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.
After some back and forth that I shan’t bother you with here, we start the conversation mid stream.
Hi thank you for such a quick response! I took some additional photos for you. Orange spots? Rust? I got this guy 3 years ago from a friend, never knew what it was until last year, i was fertilizing him every chance i had got all of last year as i wanted to see the flowers. Come to think of it the snails ate the ends of all the new growth, which were pretty long when they snails got to them, about 3feet long, so it stopped all growth and yet i was still fertilizing, so all of last year it didn’t grow. Maybe it held too much water, weight and fertilizer. Do your nursery grow these? and if so what are their needs? I cant really find any info on this special guy. I have him in morning sun to afternoon sun (3pm) here in California. and only water when dry, about how much longer until i can expect some blooms? Thank you so much for your help, you really helped me understand whats going on, i was about to whack it back and start over! (please ignore my sun burnt variegated fatsia! lol)
That looks like a fungus (rust or similar) so you should treat with Neem Oil in a 2% solution, spray to the point of run-off and keep out of the sun for a day or two. Retreat after a week to ten days twice and that should take care of it. You should scatter some Sluggo around your plant, snails and slugs will eat the blooms before they can open! I have one of these in a large hanging basket in the back of our greenhouse where it is doing it’s best “to take over the world”. I treat it like a standard jungle cacti and grow in an orchid/jungle cactus mix and water about oce a week. I fertilize with a slow release cactus fertilizer once a year and hit it with bloom food (fish bone meal) in the fall and spring. You may be giving yours too much afternoon light, they like bright inderect sun in the afternoon. Think jungles and that they grow up with orchids on tree limbs sort of light. You will get lots of blooms if you treat it more like an orchid than a cactus.
I am from Iowa, and I am fascinated by the saguaro cactus. Why is it that the base of the cactus does not increase in circumference relative to the upper portion as the cactus grows? Saguaros look top-heavy.
I’m not sure I understand your question. A saguaro’s circumference grows along with the rest of the plant. Do you mean a cactus should be as big around as it is tall? That would be silly. Saguaros are a bit top-heavy, I suppose, but they are fairly sturdy. And they are sort of flexible. During the monsoon, their girth can expand by as much as 20 percent as they take in water.
I would have answered this question differently. For instance, I would have noted that the questioner looks top-heavy. Why is that? Is he or she a cactus? I’m just kidding, I would not insult a questioner from Iowa like that. Maybe if they were from Kansas…
I noticed this odd looking browning patch on one of my cacti shortly after I had purchased it. I’m not sure if it’s part of a natural process or if it’s a sign of an unhealthy cactus. Could you shed any light on this? I’ve felt the spot with my finger, and it has a different texture to the rest of the cactus, and it seems almost like a callus of some kind (can Cacti get calluses?). The spot is tougher and more rigid than the rest of the cactus, so I’m just a little concerned. The woman at the store advised me to water it every 2 weeks and give it all purpose fertilizer ever 7-8 weeks, but neglected to tell me the last time either of these had been done while the cactus was in the store, though I promptly watered the cactus when I discovered the soil to be dry as a bone, so I’m thinking that lack of fertilizer may be the cause.
Am I right or entirely missing the mark?
I hope to hear from you soon.
It looks like your plant is “barking” over an old infection or injury. This is normal and is the way cactus age and deal with this sort of thing. But do watch it for getting soft as that means the infection is winning and the plant is rotting. But it looks like yours is doing fine.
I have one cereus monstrose cactus that I have raised from a pup over the last 4 years and is doing very well. It is a deep green blue color and grows quickly. I was finally able to find what I thought was another beautiful specimen from a local Las Vegas grower.
The plant did seem a bit yellow, so I thought it needed some fertilizer and re-potting.
Unfortunately, when I removed it from it’s soggy sand in a plastic pot, I found it had no root system, but in fact was a large cutting that had been plopped in a pot. There was about 1/2 inch deep of slightly mushy and slimy surface across the entire cut with 2 earthworms living in it, like a slightly rotted apple.
I sliced off about another 1/2 inch above the wet part, across the entire cut, and dipped it in rooting hormone and am leaving it to dry and hopefully callous indoors where it is warm and bright. Is this the correct way to deal with this? I really want to save and eventually plant this gorgeous thing. The cutting is about 12″ tall with a couple of branches. Any suggestions?
Thanks so much!!!!!
I am sorry to hear you ended up getting a plant that was not yet fully established, if the rot continues to spread you should consider returning it to the grower, I would be mortified and embarrassed if an un-rooted plant made it on to the sales floor!
You have done the right things so far. You can dip or spray the cut part with regular 3% hydrogen-peroxide, which works as a disinfectant as well as encourages the callus to form faster. Watch the cut area for discoloration and if the rot seems to be coming back you will need to cut higher and start over. After the callus is well formed, which usually takes a couple of weeks (but the peroxide can speed that up) replant in fresh dryish cactus soil and place somewhere warm and bright. Roots should form over the next few months since it is supposedly spring. Do not water for several weeks and then give it a sparing drink. After a month you can give it a real drink and then let it dry out completely before watering again.
Good luck and take care,
[More back and forth about Miracle Grow and such after the break…]
Carol sends in this question, made sad by the forces of evil at PG&E,
I have some burrow tails and some echeveria. Three times I’ve tried to root individual “leaves” that have broken off in mishaps [latest was a romp by a PG&E crew through my garden], but have been a dismal failure.
Would you have any advice for me? I’d appreciate it very much.
Leaf cuttings of sedum and echeveria are usually successful if taken in late spring to early summer, but are trickier in fall and winter without providing bottom heat and supplemental light. We usually stick the leaves in barely moist cactus soil at a 45 degree angle, with the node-tips buried just enough to keep them in place. Then we put them in a cold frame or in the greenhouse in bright but filtered light for about six months. We only start watering when they develop roots. Once there are little plants forming we will give a light fertilizer and some liquid kelp to boost their growth and then move them outside under 30% shade for another couple of months before moving them up to their own pots.
I hope that helps. Good luck and take care,
[Editor’s Note: That sounds complicated, but often people just toss these leaf cuttings into their garden and wait to see what comes up. It doesn’t take a huge success rate for there to be a few new plants from sedums. Peter]