Mealie Bugs

Jodie sends along a photo.

Hap sends along information.


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,



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.


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.

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,


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,


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.


Could you help me identify this aeonium?


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

Do you think you could do better?

Now That's What We Call a Question

I’m sorry to be a bother but it seems after I bought an aloe ferox (in a 3 inch pot) from you two weeks ago, I’ve neglected to ask when it should be repotted and into what size of a pot? I can’t find a definitive answer anywhere. Thank you for you attention!

Most of our plants are good in the pot they cam in for about a year. With Aloes when the rosette is covering the top of the pot and making it hard to water it is time to repot. Of course it will grow faster in a larger pot, but it is easy to over water if you go too large, so it is better to keep the scale of the pot to the plant.

Take care,

And in case you were wondering, we have a beautiful crop of 1ga. Aloe ferox out now.

By the way, did you know that in the nursery trade gallon pots are not abbreviated 1ga. like normal people would do it, but #1, and #5 and so on. But I refuse to give in to the forces of evil and will continue my habit of abbreviating things normally. I’ll give out more secrets of the trade if you ask me.

It's a Question! We Love Questions!

I’m sorry to be a bother but it seems after I bought an aloe ferox (in a 3 inch pot) from you two weeks ago, I’ve neglected to ask when it should be repotted and into what size of a pot? I can’t find a definitive answer anywhere. Thank you for you attention!


Most of our small plants are good in the pot they came in for about a year. With Aloes when the rosette is covering the top of the pot and making it hard to water it is time to repot. Of course it can grow faster in a larger pot, but it is too easy to over-water if you go too large and then the soil doesn’t dry out properly, so it is better to keep the pot sized right to the plant.

Take care,


We Get Questions

It’s a short question. Bear with us, because the payoff is worth it.

I was wondering if you could help me identify a plant, it is a succulent, I have attached a picture of it – it’s the little plant climbing up out of the globe.
Thank you!

And here’s the picture of the plant in question:

Cute! Seems tricky to get the plant to grow through the side holes. Of course, the plant didn’t actually grow through those holes so much as the stems were placed there.

And here’s Hap’s answer to the question in question about the plant in question:


It looks like Crassula ‘Tom Thumb’ or one of the similar dwarf clones from the Crassula perforata group.

Take care,

Hap Hollibaugh

An Aloe Grows in berkeley

Hello guys-
I was just at your store last week visiting from San Diego. I wish I lived closer so I could buy more than the pink garden gloves I got! My sister lives in Berkeley and she takes me to your nursery every time I come up. We love to roam around and find out the names of some things in our garden which are unnamed.

I’d like to know if you could please identify this aloe for me. Seen here, it is about 3 years old and was given to my sister by her succulent guru who has a fantastic garden, but doesn’t always remember the names of her plants!

Thanks very much,


You have an Aloe striata v. karasbergensis. We love this aloe but it is a lot slower growing than the Coral Aloe species it comes from.


Jade Flowers


My fiance and I bought a jade tree from you (which we love!). However, this morning, we noticed what looks to be an infestation of aphids(?) all over the leaves (I’ve attached a picture). Can you suggest what type of pet-safe spray we might use or what might be the best way to safely get rid of them?

Thanks in advance,

That is a lot of aphids. I would check for ants, as the plant is in bloom and ants bring aphids to crassula blooms to farm them.

We carry a pet-safe organic insecticide called Eco Smart we can recommend for the aphids, and if you find that ants have moved into the pot or nearby, we also have an Eco Smart ant product too.

Hi Peter,

Ooooh, you’re good! We recently found a nest of ants in another plant which (we thought) we’d cleaned out in time, but alas, apparently not. Clever little buggers…

We’ll try to stop in tomorrow afternoon for the Eco Smart.

Thank you so much!

Peregrina Questions

I bought a Jatropha Interrigima from you last year and love it! It’s been quite healthy and happy, until I went away for Christmas. Could you please look at the attached info and let me know if there is anything I can do to help it recover?

Thank you!

