Reader Question

Hello,

I wanted to transplant this cactus but I am unsure if I should put the brown portion under the soil or if it is even worth replanting.  I meant to bring it in with me on Friday, but I forgot.  Please see attached photo.
Thank you for your help.
Tabetha

Tabetha,

It looks like a case of “barking” (though I can’t blow it up to see detail… so it could be a pest but I don’t think so) but if it is barking the plant has been stressed and showing it’s age, the older green tissue has basically turned to a cork like bark to protect it from infection. To hide most of the bark you can repot it an inch deeper with a fast draining cactus soil and then add another inch of gravel mulch, we use 1/4 inch lava, but any crushed stone will work. Just stay away from smooth pebbles since they stay wet longer. The gravel will mask the bark without causing rot issues as long as you don’t over water. If you would like you can bring it by to confirm the barking and of course we do offer repotting services.

Take care,

Hap

Can You Help Me?

Hi I just called about the brown spotting. Thanks for your comments for possible remedy or better care.

Robert

Robert,
It looks to me like it’s just age. The plant is probably fine, and forming bark in the lower “trunk”. Check to make sure it is firm, and not soft. If it is soft then it might be rot, but it doesn’t look like rot to me. Except one branch where there is more than one color – check there especially to see if it is soft or hard. If hard, then you are good to go!

Peter

Editor’s Note:

Today’s Rule of Thumb for this type of problem:

My advice to any of you if you have brown spots is to poke it. Poke it good. If it’s hard then it’s probably healed over, and if it’s soft then it’s probably a rot spot indicating some underlying problem. Now you know!

It's an ID Post! You Can Guess Along Too!

Hi Cactus Jungle:
Can you identify this plant? It is a cutting taken directly from a small tree-like woody trunk about 1-foot tall. It was up-right, no droop or dangle.

Leaves (?) very thin and stiff. Also please let me know if I can start plant from this piece.
Thanks much,
Rosa

Do you have your guess ready for Rosa?

Check it out after the break… Read More…

Pests? You Don't Need No Stinkin' Pests

Hi Hap,

I spoke to you this morning about the below sick plant.

I’ve sprayed the Neem Oil mixture ( 2 caps Neem, 1 cap each of rubbing alcohol,dish soap & seaweed) and kept it out of the sun 2-3 times and this is what she looks like this morning. She is getting worse, not better & it hurst my heart to see her in this condition. Any suggestions??

MANY THANKS!!

SHERLI

Here’s a closeup, too:

Sherli,

That is quite the infestation! It does look like most of them are dead, but I see several types of aphids and a few mealie bugs as well that look like they may be alive. Since a good number of them seem to be dead and just still stuck on the plant, I recommend spraying the leaves with a firm (but not too aggressive) jet of water from a hose end spray head and knock them off. The jet of water will get rid of the corpses as well as squish a lot of the soft bodied aphids. Then let the plant dry and respray with Neem, making sure to coat the undersides as well as the tops of the leaves, make sure to coat the caudex and soil as well to get any still crawling around. Reapply the Neem in a week to get any that you missed or hatching eggs that survived. If they come back quickly after that you may need to use something more toxic than Neem. But let’s cross that bridge only if you need to, Neem is usually effective and relativity considered nontoxic to people and pets (it is used in toothpaste and cosmetics…) which is why we use it as our primary pesticide.

Take care,

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

Reader's Cacti in Bloom

Hello there, Cactus Jungle gurus!
I was planning on sending some pics of my blooming plants in hopes you could identify them, but I think one is the same Cereus Monstrose you posted earlier today [Friday]. The first (is) of the blooms of what I think this the Cereus Monstrose, the (other) is the unknown. My plants are not very exotic, but they are quite special to me in their own way. We’re just south of Sonoma and they seem quite happy here, so long as they’re protected from the heaviest frost. I’m hoping I can finally put some name tags on them after you have a look. Thank you very much!

