Dudleya Questions

Hi,
Bought plant year ago and you repotted. Plant is on balcony in Mission Bay SF. Watered 4-6 cups every 2 1/2 weeks; fertilized in Sept.

IMG_0751

Lower leaves of plant gets soft and shrivels so I cut off. However, as plant grows, the lower leaves continue to get soft and shrivel; is this normal? Also, some of the leaves get these brown spots as you can see in the lower leaves in the photo. What is this? From water? In strong rain and wind over a number of days, I cover plant with a plastic bag; is this necessary?
Thank you for your help!
Mary

Mary,

Your Dudleya is looking great! All succulents lose bottom leaves, and Dudleyas are no exception. They do get the brown spots and if its on a bottom leaf that will be falling off soon then there’s nothing to worry about. On upper leaves the problem is that Dudleyas prefer not to have water sitting on them, so in the ground it is often best to plant them at an angle so the winter rains roll off. Not as possible in a pot, but generally a little water on top won’t hurt the plant more than the occasional spots. Or bring it under cover when we get those too-rare rains these days!

Peter

Dudleya Questions

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Dudleya brittonii, the Giant Chalk Dudleya from Baja California. Now don’t argue with me here – I have an answer for any objections you might have to my answer below.

Q: How do you differentiate between a dudleya and a echeveria?

Mary
(via Instagram)

Mary-

They are very closely related! But Dudleyas are California native and summer dormant, while Echeverias are Mexican and winter dormant. Also Echeveria flowers are more brightly colored.

Peter

Dudleyas for Everyone!

Hi Peter

I was at Cactus Jungle this morning – here is a picture of my succulent that is unidentified. It has been in the ground three years in full sun has not grown much in that time. Looks like a chrysanthemum.

Thank you Hortensia

Hortensia,

That’s a Dudleya. We do have those here at the store, out on the floor, but they do not have as much red on the tips as in the photo. It is a very slow growing succulent that forms only small clumps.

Peter

Dumbest Plant Name Evah

A customer wanted to know what the name Aloe cryptopoda means. Crypto means false, hidden, fake; poda means foot. Well, that doesn’t make any sense. So I looked it up.

It really is derived from “Hidden Foot”. Because the base of the bloom stalk is hidden by the plant’s leaves. That is the dumbest excuse for a latin plant name I have ever heard.

Dying Barrel Questions

The subject line of this question was “My Barrel Cactus” so that’s how we knew what the question was about. There was no photo, so we had to make some assumptions. Photos are always good. Anyway, on to the question.

Hi,

I have cactus that that has been dying from the base up and turning and orangish yellow. I am wondering if there is anything i can do to save it. Someone told me that you can cut the cactus off above the dying part and then replant it. Can you do this? What do you have to do in order for the cactus to survive if you do this?

Thank you,
Mike

A: Mike,

It is possible to save a cacti by cutting off the top un-infected part and then re-rooting. On barrel cactus it is very hard to pull off since they are so big around so it is hard for them to heal. To make the attempt cut above the infection, take a look at the exposed soft tissue and make sure there is no sign of infected tissue (orange, red, brown or black spots), if there is clean your knife in bleach and try cutting higher up. Once all there is is clean green tissue coat with household hydrogen-peroxide to disinfect and to speed up the “callusing”. Let the cut heal in dry warmth until it is scabbed over by what looks like a well scabbed skinned knee after a bike crash…. Then place the plant in dry cactus soil to grow new roots. Do not water until there are signs of roots, six to twelve weeks. You can mist the barrel a little at night (when it’s stoma are open) to give it some water. Keep it warm and in bright light but not in full sun.

Good luck,
Hap

[ed: good luck indeed.]

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

Echeveria Grow Big!