While this kind of defoliation can be caused by the pest, Spider Mites, there would be tiny webs and near microscopic vampire spiders on the underside of the leaves… but if you don’t see any sign of that, it looks like the combination of temperature, light and perhaps water change sent it in to a winter leaf drop and dormancy. As long as there is new leaves developing it should come out of it as spring brings more light and warmth. Just don’t over water trying to perk it up, let it dry out and keep it on the schedule that it was happiest with you. The other thing to look at is now that it is winter is it getting blasted with forced air heating? That can really shock a plant when it gets turned on for the winter. The low strength fertilizer should help give it another dose in mid March.
Let me know if it isn’t responding and you can bring it by for us to take a closer look.
Take care,

How to Rescue an Echeveria

Anyway to save this Echeveria?? Is that even what it is?..

Had this for 3 years now and would hate to see it die.
Could it be cut and repotted above the weak stem area?.. Looks like it is still getting water from the stem though.. I also noticed that it has root like protrusions coming off it.
Any help would be great.



It’s hard to tell right now, but it is probably an Echeveria.

The base of the plant is not really saveable but the small rosette at the end of the stem can be rescued. Trim the stem about 1-2″ below the leaves, making sure there is no rot in the portion of the stem you are keeping. If you see rot, keep cutting higher up until there is not rot visible. Spray the cut end with hydrogen peroxide to help it heal. Let it dry for 2-3 days, and then plant it in a new pot with fresh cactus soil, keeping it dry for at least another week. I would recommend throwing out the existing pot and soil. If you want to reuse the pot clean it with bleach first.

Good luck,


How to ID a Plant in 12 Easy Steps

Bonnie sent Keith a bunch of photos to ID. Can you help with this one?

Hi Keith,

Last plant photo. What is the name of this plant?

Appreciate your assistance.


This last one is a Gasteria. I’m not sure the species. I’ll post it to the blog tomorrow and see if we can get a response.


Hi –

Im hoping you can help.

I bought this cactus from you a few years ago. It doesnt seem to be doing very well….
What can I do to help it!



It looks like it has caught an infection. It could be fungal or viral… it is hard to tell from the photos. The best treatment I can suggest is Neem Oil, which is a natural fungicide that you can spray on as well as douse the soil with. Spray the entire plant until coated and then retreat in a week to ten days. If two treatments stop the spread it is fungal, if not it is likely a virus and there are not any treatments that are “over the counter” for use. The option then is to feed the plant with Kelp and a low strength fertilizer to boost the plant’s defenses and then keep it warm and dry for the winter and hope it can fight it off.

If you want to bring it by the nursery we would be happy to look it over and see if we can give better advice in person. If you are not close to Berkeley Neem Oil should be available at any good nursery, we prefer the 100% or organic versions since some of the products marketed for use on roses have a solvent added that is rough on cacti and succulents when applied in full sun.

Take care,


Saguaro Repair Question

I have a 16″ saguaro, about 20 years old (germinated from seed by a friend of mine). Last summer, it was accidentally knocked over causing a split about halfway up, one that looks to be about halfway through the cactus. Today, the saguaro is doing well, continues to grow, but I worry about the split. Is there some substance (silicon?) I can inject into it that will not harm the plant while filling in the cut and stabilizing the cactus? Thanks!



Unfortunately trying to repair plant injuries usually just leads to rot and hidden infection. Since plants don’t really have the same type of active cell replacement and immune systems that animals do, they deal with trauma and injuries in a different way. The best that they can do is seal off the injury and sort of build up a layer of bark or scar-tissue to keep out infections and pests, they don’t seem to be able to replace damaged tissue with living, growing cells like we do. Being people with nurturing attitudes, we want to fix them and add band-aids like “prune-seal” or in your case silicone, but all that does is create a warm safe spot for fungi to grow where we can’t see it or treat it. It is best to just clean injuries when they happen and let the plant seal it off. Over time layers of dead cells will build up a woody-corky layer that will hopefully be strong enough to support the new growth above.I would just leave the split as it is, just make sure to keep water out of it and watch for any signs of infection.