 

-Michelle

Michelle,
The first is definitely a Cereus monstrose in bloom. The 2nd was a bit trickier to find, but it is Harrisia tetracantha, although it used to be called Cereus tephracanthus since it appears to be similar to other Cereuses and is a night-bloomer, but the flower structure is completely different so they moved it to Harrisia for good fun.

Peter
Read More…

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

Fresh and Green

Hi there,

I bumped into your blog while trying to research to check if my cactus is becoming healthy: in the center of each cactus stalk (not sure what to call it!), it looks like the center is starting to brown and decay. But I’m not sure exactly if it in fact it is doing it, and I’m getting concerned and wondering if I can catch this potential problem right now. Would you by any chance know what’s going on right now with my cactus? Any information would be helpful!

 

Thanks,
Marc

Marc,
It looks like it could be a burn on the newly growing centers of each stem of the cactus. Was it recently brought out into sun, or turned around so a different side was facing the sun? Maybe it was under an overhang and the sun finally came around to its part of the yard? Also, it might have been from spraying it.

It looks like it has healed over enough that you probably don’t have to worry about it getting an infection. But watch for soft spots.
Peter

Succulent Weeds

Hey guys:

What in the heck is this growing up beside my H. attenuata? I noticed it a month ago, but it has started morphing into the growth that is now evident on the edges of the leaves.

Thanks,

Dustin

Dustin,
That’s a Kalanchoe tubiflora, also known as a Mother of Millions because of all the little plantlets coming along the leaf edges. In other words, it’s a succulent weed.
Peter

Watering Succulent Terrariums

This is a tough one.

I have a new succulent terrarium and am in need of watering instruction. I had instructions included saying to use a spray bottle and moisten at the base of the succulents. I am aware that over-watering can lead to root rot, so I want to make sure I do not get to that point. The middle of my two main succulent plants are showing signs of brown leaves. I feel quite certain that I have not over-watered just solely on the fact that I’ve watered once in the week that I’ve had it, but I am concerned with the browning. Everything I have read has said the lower/base of the plants will brown and those leaves will die, but as long as the middle/center of the plant isn’t turning, all should be fine.

 

You can see in the pictures attached that is exactly what I’m noticing. I have the terrarium indoors in in-direct sunlight during the day. Could you please offer some watering suggestions? I do not know if I’m even watering enough, I don’t see any of the water going down into the soil-is that a visual indicator I should/not see? Thanks for your time.

Ashley

Ashley,
It’s hard to tell from the photos what is going on. The plant in the middle is a Haworthia and they are very sensitive to over-water. The bottom leaves dropping off look like they are rotting, rather than drying, which would imply over-water.

Terrariums are difficult to get the watering right. You may well lose a few plants before you figure out your own conditions. In general when a succulent is in a regular pot we water every 2 weeks (in our area), drench the soil and let it drain away so it is never sitting in water. In a terrarium you can’t quite do that since there is no drainage. So you water more often, but less water. You want to wet the soil, but you don’t ever want water sitting at the bottom (we add charcoal at the bottom of our terrariums to neutralize any sitting water). So you need to test it out over time – a small amount of water and then check the soil to make sure it is dry before you water again.

Good luck,
Peter

We Get Questions

Dear Cactus Jungle,
I have an established echeveria plant outside my yard in long beach, California. Lately, it appears to be losing some of its color and dropping a lot of leaves. It used to be bright green and completely full, you could not stick your finger in the mass of flowers. Now there are holes. It gets plenty of sun and has good drainage. Is this too much water? Too little water? Normal?

 

Also, we recently had a laundry to landscape gray water irrigation installed near the plant, so maybe stress?

I appreciate any help as it is a favorite and I don’t want to lose it.

Thanks,
Pixie

Pixie,
It looks to me like this is an Aeonium (possibly A. haworthii or one of the A. decorum hybrids) rather than an Echeveria. Aeoniums are winter growers, so they often look exactly like this in a sunny location in the summer. Also, the plant has crowded out this area and probably has fully used up the nutrients in the soil.

