Spoke 2 u today about this plant. Can u help me save it? It keeps getting smaller and less green. What am I doing wrong?
You have a Haworthia limifolia. We find these grow better indoor with bright light. They do tend to get darker colored in full sun and lose lots of bottom leaves. Water only every 2 weeks and don’t let them sit in water.
My husband bought a couple of little plants from you 2-3 years ago. The plants live in an office, receiving lots of sunny Sacramento window light. They were brought home this week because they look terrible. I don’t know the names of these two plants. Please let me know what they are called and what can be done to return them to peak health.
Attached photo 2 shows the first plant that is limp, broke away from its roots, and I just pulled off the dead leaves to show you the stem.
Photo 4 is the second plant, leggy and stressed – unhappy: does not look like it is thriving.
Thank you very much for your time and support.
The first plant is a Haworthia. The dead bottom leaves is not a problem since all succulents lose bottom leaves, but the breaking off from the roots is not good and was probably caused by too much water. You can replant it into fresh new fast-draining cactus soil and it will re-root. Keep it dry until you replant it, and don’t water for a week after.
The 2nd plant is a Crassula and it looks to me like it has not gotten a lot of light, although you say it’s been in a sunny window. Is the window covered, or does it have UV protection on it? In general, when succulents are getting less light they also need less water. It is time to repot the plant into a larger pot with new cactus soil. You can also take tip cuttings and reroot them instead if you prefer. Just cut the tips off each branch, keeping about 4 nodes on each. Let them dry for a few days and then poke them into new cactus soil.
Wondering if u can give me some advice on how to save this plant. We have been putting it in our office with minimal sun light. We sometimes forget to water it for a few weeks. All the stems seem to have dropped and laid horizontally and looks pale. Any advice?
Btw, we bought it from you about 2 years ago. Thanks.
The Stapelia needs more sun and some fertilizer. It’s also time to repot to a bigger pot. If you want to bring it by, we can repot it for you or set you up with the right soil and pot, or fertilizer.
But you should definitely get it a little more sun. Not too much more, but maybe an hour or two of direct morning sun.
I want to cover our sloped hill with your beautiful succulents. We just had 30 year old juniper cut off at the soil level and hauled away. Would it work to bring in two or three inches of some sort of sandy soil to put on top? What sort would you recommend?
ps I LOVE your blog!
Meanwhile, Hap answers her question…
Since it is a hillside, it is perhaps easier to add fast draining soil to each planting hole rather than the entire area. Of course that is dependent on the severity of the slope, if it is not too steep spreading a new layer is easier, though requires more soil. I do not recommend sandy soil, but rather “chunky” where lava and or pumice are the majority of the mix. If you are local, you can use our Cactus and Succulent soil, which we do offer in bulk, if not you can find a local source of 1/4 inch lava or pumice (Don’t use Perlite, it is too light weight and “floats” so you end up with it all on the surface and blowing around like snow… as well as being made in a blast furnace so the carbon load is nuts) and dig it in to your soil at 50/50 ratio. Since there was a juniper there for a long period, your soil is likely very acidic, you might want to test it so you can see if you need to add some oyster shell or lime to bring the pH up.
Thanks for your time and info during our visit on Sunday. I always enjoy my visits to see you guys and the cacti. We drove down 6th and saw the Agave victoria-reginae with its 5’ tall flower spike. Really cool! Mike was surprised that the actual agave was so small and such a perfect round ball. How old is the little one I just bought? I want to know if I’ll live long enough for it to flower, ha!
I am almost done identifying all the cacti and succulents that I’ve amassed over the years – plants I bought and plants my Mom bought at the grocery store and cuttings my friends broke off and said “here”. So, here are two more pics that I can’t figure out.
The “A” pic is of a plant about 4 years old – it started out as a single rosette and then, voila!, oddness. I’ve just been watching it do its thing. It is also small – about 6-8” across and not tall. I thought it was an echeveria (but then, I thought all rosette-type succulents were echevarias, I stand corrected). The pot is only about 2” deep and maybe 4-5” in size.
The second pic “B” is something I’ve had for a few years. A piece broke off and it started fine into another plant. The leaves are about an inch or two long and split like fingers at the ends. No pokey things along the leaf edges so it’s smooth and the trunks are woody looking like it has bark. The whole thing is only about 5-6 inches wide and about 4-5 inches tall.
