Blooming Succulents

I bought a couple of these a short while ago. They are not flowering and look unhappy to me, pleas advise.

Thanks
Judyfoodie

Judy,

Your Bulbine frutescens looks like it recently was in bloom – I can see a couple recently finished blooms on the bloom stalk in back. But the real issue is why isn’t it blooming up a storm like they often do. Sometimes they do rest between bloom periods. And it looks like it’s not getting a lot of sun. In fact, the plant is looking very full in the photo, so I think in this shadier corner it’s decided to produce new leaves rather than blooms. I would get it out into more sun. I also recommend repotting it into the ground or a bigger pot, with fresh cactus soil and lots of organic nutrients.

Peter

Bromeliad Questions

Hi there cactus jungle…..
I have a pot of three bromeliads, that the flowers bloomed and now have dried up.
Otherwise, green plant is healthy and full.
I don’t know what to do next.
I keep adding water.
So need to know…
do I take out the dried flower? when to fertilize? ok to be outside (bayside) during winter or keep indoors?
Any help you can provide I would appreciate it.
Many thanks.
Alma-Lynn Kamps

Alma-Lynn,

If you can send us a photo, we might be able to identify the plants, and then we could give you more info.

In the meantime, cut off the dead bloom stalks. Indoors we water most bromeliads once per week. We recommend fertilizing every month – we sell a bromeliad fertilizer for just such a case.

As for inside or outside, that depends on the species, so I recommend keeping unnamed bromeliads indoor in the winter. Or, on the other hand, you can experiment with them in your garden and see how they do.

Peter

Building a Hanging Succulent Wall Unit

Out of wood!

Hi there,
I was hoping to stop by this weekend to purchase several succulents and I was hoping to ask for some advice. I’m going to endeavor to build a frame of sorts for the succulents, so that I might hang them on the garden fence, like a picture. I was wondering if you all had ever tried it, since it appears to be something that the whole world and their aunt’s seem to be talking about!

If you have, might you have any advice as to how to build it, what materials to use, or if you know of a tutorial I might be able to work through?

Thanks very much for your time and I’m looking forward to stopping by the shop Saturday morning!
Kate

Kate,

We do make them and it’s a bit complicated. We use L-shaped wood and miter the corners to create a box with a lip to attach a piece of hardware cloth or plastic netting to the underside of the lip. Then we fill with green moss up front and rock wool at the back. A piece of rigid plastic on the back holds it all in place. Then we take succulent cuttings and stick them through the mesh and lay flat for 2 to 3 months for the cuttings to root. Like This!

The other options are premade wall systems that can take soil, of which we carry 2 different types.

Peter

Bulb Issues

….but only if you consider grubs in your bulbs to be an issue.

Help!!!!!

(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.
Dani

Dani,

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.

Hugs,
Hap

Cabbage Head Agave

This question is all about the nature of cultivars. At least, that’s what I took the real question to be about.

hi
I just bought an agave parrasana at your nursery today. I am just double checking to make sure it is the true agave parrasana, as sometimes confederate rose agaves are labeled as parrasana, and that is not what I was looking for.

Thank you,
Ellen

Ellen,

I am not familiar with Agave “Confederate Rose” but as far as I understand it is a dwarf cultivar of A. parrasana. We do grow some other dwarf cultivars of A. parrasana as well. The nature of cultivars is that they are the species and not hybrids, however someone has found a smaller individual A. parrasana because individuals naturally vary and decided to grow it on and give it a cultivar name. This does not mean it isn’t true A. parrasana. As for what we carry, we’ve never grown any cultivars called “Confederate Rose”, so I assume the A. parrasana you got from us is the variety of A. parrasana you were looking for.

Peter

Cacti in the UK

Hello

I’m hoping you could give me some advice, I live in the UK and bought an Echinocactus grusonii a few months ago. The guy told me to water once a fortnight and add Baby Bio plant foot or tomato feed in each alternate. The first few times I watered it it was fine but this time I think I’ve killed it. Within a day of feeding the spines have started to die around the base, it’s got dead looking patches and darker green patches that look like water marks. It doesn’t feel squishy but the bottom looks like it’s shrinking in on itself.

Have I broken it? Can it be saved?

Thanks in advance
Victoria

Hi,

It’s hard to tell for sure from the photo, but it is not looking great. I think there may be 2 different pests, but again it’s hard to tell from the photos. The base looks like it has started to rot, in which case it is too late to save it. But if it is firm, maybe I am misreading it. If it is firm, you can try to use a systemic fungicide, and spray the rest with an organic pesticide. Not sure what’s available in the UK, but we use Bonide Infuse and Monterey Take Down Garden Spray.

