, and we may have a better chance of diagnosing it and helping you save it.
I have what I think is a 44″ 3-prong Euphorbia Ammak variegata.
I’d like to sell it on Craigslist. I’m curious if you would have an idea of how long it took to grow to this height? My (now) husband got it in 1999 I believe and has never repotted it. So my guess is that it’s been stunted.
Any info would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks so much,
Nice! It is indeed an Ammak. I would be concerned that it hasn’t been repotted in 12+ years, as that means it is underpotted, will be root-bound and could suffer from stress if moved. I don’t know how old it was before that; Ammaks can grow as much as 1ft. in a year, but 6″ per year is more normal. We would make sure the Ammak is freshly potted in a larger pot and in cactus soil (we would let it sit in its new pot for at least 3 months) before selling it.
I stumbled across your blog while looking for info on a cactus, the euphorbia ammak variegata or golden candelabra. I just got my boyfriend one for Xmas. We live in Southern Nevada, where it gets extremely hot in the summer, he planted it outside with all the other cactus he has, but it has gone all limp and has been ‘sweating’ . We have had extremely cold temps right now, like 26 to 30 degrees at night and think this is most likely the problem. Should we dig it back up and bring it indoors or what would be the best way to take care of it? Thanks so much, and we will be checking out your blog now that we have found it!!
If you are getting down to 26 it has indeed been too cold for an E. Ammak to be outside unprotected. They can take light frosts, but get pretty damaged with real freezes. Either move it in-doors or wrap it with old-style c-9 Xmas lights (the big ones that give off a little bit of heat) and then wrap it lightly in a frost blanket (a spun breathable fabric sold as a season extender at garden centers). If your E. Ammak is “sweating” sap be very careful, as the sap is poisonous and if it gets in your eyes it is a trip to the emergency room! If it has frozen hard it will have tissue damage and may start turning black and rotting, you may need to nurse it through to save it. Keep it dry and warm it up if you can. If rot starts you may need to trim off the infected parts with a knife and then douse the cut parts with hydrogen-peroxide, but again be very careful of the sap, it hurts and cause nasty rashes if it gets on the skin.
I was just at your store last week visiting from San Diego. I wish I lived closer so I could buy more than the pink garden gloves I got! My sister lives in Berkeley and she takes me to your nursery every time I come up. We love to roam around and find out the names of some things in our garden which are unnamed.
I’d like to know if you could please identify this aloe for me. Seen here, it is about 3 years old and was given to my sister by her succulent guru who has a fantastic garden, but doesn’t always remember the names of her plants!
Spoke 2 u today about this plant. Can u help me save it? It keeps getting smaller and less green. What am I doing wrong?
You have a Haworthia limifolia. We find these grow better indoor with bright light. They do tend to get darker colored in full sun and lose lots of bottom leaves. Water only every 2 weeks and don’t let them sit in water.
I liked yesterday’s <span style="font-style: italic;">We Don’t Get Questions</span> feature so much that I decided to run another one of my own questions to myself. Like yesterday, I have emailed myself a question, and then emailed myself a response, and then posted it here on the blog. Check the timestamps if you don’t believe me.<br /><br />Q: Cactusblog, <br />I found a small cactus in my backyard that I like, and I was wondering, can I pot it up and bring it inside?<br />Thanks,<br />Peter<br /><br />A: Peter,<br />Well, that depends. Do you want to keep the plant alive? If so, then you should pot it into a good well-draining cactus soil, taking care not to disturb the roots when doing this. And then put it in a sunny south or west-facing window. Keep the soil dry for the first few weeks. And then water every three weeks, allowing the pot to drain completely. <br /><br />But here’s the key to the whole endeavor: <span style="font-weight: bold;">Wait ’til Spring.</span> Don’t do it now. The cactus is dormant, and won’t like being transplanted, and in fact the whole plant will become rot-prone and could catch an infection and could even turn into a lovely little brown ball of mush.<br /><br />Hope that helps,<br />Cactusblog<br /><br />
Matt from Portland here. Your recent entry regarding the Myrtillocactus
Geometrizans has me writing you…again. It so happens that the MG was my
first and favorite cactus. Actually the start of my cactus interest. Had
one given to me from a friend who visited Arizona. They brought one back on
the plane to Portland carry on. At the time, 6 or so inches and crested.
