Winter Cactus

Hi,

I have a plant that I purchased about 2-1/2 years ago from you. While I left it in the pot, it continued to grow and looked heathy. Last summer, I transplanted it into the ground in a sunny spot. It stopped growing, and developed a yellow tinge. Now, the yellow spots are turning soft.

subulata

I have a new raised bed with much better drainage and a bit less sun. My question is: can I move it right now, or must I wait until it warms up? I live in Sacramento. Is it too late to save? It is soft at the top of the plant, not near the roots.

Thanks for any suggestions you can offer,

Kathryn

Kathryn,
If when it was in the pot it was in a less sunny location, it may have sunburned from being put out into full sun, especially in a Sacramento summer.

And then in winter, it looks like you have automatic watering at the plant? If so that could make the problem worse in winter. It is possible that the soil was moist when we had our freeze in January.

So it looks like it is rotting from the tip. In general that means you want to cut the rotted tips off down to where you can see fresh clean green tissue on the inside of the plant. You will then have to protect the tips for a few weeks while they callous over. Given how far this has progressed, I would recommend doing the cutting now, turning off the water and protecting it from any rains, and then waiting until April or May to transplant it. Basically you want it to start getting better before you cause any transplant stress.

You should spray the cut tips with hydrogen peroxide to help them heal over. Watch for further rot and if needed spray with an organic fungicide like neem.

In the future it is best to water Opuntia subulatas in the ground very very sparingly. Once established you don’t have to ever water them unless you are getting over 95F.

Good luck

Peter

Valentine's Cactus Questions

Elizabeth has a question for Yahoo Answers. I thought I would post it here so you all can join in and pass along your cactus expertise to Elizabeth.

Cactus for Valentines Day?
So my boyfriend and I have been together for three years now and I always make him crafts or get him odd little things for Valentines day and he loves it. So this year I was going to get him a Venus Fly trap that said You caught me ;D but all the fly traps were dead and i bought him a “Golden Ball Cactus”…

The cactus has a yellow straw flower actually hot glued onto the poor cactus… stupid people.. and all the others were like,,, dead and such and i was wondering if there is any way i can keep this crinkly little flower alive. I wasn’t sure if it was fake or not.. but im assuming fake flowers can’t die although it has obviously been glued on.

I’ll start it off by saying that if all the Venus Fly Traps and all the Cactus except one were dead that the store she bought the one from is not doing a good job taking care of the plants and I would watch the cactus carefully for signs of stress and not worry about the straw flower.

Can you top my advice?

Santa Monica Succulents

I saw this very large succulent planted outside along the beach at a Santa Monica. Can you identify it? Do you sell it?

image

Barbara

Barbara,
That’s an Aeonium, probably Aeonium subplanum. We do have it in stock, as well as many other similar ones as well.
Peter

Watering a Cactus

Ask.com has this question up:

How Long Can a Cactus Survive Without Water

And then the answer includes this part:

…although (cacti) may show some signs of death when it lacks water, in most cases, it never dies completely…

What a bizarre answer.

Echeveria Baby on the Run!

Hello Cactus Blog,

photo(7)

My succulent grew a baby plant. Should I put it in its own pot? Thanks!

Yvonne

Yvonne,

I would definitely cut it off and put it in a new pot – BUT – wait for spring. It will be fine for a few more months as it is. When you do take the cutting, I recommend letting the cut end dry for a week before planting it in fresh dry cactus soil.

Also, not that you asked, but it looks like your Echeveria could use a bit more light. These are full sun Echeverias and would do best with 3-4 hours min. direct sun, without a screen.

Peter

Stapeliad Questions

Today we have an answer!

Hello!

I stopped by Cactus Jungle a few months ago asking about Edithcolea grandis. At the time, you said you didn’t have any because you always get it from a supplier. When I asked about propagating, you said that it’s hard to grow from seed, and you have never been able to get it to root. Since then, I’ve been doing some experimenting, and wanted to share some successes.

First of all, I don’t know how people grow it from seed; I couldn’t do it at all.