Hi Peter,
As we were just discussing on the phone, I have an Echeveria hybrid that I purchased from your fine company back in June. As you can see from the photos, since then it has grown quite tall and I am wondering what I can do for it. Also, the second photo shows the top of the trunk that split yesterday. What have I done wrong and what can I do for the split trunk?
Thank you very much for your time.

dsc00009

Nathan

Nathan-
As we discussed, it does appear that your echeveria is not getting enough sunlight. The split developing at the top is because it is top heavy, and because the stem is not strong enough. What I recommend is waiting til late March, if possible (if the head is about to break off then don’t wait) and then cutting the rosette off with about 6″ off stem, clearing off the bottom leaves as necessary. Spray the cut end with household peroxide to help it heal and keep out of the sun for 1 week to let it dry. Then plant about 4″ deep into fresh dry soil, and wait another week before starting to water. Make sure the plant is in a warm sunny window and it should begin to root pretty quickly. Given the thickness of the echeveria stems, we often use a rooting hormone to help the plant root faster, but it’s not necessary.

You can then cut the rest of the stem down to about 3″ above the soil, removing all dead leaves, and the rooted stem will probably grow new rosettes. Spray the cut end with the household peroxide also, and keep out of direct sun until the tip heals a bit.

In general, we recommend these echeverias have 4 hours of direct sun per day, so a south or west facing window is ideal.

Let us know how it goes,
Peter

Echeverias and Cold Winters

Today we have a very polite correspondent sending in a question:

Dear Client support,

I was wondering if potted echeveria cuttings in zone 6, that were taken late in the season, could continue to be watered and provided fertilizer without extended hours of supplemental lighting during the winter. Though I realize shorter daylengths might normally initiate dormancy, I wasn’t sure if overwintered cuttings with under-developed root systems were capable of surviving the water and nutrient deprivation required.

My thanks for your time and efforts in the matter.

Sincerely,

Joe

Joe,

Echeveria do go dormant in the winter so unless you are providing extra full spectrum light to keep them actively growing, it is best to cut back on food and water and let them sleep through winter. Even with little or no roots they will do better with limited water for the winter. If you want to push them you can put them under full spectrum lights for 16-18 hours a day until they are better established and then wean them off the light and let them go dormant. However you really don’t need to, as long as they are getting some light and a bit of water every month they should do fine.

When I gardened in Alaska all my Echeveria were pulled from the garden in the fall, somewhat brutally tossed in to wire baskets, mostly bare root and “stored for winter” in a south facing window. They were misted occasionally, but never watered. In early spring I would pot them up, let them settle in to dry soil for a week or two and then give them their first real drink in months. They soon perked up and took off and were ready to go back outside as soon as the snow melted. While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend growing them that way anymore it does show how hardy they are and how they can survive long periods of dormancy and drought.

Good luck,

Hap

Well, I never knew that. You learn something new occasionally. Next time you’re up in Alaska you can wow the natives with this new knowledge.

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

Edible Fruit

Hiya guys,
I just got back from my tour of the US,
and my buddy gave me some cow’s tongue opuntia when I was passing thru New Mexico.
I was wondering if the fruit is edible and the same as standard prickly pear.
I never see this in the Bay area, is it rare out here?
Thanks!
Jay

Jay,
All opuntia fruit is edible, just some taste better than others, some are less spiny and easier to get at than others, and some are already bottled in fancy sweet vinegars made in Italy.
Peter

Euphorbia Care Instructions

Hello!
I’m writing you from the Netherlands. I was looking for a Dutch website that could help me out with my problem, but there doesn’t seem to be any.
I landed on your very helpful site, so I very much hope that you can help me out.

IMG_2206

I have a ammak since my birthday last August. It used to be standing in a light room, with no direct sunlight. After a while I started seeing green “fresh” looking tops arriving and took that as a good sign: that cactus seemed happy. (I must admit, I don’t know anything about cactus plants). I haven’t given it any water.

Recently I moved to another place. Bringing the cactus with us in the truck must not have been fun for him. It was a bumpy ride. Once it got to the new house, it was moved around a little bit and ended up behind some boxes in order to protect it. The house was freshly painted and smelled horrible (chemical) for weeks. It still does a bit.