Not a huge plant but still a unique looking carry-on item; don’t know if you
can pull that off anymore, this was back quite a few years. Never seeing
one before I was amazed. I kept it in a greenhouse. I had no other cactus
at the time just Jade plants. Anyway this plant turned into maybe 8-10
plants over a number of years. All crested and amazing. Sadly one year,
heavy rain got in the greenhouse and soaked them all. I couldn’t dry them
fast enough; it was a few days before I found them. Brown rot on all but
two. After the mass devastation, one in the greenhouse and one in the
kitchen window were left alive. Those two now are slowly repopulating the
collection. Attached is a happy survivor…
Anyway thanks for the memories. Never had flowers or berries on mine, but
maybe one day soon. How old or how long before one gets berries/flowers?
Sad to hear your larger plants are gone. I have a hard time finding large
healthy, “outrageous” MG plants.
Your crested myrtillo looks very healthy and happy. In general, crested varieties don’t bloom or fruit – you need an unmutated individual. Such are the choices we face in life: crest vs. fruit.
They got them a lot of ants in Florida.<br /><br /><div style="margin-left: 40px;"><span style="font-style: italic;">Q: One of my cactuses has ants in the container, and I would like to get them out without using pesticides. What should I do?<br />
A: Ants don’t like water, so a good soaking should get them out of the pot. Perhaps this is best done outdoors in an area where you don’t want an ant explosion. Dunk the cactus’s pot with root ball under water for about five minutes. The unhappy ants should scurry to the surface. When you think all the ants are out, set the ant-free cactus out to drain before giving it a permanent location.</span><br /></div><br />Those clever devils at the <a href="https://cactusjungle.com/archives/blog/exit.php?url_id=1803&entry_id=1611" title="http://www.orlandosentinel.com/features/food/orl-docsun1308jan13,0,7389558.column" onmouseover="window.status=’http://www.orlandosentinel.com/features/food/orl-docsun1308jan13,0,7389558.column’;return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">Orlando Sentinel</a>. What will they think of next. <span style="font-style: italic;">Dunking</span>.<br /><br />
A customer has sent us some very clear photos of aphids in action.
I came by Tuesday when your store was closed and showed you a digital photo of some bugs that have infested a cactus I bought. You told me they were “scales” and that I should clean them off the plant w/ rubbing alcohol and a q-tip and then spray down with neemoil… Here are the pics in case you notice that they are a different pest.
Actually those are aphids – and they’ve infested the bloom stalk of your echeveria plant. They like the flowers. It looks like the blooms are done, and so the easiest way to deal with aphids at this point is to cut off the bloom stalk, and toss it.
You should still spray the plant with Neem Oil to help kill any strays.
My Echevierias are blooming, which is nice, but most of the flowers are covered with aphids. What’s your recommendation on controlling that?
As always, enjoy your blog posts a lot (even the dog ones) 🙂
There are 3 answers to the aphids on succulent blooms issue:
1. Cut the blooms off. This is a very reliable solution.
2. Spray – We prefer either Neem Oil or Natural Pyrethrins. You can also clean them off with a paint brush dipped in alcohol.
3. Ant control. It turns out most aphids on succulent blooms, including echeverias, are being farmed there by ants. Check for ants in the area and do what you need to control the ants. We do have a couple organic products for this as well.
I have had this succulent for about 6-9 mos. After it was planted, I noticed some sand-like granules on some of the blooms. Sadly, it has spread, and the plant looks very sad now. Any suggestions to heal it? The whole plant appears to be turning a dark purple color. It is very beautiful when it’s healthy.
Any suggestions would be appreciated!
The sand-like stuff on the blooms is Aphids, an insect that is feeding off the blooms. You can spray the blooms and try to get rid of them, but often the answer is to cut the blooms off. As for the rest of the plant, a Graptopetalum, it doesn’t look good. I think the plant may already be dead, though it’s hard to tell for sure from the photo. If it was the aphids, it would have to have been a major infestation to do that kind of damage. To me it actually looks like the plant may have suffered sun burn. Was it recently brought outside?
If it is still alive, the best thing you can do is get it afternoon shade, cut off all the bloom stalks, hose it off vigorously, and then spray it with an organic insecticide. We recommend Neem oil, diluted from 100%.
I may have cut their answer a little bit short. You’ll have to click through to see the rest of it. And if you do, don’t blame me for changing the meaning of the answer by cutting it short – it’s not my fault.