Do not overwater going forward since it is dormant for the summer. Let it look like this for now, and then in the fall I recommend thinning it out by taking cuttings. Fertilize in fall and winter (see our Ultra Soil Cactus Meal).
Peter

Agave Question

Sometimes people are so quick to send us a question they forget to tell us who they are, or where they are. In general, it’s always nice to see a question signed by a person so we know it’s not a bot.

Not sure why it looks like this. In raised pots, we do get frost on occasion, maybe too much/little water?

Any advice?

In general succulents do lose bottom leaves, so as long as there are new leaves growing in the center its not really a problem. However it does like like it might have been some freeze damage, so maybe next year if you’re going to get a freeze you could cover it with a frost blanket.

Peter

Some Questions are Easier than Others

I’ve had this fellah for a few years now and I’ve never seen this kind of growth before. What is it?? Plus, I’m not sure what kind of columnar it is since I got it from a chain-store nursery.

 

RK

RK

That’s an Echinopsis pachanoi, also known as San Pedro Cactus, and the new growth at the bottom is a new branch. Congrats!

Peter

Aphids

Hi,
I have had this succulent for about 6-9 mos. After it was planted, I noticed some sand-like granules on some of the blooms. Sadly, it has spread, and the plant looks very sad now. Any suggestions to heal it? The whole plant appears to be turning a dark purple color. It is very beautiful when it’s healthy.

Any suggestions would be appreciated!

Thanks,
Kristie

Kristie,

The sand-like stuff on the blooms is Aphids, an insect that is feeding off the blooms. You can spray the blooms and try to get rid of them, but often the answer is to cut the blooms off. As for the rest of the plant, a Graptopetalum, it doesn’t look good. I think the plant may already be dead, though it’s hard to tell for sure from the photo. If it was the aphids, it would have to have been a major infestation to do that kind of damage. To me it actually looks like the plant may have suffered sun burn. Was it recently brought outside?

If it is still alive, the best thing you can do is get it afternoon shade, cut off all the bloom stalks, hose it off vigorously, and then spray it with an organic insecticide. We recommend Neem oil, diluted from 100%.

Peter

Succulent Leaf Cuttings

I happened upon your blog while looking up some info on succulents and found it very helpful! I’m still a little unsure about watering succulent starts though. None of the nurseries I have talked to have been able to help me solve the problem. I have a few successful leaf starts growing and recently tried starting a few more. I’m having a hard time telling if I’m over or under watering them though. I’ve attached a picture of two sets I currently have (“Dying” and “Healthy”). One is pretty healthy (they are about a week old) and the others have completely changed colors (they are mostly from a purple graptopetalum). I’m thinking they are over watered. Is that correct? How often would you recommend watering these? I’m in Utah and these are outside in temperatures between 40 and 80 right now in partial sun. I think I may have gotten rather lucky that my first batch had some success, although quite a few of the leaves did die rather than grow.

 

Cassidy

Cassidy,
I can’t tell you how to grow them in your climate as it is so different than ours. In general, you can expect a certain amount of loss, and it should take a year or so to get small plants. It’s probably better to grow them inside. And it’s probably better to use a succulent soil, rather than the bark based soil you are using. Finally, I would bury the cut tip of the leaf into the soil a bit, rather than just set them on top. All that said, I do not know if it is overwater or underwater, too much sun or soil that isn’t drying out, or some other possible problem – that’s the joy of propagating – learning your conditions and how to get the plants to grow locally. You’ll need to do some tests treating different groups differently and see how they grow.

Aeonium Questions

Howdy cactus jungle,
My crested aeonium has developed some brown spots on its leaves, but everything else seems fine. There’s even healthy looking new growth/rosettes. Should I be concerned? Should I give it a neem oil treatment?

Thanks for any advice you can give,
Tony

Tony,
I wouldn’t be too concerned since the new growth looks good. It was probably freeze damage or hail damage. On the other hand, it could be mites. Check for tiny insects, for barely visible webbing. If it’s mites then it does need to be treated with neem oil.
Peter

Pads or Buds?

