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!
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.
Both front porch and back porch potted succulents are getting vandalized and/or eaten by local animals. The uprooted plant in the wooden planter box is in front.
I think it might have been caused by a deer rooting around? The other succulent is in the back yard and appears to have been munched by an animal.
Raccoon? Squirrel? The critters also like to dig around in the dirt, especially in freshly potted plants. Any advice?
It looks like squirrel damage… try sprinkling with cayenne pepper and then pick up a bottle of animal repellant when you get a chance. We use and sell Deer Off which works on the stupid sky rodents as well! The cayenne works (until it gets wet) on mammals fairly well but not birds, but make sure to wear a mask when sprinkling it on a breazy day, it hurts if you breath it in or get in your eyes!
Thanks! Coincidentally, a couple of days later, I actually saw a squirrel eating one of the fat succulent leaves. He had taken up to the garage roof and just sat there furiously munching it as I glared at him. Arg!
I’ll try the pepper and animal repellant. Will check out the Deer Off next time I come by. Last night a deer ate every last yellow bloom off my potted coreopsis. Will keep those in the back yard from here on out…
i purchased a succulent arrangment in the summer from you for my mother and we have both subsequently become OBSESSED with them, i now have a huge garden of whatever succulents i could find, we have several redwood trees around us, and wondering since so much of the leaves are falling right now, will the excess acid from it harm the succulents? also if im planting the succulents in the ground, aside from the potting soil and lava rock we added what is the benefit from adding mulch/or rock? and is there a certain type of mulch to use?
we cant wait to come back and visit you now that we are so excited about succulents, thanks so much.
Oh ya and all the sudden there are some little white specks on the schawrkopf in the arrangment and a small amount of cottony white material on the leaves…is this mites? are there specific solutions or natural remedies for treating succulents for this?
thanks for any help you can give
I little bit of leaf drop from the redwoods isn’t a problem, but a good healthy coating would be a problem. Not only will it reduce the sun get through to the plant, but when wet it can cause rot problems. It also can make the plant more prone to pests, which it sounds like you already have. Without seeing the plants I can’t be sure, but it sounds like you have aphids or mites (the little white specks) and mealy bugs (the cottony white material).
We recommend using 100% Neem oil on the succulents to kill the pests, while still safe for the plants (if sprayed when not in full sun).
As for a mulch, in general the succulents really don’t need any mulch. We use a lava rock mulch mostly for decorative purposes. Bark mulch will hold in too much moisture which can cause rot problems, especially in winter.
I was thinking that today I would blog about the relationship between chemical fertilizers with a focus on potassiums, mycchorizal fungi and flatworms. But then this email came in with such pretty pictures from Kew Gardens that I decided not to delve into the soil, metaphorically speaking, today. Ah well, the opportunity is lost for good now.
Anyway, enjoy the view from Kew.
I took this pic at Kew Gardens in the Mediterranean section. Any idea which type of begonia (if it is really a begonia) this is? It’s stunning, and I think the fuchsioides comes somewhat close to this one.
Thanks for any help with this.
It looks like it is either one of the new ‘Dragon Wing’ or ‘Phoenix’ Begonias that have been introduced over the last couple of years. I am not which clone it is, but it is a very nice one!
Mark writes in with a quick photoshop of his front yard wanting a plant for a hole in front of his window.
Hello Folks at Cactus Jungle.
I recently pulled a huge bush/tree thing I hated out of my front yard and have been in search of a good replacement. (I’m actually in a hurry to find something new because it left my entire living room exposed to the street traffic — poor planning, I know.) One plant I was considering for a replacement is an acacia, specifically an acacia baileyana ‘purpurea’ and was wondering if you had any thoughts. If you had positive feedback on that choice, is there any possibility you have them in stock? (I realize it’s not a succulent…)
The reason I pulled what was there before (an Angel’s Trumpet), was because it was really messy — dropping leaves all over my cactus and succulents below. And I wanted something more colorful that would also complement the colors of the house. (Below is an embarrassingly unprofessional Photoshop’d exploration of what it might look like.) But I am certainly open to other suggestions, if you had any.