Hello. I was wondering if you would kindly help to solve a mystery for me…
Last year I received this plant. I think it’s Haworthia-something. I don’t know for sure. The stick that came with it said “succulent” with no specifics. Anyway, when I got it it was bright green (believe it or not). Then I put it in my rock garden in a patch that gets part to full sun and it’s turned this brownish-pink. It’s not dead. And it’s not rotting. And the innermost parts are actually ever-so-slightly greenish. Can you tell me if this is something that naturally occurs (sort of like how some aloe turn reddish)?
I’m conflicted about keeping it because it’s such an odd color. And people keep speculating that it’s dead.
It looks like Aloe aristata. There are also Aloe/Haworthia hybrids that are out there that look very close, but until it blooms it is hard to tell for sure.
It looks best with a bit of afternoon shade, but the brick color is just it’s suntan, so if you like it, it is fine and not infected or anything dire, just dealing with full sun by adding Carotenoids and Flavonoids to the epidermis to protect it from UV. In the wild these guys are usually understory plants, growing under desert shrubs or at the edges of thickets where they get dappled light, but you do see them looking just like your’s in more exposed locations.
By the way I have a couple of Agave desmentiana with your name on them if you still are looking for them.
Hello Cactus Jungle!
A few months ago, I bought a couple of bamboo plants from Cactus Jungle and planted them in a planter box on my porch in San Francisco. One of them is doing really well, but the other one has yellow leaves and a few of its shoots have died. Unlike the healthy plant, the sickly bamboo hasn’t sent up any new shoots at all. I’m wondering if you can recommend how to cure whatever ails it. It’s a wind-tolerant variety, I think from Chile–I’m sorry I don’t remember the name. I’ve included some photos in case they help.
I water the plants about once every two weeks. The planter box has two inches of pebbles at the bottom to help with drainage. The plants get early morning and late afternoon sun. And lots of wind…
Please let me know if you have any advice.
Thanks for your help!
The plant, Chusquea culeou, does look a little thin in the photos. With a little care you should be able to get it to green up again.
The basic problem is that you are not watering them enough. In general we recommend watering once per week – drenching the soil completely. They are drought tolerant, so it’s losing leaves as a response to underwatering. In addition, you’ve got a wood planter box which will tend to dry out very quickly, and high winds which will tend to dry out the plants quickly. So water once per week – and with your conditions there I wouldn’t miss a watering.
You can also feed the bamboo now. If you got Bioturf fertilizer from us, use that.
I purchased an Himalayan red bamboo plant from you a few year ago for Brentwood, CA. The plant has thrived and grown well. It planted in sandy soil and is mostly shaded. It has encountered a spell of cold weather and the leaves have lost its green color and the plant appears to be smaller or withering. This just occurred, last year the plant kept its color and appeared to be fine.
What can I do to restore the plants green or healthier condition?
I’ve attached a photo, any advice will help.
Thank you very much,
The plants look like they took a bit of winter frost damage, nothing too bad. They look pretty good, actually, and should be able to come out of it this spring without any real problem.
I recommend a dose of Kelp Meal or Liquid Seaweed at this time, and follow up with a high nitrogen organic plant food (We sell Bio-Turf at the nursery) in mid-March. Bamboo are heavy feeders, so we do recommend fertilizing 2-4 times per year.
Hap, I have a few skinny rhizomes sprouting up and I was wondering if i should remove them to promote the larger ones to sprout which I already have a few growing?
Sounds like an easy enough question. I wonder what Hap has to say?
But wait! There’s a picture too.
Hap, here is the picture of the small sprouts that I was wondering if i should remove them so it would promote larger new sprout.
Now what will Hap say? I think I can guess…
The small sprouts are all that your newly transplanted plants have the resources to grow right now. Removing them will not encourage more robust shoots, but rather rob them of needed new leaves to feed growing roots and next years bigger shoots. I would leave them and let them leaf fully for this year and then after you get new larger shoots, when the plants are more established, remove any small shoots that are cosmetically unpleasing. But right now any new growth is a good sign and that the plants are settling in to their new home.
I purchased 2, large black bamboo plants from you in August of 2009. I planted both of them in separate large containers, and they are in our back patio space. The space gets moderate sun and is quite windy. We live in San Francisco (in Noe Valley).