In general we would suggest watering every 4 weeks (every 2 fortnights?) for the cooler parts of the year, and every 2-3 weeks when it is hot and sunny. Do not fertilize regularly with any tomato fertilizer – it’s too strong for cacti. Use an organic low strength granular all-purpose (like Down to Earth All Purpose) and use it at lower strength than recommended. Use only twice in a year – spring and mid-summer. Let the plant grow slow and it will be healthier.

Peter

Cactus Beetles

Robin Cooper gets questions on the British Radio. Bites on your cactus – are they head lice? No! But they’re screaming! And they have families too! The lady finally tells Robin that she’ll pray for the baby beetles before she kills them with insecticides.

Cactus Care

Hi Peter,
We were wondering about these two cacti given to us by friends. The tall one on the left seems to want to branch (we got a cutting off a 3-4 foot tall potted specimen). The short guy we think is a gymnocalyceum, and have always been a bit puzzled by its odd coloration (kind of dayglo yellow and pink). It was potted in fine sand and really suffering when we got it 2 years ago. Not sure what either of their specific needs are (minimum tolerated temp, sun exposure, etc).

photo 2 photo 1

Thanks for your help!
Marion

Marion,

The tall one is a Cereus. The short one could be a Gymnocalycium, but I wouldn’t know for sure until it blooms. The coloration seems to be an effect of the sun and probably the soil too. It can handle less than full sun, and may need to be repotted into fresh fast draining cactus soil in the spring.

In the San Francisco area I would recommend watering every 2 to 3 weeks through the summer, less in winter. They are probably hardy down to about 30F.

Peter

Cactus Cuts

Hello,
We had big beautiful cactus on the balcony, we cut it into smaller parts and planted them in big pots, but they are dying. Our gardener doesn’t seem to be fixing the problem.
we’re not giving them water.. some are at the entrance of the house. no water and no sun (could that be the problem) some are outside on the balcony, so getting water only when it rains and it does not rain much.

image_1366039361418780 image_1366039369025832

I am attaching picture here. Could you please help. Thank you
Hala

Hala,
Two of the cacti are dead and the other two look like they might still be alive. I don’t really know what has gone wrong as there are so many possibilities here. No water and no sun seems like a sufficient cause, though.

I would remove the two that might be alive from the pot and start over in a new pot, preferably terra cotta, and new fresh fast-draining cactus soil. Bring them out to a sunny location. Here in the San Francisco area we would water every two to three weeks.
Peter

Cactus Damage

cactus rot

I have recently seen this appear on my cactus it is hard to the touch. Could you tell me what it is and how to treat if I can.

Neal

Neal,

From the photo it looks like it could have been beetles chomping on your cactus, or a simple case of winter rot. Since you say it is now hard to the touch you probably don’t have to do anything, however I would spray with hydrogen peroxide and follow up in a week with an organic fungicide like Neem Oil (never use any neem product called Rose Defense) just to be sure. On the other hand if you see it spreading then send me another picture, a closeup in good focus.

Peter

Cactus Flower Identification Project

hi — i’m in northwest Wisconsin. wondering if you can identify a vine-type cactus, as far as I remember I got at a garage sale. Attached is a photo. I came home on my lunch hour today to take a photo of the single flower that had bloomed — good thing I did, cuz I just looked at it and the flower is drooped and lifeless. Evidently they only last a day?

cactus flower

I’ve had it about 4-5 years I think. It was root-bound so I divided it a few months ago. Some of the spikes are 3 feet long, long and narrow. There are others that are narrow, then form into a paddle, then get another narrow spike on the end. There are also rows of brown strings that form on the spikes, point toward the light. It’s in an east window.

Hope you can find the time to answer me.

Thanx —

Debbie A.

The cactus is an Epiphyllum, or Orchid Cactus. It is possible it is one of the night-blooming varieties – the blooms only last one night – although most epiphyllums will bloom during the day for 2-3 days. The brown strings are aerial roots – it is looking for tree branches to grab onto.

Peter

Cactus Fungus

Dear Cactus Jungle,

I was recently examining my cacti and noticed two very strange (maybe) fungus/viruses on two of the four.

(one is a ‘Fairy Castle’/Cereus tetragonus,

Cactus #2

the other might be a Coryphantha georgii,

Cactus #1

though I’m not sure about that).

I scoured the internet in search of identification for these possible fungi or viruses, but was unsuccessful. I noticed this blog when looking for answers, and would be so grateful if you could help me. I love these little buggers and would hate to see them go. I’ve attached two photos to this e-mail.
Thank you very much for your time and help!