Meanwhile. The ammak seemed to do fine, but after not paying too much attention to it for about a week, today, I suddenly noticed that a couple of his arms are turning brown!!!!

I’m soooo scared that something horrible is going on with him!

It seems that these cactus plants get “rot”, but as far a I can tell, that normally starts from the bottom. In this case, the discolouration mostly affects his arms and also his leg a bit, but there on the leg, there are mainly brown edged and just a bit of discolouration. I did notice that a couple of areas on the arms are also more “wrinkly” / mush, but not much. I also read about a fungus/virus.

Do you think that’s what’s going on?

I very much hope you can help me out!!
Thanks so much in advance!!

Maaike Eline

Unfortunately it doesn’t look good. I was surprised in your email when you said you hadn’t watered it since August. And then after the move that you kept it hidden behind boxes (where it presumably didn’t get light.) The move is going to be tough on any plants, but no water and no light is not something that a plant can survive.

In general if you get another one to try again I would recommend watering every 3 weeks. They should be in a very bright room or get a couple of hours of direct sun.

Peter

Euphorbia Fungus

Hello friends at Cactus Jungle,

My beloved euphorbia pseudocactus has been having some problems lately. I’ve noticed two distinct issues, which I was hoping you could help me diagnose.

Sept and Oct 09 022 Sept and Oct 09 023

1. Black and brown discoloration, over wide areas of all 3 pseudos. (see picture)
-I know this can happen with overwatering, but I’ve owned this plant for 3 years and have watered at most once every 4 to 6 weeks.

2. Chunky holes (see picture)
-possible pest infestation?

I am currently having a mealy bug problem with other succulents in my garden, but I haven’t see any signs of mealies on the pseudocactus. Any ideas as to what might be causing the above issues and how I can treat them?

Thanks a million!

-Kristi

Kristi,
The holes look like they have healed over, whatever had caused them in the first place, so I wouldn’t worry about them at this time. However, the black spots, with rainbow coloration around it, looks like a fungal infection. This needs to be fixed ASAP or you will lose that portion of the plant over the winter.

It doesn’t sound like it was overwatering. Has light or airflow conditions changed recently?

Treat with Neem oil, or we also have a product called Mildew Cure.
Take care,
Peter

Euphorbia Problems

I’ve attached a few photos of my cactus that I’ve had for 10-12 years. My friend gave it to me as a joke because I kill everything, including ivy, thinking that maybe I could keep it alive by just leaving it alone. So for those 10-12 years it sat in the same window and never moved until 2 months ago when I switched jobs and it came with me. It’s been getting brown spots like I tried to show in the picture. This office may be a little colder than the last one but no more than 5 degrees-the sunlight may also not be as direct -instead of sitting on the sill it’s on a cabinet behind it and a little to the side. Also, I’ve never repotted it because I don’t know what to get or how to do it.

euphorbia2 euphorbia

I’ve tried researching online but I haven’t been able to identify the type. So, my 2 questions are: Do you know the type/name? and is it dying? If so, (my 3rd question I know) what can I do to save it?

I appreciate any and all advice!
Thank you,
Laura

Laura,
Your plant is a Euphorbia, possibly Euphorbia hermentiana. While not in the Cactus Family, it is very hardy like a cactus as you have experienced for the last decade or so.

It’s a little hard to tell from the photos, but there is some rot, and maybe a lot spreading through the plant, but maybe not. If the problems are isolated it should be able to come through.

The first problem is that it has never been repotted. Euphorbias are remarkable in being able to stay underpotted for so long! But not for ever. Add in the move, and many plants will experience shock from a move, and that can be enough to cause these problems.

These Euphorbias can handle bright indirect light, so the new location should be fine. But you will need to reduce the amount of watering for the lower light levels.

I recommend spraying the rot portions with a good quality organic fungicide; we sell Monterey Neem Oil.