Pluses would be drought tolerance, not too many dropped leaves or berries, grows quickly but not too large (I do plan to prune though), enough foliage to create a visual barrier, but still let some light into the front of my house. Sculptural is always nice too. Originally I was jones-ing for a beautiful, giant euphorbia. But I know it would cost a bazillion dollars and might not serve as a good screen from the traffic.
As I’m writing this I worry it might be sound like I’m asking for free design advice. But I trust you’d say so if it felt that way to you.
Thanks for any input.
P.S. Speaking of huge euphorbia (I saw your recent blog entry about it), I have to remember to send you photos of ones I saw in Southern Africa recently. Enormous giants! (Wait, that’s redundant, isn’t it.) Massive. And all over the place. And in bloom.
Now we do have the Purple Acacia in stock, so maybe he’ll get that and all will be good, but if you have any other suggestions for Mark, let us know right away!
Dear Cactus Blog,
This is one of our large Euphorbias although 3 of them are showing similar damage. My thought was that this might be rodent or other animal damage, but I’m not sure. I have spent some time observing both day and night and haven’t seen evidence of anything attacking. Do you have any suggestions?
Thank You Very Much for your help,
It sure looks like something is chewing on your Euphorbia, however since they are nasty and poisonous, god only knows what. I suppose deer or rats if they were really really hungry. We sell a product called Deer Off, but then we also recommend Euphorbias as deer-resistent.
I want to begin with thanking you for a very funny and informative blog. I live in Iceland and bought these two plants about a week ago. I started with repotting them in the same pot (which was dark blue) and sat on the windowsill in a west window which gets a lot of sun. I had two other succulents in the pot previously and they loved it. There are no good plant stores in Iceland and the plants were labeled as succulent mix and crassulata mix (and I don´t remember which was which). When I went to water them the smaller dark green plant with the cup in the leaves had two rotting leaves and just generally looked very unhappy. I have now repotted them again in seperate pots and was thinking of putting the little dark green plant in more shade. I have not seen cactussoil for sale in any of the few plant stores we have in Iceland so I have them soil mixed quite heavily with perlite which seems to work very well for all my other plants. Could you give me any advice on the care of these two plants and possibly what family or species they are?
Thank you for your help,
The small green plant is Crassula ovata “Gollum”. The larger plant is Crassula falcata. Both of them can handle lots of sun, so that’s probably not a problem. It looks like “Gollum” may be getting too much water. They want a fast draining soil, so having added perlite is a good idea, although we prefer pumice. You want to make sure they’re not sitting in water, so having one pot inside the other, make sure there’s no water sitting at the bottom after watering.
I purchase this plant from you about 6 weeks ago. Soon after planting it started to not look well… The bottom leaves almost immediately started to yellow/brown and shrivel up. Now the tips of almost all the leaves are turning black. Is it too much water? It is in full sun almost all day and I have been watering every week or two.
Your Graptopetalum has sun burn. We had it here out in full sun, but there have been foggy mornings so it may be that you just have a lot more sun where you are than us. However the good news is that there are new leaves growing out of the center of the plant that are nice and clean and used to the amount of sun you have, so the plant will be fine. You can remove the old leaves if you like, or leave them in place until they start to shrivel off.
David called the store to ask us what was happening to his succulent. I asked him to send us a photo and here it is.
This is the plant. The normal form is in the foreground.
The plant is Graptopetalum paraguayense, and the “deformed” part is what we call “Crested”. It is a genetic mutation, usually caused by a virus, and it makes the growing tip of the plant grow out linearly rather than the normal branching and rosette. There’s nothing to worry about – crested plants are often prized and collected.
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.
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.
By the way, here’s a picture of a healthier one growing in Iowa. You have to scroll down for the photos.
Karen asked a question about her crested euphorbia, and Hap started a long answer at the same time I had sent off a much shorter answer. Check out the differences between my answer and Hap’s.
Hello Peter – Once again I come to you for expert advice! My mother bought me a crested Euphorbia that has been grafted onto something. I think it looks too tall and am thinking about cutting it shorter…what do you think? The main stem is about 6 inches tall and I think it looks goofy and top heavy. If I were to cut it down, I would leave about 2-3 inches of stem and let it sit for 4-5 days before settling it down into your cactus soil. Yes? No!