Take care,


We Get Questions

Hi Hap,

Attached are photos of five cereus plants in our garden, all of which did great in the ground for five months but are now showing signs of distress.

Crested cereus — The first two shots are of the same plant, which has some black spots on top and the trunk has cracked open. This plant is located nowhere near the others.

Night-blooming cereus — We have two, located next to one another. The affliction is showing itself as dark sunken spots on the new growth. In some places these have become holes, all the way through the “fin” of the plant.

Lophocereus — Again, we have two of these, located next to each other but nowhere near the other cereus plants. Similar story — the new growth on top has lots of black spots, some of which are now sunken inward.

These plants are all on mounds, with good soil and drainage. The soil is still moist from recent rains, but not a lot. I’m really concerned that as we head into winter, we may need to strip away the pebble coverage and try to aerate the roots somehow.
The garden has about 30 or 40 plants and all the others look fine at this point. We only live a few blocks from your store — maybe we could pay you to take a look at the situation one morning. Many thanks,


The crested top view looks like it was bruised and is now scaring up from getting whacked or bumped hard. The trunk view looks like beetle or rodent/bird damage, look in the holes and make sure there is not a grub eating the plant from the inside. They can really make a mess inside the trunk, pull them out with tweezers if that is what is going on and squish them. Clean and disinfect the cavity with Hydrogen-Peroxide if it looks “juicy”. Once it has dried out and looks scabbed you can treat with Neem Oil as well. If it looks like it will collect water you will need to make an additional cut in the tissue to create a drain channel. Pooled water will cause major rot issues.

The Lophocereus and Cereus are showing signs of slug and snail damage, which is leading to secondary infections. I recommend that you treat all the damaged areas with Neem Oil and scatter Sluggo through out the garden. Retreat with Neem after a week. If the infections persist there are more aggressive treatment options, but of course they are more toxic and take special handling.

We do make housecalls if you want to schedule one to confirm what I see in the photos.

Take care,


Growing Cactus from Seed

I don’t think we’ve ever gotten this question before on the blog. Lucky for you someone finally asked it. Thanks, Lauren!

Hello Cactus Jungle,
In the next month or so I am considering trying to grow some pincushion cactuses from seeds. Do you have any suggestions on the the type of soil or how I should set up the initial planting tray?

Several months ago I impulsively started growing some cactus seeds from a variety mixture (so I have no idea what they are officially). How many years does it take for more common cactus varieties to mature and how long should I wait before attempting to repot cactus seedlings?

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.
Cheers, Lauren


We germinate cacti seed in our standard cactus and succulent soil. If it is rare or expensive seed we will sterilize the soil first by steaming it – moistening and putting in a microwave safe dish and heating until it hits 160 degrees. About six to seven minutes on high for a gallon of soil. We then let it cool with a tight cover on and then use it in our seedling trays.

We will scatter the seed on the surface and lightly mist. Then we top dress with a single layer of crushed horticultural charcoal, that we either smash with a hammer or run through a little electric chopper (Cuisinart) until it is like course sand. We mist that as well. Then we dome the seed tray and put under florescent lights that run 16 hours a day.

Most pincushion type cacti will germinate in just a week or two, other types can take months. Of course after germination is complete and they start getting some growth we ventilate the dome and lower the humidity, but they do need it fairly humid during germination and that first push of young growth. We usually leave the seedling in the germination tray until they are the size of large peas or small grapes. With some species that is 6 months; others it is a year or two.

The big trick on transplanting is to handle them very gently so they do not bruise and make them prone to infection. It helps to keep them dry for a week after transplant so any damage heals under dry condition.

Good luck and have fun!

Mystery Succulent Part II

Here’s another mystery plant, but this time we don’t know what it is. It’s going out on the floor for sale tomorrow, so if you know then let us know!

It’s in the Crassulaceae family but whether it’s a Crassula or a Kalanchoe is hard to say. For us! Maybe not for you. Let us know! Yay!

Mystery Succulent

I am Pat and this is my question plant. Hope you can help me identify this mystery succulent.


It is Senecio kleiniiformis, an interesting succulent daisy from South Africa and hardy outdoors to about 26 degrees.