Sincerely,
Sophy

Sophy,
I’m not seeing any fungus on the Cereus. Maybe there’s some rot on the inner branch, but it doesn’t look like a fungus. If it’s soft it may be a problem of overwatering, or if the plant has been in the pot for a long time it may not have enough soil left. It looks like it’s ready to be potted into a larger pot – the brown things coming out of the branches are aerial roots looking for more soil.

The other cactus (possibly a Coryphantha, although I would guess a Mammillaria, but I would need to see the blooms to know for sure) looks like a fungus, possibly Rust. You can spray fungus with standard organic fungicides. We like to use Neem Oil.

Peter

Cactus Growth

Actually, it’s a Euphorbia, but who’s counting?

You helped us with our cactus about a 2 years ago and he is growing,
growing, 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.

DSC02089

If so, we are interested in a quote to re-pot.

Thanks for your help.
Cheris

Cheris,

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

Take care,

Hap

Cactus Helpline

Help! The rotten wind knocked my pot full of cacti off the sill and my beloved cacti are all messed up! My tall column cactus is in the worst shape. Although he is still whole, he seems to have internal damage, as in, he feels squishy in some areas. He also has a couple of external damage marks (see white streaking at top and discoloration near bottom). The other sprawling one came completely out of the pot, but otherwise seems Ok, and the other one stayed in the pot and seems Ok also. I am really sick about this. I have had them for years (since tall guy was just a few inches tall) and really hope they can be saved. P. S. Also can you please identify the types?

photo(11)

Thank you,
Louise

Louise,
The tall one is probably a Cereus. The white streaks are where there was bending stress. That should heal over. If the bottom of the cactus is soft and not just discolored then you need to cut the cactus off above the rot and try to root the new cutting.

Basically you need to cut 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.

The sprawling one, I’m not sure what it is but it looks like it can be repotted just fine.

In general it looks like you needed to repot these into larger pots at this time anyway.
Peter

Cactus ID

Peter,

Thanks again for reserving my ‘Ebony’

Please find attached the 2 cacti that I cannot ID without help. Let me know if I have something worth dividing, planting or tossing.

SAMSUNG  SAMSUNG

Thanks,

John

John,

The one with the smaller stems is Parodia leninghausii. This will have a lot of beautiful big yellow flowers. These can safely be divided and propagated in the spring.

The more sprawling one is probably an Echinopsis, but I wouldn’t be able to ID the species until it blooms. It’s probably easy to propagate from stem cuttings. Both look like they need to get out of the wood boxes and into something bigger. I would generally wait until March to repot these.

Peter

 

Cactus ID

photo (1)

Who am I?

And can This cactus be cut down into segments and propagated like I propagate san Pedro’s?

Thank you!
Maggie

Maggie,
It’s a Cereus, probably Cereus uruguayanus, and it can be sectioned like San Pedros for propagating.
Peter

Cactus ID

They ask us to ID their cactus, and we oblige.

Love your webpage. I hope you can help me.
My question is do you know what species this Opuntia is? It is in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.

The owner gave me a cutting and I would like to find out more about it.
Thank you,
Mike Muench

Mike,

I believe that is an Opuntia monacantha, also known as the Droopy Prickly Pear.

Peter

Cactus ID and Questions

Greetings Cactus Jungle,

I will soon be purchasing some of your Ultra Soil Blend for Cactus and
Succulent and was hoping you could tell me what kind of cactus is in
the photos below (I found it languishing outside an antique shop and
brought it home to provide it with a little better care). It’s
currently about 23″ high and sits in a 7″ square pot.

 

In addition, could you answer a couple of other questions regarding
the cactus:

1. Again, what kind of cactus is it?

2. Could you recommend the optimal size pot for its size?

3. How much direct sunlight would you recommend for it during the hot
days of summer here in Richmond, VA?

Many thanks for any advice you could offer. I appreciate it (and wish
your garden center were here in my neck of the woods).

Cheers,

Elizabeth

Elizabeth,
Your cactus is a Cereus Monstrose, a genetic mutation off a more standard Cereus species. For pot size we recommend allowing enough space below the soil line for root mass that will match the amount of plant mass above. A 2ft. cactus would usually want to be in a standard 12″ pot, but it depends on height as well as width.

I can’t give you exact care for your location since I’m not familiar with your climate. But if you are hot you may want to provide it some afternoon shade.
Peter

Cactus ID for Everyone!

