Updated Crest

A photo from Charlotte of her crested Euphorbia lactea that has lost leaves.

lactea

I see it still has 2 additional leaves. Yay! And updating the post below, she has drilled a hole in the bottom of the pot so that the plant is no longer sitting in soggy soil. Also a Yay!

Vandals!

Hap and Peter,

Attached are pics of the vandalized Stenocereus thurberi. Feel free to blog about it or not. I’ve subseqently trimmed the top at a 45 degree angle and applied hydrogen peroxide. After it heals I’ll try applying some kelp extract to the tubercles to see if I can induce branching. I’ve read also that 0.1% benzylaminopurine works …

Chris

Variegated Aloe – Natural Variation or Mutation?

A house on my street has these mounds of aloes. Not too attractive as far as it’s design, but something very cool popped up out of it.

Aloe nobilis mutation

Is this how variegated versions of plants are made? By mutation?

I’m considering asking to buy this lil special guy and try to see if I keep it healthy it will put out pups. Have you ever seen one like this? Cuz I never have.

Thx!!!
Jbot

Jbot,

It does look like an albino variegation mutation on that Aloe nobilis. In full sun and low water it will likely fail long term, so indeed try to bargain for it. That type of mutation is usually better grown where they get afternoon shade and a bit more care since they lack so much chlorophyll they are a bit “sickly”, but look pretty good with the right care.

Good luck and if you get it and grow it out and want to share a pup in a few years let me know!

Take care,

Hap

Variegated Squid Agave

Agave bracteosa

Carla sends along a picture of an Agave bracteosa variegata. Anyone know who’s growing these?

That sure is a pretty specimen. It would be hard to keep it looking so good year-round.

We Get Cactus Questions

Hey Guys,

I have another one for your ID help … and it’s blooming for the first time (for me). Is it a Disco? Melo? Echino? species?

Thanks,

CactGuy

Dustin,
It’s a Melocactus, probably either Melocactus azureus or Melocactus violaceus.
Peter

We Get Orchid Questions

Apparently we’re not the only ones to get this question; the email was also sent to Berkeley Hort, Magic Gardens and Westbrae. I hope we gave the best answer.

Hi,

I recieved a plant with flowers that look like the picture attached to this email. I don’t know the plant’s name so I am not sure how to care for it. I was told it was a dancing orchid but most the care sheets I found online for dancing don’t look remotely like the flowers in the attached picture. Do you know the name of the plant in the attached photo? Most of the flowers along its long stem are dying now, should I be cutting the stems?? Could you maybe direct me to a website with information on how to care for the plant in the attached photo?

031307dancing_orchids

Thanks,
Joanna

Joanna,

You orchid is a Brassia, or commonly known as a “spider orchid”.

Brassia pretty much just takes standard orchid care… here is a link with specific information.

You can trim off the spent bloom-spike after it dries out, but don’t cut it off until then as they can occasionally re-bloom from the same spike if they are really happy.

Take care,
Hap

We Get Photos

Grant and Paula send along a photo of an amazing set of blooms on what looks like an Echinopsis subdenudata.

Hi Peter,

Although we’ve probably bought (so far) 30-40 plants at Cactus Jungle, this isn’t one of them. Just thought you’d enjoy the flowers this morning, as we are.

Best,

Grant & Paula

Thanks!

We Get Photos

Reader Duc Pham sent us a lovely photo of a Cleistocactus in bloom. Maybe C. winteri.

Thanks!

We Get Questions

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

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

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

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

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

Ilana,

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

Take care,

Hap Hollibaugh

We Get Questions

Hi Peter,

I hope you can help me out with an unusual repotting problem.

A well-meaning friend of ours recently sent us a “cactus garden” as a gift from an online website, pictured below:

IMG_2479

Any idea what the different species are? The online vendor simply labeled them all as “cacti”.

Well, the various cacti and succulents are doing fine so far, but now I think they are starting to crowd each other out. I was hoping to repot them, but the potting soil that they used is as hard as concrete! I can barely dent it with a hammer!

IMG_2483

Yes, it is that hard. I can’t even pull the wood chips out of the soil!

I have no idea what crazy concoction they are using as a soil. The directions that came with the garden only say that, “The cactus soil is a blend of nutrients combined with a hardening compound. It was scientifically developed to provide a healthy growing environment for cactus while also providing protection during shipment. Although it appears hard and impenetrable, the soil does absorb water and distributes it throughout the planter.”

Have you ever run into this strange potting medium before? If so, are the poor plants going to be okay in that stuff as they grow? And if not, what is the best way to get them out safely so that I can repot them?

Finally, it is currently winter here in southern California, and the cacti are sitting outside on our back porch. Should I wait until the spring growing season before attempting to repot them? And how much space should I give them?

Thank you for all your help!

Sincerely,
Jonathan

Jonathan,
You have 3 cacti and 3 succulents. This type of potting is not intended as a long term solution, so yes they do have to come out of the concrete (and they do add gypsum, i.e. concrete, to the mix to get it to harden). So basically you will be rescuing the plants.

If they are healthy now, I would wait until spring. If they look desperate, then go ahead and get them out now.

I don’t have any secrets for rescuing them – get the whole thing out of the pot and chisel them apart as best you can trying to save some roots where possible, but allowing for the fact that these may be cuttings you are starting with once they are out.

Pot them in dry fast-draining cactus soil, keep dry for a couple weeks. I would try a 4″ pot for each plant, if I am judging the size correctly.

Succulent Species:
Crassula ovata (Jade)
Faucaria felina (Tiger Jaws)
Pachyphytum, maybe longifolium

Cactus species:
Cleistocactus strausii
Mammillaria
Parodia

Peter

We Get Reader Photos and Questions

Hello Peter,

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!