Thanks for your time!! ~Karen
First up is my answer, the one that got sent to Karen.
I would leave the Euphorbia alone. The crest will eventually catch up to the size of the stock, and it will grow faster if you don’t cut it
Could it have been any shorter?
And Hap’s answer that didn’t get sent?…. Read More…
Hi Cactus Jungle crew,
I just noticed a dry scabby lesion on a Copiapoa hypogaea of mine (see attached photo). I’ve sprayed it down with neem oil, but are there any additional steps I should take?
If the infection has scarred to “firm and crusty” the Neem should be enough to deal with it. If it is still moist and gooey it might help to clean it with 3% Hydrogen peroxide a few days apart and then retreat with Neem. The peroxide will help seal the damaged tissue as well as kill off the infection.
That Eulophia I bought last week is growing great, the new shoots are almost three inches and going fast. I forgot to ask when it was last fed and when I should give it another feeding. Very happy with this one, was on the wish list for a while. Thank you.
The Eulophia petersii was fed late spring and could get another low strength dose any time now. Either orchid or cacti food is appropriate, just stay away from over-strength chemical types and make sure it is well balanced. Eulophia seems to do best when treated a bit more like a cactus than an orchid, but it does enjoy having some regular food like an orchid. Just make sure it dries out between waterings.
I bought a couple of these a short while ago. They are not flowering and look unhappy to me, pleas advise.
Your Bulbine frutescens looks like it recently was in bloom – I can see a couple recently finished blooms on the bloom stalk in back. But the real issue is why isn’t it blooming up a storm like they often do. Sometimes they do rest between bloom periods. And it looks like it’s not getting a lot of sun. In fact, the plant is looking very full in the photo, so I think in this shadier corner it’s decided to produce new leaves rather than blooms. I would get it out into more sun. I also recommend repotting it into the ground or a bigger pot, with fresh cactus soil and lots of organic nutrients.
We bought this plant from you about 1.5 years ago. It has, up to now, been doing great. Last August we moved to a warmer climate (90-100 degree days in summer). I increase watering to once a week when the temperature goes up. In Spring and Fall I water apx. every 10 days, and in winter every 3 weeks.
Our plant thrived last fall, winter and early spring and there was a lot of new growth. About a month ago I noticed that some of the leaves were turning yellow, withering, and dropping off. Initially I thought I needed to water more and made sure I was on the 1x a week schedule. This hasn’t helped and the problems continuing. Please help with any advice! I’m worried about the plant, it’s dropping more and more leaves.
I’ve attached some photos- I hope they help.
The plant has scale and possibly mealy bugs, but it’s hard to tell from the photos. It sounds like you’re watering the right amount, but you may want to check to make sure the soil is dry between waterings, and then water.
I would recommend fertilizing and spraying for the pests. We use neem oil for scale and mealy bugs, and we mix our own nutrients for cactus that we call “Cactus Meal”. I would also suggest using Liquid Kelp right now to help it. If you are still in Northern Cal. you could bring the plant by and we can take a closer look, as well as set you up with neem and the nutrients.
Caroline from Marin sends us 2 photos of her recently planted succulents.
I purchased this cactus from you about a month ago. The leaves are slowly turning black, almost as if they are burning? I live in Marin and it recorded full sun almost all day. Any advice?
Hi. I purchased this aloe plant from you about a month ago and sent a note last week because I was concerned it wasn’t doing well. It seems to be getting worse. Here is a recent picture. Any suggestions what could be wrong?
Hap was gracious enough to provide an extensive answer discussing Mediterranean climate plants in Mediterranean climate summers (That’s us!)
Both of your plants, Aeonium “Sunburst” and the Aloe striata are winter growing plants from Mediterranean Climates just like ours (the Aeonium is from the Canary Islands and the Aloe from South Africa), where all the rain is in the winter months and summers are basically a long drought.
To deal with this they have a summer dormancy period (just like many native Californian plants) where they shut down and nap for the summer and then wake up with the onset of the winter rains and start their active growth stage.
