Euphorbia lactea Crest

Shelly sends along a photo of her friend’s Euphorbia lactea Crest. She’s gotten a cutting off it.


Plant ID

Hey you guys!

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!




It is a lovely mature Echeveria subrigida.

Take care,


Contra Costa Cactus

In the heart of Contra Costa County, between the Carquinez Straight and the John Muir National Historic Site, we find a stand of spineless Opuntia. Delicious!

Photo sent from Briones by Donna, who wants it removed.

Marin Cactus

Echinopsis in full bloom. It looks like we’ll be getting some very productive flowering cactus babies off of this one.

Rattail Cactus

Karen sends along this blooming Aporocactus. She says she used our bloom food, and look at the deep red color she got!

That’s a really good protected location for a jungle cactus.


Succulent Wall

Gail in Mill Valley sends along a recent photo of their succulent wall we planted for them a few months ago.

More ID Questions

Hello Peter and Hap,

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.

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!



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.


Plant ID Questions in Buenos Aires

Kathleen has some pictures of mystery plants she needs identified.

I’ve ID’ed a few to start:

  • Tropical #1a: Ruellia makoyana?

  • Succulent #1 looks like Aloe saponaria

  • Succulent #3 Peperomia ferreyrae

  • Succulent #9b would be Agave attenuata

Any others you can ID?

Spiral Aloe

Aloe polyphylla photos from Annie.

I think we may be getting some of these giant spiral aloes for the nursery. If I understand correctly, we installed these years ago and then the house was sold and the new owner wants something different so we’re going to be taking them out and putting something else in. In the meantime they grew so big! Bigger!

Blooming Mammillaria

From reader Kris in Melbourne Beach, Florida.

Rescued from the grocery store amidst the produce and twinkies, it’s doing well!

Thanks Kris for making my blogging this morning easier.

Octopus Cactus?

Dear Cactus Blog,

Here are (some) photos. The last one, I can tell that’s a Cardon Cactus and a Palo Blanco, but that green shrubby Medusa looking cactus on the right….Octopus Cactus/Cina???

Thanks so much for your time.

It sure does look like Stenocereus alamosensis. I’ll put it on the blog and see if anyone disagrees.

But wait! There’s more! Read More…

Fan Aloe

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.

More info from the SF Botanic Garden. And more Aloe Plicatilis info on our website.


Crockett Succulent Garden

Henie sends along photos of a garden we designed and installed a while back. I think it’s been almost 2 years.

That is a ridiculously bloomful Delosperma. Yowza.

And a not-quite-as-ridiculously bloomful Aloe striata.


Hi! Love your blog! It’s been real fun to look at succulents and cacti from all over the world, especially those that you don’t come across everyday at your neighbor nurseries.

I came across this plant (I think it’s a succulent?) in the courtyard of a store yesterday. I think it’d be perfect in my yard. Do you know what it’s called? Thanks in advance!!


Looks like a Euphorbia lambii in bloom which is hardy down to 25F and will get up to 10 feet tall! Not a succulent, but it is drought tolerant.

Dragon Tree

Hi there.

Do you know what kind of tree this is? Pretty awesome. I saw it in Santa Barbara.

Rose Ann

Rose Ann,

It is Dracena draco, aka the “Dragon Tree”.

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.


Plant ID Question

We like IDing plants. Send in your photos!

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.


What's That?

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



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

Aeonium arboreum

Sent to us from Jbot

It’s an Aeonium arboreum with the central stem missing, but what’s that I see – another new rosette forming right in the middle!

And of course the big rosette we’re looking at is about to bloom out with hordes of little yellow flowers and then that branch is going away forever.

Burros and Beavertails

Auntie Rachel sends along these desert photos, probably from Arizona but I don’t know for sure.

Portuguese Leaf Cuttings

Dear Sir
I hope you don’t mind me emailing you with a question. I moved from England to Portugal in January 2007 and have since become besotted with succulents. In the last two years, I have bought more than 70 but the labelling of plants here is either poor or non-existent. I therefore use sites such as yours to identify which plant it is that I have bought.

I am trying to identify the succulent in my photograph. I bought this as a small plant in May 2009 and the photograph, with my hand to show the current size, was taken a few days ago.