~Karen
Placerville

Karen,

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.

Peter

We Get Yucca Questions

Q: We planted this cactus over 10 years ago, and the other day were surprised to see a stalk growing out of it. Do you know what types of cactus this is? And is it likely to ever do this again? We live in San Carlos. I would be interested in getting another one.

Many thanks!
Colleen

A: Colleen,

Your “cactus” is actually a Yucca, most likely Yucca whipplei (a wonderful California native) or perhaps Yucca rostrata. They look very similar and there is not enough detail in you photos for me to be sure… however my guess is yours is Yucca whipplei. If it is, this bloom will be it’s last, as the rosette that blooms dies after it is done blooming and hopefully setting seed (like it’s relatives Agave’s).

It will sometimes “pup” around the base and those will grow in to replace the “mother” rosette, but not always. If it is Yucca rostrata, it will not die, but will grow several new rosettes and eventually become a multibranched tree yucca and will bloom again when it has enough energy stored up to do so. Either way yours is a great looking plant and congratulations in getting it to bloom! It should bloom over the next few months and will look spectacular!

Take care,
Hap

What's That?

Hello! I would like to know if you sell this in your nursery and also
please ID. Thanks.

Carolyn

Carolyn,

I’m gonna go with Kalanchoe luciae, but I’m sorry to report that we don’t grow it.
Peter

Wheelbarrow Succulents

I was shopping earlier today and loved your nursery. Felt the plants were well cared for and a pleasure to visit the nursery. The succulents are in a small decorative wooden wheelbarrow.

tiny wheelbarrow planter

Thanks so much for the help and I will see you again.
Carol

Thanks, Carol!

And just for fun – let’s name them from left  to right. “Moonstone”, Euphorbia, Oscularia, Aloe, Crassula. That was fun!

Wildflower and Cactus Blooms I

From reader Dan, we have these amazing wildflower shots in the desert near Palm Springs, at a place called La Quinta Cove. First we have the overview shots.

hike 3-24-10 041

hike 3-24-10 035

hike 3-24-10 005

More of these great shots tomorrow.

Oh, all right, one more now.

hike 3-24-10 015

Wildflower and Cactus Blooms II

Part 2 of Dan’s photos of Desert flowers in bloom at La Quinta Cove near Palm Springs.

I see now we have some cactus flowers in bloom. That is nice.

hike 3-24-10 023

hike 3-24-10 029

I could ID these for you, but then what fun would that be? I think you should be IDing them for me.

Tomorrow we finish up with a few more wildflower blooms.

Wildflower and Cactus Blooms III

We finish up this series of photos sent to us by Dan with desert wildflowers from the La Quinta Cove near Palm Springs. However, I refuse to ID them for you. I do all the hard work around here, maybe you could contribute your fair share today?

Maybe?

OK, that was harsh of me. One of them is an Indigo Bush. I just won’t tell you which one. That seems more fair of me.

hike 3-24-10 045

hike 3-24-10 020

Alright, I give up, you win. From what I can see in the picture, the other one looks like a Desert Lupine. I won’t guarantee this though.

Wildflower Blooms

From Aunt Rachel, NE of Hyder, Az up in the hills.

rachel

Any guesses as to the Opuntia species? I think we can eliminate the Mojave Grizzly Bear cactus, since it’s not in the Mojave. And yet, it’s almost certainly one of the Opuntia  polyacantha’s, and the spination does look most like O.  polyacantha v. erinacea. I’ve only ever seen it with yellow flowers, but my copy of Anderson says it can have pink flowers. Thus I think we can determine that this is a Grizzly Bear cactus, just not a Mojave Grizzly Bear. Since it’s found in the Sonoran Desert, I think we can call this a Sonoran Grizzly Bear, also O.  polyacantha v. erinacea, and chalk up the flower color to natural variation.

Science!

Word of the Day

Reader photos come in bunches. Darin also sent in this blooming picture:

It’s a Sempervivum arachnoideum clump. It has vivid, expressive, graphically pleasing flowers. Some might even call them refulgent.

Your mad skillz & such

Hi there —

Any chance you can tell me what it is I’m taking care of here (in the foreground)? I bought it at a yard sale in July because it gave me Dr. Seuss flashbacks. Think maybe I haven’t been watering it enough, as it sure looks fluffier & happier since the rain.

And don’t judge my cacti/succulent bench mess! I’m trying to figure out where everyone needs to be for this our first winter together. I sure wish the kids not from CJ were already repotted in your soil, but, ya know, if dreams were thunder & all.

Thanks a ton,
Cheri

Cheri,

You have a Senecio cylindricus (or possibly a Senecio mandraliscae). The plant looks happy and healthy, if a bit more Dr. Seuss-ey than is usual.

Peter

Yucca Blooms in Crockett

From Priscilla, photos of their yucca in full bloom in Crockett.

And a closeup is in order too.

Creamy bell shaped flowers. Nice photos! Thanks, Priscilla.

Yummy Honey Plants

Hey Guys,
Thank you SO much for taking the time to answer my question. I was in the City yesterday & discovered this growing in my old neighborhood…..since my partner & I collect unusual cacti & succulents, I was wondering if you could identify this specimen so I can find one for my Honey for his upcoming birthday.

Thank you,
James

James,

It is a yummy Aloe marlothii! One of the Mountain Aloes of South Africa.

And we have cute babies as well as a few larger in stock. I even have a 15 gallon one at our grow-space that looks like the larger one in your photo…

Take care,

Hap

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