But, after my main plant started to rot and I took a few cuttings, I was able to experiment with rooting. What worked (with 2 separate cuttings) was to use rooting hormone, put pots in a warm-ish place that’s accessible to sunlight – nothing drastic, just a windowsill or an inner covered patio), keep the soil moist, but not wet, and keep the pot covered with a plastic bag. I just had regular 2-inch plastic pots covered by a ziplock bag. I live in the foggy part of San Francisco, so it was never especially warm or cold. What did NOT work was keeping pots uncovered, keeping them in the greenhouse (probably too much temp variation?), or keeping the soil too dry or too wet.

I hope this is helpful to you, and thanks for the beautiful nursery and great plants.

Yan

Yan

Thanks for the update! Do you have pictures of the new little plants?

Peter

Powdery Mildew on Euphorbiaceae

I’m having an awful time with mildew (or some similar fuzzy gray fungus) on Euphorbias in my house, one room in particular.[1] I tried neem oil, but that just makes everything defoliate. Then I tried spraying with basic copper sulfate (it was the cheapest and least toxic thing I could find at the garden center), but that has no effect. So I’m looking for something not found in nature, ideally something that’s illegal in multiple countries. Bonus points if it’s a yellow-green liquid that produces its own dry ice fog. Can you recommend anything?

Pedilanthus tithymaloides w/fungus

Euphorbia drupifera w/fungus

mr_subjunctive

[1] Affected so far: Euphorbia milii, Euphorbia drupifera, Pedilanthus tithymaloides, Synadenium grantii, Euphorbia bougheyi variegata, Euphorbia trigona, Euphorbia lactea, Pedilanthus ‘Jurassic Park 2.’

 

mr_s,
We have the same ongoing problem with Euphorbia milii, various Pedilanthus and Synadeniums and a few others. It is an ongoing battle with organic fungicides. We do use a product called “Mildew Cure” from JH Biotech, although it is also as natural as neem, but it works better on Euphorbias in our experience. Hydrogen peroxide might work. I don’t know of any systemic fungicides to recommend, but if you want something not listed for this use try a sulfur smudge stick used for seasoning wine barrels, and you light them.
Peter

Scale on a Prickly Pear Cactus

Good evening. Two days ago I noticed these spots on my Santa Rita Prickly Pear. Are these spots insects? Any suggestions on what to do? I bought this plant at Cactus Jungle and it’s one of our favorites.

Thank you,
David

David,

Those spots are insects – Scale insects – the big spots are the adults and the tiny spots are the babies. Prickly Pear Cactus are prone to these and it’s fairly common in the Bay Area. We recommend starting off by dipping a soft-bristled paintbrush into rubbing alcohol and gently brushing as many of them away as you can. The alcohol will break through their shells.

As this is a fairly extensive infestation, you should use a strong insecticide – we recommend natural pyrethrins (not the synthetic varieties) and we do sell a couple brands that are safe for use on cacti – that you can spray on directly. You will need to get into the cracks and crevices around the plant, and even spray the top of the soil. Re-spray after 2 weeks and that should take care of it.

Peter

Succulent Cuttings

Hi there,

My boyfriend bought a really nice plant for me from your store and apparently he mentioned that I have some succulent questions and someone there said I should just email you. So here goes!

I bought these succulent clippings for a wedding in June. After the wedding I put them on a tray with paper towel underneath and just soaked the paper towel occasionally. They seemed to be doing fine but haven’t really grown any serious roots.

I tried to put them in dirt (as you can see) but the don’t seem to be doing as well now (maybe because the dirt absorbs the water before the succulent can get to it?).

Anyway, can you advise me on how to turn a succulent clipping into a free-standing plant? Thank you!

Best, Megan

Megan,

It sounds like you are doing fine with them. It can take a few months, especially in winter, for those succulents to develop good roots. The plants should be fine in the meantime. Water every 2 weeks or less during the winter, more in the summer.

In general the best way to root cuttings is to let the cut end dry and heal over, then put them straight into dry cactus soil (we sell our own cutom blend). Don’t water for a week, and then start watering regularly same as if they had roots.

The plants do look like they might not be getting enough sun. I can’t tell if that was from before the cuttings were taken, or if it’s because they’re on the floor below where the sun gets to. But I would make sure they’re getting 3-4 hours of direct sun every day.

