Flowering Cactus Questions

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

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

Thanks in advance for your help.

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

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


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.


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.

Follow Up on Sick Euphorbia

The original post is here.

Sometimes there’s just nothing that can be done. It can be hard to say what caused the problem in the first place, but when it gets to looking like this, there’s not much left to try. If you look at the original post back in November, you see that the plant was well on it’s way to this end, but we had more hope that it could come out of it. Viruses are tough on plants.

Hi Hap,

My cactus isn’t looking so good lately. After your original email in November, I thought it was due to water stress from my watering in October (I also fed it for the first time a little bit of dry cactus food I bought at your shop), but it seems to be getting sicker. I did come by your shop again to get the kelp, but was talked out of it by one of your employees. We decided that time and delaying its next watering would help it back to life. Based on my 3 month schedule for watering, i would be watering it this month. I attached some recent pictures.

I’m kind of attached to this cactus and would like to fix any problems before its too late (hopefully it can be saved). I live in Oakland. Please let me know what I can do to cure my cactus.

In the recent pictures the “brownness” has spread all over the cactus and its starting to get crusty white spots near the bottom.


Thank you for your help,


I have to say it really looks like a virus. At this point I think it is unlikely to pull out of it, but you might be able to try a strong chemical fungus-virus treatment that are available for roses and other fussy ornamental. Unfortunately we grow organically and do not use dangerous chemicals like that so I do not have a suggestion on what might work.

Sorry I do not have better news, Good luck.


Followup on the Plant

From a couple days ago, here’s more info. It turns out it is a mesemb, and a Delosperma nubigenum to be precise.

Hi Peter,

Here’s some more pictures of the plant:

I’m San Francisco. Watering it once every 2 weeks with a few
tablespoons of water. Haven’t done anything to it recently—it’s been
sitting near the window since I bought it.



It’s a very hardy plant that can take a wide range of conditions, but I think in this case it may be not enough water since it’s a small pot. Rather than a little bit of water every 2 weeks, try drenching the soil, and letting the plant drain fully (Never let it sit in water), every 10 days.

You can clean out the dead leaves from the pot, but don’t be too aggresive – leave as much of the plant as you can.

Keep it in as sunny a window as you have and the plant should perk up pretty quickly. If it doesn’t, let me know.


Followup Questions

Yesterday we posted a question about an echeveria, and asked for a picture. Today we get a picture!

Sorry, meant to send this initially. Watering about every 2-3 weeks. In a room with several windows, with shear white coverings – so it lets in a fair amount of light.

Your echeveria is not getting enough light. Shear white window shades will block the UV that the plant needs. I recommend getting it into a sunny window, however increasing its amount of light each day so as not to shock the plant. Ideally, it wants 2 hours min. of afternoon sun or 3-4 hours of direct morning sun.

They can be prone to pests when not getting enough light, so given its current condition, you may also want to check to make sure that it doesn’t develop pests like aphids or mealy bugs.

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!



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.

Friday Afternoon Cactus ID!

Hello… I’m a regular reader, and very occasional commenter on your blog… you may remember me from a prickly pear cactus jelly post you linked to… [Ed: Yes we do remember!] regardless…

I bought this plant in July of 2008. When I bought it, it was labeled Mammillaria species… and that’s it. Nothing else…

I’ve included 4 pics… 2 of the plant when I first bought it, which I posted on the blog in hopes that some kind, kind person out there knew or could blindly guess the species. They couldn’t…

there’s also one with blooms from last year, and a current pic showing fruit…

If you could help me ID the thing, I’d really really be grateful… thanks for your trouble…

Claude from Random Rants and Prickly Plants

I typed up a response and saved it in drafts, and now its missing, so I don’t know if you’ve already received an answer from me, but you have a lovely Mammillaria perbella. The fruit in one of the photos is edible, though tiny, and only if you haven’t used chemical insecticides. If grown outdoors, it would be way more spiny, but yours is looking great.

Also, see here on Claude’s blog another picture of the Mammillaria in question. And don’t miss out on the beer can garden post. Really, you don’t want to miss it.

Fungus Problems?

We’re the women who were in on Sunday and were arranging, and finally purchasing the manzanitas, sage and the little euphorbia obessa. We could use your help.

While we were there we talked with Keith about what we think is a fungus that killed the tree that used to be in our front yard. The fungus appeared on the stump after we had the tree cut down (it was dead.) We’re concerned about planting the new trees close to this area, that they might also be attacked by this fungus.

Anyway, Keith said that we could send a photo of the fungus and he would try to identify it.

We’re going to have someone install these plants for us and would appreciate your quick reply.