I’ve been fertilizing them 3 times/year with the fertilizer I bought with the plants, and watering them regularly. They’ve both looked great so far – they sent up new shoots last year. I just fertilized them for the spring a few weeks ago – although not with the full “dose” you suggested because I was running low on the fertilizer. One of the plants looks great and is sending up new shoots. But I just noticed that the leaves on the other plant are all dried up. The leaves haven’t started falling off yet, and they haven’t changed color, but the plant doesn’t look good. I’ve started watering it more regularly, thinking maybe it wasn’t getting enough water. But I’m wondering if there’s anything else I should be doing.
Can you send us a couple of photos of the cranky one? It sounds like it may be that it got “crisped” on a hot-sunny-windy day when it just didn’t have enough moisture in the soil to replace what it was loosing to evaporation from the leaves… you can spray the leaves with water and it may help restore any that haven’t totally died… hopefully it can recover. The photos should help me let you know what other action to take. You can also give the stressed plant some liquid kelp it acts as a vitamin shot and growth stimulant.
More after the break, with a picture of the crispy bamboo… Read More…
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 don’t know if you got my updated photos on my project but here are some photos of the Purple Temple Bamboo. The leaves are turning yellow and I am not to sure if I have a problem.
I am watering once a week for 20 minutes on a drip system but I don’t think I am over watering.
It looks like a bit of transplant shock and perhaps wind burn. What is the gallons per hour of you drip hose? If it is one of the low volume hoses, you may need to run the water longer to get enough water to the plants. During the settling in phase your bamboo should each be getting about five gallons of water per week and more during hot windy periods. After a couple of months of growing roots and getting settled, you can cut back a bit, but keep up the regular water the first year or two and get them fully established before weaning them off to once or twice a month water. If they don’t perk up in a few weeks you can give them liquid kelp and that should help them grow out of their funk.
the drip hose is .9 gallons per hour and holes every 12″ on the drip hose. Sounds like I was not giving the bamboo enough water so I will water 5 days a week for an hour each time…… Thanks again for everything, Dan
About a month ago, I purchased 4 Candy Stripe clumping bamboo plants along with pots and soil. Recently, they have started dropping leaves. I increased water to 2x a week from the originally advised 1x per week.
What else should I be doing?
Your bamboo plants are having a little bit of transplant shock – which is perfectly natural and nothing to worry about. Stop the extra watering – these are drought tolerant plants and need to dry out between waterings. Only water more than once per week if its very hot or very windy. You should see new tiny leaflets starting in the next few weeks.
If you used the Bioturf organic fertilizer we recommend, you don’t need to do anything more. Otherwise I do recommend some high nitrogen organic fertilizer.
Thank u Peter for responding so quickly. I must admit i am sort of surprised that you wouldn’t have a market for such a handsome looking guy but there you go.
alright thanks again maybe you’ll see it someday sitting on the street corner forlorn, unwatered and untouched by neither human nor dog wandering by. Give It a fond glance wontcha?
And what got Barbara to get poetic on us? Why this particular Euphorbia tirucalli right here:
Barbara asked if we wanted it since she has new grandkids and the plant is pretty poisonous, and we declined to take on this 5ft. tall x 4ft wide Euphorbia, attractive as it is. If anyone else local wants a referral to Barbara for this plant, let me know and I’ll pass along your information. Hopefully together we can forestall a “forlorn, unwatered and untouched” Firesticks.
Thank you so much… This is encouraging to hear. Is there a better time to move them than others – spring, fall, would now be OK?
Now is good. You do not want to wait until it is too hot and the plants are in “conservation mode” or winter where the ground is cool and wet as that can lead to rot problems.
I understand I need to be careful on where I re-plant them to try and match the same sun exposure and conditions.? They are currently in a morning shade-corner in the back yard and I want to move them to the front where they will get?a?LOT more sun…?
As long as they are use to full afternoon sun you do not need to worry
about more light, afternoon sun is the strongest and hottest so if they
are getting that now they will be fine.
Should I keep them covered for a while?
If they are not getting full afternoon sun now and you move them then
putting some 50% shade fabric over them for a few weeks and then weaning them off shade will help keep them from getting sunburned. And yes make sure you mark the plants with which way is south and keep them orientated the same way when you replant.
Do you suggest I keep them out of the ground for a few days to let the roots dry??