I am also wondering about feeding my plants the bloom food. Do I only feed plants that do bloom? Does it matter if I give every cacti and succulent some bloom food? Can it hurt them?..probably not. I am going to try the “watering in” method and will do it when I would normally give them a drink of water.
So, again, thanks for your time and info – it is greatly appreciated.
Your new baby Agave victoria-reginae will probably take 10-15 years in the ground to get full size and then bloom. If you’re lucky, 20 years.
A. is an Echeveria, possibly E. pumila or E. secunda or maybe E. subsessilis. It’s hard to tell because it’s cresting, which is that flat part of the stem, and the fact that many of the rosettes are all wonky-leaved, rather than perfect round.
B. is Rhombophyllum dolabriforme, Elkhorn, a hardy mesemb related to the ice plants.
All cacti will bloom, so you can feed them all bloom food. In general, if you know the time of year they bloom, start feeding them about 2 months before then. Late winter through spring is a good time for cactus. Some plants like the Agaves and some Aeoniums are monocarpic and only bloom once and then die so you may not want to feed them bloom food.
Dear Peter and Hap,
One of my Cereus (?) like cacti is being devoured (see attached photo). We’re not sure by what – I suspect slugs but their slime trails aren’t everywhere. Neither Steve nor I have seen the perps. I did find lots of pellet-y critter poo in the tray under the pot. They are attacking mostly new growth and have taken out a lot of the apical meristems. What should I do??
Art imitating life is so last century. It’s all about life imitating art now.
It really looks like snail and slug damage. We use Sluggo with good results and without having to worry about killing pets and wildlife like most of the other Snail and Slug killers on the market. Of course you do have to reapply on schedule or they munch it again. Check the pot for hiding gastropods, they will often get down at the base and hide out during the day. You can trim out the worse damage and fertilize and it should resprout with new growth fairly quickly.
As if we didn’t have enough critters (deer, gophers) to worry about, guess what we saw for the first time in our yard today? A wild turkey, gobbling around in all the up-turned soil at the top, no less. The dog raced it out of the yard, thank goodness, but now who do we blame for uprooted vegetables etc?
At least they are tasty… smart, friendly (at least the ones I hatched and raised as a bird crazy youth… they like M & M’s by the way…) but they are very tasty…
You may need to hoop the beds and cage them in?
Maybe a cool kinetic sculpture? maybe not, after all the jays might get scared too…
Thanks for this month’s newsletter. I am happy to see you have some Myrtillocactus blue crests! I have a little baby one about 4” tall with only one little fan…yours look wonderful.
I am sending some pictures – hope you don’t mind. The first one I bought at H*** D****. It was/is gorgeous!! It is labeled as Trichocereus grandiflorous Hybrid and your website (I do believe) calls it an Echinopsis terscheckii. Are they one and the same?
The second pic is my poor little beat up Myrtillocactus.
And the third picture is of three plants I bought at a local cactus and succulent club sale… from left to right they are… Euphorbia Knutii, the poisonous Tylecodon and on the right is the Euphorbia Aeruginosa. Sound right to you?
I also bought a Rebutia torquata with lovely orange flowers – can’t find it in any books, though.
Thanks for your time!
The first one we call Echinocereus grandiflora hybrid. The Trichocereus name was changed to Echinopsis years ago, but many nurseries have kept the old name. These are intergenic hybrids, including both Echinopsis and Echinocereus parentage, so we picked the Echinocereus name, while others have picked the Echinopsis or Trichocereus name. It’s definitely not going to turn into a giant tree cactus like the Echinopsis terscheckii.
The small Myrtillocactus Crest looks like it needs to get repotted into a bigger pot and fresh cactus soil. It has very good shape, but needs more root space and nutrients.
Your Euphorbia knuthii is a really nice young specimen. They will grow a beautiful big caudex over time. The Tylecodon could be T. paniculatus, although it’s hard to tell for sure from the photo. Finally, the ID on the Euphorbia is correct. If you pot it up it will sprawl everywhere and with those spiny stems they are quite the challenge to repot.
Rebutia torquata is more properly called Rebutia pygmaea. This one can handle less sun than most cactus, and would prefer some afternoon shade.
I don’t know if you got my updated photos on my project but here are some photos of the Purple Temple Bamboo. The leaves are turning yellow and I am not to sure if I have a problem.