The Aeonium deals with the summer dormancy by letting some of the lower leaves dry out and curl up, to reduce surface area exposed to the sun and the Aloe by doing something similar as well as developing Carotenoids (red and orange pigments) that are more resistant to UV during the long hot summers and increase in the intensity of the sunlight and UV.
Both of the plants you sent photos of look normal for this time of year and should take off with new growth in October and November and really look great by the Holiday season. You can keep them slightly awake and looking “garden fresh” with an occasional drink (weekly to every two weeks), but do not over water in the summer, since it can lead to rot and infections, since while they are dormant they have a harder time fighting off infections.
Robin Cooper gets questions on the British Radio. Bites on your cactus – are they head lice? No! But they’re screaming! And they have families too! The lady finally tells Robin that she’ll pray for the baby beetles before she kills them with insecticides.
Hello! I was wondering if you might be able to identify the attached for me? Someone thought it might be an Echinopsis – but the flowers look wrong for that to me. If you have any suggestions, I’d appreciate it very much!
Again, I really enjoy your blog, and read it all the time.
Thanks very much!
Very nice cactus! And not an Echinopsis at all. It’s a Parodia magnifica. Very distinctive.
Hello guys… I just visited Morro Bay and found this Crested Euphorbia! It’s about 8 to 10” all around. I also bought the little cactus which I believe is a Gymnocalycium (?) and the Pachypoduim lamerei. I put the lil cactus outside and it has two really sweet flowers that are a salmon/pinky red color. I’ve kept the other two inside…should I put them outside, too? I gave them all a drink of water when they got home cuz they looked really dry – I’m thinking they like to be really dry? Do you have any tips of what I should do to keep them alive?
The new plants all look really nice and healthy. I would keep all three inside with lots of sun. It’s hard to judge by the photo, but it doesn’t look like they’re in cactus soil, so of course I recommend transplanting them into cactus soil, and terra cotta pots breathe better than plastic. You can water them all every 1-1/2 to 2 weeks through the summer, and a bit more often if you’re getting over 95F. The little guy is a Gymnocalycium.
I have a very large cactus, about 6 foot from the bottom of the pot to the top of the plant, that I can no longer keep in my house. I am giving to to my sister as she has a bigger house and more favorable conditions for the plant. So sad to give it up. It started off as a 12 inch single shoot cactus. I have had it for about 8 years. My sister lives about 25 minutes away from me. Please help with any suggestions as the best way to transport it to her house.
You have a beautiful specimen Euphorbia abyssinica. That is going to be a challenge to move. I recommend keeping it upright at all times, preferably in a moving van. You will want to wad up newspaper and put it at around the joints where the arms come out, and then wrap the whole thing tightly either with a blanket or newspaper pieces taped to each other, to keep the arms stable during transport. You’ll need at least 3 people, maybe four, making sure one person handles the top of the plant while the others lift the pot.
Please keep in mind that as a Euphorbia this plant has a milky white sap that is caustic at best and some people are allergic to it so it can be poisonous. Wear long sleeves, eye protection and gloves whenever handling this.
Hope your summer is going succulenty! (that’s a good thing, right?) So trying to remember the name of this darling succulent is driving me crazy! Can you help? This one is about a foot and a half wide and has totally awesome orange flowers. Any nod in the right direction will be so appreciated!
Hap, I have a few skinny rhizomes sprouting up and I was wondering if i should remove them to promote the larger ones to sprout which I already have a few growing?
Sounds like an easy enough question. I wonder what Hap has to say?
But wait! There’s a picture too.
Hap, here is the picture of the small sprouts that I was wondering if i should remove them so it would promote larger new sprout.
Now what will Hap say? I think I can guess…
The small sprouts are all that your newly transplanted plants have the resources to grow right now. Removing them will not encourage more robust shoots, but rather rob them of needed new leaves to feed growing roots and next years bigger shoots. I would leave them and let them leaf fully for this year and then after you get new larger shoots, when the plants are more established, remove any small shoots that are cosmetically unpleasing. But right now any new growth is a good sign and that the plants are settling in to their new home.
Greg asks if we can identify this bamboo and recommend a barrier for it.