I have seen nothing like this succulent on any of the websites I use and wondered if you knew what it is and how I can propagate it. I have tried with leaf propagation, keeping the leaf without soil or water, but this only results in the leaf drying out and dying.

Thanking you in advance for any help you can give me.

Kind regards

You have a hybrid! An Echeveria subrigida cross.
You can propagate from leaf cuttings generally, but these hybrids are tricky.
Take a full leaf and let it callous over for a week. Stick the cut end gently into slightly moistened cactus soil, and let sit for about a year. You should then get a new plant starting. A 2nd year and you should have a full size plant ready to transplant.

North Bay Area Succulent Garden

Here’s a garden we designed and installed last year in the North Bay Area town of Crockett. They sent us new photos; it’s done well through the winter!

A prominent Yucca, a sidewalk Bulbine with hordes of yellow flowers.

Large Aloe ferox, kind of like the central focus of the garden. Oscularia starting to spread, and Echeverias in bloom. Some smaller Aloe cryptopodas too.

Nice bricks. Aloe striata, Aeonium subplanum, and I think that’s Aeonium luteovariegatum in back, in front of another stand of blooming Bulbine.

The blooming red Echeveria? It’s E. “Fireball”.

A Challenge!

I live in Holland and have a fair collection of cacti, succulents, caudexes and pachyforms. Living in chilly Europe means most of my plants live indoors or in my “greenhouse in the sky”.

I’ve recently joined a local cacti club and am busy trying to identify my collection ! I am VERY bad at names but being a member of a club, I can’t really not know what things are called :~))

I’ve taken pictures and put them online at Picassa.

I wonder if you or any of your blog readers would like to lend a hand at IDing some of them ??

The link is :

have a good weekend, Jenny Cockshull

Arizona Hedgehog

This beautiful Echinocereus has survived being on a bombing range for years. Congratulations!

Photo from Genn, on the BMGR. Species might be Echinocereus fasciculatus but it would be easier to identify once it starts to flower, which should be soon.

Hanging Basket

Another photo from Todd, this time of a hanging basket cactus – a christmas cactus most likely.

The photo was taken in sunnier days.

Echinopsis Blooms

From Cactus Blog reader Todd, this photo from last summer of a mature Echinopsis or hybrid thereof in bloom.

I’ve never seen that many flowers on a potted cactus – usually they need to be in the ground to be that bloomful.


Is There a Problem Here?

We often get questions about plants that are doing fine. People in our neck of the woods often buy the plants from us looking perfect and expect that it will stay that way forever. Here’s a case of a plant that is fine.

I’m attaching a picture of my pregnant onion that I bought from you in December. The ends of the leaves just started turning brown and it’s working its way up the leaf. It is still giving birth and is growing a very long bloom stock. What can I do to stop it from turning brown? I’ve been keeping it outside in full sun and just letting the rain water it.


Now, just because the plant is fine, doesn’t mean the choice of posing your Ornithogalum caudatum on an ottoman in front of a black leather recliner is fine. Just sayin’. My actual response:

The plant looks basically fine. It’s probably just not enough water, since we’ve had very little rain recently. You can trim the leaves back to the green without harming the plant. Also, it’s putting energy into the bloom stalk right now, and not into new leaves, so you won’t see much new leaf growth for a couple months.

Blooming Aeoniums

Hi Hap and Peter and gang,

Here is one of our client’s Aeonium ‘Schwartzkop’ in bloom. Wondering how to prune this once it is finished blooming. Looks like nearly every floret is blooming. Please advise.


Oh dear! Cut the branches with flowers off as soon as they start to open, and enjoy them in a vase. Letting them go to bloom on the plant will kill the whole plant. Oy!

Hi Peter,
Oy veh is right!!! So if we cut off the blooming branches, there will be nothing left? If this is a Black Swan moment, perhaps we simply replace? Please advise Professor Peter!


It looked to me like you had a few branches that were not going to bloom, but if close to the whole plant is blooming, then enjoy the show and replace the plant when it is done. You can also take cuttings of the 2 or 3 non-blooming branches and reroot them individually.

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