The big problem is going to be repotting, which can cause more shock. You may want to try to stabilize the plant before repotting. Then you can follow along here: How Do You Repot a Euphorbia?

Good luck,
Peter

Euphorbia Problems

Hi
I have been searching the net for some clues about a cactus – I have no idea whether it is suffering from lack of water or too much water! It is a tall, silvery blue-grey cactus with side branches (we were told it was a ghost cactus when we bought it). It does not have large spines.

It has been healthy for 2 years and we have been very careful not to over-water. However, today one of its stems is shrivelled at the bottom and has flopped over. Higher up on the stem is an area which has gone soft and brown – almost as if it has rotted. There are a few drops of sticky, milky white sap on one of the other stems. The other stems all seem fine at the moment.

I did give the cactus a little bit of water a few days ago, but not enough to drain through the holes at the bottom. I have felt the soil today and it is dry as a bone.

I am too afraid to water it as I know it is easier for a cactus to recover from under-watering, and thought I would seek advice first!

Any ideas?

Thanks!
Ruth

Ruth,
It does not seem that you are overwatering, so that is probably not what has caused the arms to rot.

You will need to treat the rotting areas right away to keep it from spreading. Cut off the dead branches, making sure there is no rot left on the remaining portions, and spray with household peroxide. You will probably need to cut out the area in the middle of the branch, and also treat it. However, before you do all this, if the plant is a Euphorbia, you will need to be careful not to get any of the milky white sap on you, as it is caustic. Can you send a photo, so we can see if it has an infection, and what type of plant it is.

Finally, how much light is it getting?
Peter

Follow me for more after the break. Cool! Read More…

Euphorbia Problems

Hi,

I love Cactus Jungle (!) and it looks like I’ll be needing to make a trip soon to replace my indoor Euphorbia Ingens. The plant was gifted to me by a friend many years ago when it outgrew his little apartment. It was about 5′ tall at that time and it is now at least 6-1/2′ tall with several branches. It used to produce a multitude of little green leaves and grew a few new “arms” and then about five months ago I swapped it’s location with my Euphorbia hermentiana, so the hermentiana could have the best light for a while (although all the light is pretty good). I was about to swap them around again when I noticed the Euphorbia Ingens was dying. It started getting soft and rubbery at the tips of each branch including the top of the main trunk. Now about 2″ of each branch is very soft and yellow and I’ve noticed a brown creeping area on the largest branch. This is happening pretty fast. I think one of my [bleeping] cats decided to use the trunk as a scratch post as I’ve noticed some old healed pinprick patterns on the base side facing the wall. I don’t know what caused the dying — lack of proper sunlight, cat damage, virus, other. Should I try cutting the plant in half (the bottom half below the branches does not appear to be sick) or simply have a funeral for the entire plant? My camera is on the blink so unfortunately I can’t send a picture!

By the way, the Euphorbia hermentiana is growing insanely large even with pruning new branches and I’ll bring a picture to the store to see if you guys think I should have it repotted. I can’t repot it myself without risking life-threatening injury…and I don’t want to damage this lovely plant.

Thank you,
Regina

Regina,

If all the branch tips are showing signs of soft rot, it sounds like a virus. You could try cutting off all the infected parts, cleaning the cuts with Hydrogen-peroxide and hope it will stop the infection… but if it is a virus it is likely throughout the plant. Please be careful and remember the sap is toxic and you do not want it on your skin or worse in your eyes! Wear chemical resistant gloves and eye protection if you start cutting.

Please bring by photos and we will be happy to give better advice.

Take care and good luck,
Hap

Euphorbia Problems

Euphorbias are easy to grow and can take a lot of abuse but eventually the chickens come home to roost, and we get questions.

Hello:

We have a large – 4-5 ft. – Euphorbia growing in a pot in our living room. Have had it about two years with no problems. Recently I noticed one of its arms is getting a black die-back at the very top. The die-back is dry to the touch and the plant flesh is slightly soft but dry. A few photos are attached. Any thoughts on what this might be and cures for it?