It can be difficult in the Opuntia family to tell if new growth is going to be flowers or stems. Eventually though they grow big enough that we can make a determination.

Now is that time for Shelley’s cactus.

Dear Peter:

Here are the things growing from my cactus.

Please advise.

Shelley

In this case my answer was visual:

Haworthias in Trouble?

Hi, love your blog! I’ve had these haworthia plants for about 1-2 years, while they do ok (haven’t managed to kill them yet), but they just don’t look as healthy and lush as the ones I see in nurseries and pictures I see online. They get morning sun until about 10-11, then they’re in shade for the rest of the day. They’re a little dry looking, I’m hesitant to water them too much fearing of root rot. I water about once every 2 weeks. Any idea how I can make them “better looking”?

Thanks in advance!
RC

RC,
Your Haworthias look fine. In fact, they look great. I would say you are doing a stellar job with them. If you are at all concerned that they are a little less lush than some others online you’ve seen, in general that’s because other people do grow them with more water, but they are very rot prone when grown that way, less healthy, and less likely to survive long term. If you want, you can reduce the amount of light they get so that instead of 3-4 hours of morning sun they only get 2 hours, and then they will be less red, more green, and a little more lush. But considering that your plants look very healthy and natural, I’m not sure I would change anything.
Peter

Sloat Garden Center Sends the Tough Questions to Cactus Jungle

Greetings and thank you.
Is there any chance you know what this plant is? The Plant Guru at Sloat Gardens said you might, although i don’t agree with the idea that this is a succulent because it takes a lot of water. Some leaves bifurcate into these little paddle shaped clusters (which although predicted, have not yet fallen off yet any) thanks again if you have any ideas.

~ : }
suki

Suki,

It is a succulent, and I believe it is Kalanchoe beauverdii. The leaves at the ends are plantlets, designed to fall off and root and grow into new plants. It’s a common strategy for Kalanchoes.

Peter

Cleistocactus on the Prowl

Attached is a photo of a cactus that you repotted for me a year or two ago. I water it every 2 weeks as you advised. This morning it was leaning a little and this afternoon it went all the way over. Any suggestions as to why, what I need to do, are the others at risk?

Thank you for any help you can give.

Susan

Susan,

It’s hard to tell what happened from the small photo. But in general Cleistocactus have a life cycle where each individual branch only lives 7-10 years and then dies, generally by breaking off at a rot spot. They grow new branches as it goes. If this is what has happened then you can cut this branch off. New branches will eventually grow and replace it. However, as best I can tell the branch is bending not breaking, and if there is no rot down at the bend, then it is possible that this is a case of too much water for the location. Cleistocactus can sometimes start sprawling like that, but usually if its growing too fast. So while we recommend more water in sunnier locations, as much as once every 2 weeks, it needs less water if it’s not getting all day sun – every 3 weeks or so. Also, as it is sitting in a saucer, you want to make sure that it doesn’t actually fill up with water. The soil needs to dry out between waterings, and sitting in water keeps the soil moist.

Peter

Fockea Crispa

I rescued this plant from the trash; but, I don’t know anything about it. Can you help ? I assumed from the base it was an arid climate plant.

Thanks
Joan

Joan,
Nice! That’s a fairly mature Fockea crispa, one of the easier caudiciform succulents to grow. I would make sure you have it in a fast draining cactus soil, water every 2 weeks or so, indoor and a few hours of sun but not too much.
Peter

Small Dead Cactus

Hello,
I was desperately googling after finding my favorite little cactus in a sorry state and I found your blog. I attached a picture of my cactus. Two days ago it was perfectly fine. I have had it for 1 year, I water it every other week and it has a drainage hole. Do u know what has happened to my poor little cactus? Anyway to save it?

Thank u!

Sara Beth

Sara Beth,

I can’t really tell what went wrong from the photo. While usually watering every 2 weeks is fine for most cactus, assuming it’s in a sunny window and you’re drenching the soil and letting it drain away so it never sits in water, for such a small pot you sometimes have to water a little more frequently. On the other hand, the soil looks too rich for cactus, so maybe it wasn’t drying out between waterings in which case it could have been overwater.