Subject: cactus photo

sent you a message asking for your help finding out what kind of cactus this is thanks for all your help


Mr Leslie Paulson

Your cactus is a Cereus c.v. Monstrose!

Peter

Cactus ID Is Difficult 

Hello!

I recently purchased a cactus to put on my windowsill to brighten up my room a bit, my problem is that I threw away the container right after I repotted it and now I don’t know what it is exactly. Could you help me?

The pot it’s in in this picture is four inches across and the ends of the spines are a dark red color.

Thank you so much!

Emma

Emma,

Hard to know for sure at that size, but I would guess a Gymnocalycium, although my 2nd guess would be a Ferocactus. If it blooms young, it’s probably a Gymnocalycium. Also, it looks like it could use more sun.

Peter

Cactus in a Glass, UK Edition

Please can you you help with the following

I recently purchased a cactus (see picture Below) I was given to names either mammillarias – polythele and the succulent plant is a sedum or Crassula and Echinocactus

I was also told two different methods of feeding which are as follows:

1. As far as watering goes, you should give it a small amount, about half a mug every 10-14 days in summer and reducing down to a 1/4 mug every 20-28 days over winter.

from summer hill garden centre
2 Water once a fortnight March to October – suggest a cupful ( not a mug!!!)
October to March ignore it
Feed every month from March to October ( amount should be on whichever feed you get)
October to March do not feed

from Craig House Cacti

Please can you give me the correct name and how often I water it and feed it and
where I buy the feed

I am disabled and never looked after one.

Thank you, Mark

Mark,
The cactus is a Mammillaria and the succulent is a Sedum. From the name of the nursery, I take it you are in Essex in England.

It’s going to be hard for me to give you exact instructions since I can’t tell what they are planted in. Terrariums are always a bit tricky, but it looks like maybe they are in small pots inside the glass surrounded by gravel. Assuming this is true, you want to make sure when you water that you only water right around the plant itself so that the water gets into the soil.

It won’t take a lot of water, maybe only a tablespoon per plant, but because it is so little water, you will need to water every week. You can water the cactus every 2 weeks in the winter, but the Sedum will want regular water year round. Make sure you don’t overwater – you don’t want any water sitting in the bottom of the glass.

As for feeding – Very little! since it’s in such a small terrarium. I would use a low strength liquid fertilizer like Liquid Seaweed (We use Grow More brand) and use only a tiny amount, no more than twice a year in spring and summer.
Good Luck,
Peter

Cactus in Florida? Help!

This cactus came with our new house. I don’t know what it’s name is or how to care for it. Thanks for your help.

Carol
St. Petersburg Florida

Cactus 1

Carol,
Your cactus is a Cleistocactus, and it is not looking happy. You are probably too wet and humid for it, long term, and it probably it needs to be inside in a very sunny location.
Peter

Cactus in Israel

Opuntia have naturalized throughout southern Europe and the middle east for food, both the pads and the fruit.

Hello.

We are looking for some prickly pear that has been bred for the edibility of the tunas (fruiting bodies) and the pads. Would you know where we might look?

Thank you,

Norman
Nazarene Israel

Norman,
Do you mean in Israel? They’re everywhere. Here’s a website about it.

If you’re looking in Northern California, we have them.

You can also use any of the pads (full, not cut up) you find in a grocery store, and plant them in the ground and they will usually grow.

Peter

Cactus in Paris

Hello Peter,
I was wondering if you could help me take care of my plants and maybe give me some advice! So as you can see I love plants, especially cacti and perennial plants. In every picture you can see that the soil is wet because I just watered them all today. Can you tell me how often each one needs to be watered?

I would also like to know whether they should be outdoors or not? I have a garden where I could put them but I would rather have them with me in my room. I recently put 6 and 7 outside but I am worried about that ‘burnt look’ they have going on now… Maybe the transition was a little too abrupt since they used to be inside. I never changed the soils, could you tell me if I should and how to?

Can you also tell me if they look healthy or if one of them needs special care? For the ones that stay in my room, I try to let as much sunshine in as I can, but I think maybe they would like to be outside. Also some parts of 7 died and I don’t know what to do with the remaining parts, does it mean that the whole cactus is going to die too?

I don’t know that much about cacti but I love them and would hate for them to die, so please help me! I’ve had the euphorbia 5 for a few years, I keep it inside the house and it looks really happy to me, it has grown a lot! Most of the others are new and I can’t tell if they have grown or not.

I live in Paris and it is rather hot and sunny during the summer and spring, but it can get really cold in the winter.