Good luck!

Peter

Mystery Bug

image

Mystery bug on pot with blooming Rebutia fiebrigii. Do you have any idea what it could be?

Your mad skillz & such

Hi there —

Any chance you can tell me what it is I’m taking care of here (in the foreground)? I bought it at a yard sale in July because it gave me Dr. Seuss flashbacks. Think maybe I haven’t been watering it enough, as it sure looks fluffier & happier since the rain.

And don’t judge my cacti/succulent bench mess! I’m trying to figure out where everyone needs to be for this our first winter together. I sure wish the kids not from CJ were already repotted in your soil, but, ya know, if dreams were thunder & all.

Thanks a ton,
Cheri

Cheri,

You have a Senecio cylindricus (or possibly a Senecio mandraliscae). The plant looks happy and healthy, if a bit more Dr. Seuss-ey than is usual.

Peter

ID Question

Can you help ID this plant growing 50 miles north of Santa Cruz. Any ideas on a species?

Dustin

Dustin –

It’s a Dudleya. 50 miles north of Santa Cruz is the Half Moon Bay area, so it is probably Dudleya farinosa, but possibly Dudleya cymosa.

Peter

Hardy Agaves

Hi, I’m a big fan of your blog and i was hoping that you might be able to identify this agave? I just picked it up at lowes and it was labeled as an aloe.  Fingers crossed that it’s hardy.

Thanks
Paul from VA

Paul,

You have an Agave, probably Agave potatorum. Also see here for lots more pictures.

They are hardy to about 25F (Zone 9b), so probably not hardy outside in VA.

Peter

Echinocactus Grusonii Questions

Good afternoon;

I have a couple of questions regarding my golden barrel cacti. I have five outdoor plants in a cactus garden on the northwest side of our home. I’ve noticed that the two smaller barrel cacti (one is about the size of a melon, the other the size of a grapefruit) have developed yellowish ribs and the space between each of the ribs is a light green. Are they not receiving enough sunlight? Should I place the barrels in pots and move them to an area with more direct sun? They get about 5 hours of direct sunlight this time of year.

I also water my barrel cacti about once every 10-14 days – are they receiving too much water? If it’s any help, I live in Newark, CA (about an hour south of Berkeley) and have bought some cacti from Cactus Jungle. I appreciate your feedback. Attached are two photos taken during the summer of the cacti in question.

Thank you,
David

David,

From the pictures, the cacti look fine. In general, 5 hours is enough sun. A little yellowing could be a sign of too much water; reduce the watering to every 3 to 4 weeks except when you are getting over 90F. You can stop watering them now for the winter unless we have a particularly dry winter.

Peter

We Get Winter Cactus Questions

Hello!
I stumbled across your blog and I have a few questions regarding my new copiapoa.
How often should I water it, and how much water should I use when I do? Now that it is winter I thought I would need to water it less. I just got it about a week or two ago and it was flowering–now the flower has closed up. Is this usually the case with this cactus?

I also have a succulent that I have had for about a year, I think I over watered it recently but I thought maybe taking a look you could tell if it is doing okay. I was wondering if I needed to plant it in a bigger pot?

Also, I live in Oklahoma, just so you could get an idea on weather.

Thank you in advance!
Alicia

Alicia,

Cactus flowers only last 2-4 days, so it is not unusual that the cactus has finished blooming so quickly. It is unusual that it was blooming so late in the year. Normally you should see it flower in early summer. I would recommend some low strength fertilizer in spring and a little bit of extra bloom food.

For winter, put it in the sunniest window you have, water every 4-6 weeks, and pretty much leave it alone. In spring you can start watering about every 3 weeks.

When we water we prefer to drench the plant and let the water drain away – a kitchen sink is a good place for that.

The succulent is Crassula ovata, and it is fine. It definitely wants a bigger pot, but I would wait until spring.

Peter

We Get Cactus Questions

Hey Guys,

I have another one for your ID help … and it’s blooming for the first time (for me). Is it a Disco? Melo? Echino? species?

Thanks,

CactGuy

Dustin,
It’s a Melocactus, probably either Melocactus azureus or Melocactus violaceus.
Peter

Bamboo Transplant Questions

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?