Only if your soil is wet, which in your area shouldn’t be true…
And does the soil I plant them in have to be dry as well or can it be moist?
It should be kept dry for at least a week or two after transplanting. Some moisture is fine but do not actually water them.
Sorry for all of the questions, but I’d really hate to loose these native cactus.
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.
I bought 3 black knight echeveria’s a while ago. Being a complete novice, I had no clue when the mealy bugs began to feed on them. Despite my efforts late in the infection to combat the mealy bugs, the plants’ leaves all fell off and I purchased 3 new repotted echeverias in September. They’ve been doing well, until a few weeks ago. One of the echeveria’s is looking quite small compared to the other two. I came back from a vacation today and noticed about 3 leaves from the larger two were wilting and came off quite easily. I meticulously studied the plants for a sign of infection. NO LUCK! All I noticed was that they have a few little black holes on the bottom of a few leaves and that they look wilted. Can you suggest what to do?
It’s cold in Vancouver, BC (in fact it snowed about 1 week ago) so they’ve been inside all winter. I’ve kept them in a room that gets at least 3-5 hours of sunlight, WHEN IT’S SUNNY. The room is colder and they are right next to a glass door. I water them maybe 1/4 c. every 2-3 weeks. Except, when I noticed it looked like they were wilting I watered them a little more. The soil doesn’t feel wet, rather, slightly damp. The water is able to drain if they are too wet.
I’m at wits end and need some advice. Thanks. I’ve attached some photos.
My first guess is the smooth polished pebbles are staying wet under the leaves and causing fungal infections. As a rule of thumb we do not use smooth rock as a mulch or decorative top-dressing since the surface tension of water loves to cling to smooth round pebbles and stay wet forever. This gives a place for mold spores to “hatch” and start eating the leaves. Try to find black lava rock or a nice crushed black gravel which is rough and faster drying to use under the rosettes. You can keep the polished black rock on the exposed surface, but don’t let the leaves touch it. It should help keep them from staying too wet. Also during the winter water them well, but only about once a month. They should dry out completely between watering’s. It is OK if they look a little thirsty during the winter since they are basically asleep.
You can treat the plants with 1% Neem Oil solution to help fight off any infection they currently have. Just don’t spray and have in bright sun right away, treat, put somewhere shady for a day or two and then move back to the sun.
You can enjoy the giant pyramid bloom stock, and hope the rest of the plant survives, or you can go ahead and cut off the blooming rosette right now, which will save the plant, and leave you with a low shrubby plant for now.
Cut the stem for that one rosette off down low, and you can place the large cutting in a vase and enjoy the blooms that way. Spray the cut end on the plant with household hydrogen peroxide to help it heal, and it should branch from that point later in the winter.
Here is one of our client’s Aeonium ‘Schwartzkop’ in bloom. Wondering how to prune this once it is finished blooming. Looks like nearly every floret is blooming. Please advise.
Oh dear! Cut the branches with flowers off as soon as they start to open, and enjoy them in a vase. Letting them go to bloom on the plant will kill the whole plant. Oy!
Oy veh is right!!! So if we cut off the blooming branches, there will be nothing left? If this is a Black Swan moment, perhaps we simply replace? Please advise Professor Peter!
It looked to me like you had a few branches that were not going to bloom, but if close to the whole plant is blooming, then enjoy the show and replace the plant when it is done. You can also take cuttings of the 2 or 3 non-blooming branches and reroot them individually.
I have had this aloe in my backyard in Concord for almost 20 years. I have rarely watered it, because it was doing fine on its own. this winter after the big freeze, it was damaged. I have enclosed 2 pics. the plant is about 2.5 ft high, flowers almost 4 ft. What if anything should I do about its leaves? I trimmed some the dead tops off, is that the right thing to do? Would this plant survive being transplanted to a container? ( I know , no guarantees! ) its way in the back of my yard hidden behind a big rosemary bush.
Thanks for any advise!
The Aloe looks fine overall. You can trim the ends if you want, but its not necessary – eventually they’ll take care of that themselves.
You might want to fertilize it this spring. We sell an organic fertilizer for succulents, Cactus Meal, or you can use a Kelp Meal too.
It should survive being transplanted, but it will take a hit since you’ll have to trim back the roots when digging it up. You might want to divide it when you get it out of the ground. Also, make sure to use a fast draining cactus soil.