Thanks for your help.
Lynn & Joanne


It looks like your stump is being eaten by a bracket fungi called Trametes versicolor, or “Wild Turkey Tail”. The brackets are the fruiting bodies of the organism that is actually inside the stump eating the cellulose. This species only attacks dead or nearly dead hardwoods so it is unlikely to be what killed the tree, but took advantage of the food source after it was dead.

So we do not believe this fungus would cause any problem planting a new healthy manzanita.

But it is a amazing and beautiful artifact.

Fuzzy Kalanchoes

We have this little plant sitting in my shop and my coworker and I have no idea what sort of succulent it might be! It has what looks like roots coming out from places on the stem (even from the little one) but they might not be roots?

IMG_0752 IMG_0753

Thank you!

Tea M. from California

Tea M.,
It’s a fuzzy little Kalanchoe, probably Kalanchoe tomentosa that is not getting enough light – it wants more light! They can get aerial roots coming off the stems so that when they fall over they will root from right there.


Garden Success! Now What?

I was hoping you could help me out. I planted a succulent garden last year, not realizing how quickly some of the plants would grow. It was cute before, now it is an overgrown mess, and the inhabitants are encroaching on each other. I don’t know what to do (dig up and relocate whole plants, take cuttings, or just run away?) or when to do it.

Any information is helpful.

Actually, that’s a pretty nice photo of a garden with successful succulents. I wouldn’t touch it, but then some people do prefer a neater garden. I wonder what Hap has to say?


Your plants do look happy! You can prune them back or dig and relocate if you like. Spring is always a good time as long as we are not due for rain for at least a few days, succulents need dry weather and dry soil after trauma (cutting back or transplanting) so don’t water after transplanting or pruning. The bright green rosette plant and the dark burgundy plant are both Aeoniums, native to the Canary Islands which has the same rain cycle we do so are winter growers. They will be going dormant for the summer so keep in mind if you want tor transplant or prune and root the cuttings you will need to do that by mid May. You should keep in mind that since they go dormant they will loose some leaves in summer (this is normal and don’t over water thinking they are thirsty) and so they will “shrink” in size over the summer and take up less space. The two pale lavender plants are a Graptopetalum and a Graptoveria which both summer growers. So you should see them taking off over the next few months. If you want you could leave them to “battle it out” and let them grow together in more wild tangle or prune and relocate to keep more negative space around them to keep it tidy. Both aesthetics are valid, so it is more a personal choice at what look you want for your garden.

Take care,

OK, then, I think he agrees with me. (peter)

Gene Wants to Know


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?



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.


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

Ghost Candelabra Plant, Euphorbia lactea

My Sick Euphorbia Lactea

My cactus is sick. A few weeks ago it was fine and beautiful, maybe a few tiny (pin prick or freckle sized) raspberry red dots on it, then – BAM – I looked at it yesterday and could barely believe it was the same plant. I don’t know what to do to treat this plant and protect my other plants.

20140312_190734 20140314_121706

It has strange rings (brown filled with raspberry/pink edges) and brown spreading patches. I’ve already looked online a little and couldn’t find anything like it.

Is it terminal and I should start chopping off branches to try to grow a new plant before the disease spreads to the entire plant? Do I isolate and treat all the plants in the one pot or is this a Euphorbia-only fungus? Isolate all the plants within a ten foot radius?

Also, will I get a response via email or will I have to check the blog? Both?



It looks like a virus from the ring pattern. I don’t know what caused it but it could have been from a sunburn – if the plant was put out into direct sun after having been inside or protected, or if it got turned around. If the infection is on one side of the plant only then that indicates it was caused by a sunburn.

You can try to treat it – I can recommend Oxidate by Biosafe, which is a ready to use disease control, or Neem Oil, both of which we carry. But the prognosis is only 50/50. If the plant survives it will have scarring.

Go ahead and isolate the plant in the meantime.

You can also check out the blog now – the answer is there too. Share with friends!


Ghostly White

We get lots of questions around here, some with photos, some with shocking photos. This question first came to us over the phone, and so I asked for a photo…

Please tell me what u think this disease is!
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Here’s the photo…

And the answer is…

That’s scale. A lot of scale, on your Pachycereus marginatus. The plant might be able to be saved, but it will be permanently scarred. Spray it down with rubbing alcohol to kill the buggers and break through their shells and then carefully wipe them all away with a soft paint brush. Then spray the cactus down with neem oil and drench the soil with neem, and reapply a few more times. In March you should repot it into clean soil, and spray the roots completely too with the neem.

Good luck

Giant Invading Cactus Eats Home

Hi! I have an enormous cactus that is eating my house. I need to remove it but didn’t want to just throw it away, it’s quite impressive but unfortunately it’s ruining the foundation. Do you know anyone that would want this cactus? I attached a picture.

Thank you! Krista

Yowza, that’s a big Cereus!

