We Get Questions from Michigan

Hi Cactus jungle,

A friend sent me a spineless prickly pear pad from Texas. I planted it and place it outside in a sunny southern exposure in Michigan. It sprouted 2 more paddles right away.

I was wondering. Can this plant get scales? I asked because in the process of wiping the dust off the paddles I noticed that the surfaces look like they were covered with scales. I took a damp cloth and removed as much as I could…most of them wiped right off. If it is scale, is simply wiping the plant down the best way to treat it?

Thank you for any and all insight. A neophyte cactus person
Lorraine

Lorraine,
Generally in Michigan the larger prickly pear (Opuntia) plants will want to be inside in winter. If you keep them completely dry they can sometimes survive outside.
Opuntia are definitely prone to scale, however if they are rubbing off with a damp cloth they are probably not scale, since scale insects bite down and hold on tight. Generally we recommend dipping a soft paintbrush in alcohol to break through their hard outer shell and gently rub them off.
Peter
[Ed. Note: I don’t know that I actually answered the question. Could I have done better?]

Baby Cactus

This little guy was grown from a seed mix. Have any idea what he might be?

cactus seedling

Roland

Roland,

It’s too early to tell for sure, but it does look like a Ferocactus.

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

Agaves in Winter – The Questioning

We bought some black bamboo about a year ago from you guys. They are doing great and wow does it grow fast!

I had a question about an agave that we’ve had a little while longer. It has been sporting these little yellowish spots on it lately and they seem to be multiplying. We’ve been watering it about once a month over the winter. This one and another one we bought are the first we’ve owned so I’m not quite sure what its ailment might be. (the other one seems fine aside from re-potting shock it endured a little while back)

agave attenuata

Is this indicative of something wrong? Pic is attached. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

-Jared

Jared,
It looks like your Agave attenuata has taken some winter damage from the freeze we had in January. Over time these damaged leaves will die off and be replaced by new leaves that will come out of the center of the plant. In the meantime there’s not a lot you need to or can do.
Peter

Questions

First of all, let me just say that I love your blog. You guys are wonderful. I have gotten so much of my (admittedly limited) knowledge about succulents and cacti from reading it that I just can’t begin to thank you enough.

I have two questions. One I’m a little worried about because I suspect I won’t like the answer. In the second photo here, you can see my new Euphorbia Ammak up close… and there’s some discoloration, both pink and brown. The brown looks like it could be rot; it was just replanted, and it seems (see: right side of photo) perhaps someone at one point cut away some rot, which scabbed over. The brown is just at the bottom there; it does not continue up and is not soft or mildewy.

image2

The plant itself is about 5′ and seems happy otherwise. The odd pink continues up the plant in a few vertical patches but ONLY one one side.

I am hoping you will say that the pink is just sunburn and the brown was rot that has apparently been handled, as the top looks good and has grown several feet past the brown at the base. If you do, I will do a happy dance. I love this baby and don’t want to have to lop it off at the top. But I’m a little worried these patches are something more serious. Boo!

Two, in the first photo (which also shows the euphorbia’s height), I would love your help ID’ing that beautiful purple plant in the hanging basket. I bought it when it was just a few spindly arms and, since repotting it, it’s grown and segmented quite beautifully, with tiny pink blossoms along the length sometimes blooming. However it does seem the segments are a bit thinner and I am wondering if I am not taking proper care of it. It gets some direct morning light and then a good deal of bright shade the rest of the day.

image1

Thank you for any help you can provide. Love you guys! Wish you were closer! (I’m in San Diego!)

Lindsey

Lindsey,
The pink does look like sunburn – when it was repotted maybe it got turned around?

The brown does look like some rot as a result of the sunburn, caused probably by a fungus. It should be able to heal. I recommend spraying, out of sun, with an organic fungicide like Neem Oil – though don’t use anything called Rose Defense. Watch carefully to make sure it doesn’t continue spreading. If it does, it may be prone to a virus which can then spread quickly throughout the plant.

The hanging basket cactus is a Lepismium cruciforme and probably wants less direct sun than it is getting.

Let me know how it goes
Peter

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

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