Also, if you know their names I would love to learn! THANK YOU so much, I LOVE your blog, I really hope you get a chance to reply and maybe help me.

1

2

3

4

5

6

7
Albertine

Albertine,

When you bring plants outside they need to be “hardened off” to the sun, which means bringing them slowly out into sunshine over the course of a week or longer, or they will get a sunburn.

All plants can be grown outside, it just depends on your local climate. Here in Berkeley or San Francisco we can grow those outside, but I am not sure in Paris. There is a cactus shop there that might know better for your particular locale.

The plants that I know are:

1. Euphorbia ferox

2. Don’t know

3. Opuntia microdasys

4. Ferocactus, too young to know the species

5. Euphorbia – could be trigona

6 and 7. Mammillaria

Generally you can water them every 2 to 3 weeks, but they look like they’re not getting a lot of sun, so maybe every 3 weeks is best.

Peter

Cactus in the Wet Winter Years

Good day –

I have purchased things from you over the years & need a little help.

Please see in the attached photo our fallen Eve’s Pin (I think that is what it is??) that we have had for years & is huge! The soil was too wet with all this rain & It just toppled over.

Can I somehow put it back in the hole – really don’t know how I am going to pick it up – those thorns are plentiful and large!

I think it roots easily – or should I just take pieces of it off & try putting the back in the ground to see if it will root?
Any advice would be appreciated & thank you for your time.

Thank you – Kevin A

This is definitely because of the wet winter. You can see that the root ball on the Eve’s Needles, Austrocylindropuntia subulata, is very small so it couldn’t support the large cactus above. If you want to try to right it I recommend some bamboo stakes, making a bit of a cage, and tie it all together while it is on the ground, and then use some fabric pieces to wrap around for a handle hold to lift it up. You might want to get more cactus soil where it is and mound up and get as large an area of faster draining soil and then replant upright.

You can of course also take it apart and plant the cuttings, they will root easily.

In the future I would water less, or to be more speicific this gets enough water in winter that after the first summer you should never water it, so that it groiws a bit slower and doesn’t get top heavy.

Peter

Cactus Issues

Hi,

I was looking at your very helpful blog and was wondering if you had any insight to the below. My cactus recently had a bit of scale and once I removed it with a tooth brush it began to discolor with brown/black spots. I’m not sure if this is caused by the scale or if it is rotting and what my next steps should be. I bought some organic neem oil and treated it on Saturday evening but wanted to see with you if you think this is the right approach or what you would recommend. (I have attached a photograph for your reference) do you think there is any possibility this cactus could live?

photo-1

Additionally I have another cactus potted in the same pot which appears to be healthy but I wanted to see if you think it is ok to leave it or if I should repot the ‘sick’ one.

I look forward to hearing from you and thank you in advance for your help!

Olivia

Olivia,

I can’t tell what is going on from the photo. That wouldn’t have been caused by the scale. Generally we don’t recommend using a toothbrush since the bristles can be too firm – a soft paintbrush dipped in alcohol is sufficient to remove scale. It is possible that the skin of the Cereus was damaged and now has a fungus or other rot-related issues, but I can’t be sure. Neem wouldn’t have caused it unless you sprayed in direct sun, but it would help with any fungal issues. Or it can also be something entirely unrelated to the scale removal.

I would definitely separate the two plants, clear off all the soil from the clean one’s roots, and plant in a new pot with fresh cactus soil. If you live near Berkeley you could bring it in and we can help you with that.

Peter

Cactus Moth

The Tampa Tribune publishes weird larva pictures.

The cactus moth larva often burrows into the cactus pad to feed on the flesh. Dripping ooze on the pad’s surface indicates a hungry caterpillar inside.

This came up in the course of a question from a reader:

Q: I found caterpillars in prickly pear in the cactus garden in the back yard. I looked them up and found pictures — they are definitely the larva of these cactus moths, Cactoblastis cactorum. What should I do to control them? Can I control them? What else will they destroy?

A:Unfortunately, this invasive insect is fairly common along Florida’s coasts. My advice to homeowners with only a limited number of cactuses under attack is to control the pest by removing the eggsticks by hand….

Click through for the rest of the answer, and a picture of the cactus moth’s eggstick.

Is this not the most exciting post of the day? No? Then you have no sense of the drama of the cactus moth’s mysterious eggstick.

Entomologists could wax lyrical for hours on the fascinating development of the Cactus Moth’s eggstick. Here, in fact, give a listen to an entomologist. Alright, so that wasn’t an actual recording of an entomologist at work, but rather the USDA’s scientific study of the Cactus Moth’s eggsticks.

Science!

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