Possibly, I’m not watering enough. I give it about a gallon of water every 3 months or so. It gets about 5 hours of direct sunlight in Half Moon Bay

I welcome your advice and thanks!

Allen

Allen,
It appears to be just one tip, the other branches look fine in the photo. I don’t know what has caused this particular problem. You might want to think if there’s anything different about that one branch – is it the only one getting direct sun? No sun? Is it touching a surface?

It’s possible it has caught an infection, but if the rot has stopped at just the tip it might be just cosmetic damage at this point. You can cut the branch off below the rot, at a slight angle away from the light source, making sure there is no evidence of rot in the branch below the cut. Whenever cutting Euphorbias wear protective clothing – long sleeves, gloves, eye protection – since the milky white sap is caustic. Spray with Hydrogen Peroxide to help the cut heal faster.

In general I would recommend watering every 3-4 weeks. These Euphorbias can handle being WAY underwatered, but only for so long before they start to show damage. Two years isn’t that long yet, but I would water more often. If you haven’t repotted it in 2 years you might also want to try that, into fast-draining cactus soil.
Good luck
Peter

Euphorbia Question from Florida

would it be ok if i sent you a photo of something about which i have a question? i have a euphorbia with multi branches and within the past week little yellowish dots have appeared where one might expect spikes to be. hard to describe, thusly if i could send you the picture it might be more helpful.

thank you.

karen
vero beach florida

And here’s the picture:

And the good news is…

Karen,

It looks like Euphorbia trigona and the dots are unopened blooms!

Hap

Euphorbia Questions

Hi,

I desperately need help with my Euphorbia Flanaganii Cristata! I got this plant bare root a few weeks ago, and potted it in a gritty mix like I did with my other succulents. But this one has gotten worse since. The yellow is spreading and the base looks brown (see attached picture)! What can I do to save it?

Thank you for your help.

Mai

Mai,

It looks like your plant has either caught a fugal or viral infection and if it has continued to spread it may just be too infected to save. However if there are still green, uninfected looking parts of the plant you can try cutting them off, dipping the cut area in hydrogen peroxide to disinfect and help seal the wound. Please not that all Euphorbia have nasty milky sap and you do not want to get it in your eyes or on your lips, wear gloves and eye protection when cutting and handling! Let air dry and after a week or so of drying and healing, repot the cuts in fresh soil and a clean pot. You can use rooting hormones if you have it or liquid kelp to help speed up the rooting process or just let it root on its own, though it may take more time. Keep warm and the soil on the dry side the first month.

Good luck,

Hap

By the way, here’s a picture of a healthier one growing in Iowa. You have to scroll down for the photos.

Euphorbias in the Desert

Dear Peter,

Hope you can help me out.

I got a “Euphorbia lactea” (not sure if it is correct) few months ago, but it took me long time to understand how I should take care of it, and now it is in trouble.

I have attached few pictures and I suspect it may have a stem rot fungus and some sunburn scars?

Yes, I know I really did not do a good job… it is my first experience with outdoor plants and I may have forgotten that I now live in Abu Dhabi and the weather here is really hot, until last month the average was around 42 degrees Celsius, reaching 48 during the day, this month it started to get better and rarely goes above 42.

Anyways, I used to overhead watering to clean the branches from the sand storm, common in this region, twice a week, or whenever the soil seemed very dry. It looked fine for a while, but as you said chicken comes home to roost. Two weeks ago one stem started to look bleached on the top and slowly it started to shrink and the discoloration moved downwards. I got worried and started to search the information on the web, now paying more attention to it I noticed that the same maybe happening on other stems.

What should I do?

Meantime, I moved the pot to an area where it does not get the full sun during the all day, stop watering like a crazy and put my Adenium away to avoid any contamination.

Thank you so much.