That was a short answer. Any other questions?

How to Plant Succulents


I purchased these succulents from your garden about a month ago. They were planted directly into the soil 3 days from purchase and given a little water. Since then it’s rained a few times and I never saw any puddling. Others rooted very well, when lightly tugged on they didn’t bend or shift. A couple of days ago I noticed some of the other succulents weren’t doing so great. Attached are the ones that didn’t do so well.

– Photo (forgot the name): It seems the stem had rotted and fell limp. Is the soil not draining properly?

– Sedum hispanicum: Not sure if there’s anything wrong with them but they seemed a bit soft and not as hardy as the day I purchased them.

– Sempervivum: As you can see from the picture the succulent is just black! From the second picture the succulent is slightly elevated from the soil level just like the others.

Please help!


The first one I think is an Echeveria that is turning into a single bloom stalk. The roots have definitely rotted because of the moisture. I recommend cutting the roots off the stem, bringing it inside and letting the cut portion heal for a week. Then you can replant it into dry cactus soil in a pot. If you’d like, you can bring it in to the store and we can take care of it for you.

The one Sempervivum that turned black has died, and should be removed. The Sedum looks OK, but it’s hard to tell from the photo for sure.

So the basic problem here is too much moisture around the roots. You have a wood-based black mulch on top and that is holding in the water, not letting the soil dry out. This is a good thing for perennials and annuals, but for succulents the soil needs to be able to dry out, so I recommend removing the mulch you have and using a rock mulch, like lava or drain rock.

I can’t tell what the soil is, but if it’s a clay soil it also needs to be amended for faster drainage.
Let me know if you need any more help with these.

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.

vero beach florida

And here’s the picture:

And the good news is…


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


Identifying Aeoniums

Sometimes we can identify Aeoniums, other times we prefer to just make up names. What do you think?


It was really nice meeting you this week. You have a fantastic place and some really fine specimans of cactus, especially Aeoniums. The pictures attached may be Aeoniums but I have not been able to identify them. Can you tell me if they are Aeoniums? If not, any ideas? By the way, within this planter are two different types of the same plant. The really purple ones, and the less purple with more green.

I really appreciate it. I have one other species of Aeonium I’m going to send pictures of. I cannot identify it either.

Have a great weekend. I’m sure we’ll see you again.


The unknown one will have to remain unknown for now. I’ll blog it to see if anyone else can come up with a cultivar name. Otherwise, I recommend Aeonium “Wizard”.

The other lower ones, green with pink edging, are Aeonium subplanum.

Christmas Cactus Question

I recently blogged about getting christmas cactus to bloom and Sara has a question about the instructions.

I’ve got some Christmas Cacti I would like to start getting prepared for blooming. I was reading through the latest posts and saw that link for this very thing. The instructions prompted a question that I feel you guys may be able to answer quicker than I can find it myself online.

That question being- When they mention feeding it bloom food- is their an organic, chemical free option for this type of product. I guess my refined question would be what is bloom food and is their an organic chemical free option for this?

Thanks for your time and assistance.


That’s a pretty fair question.Fortunately there’s a pretty simple answer.

We use organic Fish Bone Meal for blooms. We do sell it in large boxes and small packets as well.

What’s nice about this is that fish bone meal works for all types of flowers. (And yes, I mean that generally, not specifically every type of flower.)

Sad Succulent

It’s not good news.


I just spoke with someone about my very unhappy cheiridopsis plant, and she gave great suggestions for getting rid of these mites that are crawling all over it, but suggested sending pictures so you could see if something else needs to be done.

I love this plant so much that I brought it with me to New York when I moved out here, and it seemed to be adapting at least as well as its keeper to the new neighborhood until about a week ago, when I replanted it in a bigger pot. The mite problem had already started, but I didn’t realize it at the time (thought a spider had made a web there). I just used regular potting soil, which is darker and moister than the local Berkeley soil that I used last time I repotted, and also made the mistake of watering it the next day (it was looking unhappy, and since it has been unusually hot here, I thought that was the problem). All of the rotted branches you see in the picture are recent, as in the last few days, so I am really worried that the plant is dying quickly. I will see if I can get some neem oil here, per your suggestion. Should I also repot in cactus soil? Should I cut off the rotted roots? Any other suggestions are appreciated!