Amy

Amy,
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.
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

Fast Growing Euphorbias

Hello Peter;

I have a question on what to do about my Euphorbia trigona – it had been ill about 2 years ago and was treated with Neem and then brought into the house and recovered nicely. It kept growing taller and taller and never branched. It finally threw two branches this summer and grew another foot taller…it is now 40 inches tall! It is still completely upright with a chop stick secured to the bottom 6 inches, planted in a 6” deep terra cotta and happy. Should I just let it continue to get taller and taller? OR should I cut it down to size and let the potted bottom half alone – will it sprout branches? Then I would re-pot the top half?

Is it a must to use a rooting solution? I did not use any kind of rooting solution when I put the top of the cleistocactus that rotted off (of course, I did remove all rot and then let the bottom dry for awhile) into some cactus soil. It seems happy and has started growing a new fluff of top furry hair J. Will it root without rooting solution?

Thanks for your time, once again, to help me figure all this out.

~Karen

Karen,
It’s just about too late in the year to take Euphorbia cuttings, so if you do want to cut it and re-root, I recommend waiting until next year and taking the cuts between May and August. We do ours on July 1. The Euphorbia cuts are easy to get to root without hormones so long as they are well callused over.

The pot its in is too small, so it would be happier in a larger pot. Probably a 10-12″ pot.

And finally, these Euphorbias can be grown much slower with much less water. It’s amazing how long you can go between waterings. I recommend about once per month to really slow down its growth, although if its in a sunny hot window it may need a little water every 2-3 weeks.

With regular water, these will top 8ft. pretty quickly. We’re often asked to come into people’s homes to cut them down before they hit the ceiling.
Peter

Aloe Questions After the Fact

Good day-

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.

Best,

Zachary

Zachary,

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.

Peter

Gene Wants to Know

Hi,

I’ve been reading your blog for a while, and I really love when you tell which plant is blooming. Suddenly, I have a need for that too! Something popped a flower today, and I don’t know what it is. Can you tell? What are the other plants I have in that planter?

Gene

Gene-

Nice grouping. And you’re in luck! I can name most of those for you. The blooming one is a  Titanopsis hugo-schlecteri. In front is Baby Toes, aka Fenestraria aurantiaca. Further forward and to the left, the dark one is Haworthia truncata. At the very front is Sedum spathulifolium “Cape Blanco”. And the last one, the light colored one on the right, is another Mesemb, but I’m not sure which species. Maybe a Cheiridopsis.

Peter

Does anyone here on the blog want to challenge any of my IDs? I’m open to suggestion.

Tony's Mesemb

Hello Cactus Jungle!
I recently moved my dinteranthus from a bright shade location to a full sun (bright shade for half the day) spot about two days ago. Today I noticed a strange lesion developing on one of the leaves (see photos). Overall the plant feels soft/a little mushy compared to before the move.

Any thoughts on how to approach this?
Thanks,
Tony

Tony,
That’s definitely a sunburn. These are very delicate plants, so the prognosis is not great. The best I can suggest is to get it out of the direct sun, and spray with hydrogen peroxide to help it heal. If it survives the week, you can also spray it with some Neem Oil to help prevent any fungus.
Peter

Cereus

Could you tell me what kind of cactus this is we are clueless and would love an answer.

Thank you for your time. Love your BLOG!
rooboy

It’s a Cereus, possibly a Cereus hildmannianus or one of its sub-varieties. It could also be a seed grown Cereus peruviana that has grown elongated from low light and will shift from juvenile growth to adult eventually.
Peter

We Get Questions

Hello! Im having some difficulty with one of my euphorbias and my friend, Akos Kokai, suggested that I email you. My devil’s backbone has been growing this layer of powdery white dust for some time now. At first, it was very little and I thought it might be natural to the plant. But now it’s proliferating and killing off the leaves. Do you know what it might be? I’ve isolated the plant and have tried neem oil and alcohol treatments, but it keeps growing back.

Thank you!
Diana

Diana,
It’s powdery mildew, a fungus. It’s pretty easy to cure, and we have some organic fungus treatments that work well, but these plants are definitely prone to it. We can recommend either of two products we carry: Safergro Mildew Cure or EcoSmart Garden Fungicide.