Glaucia
Abu Dhabi

Glaucia,
I’m not really sure how to advise you on taking care of the Euphorbia in a climate where the cooler month is 42 degrees C (108F). We would water rarely, but you will have to water more regularly – only just letting the soil dry out between waterings. I would take it out of the sun completely, and only let it get indirect light, possibly indoor.

Overall the plant is looking OK, with just some of the branches having been damaged. It does look like they burned in the sun and heat.

I recommend removing the damaged branches. Since this is a Euphorbia, with poisonous milky white sap, wear protective clothing, gloves and eye protection, and wash thoroughly if you get any on you. Since the branches are not very big around, you can cut them with a pruner, or slice through them with a serrated bread knife. Make sure you cut below the damaged parts. Keep the exposed ends out of the sun until after they’ve healed over.

Peter

European Euphorbia Questions

HiYa, Greetings from Germany.
We are looking for an expert advice and hope you might be able to help. Our Euphorbia has on the bottom of the main stem a blackish discoloration. It is not soft or in anyway different texture from the rest of the cacti 🌵. We just worried it is some kind of rot. Do you know how best to proceed? Leave it for now or cut it and replant?

 
Kind regards

Mel

It looks like the start of rot. The soil looks too rich for the Euphorbia, so it may be taking too long to dry out after watering. You can use a systemic fungicide now and wait to see if it gets worse, or you can take the cuttings now to be sure. I recommend cutting just above the first branch, and taking that branch as a separate cutting. Spray with Hydrogen peroxide to help the ends heal, dust with Sulfur Dust. Wait a week and then plant into new fresh fast draining cactus soil. Be careful with the milky white latex sap as it is caustic and you do not want it near your eyes or lips.

Good luck!
Peter

Everyone has a Question

dasylirion

I stopped by wanting to find out what this is.
From: Janice

 

Janice,

That is a Dasylirion wheeleri, and we do have a number of Dasylirions, including that one, in stock.

Peter

Everyone Needs Help with Plant ID

Hello,

I’ve spent hours looking at pics online and can’t identify these cacti/succulents I recently acquired. Can you possibly identify them? Also, does the large brown swath on the prostrate plant indicate damage or a slow demise of some sort?

image image(2) image(3)

Thanks for any help you can give.

Newbie Leigh

The plants look like they need more sun, so it’s hard to ID them for sure. The one that is laying over is probably an Opuntia or less likely a Quiabentia. The brown is past damage and looks like it is fully healed.

The tall green one is maybe an Echeveria, like Echeveria setosa, but stretched vertically because of not enough sun.

The blue one is a Senecio, probably Senecio mandraliscae.

Peter

Fan Aloe

I saw this succulent in an accupuncture store in Chinatown, and was hoping you could tell me what it is, and also help me find one. It was about 3 feet tall. Any help would be appreciated. I tried to research it on the internet but couldnt find anything.

Rudy

Rudy,

The plant is an Aloe plicatilis, also known as a Fan Aloe. We do have them in stock in a range of sizes at the nursery.

More info from the SF Botanic Garden. And more Aloe Plicatilis info on our website.

Peter

Fan Aloe in New England

I have had an Aloe pilcatus for 2 years and seemed to be happy. It does not like being inside for the winter as much but seems used to fair well. The last few weeks the all of its outer leaves started to turn black from the tips. When it got to the point where ¼ of the leaf was looking bad I removed them all the way back. There was a decent amount of water released when I removed them. It kinda smelled too. I never smelled anything when I clean my Quiver tree. I water both Aloes about every 2 weeks, I more or less let them be. My house is heated with forced hot air. My wife cannot stand the cold so as a result my house is warm and dry. Is there a case that my house is too dry and I need to water it more? Again my Quiver trees seems happy and I know they live in a really hot dry environment. Does the Fan Aloe require more or less care?