I am watering once a week for 20 minutes on a drip system but I don’t think I am over watering.
It looks like a bit of transplant shock and perhaps wind burn. What is the gallons per hour of you drip hose? If it is one of the low volume hoses, you may need to run the water longer to get enough water to the plants. During the settling in phase your bamboo should each be getting about five gallons of water per week and more during hot windy periods. After a couple of months of growing roots and getting settled, you can cut back a bit, but keep up the regular water the first year or two and get them fully established before weaning them off to once or twice a month water. If they don’t perk up in a few weeks you can give them liquid kelp and that should help them grow out of their funk.
the drip hose is .9 gallons per hour and holes every 12″ on the drip hose. Sounds like I was not giving the bamboo enough water so I will water 5 days a week for an hour each time…… Thanks again for everything, Dan
Hello Cactus Jungle!
A few months ago, I bought a couple of bamboo plants from Cactus Jungle and planted them in a planter box on my porch in San Francisco. One of them is doing really well, but the other one has yellow leaves and a few of its shoots have died. Unlike the healthy plant, the sickly bamboo hasn’t sent up any new shoots at all. I’m wondering if you can recommend how to cure whatever ails it. It’s a wind-tolerant variety, I think from Chile–I’m sorry I don’t remember the name. I’ve included some photos in case they help.
I water the plants about once every two weeks. The planter box has two inches of pebbles at the bottom to help with drainage. The plants get early morning and late afternoon sun. And lots of wind…
Please let me know if you have any advice.
Thanks for your help!
The plant, Chusquea culeou, does look a little thin in the photos. With a little care you should be able to get it to green up again.
The basic problem is that you are not watering them enough. In general we recommend watering once per week – drenching the soil completely. They are drought tolerant, so it’s losing leaves as a response to underwatering. In addition, you’ve got a wood planter box which will tend to dry out very quickly, and high winds which will tend to dry out the plants quickly. So water once per week – and with your conditions there I wouldn’t miss a watering.
You can also feed the bamboo now. If you got Bioturf fertilizer from us, use that.
I’ve come across your blog and a few others while researching what I have done wrong with my aloe plants. It is very nice of you to answer all those questions. I was hoping you could help me please. Also, please bear with me, this e-mail might have a lot of wording, I’m told I’m long winded…
I have quite a few aloe plants that we’re originally my grandmother’s. Once a year or so my grandfather would give them to me to separate the baby aloes and re-pot them. They always did very well. Now I have them, and the year before last I had no problems with them. I wintered them in front of a patio door that faces east and didn’t water them but once over that time. After the last threat of frost I would put them on our deck which is under a large maple and they would get dappled light and indirect rainwater all summer long until the fall.
We’ll pause here. Click through for more… Read More…
Hello. I was wondering if you would kindly help to solve a mystery for me…
Last year I received this plant. I think it’s Haworthia-something. I don’t know for sure. The stick that came with it said “succulent” with no specifics. Anyway, when I got it it was bright green (believe it or not). Then I put it in my rock garden in a patch that gets part to full sun and it’s turned this brownish-pink. It’s not dead. And it’s not rotting. And the innermost parts are actually ever-so-slightly greenish. Can you tell me if this is something that naturally occurs (sort of like how some aloe turn reddish)?
I’m conflicted about keeping it because it’s such an odd color. And people keep speculating that it’s dead.
It looks like Aloe aristata. There are also Aloe/Haworthia hybrids that are out there that look very close, but until it blooms it is hard to tell for sure.
It looks best with a bit of afternoon shade, but the brick color is just it’s suntan, so if you like it, it is fine and not infected or anything dire, just dealing with full sun by adding Carotenoids and Flavonoids to the epidermis to protect it from UV. In the wild these guys are usually understory plants, growing under desert shrubs or at the edges of thickets where they get dappled light, but you do see them looking just like your’s in more exposed locations.
By the way I have a couple of Agave desmentiana with your name on them if you still are looking for them.
I’ve been getting tired of people asking for help without thanking us, or even signing their emails. This one, for instance. Hap is more forgiving and will respond by adding the persons email address as the greeting. So I’ve decided to be the email manners police and will be adding proper thank you’s and signatures to their email to us as if they had written it themselves – see below.
Hi. We’ve recently acquired some cactus babies from our neighbors mothering plant. Unfortunately they do not know what cactus plant it is, considering they just recently moved, but they told us we could have the little ones around it. We took some of the little ones.