I don’t know anyone in Southern Cal off hand, but I’ll post it on the blog for you. Also, we find Craigslist works well.


If anyone is interested, email me and I’ll forward it along to Krista in the 310. Just a warning, though, if you do go to cut it down, make sure you don’t let the giant branches fall on the roof, or yourself either. Just sayin’.

Glued Rocks and Rescuing Plants

I have had euphoria lacteafor almost 9months. It has glued rocks to support and has no hole in bottom of pot. Should I transplant it to another withhold and if so, how to do it? No change or growth in 9 months.

Thank you for information you can provide!

Pensacola, Florida


If it is a crested lactea then you won’t see much growth anyway – they’re very slow! But yes, please do repot – no drainage and glued rocks can be a disaster for plants – please rescue your plant ASAP!

If you are not sure how to repot it, maybe there is a local nursery you can visit who has cactus soil, and tips for repotting into a larger pot with drainage?


Golden Barrel Cactus

We have a healthy Echinocactus grusonii of about fourty years age. It has been in the same pot for about the last thirty years. It is growing up into a cylinder rather than being a ball shape. Any thoughts on this? I am wondering if it is to do with the shape of the pot (it is about a 6 inch/15cm cube). The cactus (we call it spiny norman) is about 5 inches diameter and 10 inches tall.


Congratulations! E. grusonii’s that survive to 40 then tend to go vertical! They’re called “Barrel” cactus because eventually they take on the shape of a barrel, rather than staying a ball shape.

Barrel Cactus with a barrel shape:

Photo of a barrel:

However, I would recommend a larger pot after all this time. But be careful repotting, you don’t want it to go into shock.


Gophers? Euphorbias!

Will gophers go after succulents planted in the ground?

Here in So Ca I’ve had to rely on plants that gophers dislike (daffodils, oleander, brugmansia, etc.) but since we’re being encouraged to use more water wise plantings, can you think like a gopher and tell me if an aeonium looks tasty?

Thank you.


Gophers are sort of like deer, they will eat pretty much everything, at least at some point. However they seem to leave Aeoniums, aloes and most other succulents alone… at least if there is a few more lush plants to feed on and there is a water source in the area. All though I have to admit I have seen a huge old jade collapse because the inside of the trunk had been eaten out, to just a hollow tube from below by a hungry or perhaps thirsty gopher. Considering most Crassula are toxic in one way or the other, tells you that Gophers are pretty tolerant of plant toxins. However they do not seem to be able to ignore the nasty latex poisons of the Euphorbias, so as a general rule of thumb, whenever we install a succulent garden in gopher territory we mix in ample Euphorbia (both the bushy spurges and cactus-like). The nasty sap that is in all the roots seem to deter the gophers quite well and perhaps even protect the more tasty plants since their roots are all intermingled.

Good luck,


Green Ghost

Hello Peter.

Here’s a pic of a cactus I keep inside.

Euphorbia lactea crest

The dark green growth is shooting up from the variegated “ghost” , should I remove it and replant it? The white part isn’t showing new growth, I think the green is stealing the limelight.

Thx again, Karen


Wow – that is a very green sport from that Ghost Euphorbia. I kind of like it, but if you want it can definitely be cut off and replanted into another pot. If you’re stopping by here we can do it for you.


Greenhouse Recommendations

I plan to build a new greenhouse, any suggestions?
Nothing huge or outrageous, just functional. Any do’s and don’t’s?
Nothing commercial or industrial, I just collect a ‘few’ cactus


Harbor Freight Tools has a good kit, but it’s a pain to put together, and it has to be extra reinforced.

Better quality would be Charley’s Greenhouse or Farmtek.

Walls should be lexan, polycarbonate, or glass. In general, larger is better, make sure it has great air ventilation, and tall enough for you to stand. Shade cloth the roof in summer so it doesn’t get too hot.

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!

Hap's Definitive Aphid Advice

Hiya guys,
Every bit of advice you’ve given me has been so spot on,
now I’m having a problem that is making me so mad.
They are farmed by my many many ant colonies in the yard,
and every time any of my succulents produces a flower,
BAM! Black aphids cover it, and I just clip it off,
because it’s so nasty. Even my giant Kniphofia flower stalks are not immune.

What would be a good plan of attack so I can enjoy my succulent flowers
for awhile before the black aphid plague descends down upon them?

Thanks so much.
PS. Your advice on Sluggo was great.
I have to reapply often, but the snails got the message.
Stay away from my succulents!

With Aphids on succulents you have a couple of choices:

Hose them off the blooms with a soft spray of water, being soft bodied insects they are easy to dislodge and then you can really blast them when they hit the ground. Think Aphid soup! I usually hold the bloom stalk with one hand and spray with the other. It is sort of messy, but usually works.