I recommend using one of these at the first sign of trouble. The Pedilanthus will do better with better air circulation and probably less water.
Peter

Mulching Your Cacti

Dear CJ,
I have a number of cactus and succulent varieties planted in the ground and they are doing much better than when they were in pots.

I am not too happy about the weeds among them.

After pulling all the weeds, should I cover the ground with medium sized redwood chips, clean rocks, or what? What I want is to have something easy enough to move aside to add more plants when needed and also something which will deter the weeds?

Thanks for your help.
David

David,
We recommend gravel or lava, some kind of rock mulch that is rough, not smooth, and will dry out quickly. Also, we can recommend Corn Gluten, either liquid or pellet, after you’ve pulled the weeds as a pre-emergent herbicide.
Peter

Locally Available – Care to Try?

Dear Professional,

Hi, my Name is Nora. I have some really old cacti in the front yard of my house and would like to remove them or sell them. I am not educated about the plants, and during quick research of the plants I became lost in a pool of information on the diffferent types of plants, and removal process. I would like to to post them on craigslist to sell them, but I have no idea what to price them at. If they are not worth much I still would like give the plants to someone that appreciates the fact that they are 32 years old, and very large! They are pretty neat!

  

So I guess my question is, do you have any idea what these plants could be fairly priced at? Do you know anyone that may be interesed in these? Should I just have the gardener cut them down?

Sincerely,
Clueless Cacti Owner

Nora-
You have some very nice cacti!

The large single column is an Echinopsis terscheckii and could be worth a lot, from $500 to $1500 fully rooted in a pot at retail, depending on size and condition, but will be very difficult for someone to dig up and remove without damaging it. It should weigh more than 300 pounds.

The tall multi-branched is a San Pedro, Echinopsis pachanoi and this one would have to be taken in pieces – you wouldn’t be able to get it out of the ground in one plant. The cuttings are a couple dollars per foot, but beware that these are often sold to be ingested as a hallucinogen, so you may want to be careful about posting these on Craigslist.

The short multi-branched is an Oreocereus celsianus and if it can be dug up in one piece and rooted in a pot can be worth $300-$750 at retail, depending on size and condition. But it looks like that would be difficult for it, and it is not worth anything as cuttings.

I hope that is helpful to you.
Peter

Flowering Cactus Questions

Hello,
We’re hoping you can tell us a bit more about this type of cactus, so that we can enjoy it in its full glory. I’ve searched online for care guidance, with no luck.

We purchased a beautiful Echinocereus grandiflora (lemon yellow) from the Cactus Jungle this past weekend. It had three fantastic yellow blooms when we brought it home. We placed it (in its pot) in our sunny yard and gave it a bit of water. After a few days, the blooms closed up and have a brownish appearance. Is this normal? We haven’t planted it just yet, but it is worth noting that we’re in a very sunny and windy location. Hope that’s okay for this beauty!

Thanks in advance for your help.
Vanessa

Vanessa,
Cactus flowers tend to last only 2 to 4 days since they’re from the desert where they lose a lot of moisture very quickly. That’s also why they’re so big and beautiful – to attract the bees to pollinate them very quickly. So there’s nothing wrong with the flowers having finished. A sunny location is perfect for them, and they can handle lots of wind, too. As these grandifloras grow, they will have dozens or more flowers throughout the spring and summer. I recommend adding a bloom food in to the mix in February to get even more blooms after that.

Here’s one in bloom that’s been in the ground a few years (with different colored flowers).

Peter

Questions from the Yelp-o-sphere

Hello,

I saw you have great reviews and excellent knowledge of cactus’ through Yelp and I’m hoping you can help me out. Attached you will find pictures of a cactus tree we have in our backyard. We are trying to figure out what type of cactus this is, can you help out? Thank you for your time in reading this, have a nice day.

Thank you,

Sinta
American International Metals
Anaheim

Sinta,
The picture is small, but the plant is not a cactus at all but rather a Euphorbia, probably Euphorbia ammak, which is also known as an African Candelabra.
Peter

Ammak

Hello-

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,

Aimée

Aimee

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.

Peter

 

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