I am sorry but there is not enough detail in the photos to identify which species of bamboo it is. Can you take a photo of the whole plant with some sort of size scale, as well as a close up of a branch node of one of the mature canes? As far as barrier (if the scale is what I think it is) the 40mil Rhizome Barrier we stock should be sufficient, it stops running bamboo up to 1-1/2″ in diameter if installed correctly and if you police for “jumpers” (rhizomes that go over the top and then dive back under ground) twice a year. The barrier is 30 inches tall and needs to be buried 28 inches, so there is a two inch lip above the soil. You can surround the grove of bamboo and glue the barrier to its self to make a buried bottomless pot. Or if this is invading bamboo from a neighbor, run a trench along the property-line and install the barrier as a single long line.Of course if it is a large grove it can come around the corner of the barrier with time, so some policing will need to be done at the ends of the barrier.
Joel wants to know if we have a blooming cactus in stock.
I love my neighbor’s cactus plant which flowers often. Do you know the name of it and can you get it for me? I live in Santa Rosa. I would also like to take one of these plants to plant at a friend’s house in Rancho Mirage (near Palm Springs). Would that work?
It is a hybrid, Echinopsis x Echinocereus and we have them in a myriad of bloom colors.
They will grow in both locations and the older they get the more flowers you can expect.One of our parent plants had over 400 blooms last year!
Came across your excellent blog and had a question I could not find an answer for. There are lots of instructions and advice on how to cut portions off of a small cactus, but I have a large cactus that is about to grow through my eight foot ceiling!! I’d like some advice on cutting it in half and repotting the cut portion. I’d really appreciate any help you could give me. My guy looks like this.
Thanks in advance for your help.
Your Cereus is actually fairly easy to cut and re-root. You should be able to cut it at any height you like and then root the top cut as a new clone. The stump will eventually branch, so you should think about cutting somewhere about the height of the chair rail so it has room to grow in to a multi-branched tree form.
We use a pruning saw or a serrated bread knife to cut column cacti, cut at a slight angle with the down slope side towards the wall, so the scar is less evident on the stump. You can wrap the top piece you are cutting off with a towel or carpet scrap to make it easier to hold while cutting.
With the height it looks like it is a two person job, one holding the top and one using the saw. After you have cut off the top piece, spray or paint the cut ends with household hydrogen-peroxide to disinfect and help seal the injury. Re-treat daily for a couple of days to make sure it does not catch a fungus or bacterial infection. The top piece should be stood up against the wall on newspaper and let dry for a week. After a week the cut tissue should be scabbed over (think abrasion scab like after a bike crash…). Generally you don’t need rooting hormones for this type of cacti, but if you have some on hand or have any liquid kelp you could treat the cut end before potting it up to speed up rooting. If you use IBA rooting hormones only use it at low strength. Then pot up in dry cactus soil (fast draining and chunky). Stake as needed. Keep dry and warm for several weeks and then water.
It should grow roots in a month or two. If it starts to look dehydrated during this time frame you can mist the column at night with water. Cacti only open their stoma at night to transpire as it helps them preserve water in the deserts, so misting during the day will not help. You can give the stump a bit of low strength fertilizer to speed up branching and help it through the trauma of loosing it’s head.
i picked up a Sarracenia purpurea while i was there a few weeks ago, and was wondering if you guys had more information about the plant [subspecies/origin]?
thanks for your time!
The plant is from the east coast, and is quite cold hardy even surviving up into Canada. As far as we know, the plants we sell are not a subspecies; we get them from a grower back East.
The pitchers create a digestive enzyme in the base that digests the prey, and the neck of the pitchers are lined with hairs that keep the flies and such from climbing back out. Over time the digestive juices are replaced in older pitchers by bacteria and protozoa that digest the prey and make the nutrients available to the plants.
Here is an awesome botanical illustration from a long long time ago.
Oldest known picture of Sarracenia purpurea, from Clusius’ “Rariorum plantarum historia”, cf. 18, 1601
And in habitat in North Carolina.
1985. Horse Cove bog, near Highlands, Macon County, North Carolina, United States
Sturgis McKeever, Georgia Southern University