We were wondering if perhaps you could help identify them.
[Thank you for your help,
You have babies of Agave americana. This is one of the classic large agave that eventually can be eight to ten feet tall and twelve feet in diameter, so make sure to plan accordingly. They can of course be kept smaller by keeping them potted or using bamboo barrier in the ground to sort of bonsai them…
These are nice century plants, just make sure to wash your hands if you get their sap on you, it can cause a rash. Agave are sort of toxic until they are fire roasted for either agave syrup or making mescal and tequila.
I purchased 2, large black bamboo plants from you in August of 2009. I planted both of them in separate large containers, and they are in our back patio space. The space gets moderate sun and is quite windy. We live in San Francisco (in Noe Valley).
I’ve been fertilizing them 3 times/year with the fertilizer I bought with the plants, and watering them regularly. They’ve both looked great so far – they sent up new shoots last year. I just fertilized them for the spring a few weeks ago – although not with the full “dose” you suggested because I was running low on the fertilizer. One of the plants looks great and is sending up new shoots. But I just noticed that the leaves on the other plant are all dried up. The leaves haven’t started falling off yet, and they haven’t changed color, but the plant doesn’t look good. I’ve started watering it more regularly, thinking maybe it wasn’t getting enough water. But I’m wondering if there’s anything else I should be doing.
Can you send us a couple of photos of the cranky one? It sounds like it may be that it got “crisped” on a hot-sunny-windy day when it just didn’t have enough moisture in the soil to replace what it was loosing to evaporation from the leaves… you can spray the leaves with water and it may help restore any that haven’t totally died… hopefully it can recover. The photos should help me let you know what other action to take. You can also give the stressed plant some liquid kelp it acts as a vitamin shot and growth stimulant.
More after the break, with a picture of the crispy bamboo… Read More…
The cactus moth larva often burrows into the cactus pad to feed on the flesh. Dripping ooze on the pad’s surface indicates a hungry caterpillar inside.
This came up in the course of a question from a reader:
Q: I found caterpillars in prickly pear in the cactus garden in the back yard. I looked them up and found pictures — they are definitely the larva of these cactus moths, Cactoblastis cactorum. What should I do to control them? Can I control them? What else will they destroy?
A:Unfortunately, this invasive insect is fairly common along Florida’s coasts. My advice to homeowners with only a limited number of cactuses under attack is to control the pest by removing the eggsticks by hand….
Is this not the most exciting post of the day? No? Then you have no sense of the drama of the cactus moth’s mysterious eggstick.
Entomologists could wax lyrical for hours on the fascinating development of the Cactus Moth’s eggstick. Here, in fact, give a listen to an entomologist. Alright, so that wasn’t an actual recording of an entomologist at work, but rather the USDA’s scientific study of the Cactus Moth’s eggsticks.
Timber! It just fell over from one day to the next. I guess it got too heavy for its stalk? Now what? Any tips on how to save it, and/or move it to a new container or directly into the ground?
Ouch! You have a couple choices: Repot in a larger container and plant deeper, with several inches of the stem under fresh cactus/succulent soil, (do the same in the ground) or cut it off and try and re-root it, though it is late in the season to root winter growers like Aeonium (they root best in fall and winter since they are actively growing, this time of year they are starting to shut down for their normal summer dormancy period), but you should be able to as long as you place it somewhere with afternoon shade so it only gets four to six hours of sunlight (you need to confuse it so it doesn’t go dormant while it is trying to root. The stump left behind may or may not resprout.
I need some help or suggestions. Have had this cati for over 10 years..has been in same window same amount of time. Has grown to about 5 ft tall and just one long cacti…maybe a couple small buds on side. We moved and someone places the cacti in the corner in the dark part of house. Now since we found it ..it has looked like it has dried up and fell over in half…..can it be saved.
I’m sorry to have to inform you that your Euphorbia trigona has passed on to a better world. There is nothing there left to save.
I saw this succulent in an accupuncture store in Chinatown, and was hoping you could tell me what it is, and also help me find one. It was about 3 feet tall. Any help would be appreciated. I tried to research it on the internet but couldnt find anything.
The plant is an Aloe plicatilis, also known as a Fan Aloe. We do have them in stock in a range of sizes at the nursery.