I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you but I don’t think your plant survived the transition. You can try repotting into a faster draining cactus soil and spraying for the spider mites, but it looks to me like it’s probably too late.



Questions about Succulents

Hi Peter (or cactus jungle person/s),

Here is a photo of my succulent. It is falling over! As you can see, I tried to tie it to a stake, which worked for a while, but now it’s tipping over again…

Also, the leaves at the bottom are one by one shriveling and falling off… but the top seems healthy and keeps growing!

What can I do?

Thanks so much,


Your Graptopetalum is fine. In fact, it’s great! It’s growing nicely and has outgrown it’s pot. In the ground these will form a trailing stem along the surface and root where they touch and form new rosettes along the way. So in a pot it will want to hang down and swoop up. The only problem with that is the stem might break, which isn’t really a problem since the top cutting will then root easily enough and the bottom part will form new rosettes. In fact, you can choose to take the cutting yourself now rather than repotting into a bigger pot and letting it hang down and swoop up.

As for the bottom leaves – all succulents lose bottom leaves, so there’s nothing wrong here. In fact, you can pull off all the leaves along the trailing stem right up to the rosette if you want and plant them and within a year or two you’ll have a lot of baby plants.

Succulents do interesting things….


Soil Questions from Sunnyvale

Hi. My wife and I have freed up an unused 30’ x 13’ strip of ground between the side of our house and the street. (We live on a corner.) We’d like to plant cactus and xeriscape this area as we aren’t very good about watering and maintenance.

Could you suggest a book or online resource for us to get some basic understanding of what would be involved? Our immediate problem is to acquire about five cubic yards of fill to bring up an unwanted low patch. A local company can provide us with topsoil having a pH of 7.3 for fill, but I wouldn’t want to start off with an overly basic soil if most cacti won’t like it.


– Eric, Sunnyvale


We mix a fast draining cactus soil (which we do sell in bulk). Cactus and succulents in the Bay Area need the extra drainage to be able to handle our winter rains. Standard soils will stay too wet through the winter and the plants will rot. It is possible to start with the fill and amend it by adding in 50% lava, and depending on the quality of the soil that might work. In general, the soil should be neutral to slightly acidic, so the pH is a bit high.

We recommend Debra Lee Baldwin’s Designing with Succulents, which we do carry at the store.



Thank you very much for the info. It will save us from making a big mistake by raising the ground level first without thinking this through.

– Eric

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.

Abu Dhabi

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.


Stapelia About to Bloom

To my double surprise in the past two days I found a hand me down cactus in bloom and then found the blog entry from September 9th to help me identify it. I would like to include a picture of the gigantic flower bud that has developed on the Stapelia plant. I have been able to start a few propagated pieces that also have tiny blooms starting! I’ve never had a cactus bloom so this is quite the accomplishment for me. And i feel like if I wasn’t reading your blog I wouldn’t have been able to propagate the new pieces as well as i have.

I am have been a blog subscriber of yours for a year or so and it has been a joy learning about cacti, succulents and the like from your blog alone.

Please let me know if this is truly a Stapelia. Just like to know what i’m working with.

Thanks for your time.



Glad we’ve been able to be of help! Your succulent is indeed a Stapelia, and that is a giant flower about to open. Very exciting! Send photos to share on the blog when it’s open.


We Get Questions

People send us photos and questions, worried about their plants. Sometimes there’s nothing wrong at all. Good times!

I water- not soak it – about every 10 days or so. I live a few blocks from the beach so it’s not exposed to very hot conditions.
Thanks for trying to help!
Lee Ann

Lee Ann,

Your Agave attenuata is doing great. Succulents lose bottom leaves – that’s just the nature of the plant. When they are dry and easy to pull off, you can remove them.


December 2023

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We Get Questions

Email your questions to:

blog [at] cactusjungle [dot] com