Use insecticidal soap, and then after they are dead you still have to wash them off, since they die in place, still piercing the plant with their vampire bites, their zombie bodies are still annoying. But the soap usually leaves eggs unharmed so you may need to retreat before the blooms are done.

Use a more aggressive insecticide like Pyrethrin which will kill them and most of the eggs, but is absorbable by you… so use with care and caution!

Of course as you know they are farmed like dairy cows by the ants, so you also need to work at knocking down the ant population which with the Argentine Ant Super Colony that is eating California will be difficult, try adding some ant treatments around the succulents as well.

Take care,

Happy Cactus

I bought this as a little plant from you guys two years ago an it’s grown an insane amount! What is this? I’m so curious about it.

photo-33 photo-34


Wow! That’s a very happy Opuntia (Austrocylindropuntia) subulata monstrose. Really a beautiful specimen. It probably has another year before it needs to be pruned back in that pot.

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.

Paul from VA


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.


Haworthia Identification and Sharing


Cactus Jungle is quite a finding! I got many ideas from your displays. Anyway, The picture of this Haworthia shows how big compared to my hand.

The haworthias in the other arrangement are tiny next to the unidentified one.

Also, I wanted to share the other arrangement I made after a visit to a store in LA “the juicy leaf”.

It may inspire you to create more things in your store.

Thanks for your help.


It looks like you have a Haworthia retusa, although there are other similar Haworthias.

Nice to see a new succulent store down in Venice. I used to live there and it sure has changed a lot since then.


Haworthia Question

Hi Peter,

Are you able to offer advice on Haworthias? I have a Haworthia chocolate pictured below that is losing leaves one by one. Not sure if it is going to stop or not, and if this is normal for a healthy C. chocolate. The dying leaves will turn a bright red color while losing their firmness, then became a pale red, and even more soft before drying up completely. Any thoughts?

photo 1

Attached here is a picture of the specimen with leaves showing this activity.

I’ve searched the internet for information, but haven’t been able to find much about it.

Thank you for all of your help and time here.



Given the natural brown coloration it’s difficult to tell for sure, but I think that it is just losing bottom leaves, which is normal for succulents. Maybe it’s been a bit more water than it wants? Hard to say from the photo. In moderate direct sunlight you should water every 1 1/2 weeks through the summer and in lower light less than that.


Haworthia Questions

Hi Peter
Would you be able to tell me the name of the succulent in the attached?

And perhaps more importantly, what is happening with the dry, papery bits toward the crown? Can this plant be saved? I am not sure what to do next. It was lovely and plump and then this started happening and I am not sure what I did (or am doing)

Much thanks to you!


The plant is a Haworthia. It looks like it’s growing towards sun, maybe not enough sun where it is? It’s doing well since it can handle lower light levels for a succulent, but the result is the long stems with the dried leaves along it. You can pull them off or leave them in place, doesn’t really matter. But it is time to repot into a fresh fast-draining cactus soil and a larger pot.


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!

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.

Help! I've Underwatered and Overwatered and Now What Do I Do?

Subject: Help

Picture 1 is of my Silver Torch, looks dry? It has not grown well the past 2 years?

Picture 3 is not sure of the type but, it is one of my favorites and it got too much water in a recent storm. The base of one of them is now a hole and very soft. Is it the end? can I save it at all?

Thanks so Much,


I recommend pulling it out of the pot, spraying the whole plant with either household 3% Hydrogen-peroxide or a 1% solution of Neem Oil. Let dry a few days, spray again and if need be cut out rotting parts. Save top parts to re-root, though Cleistocactus are hard to get to root but you might get them to grow roots if you keep it warm and dry. Make sure to re-pot in fast draining, gravely soil with very little organic material.

The 2nd plant is Opuntia pyrrhantha. Same care issues – spray, let dry out, and if needed cut and reroot.

Good luck,

Help! My Cactus Fell Over and it Can't Get Up!

Here we have a 2 part question.

Q: I have a cactus tha is over 15 years old. I was watering it the other day and was picking it up when it almost broke in half. What should I do to keep it alive.


Preliminary answer:


Can you email me a photo? If it is a big break it may be that you need to cut it off and re-root it, if it is a species that will re-root. If it isn’t you will need to “splint” it and hope that it will heal up strong enough to support it’s weight. But a photo would help me give you better advice.


…and, yes, here comes a new email with photo… so now we get the rest of it….


I would recommend repotting in fresh cactus soil, mulching with a small rough gravel like lava or small crushed rock and laying the whole cacus on it’s side on top of the gravel, it should root along the length and then grow new “pups” along the length and turn in to a many headed cactus. Do not use smooth gravel like aquarium gravel as it stays too wet. It does look like it would like more light… so try moving it closer to the window or to a south or west facing window.

Good luck,

January 2022

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