I’ve had my beautiful beloved cactus from you guys for about a year. Everything has been great until a week ago when my husband accidentally took a chunk out of it with the patio chair. It appears to be growing black spots of mold? I have sprayed it twice over the past week w/ neem oil. What else should I be doing to save it?
Please help, if it dies so does my husband! Its an outside cactus w/ full afternoon sun.
It would be best if you could bring the Echinopsis pachanoi out of the sun while the plant heals. Never spray in full sun, and open wounds should also not be exposed to direct sun.
You’ll need to cut off the damaged part as it has started to rot in the area. It doesn’t look too bad but you want to keep the damage from spreading. Once you get down to clean flesh, then you spray with Hydrogen Peroxide to help it heal and Neem Oil to help fight off any fungus problems.
If you need help with this, we can do it for you if you bring it in to the nursery. Sooner is better.
I love these plants, but they are a bit moody this far north… and take frost damage between 30-28 degrees when young, they can deal with it better older. So they are good candidates for growing in pots or in a protected spot against a structure and blanketing in the worst winters. But they also make great “Big” houseplants and can handle hot windows as well as bright diffused light.
I hope that you can help me to identify the Euphorbia that’s in the attached photos taken in the past 10 days. I recently took over this garden, don’t really know how well the soil was prepared, but it was planted about 4 years ago. You can see it is not a tall euphorbia…any ideas what it might be? I want to get some more of these to reflect this bed on the other side of the driveway.
Thanks for your help!
It looks like one of the E. characias hybrids, or possibly Euphorbia characias ssp. wulfenii.
I was hoping to stop by this weekend to purchase several succulents and I was hoping to ask for some advice. I’m going to endeavor to build a frame of sorts for the succulents, so that I might hang them on the garden fence, like a picture. I was wondering if you all had ever tried it, since it appears to be something that the whole world and their aunt’s seem to be talking about!
If you have, might you have any advice as to how to build it, what materials to use, or if you know of a tutorial I might be able to work through?
Thanks very much for your time and I’m looking forward to stopping by the shop Saturday morning!
We do make them and it’s a bit complicated. We use L-shaped wood and miter the corners to create a box with a lip to attach a piece of hardware cloth or plastic netting to the underside of the lip. Then we fill with green moss up front and rock wool at the back. A piece of rigid plastic on the back holds it all in place. Then we take succulent cuttings and stick them through the mesh and lay flat for 2 to 3 months for the cuttings to root. Like This!
The other options are premade wall systems that can take soil, of which we carry 2 different types.
I got this little cactus in February and finally repotted it today, two months later, since it’s now spring. While I was chipping off the peat stuff from the store, I noticed this odd crack in the bottom, as though the plant had maybe been overwatered sometime before I got it (it would have to be before I got it because it hasn’t gotten any water at all so far with me), but I’m scared it might be something bad. As you can see from the second picture, the top is still nice and green, and even has a bud, which has been there since it was at the store. So it looks fine when planted. This plant is only about an inch across, by the way.
It looks like whatever damage the plant had from the propagator was healed over when you got it. If the top picture is after you replanted it, it will be fine. Wait a week after repotting and then it’s time to start watering.
My wife and I were at Cactus Jungle yesterday and spoke to a gentleman there about the scabby bark that’s developed all over our Enchinocereus grandiflora. He suggested we send pictures so that you might be able to diagnose the problem from afar. We live up on Cedar Street near Cedar-Rose Park, so if push came to shove, we could probably also bring it down — but it’s a big plant in a big pot.
Some info: the pot was on south-facing steps in full sun for about two years, but we’ve since moved it into a shady spot. The scab formed before we moved it, but moving it doesn’t seem to have prevented the scab from continuing to form on new growth at the top of the plant or on the pups.
I’m sorry I don’t have better news. I don’t know what caused this problem, but I could guess either it has a virus or it got sprayed with a chemical and got burned. It could have been overspray while spraying a neighboring plant even, since it was in full sun before. Currently it has mealy bugs, which can take over when a plant is sick.
There’s nothing we can do at this point if the plant has a virus as it has progressed too far. However if it was caused by a chemical burn then at best you might see new green growth out of the top as the plant heals. If you want to give it a try to save it you will need to kill the mealy bugs; use neem oil while the plant is in shade. Eventually all the scabs will bark over (turn to bark) and then you may see new growth from the tips.
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.
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.