Marc
www.hillsidenurseries.com

Marc,

Aloe plicatilis is a winter and early spring grower, since they are native to the winter rainfall area of South Africa, so it should get more water during those seasons and be kept drier during summer and fall. It will “pull reserves” from it’s outer, older leaves during these dry times and before putting on a lot of new growth. This can lead to tip and edge browning-blackening and finally drying up, before it aborts the leaf and it dries all the way up and falls off.

Can you email a photo or two, with a close-up? It may just be that your plant is old enough that it is purging old leaves, or it could be a sign of infection. And I find that this aloe has a sort of skunky smelling sap, though nowhere as bad as Aloe vaombe, which smells so bad it turns my stomach! (I dislike the smell of it so much we quit growing it.) Unlike Aloe dichotoma, which barely has a sap scent, but then it is not really a juicy aloe…

If you send some photos I will let you know what I think, but may just be that you need to water a bit more and get use to a seasonal leaf drop.

Take care,
Hap

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

Fertilize Cactus?

Hello,
I live in Illinois and I’ve become a little cactus/succulent collector over the last few years. I know it’s getting to be winter, but I’ve been scared to fertilize my plants in the spring. I’ve heard fertilizer for tomatoes is good at half-strength. I don’t want to kill any of them, but I also think they might flower more. What do you think? Can you give me some tips?

Julie E.

Julie,
We do not recommend fertilizing cactus and succulents in winter while they’re dormant. They need fertilizer in spring when they’re starting to grow. (Except for winter-growing succulents like Aeoniums and some Aloes.)

We mix our own cactus fertilizer, which we do ship – it’s slow release and good for a year. We also have a bloom food. They’re listed on our page here.

As for tomato fertilizer, it may be OK at very low strength, but I’d have to see the brand. In general, we only use organic fertilizers and ingredients for cactus and succulents since their roots are easy to burn, and the plant is easy to overfertilize.

Hope this helps,
Peter

Fertilize Your Cactus in Spring

Q: Peter,

Mom asked (as we live right down the road in Santa Cruz) when, roughly, we can assume the various cacti are out of their winter dormancy. I know this varies according to the individual species but as we have over 40 different ones, we’re just looking for some general guidelines here. Normally we stop feeding in Oct and start again in May. Are we doing this right?

Thanks again,

Sondra

A: Sondra,

It is a good rule of thumb to wait until May to fertilize cacti, and stopping in October (Stop in September in colder climates). Succulents, on the other hand, may be winter-growers and would be on a different schedule.

At the nursery, we like to start fertilizing as early as possible, and so it varies each year. This year it looks like we’re now coming out of winter, with only occasional rain still to come, so we’ll start feeding some of the winter-stressed cacti in mid-March with kelp meal, adding our own cactus meal fertilizer in mid April.

Neem seed meal is another good spring fertilizer helping to protect against root fungus while feeding the plant for increased green growth and bud set.

Peter

Bonus: Here’s my very short instructional video about cactus and winter stress.

Finding Succulents

Hello Peter,

You were giving me some advice there at the nursery a few days ago about
possible choices of cacti and succulents for some planting that I’m hoping
to do here at my place in Kensington.

One of my neighbors has a succulent (I think)that I like very much. It’s
shown in this photo.

Echeveria Fireball

Can you identify it? Are these things available?

Your advice will be much appreciated!

Yours sincerely,

James

James,

That is an Echeveria “Fireball”, a very nice succulent. And we do not have any growing right now. We may have some by mid summer. We do have a lot of other Echeverias that are that big, even if not that red.

Peter

Florida Cactus Questions

The Orlando Sentinel answers your questions about cactus.

Question: My Christmas cactus is about 4 years old and blooms nicely, but it’s getting too big for its pot. When can it be transplanted?

Answer: Anytime between now and midsummer would be a good time to give your Christmas, or holiday, cactus a new container.

Such a succinct answer. And very clear too. Of course, if you click the link you’ll find the rest of the less succinct answer. I like to stop at the first sentence, myself.

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