Peter

ID Fest

Dustin, who you should be following at CactGuy, sends along some plants to help with ID’ing.

Hi Peter,

I was hoping you could help me ID this random assortment of succulents that I have received from various people – I really am hopeless on the non-Cactaceae front!

 

Thanks,

Dustin

With help from Rikki and Brian we came up with these:

Dustin,

The large purple plant is Kalanchoe ‘Desert Surprise’, and those are surprising colors for a desert, so I guess the name is apprpriate. To the right is an Echeveria “Topsy Turvy” and then Pleiospilos nelii. Around the back under the large leaves is Crassula ovata, and the small red-leafed plant is another Kalanchoe, probably Kalanchoe blossfeldiana.

Peter

Aeonium Bloom Season

We often get asked questions about these giant blooming stalks. The news isn’t good.

I bought a small aeonium from you guys a long while back. It now is flowering and I just read that you said it would die after flowering. Should I cut the branch off below the flowering large branch now? thanks RoseAnn

RoseAnn,

Aeoniums are “almost” monocarpic, the rosette that blooms, certainly dies after flowering and the plant uses a lot of resources to “get frisky”. So I generally cut the bloom off when the first of the flowers open and use it as a cut flower, it actually can last over a month in bloom if you change the water regularly. You can let it bloom out on the plant as long as there are other rosettes on the plant, but it will struggle if it sets seed.

Take care,

Hap

Thanks Hap. Will the other rosettes on the plant die along with it?

RoseAnn,

Usually the other rosettes survive, but they seem to sulk for awhile before showing normal vigor again. I assume the flowering and seed making hormones suppress their metabolism and active growth. So they can look pretty ratty for a year afterwards.

Hap

And just for fun here’s one of our Aeonium “Cyclops” going through the whole bloom cycle thing. I think it’s time to cut cut cut it’s head off.

That’s a lot of little yellow flowers.

Mealie Bugs

Jodie sends along a photo.

Hap sends along information.

Jody,

It looks like the Aeonium has Mealie Bugs, the white messy part is a waxy coating they make to protect themselves from predators. You can clean them off with a Q-tip or artist brush dipped in alcohol (rubbing or drinking). Then follow up with either Insecticidal Soap or Neem Oil spray. Watch for ants, as they farm Mealie Bugs like dairy cows and carry them around to new plants to “milk” them.

Take care,

Hap

Questions

hi there,

i purchased a few succulent plants from your store a couple weeks ago and in recent days started to notice some yellowing (or even drying) of leaves. this is my first time planting anything so i am not sure if it’s common. please see attached pictures and let me know how to better care them.

thanks,
winnie

Winnie,
In general the plants look fine. Succulents lose bottom leaves naturally, so as long as the centers are solid, there’s no real long term problem. However, it looks like you’re losing more bottom leaves than I would like to see. It looks like it could be overwatering. We recommend watering them every 2 weeks – drench them and let the water drain away, never letting them sit in water. If that’s not the problem, let me know how much you’ve been watering and how much sun they’re getting.
Peter

Yummy Honey Plants

Hey Guys,
Thank you SO much for taking the time to answer my question. I was in the City yesterday & discovered this growing in my old neighborhood…..since my partner & I collect unusual cacti & succulents, I was wondering if you could identify this specimen so I can find one for my Honey for his upcoming birthday.

Thank you,
James

James,

It is a yummy Aloe marlothii! One of the Mountain Aloes of South Africa.

And we have cute babies as well as a few larger in stock. I even have a 15 gallon one at our grow-space that looks like the larger one in your photo…

Take care,

Hap

Quick Question

Quick questions go by quickly, so slow down, read carefully, and don’t skip over any part of this at all or this quick question will go by quickly.

Hello!

Could you help me identify this aeonium?

Thanks!
Allison

Allison,
It looks like it’s A. canariense, but there are a few types that look very similar.
Peter

Do you think you could do better?

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