February 2008

Blogs29 Feb 2008 03:08 pm

<a href="http://cactusjungle.com/archives/blog/exit.php?url_id=1890&amp;entry_id=1721" title="http://borrego.thegardenjournals.org/?p=87" onmouseover="window.status=’http://borrego.thegardenjournals.org/?p=87′;return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">Borrego’s Aloe Blog</a> in Los Angeles caught a neighbor’s Aloe marlothii in bloom. It is a large and impressive plant.<br /><br /><br />

Blogs29 Feb 2008 02:37 pm

<a href="http://cactusjungle.com/archives/blog/exit.php?url_id=1885&amp;entry_id=1714" title="http://cafejoetogo.blogspot.com/" onmouseover="window.status=’http://cafejoetogo.blogspot.com/';return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">Joseph Pobereskin</a> likes to take pictures of urban succulents, which by his definition doesn’t actually include any succulents.<br /><br /><img width="250" hspace="5" border="0" src="/blog/uploads/misc/IMG_1761.jpg" /><br /><br />Photo borrowed without permission, so go see the full size version at <a href="http://cactusjungle.com/archives/blog/exit.php?url_id=1886&amp;entry_id=1714" title="http://cafejoetogo.blogspot.com/2008/02/suburban-succulents.html" onmouseover="window.status=’http://cafejoetogo.blogspot.com/2008/02/suburban-succulents.html';return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">Eat at Joe’s</a> along with his other urban succulents.<br /><br />

Whippets29 Feb 2008 12:54 pm

Borrowed from <a href="http://cactusjungle.com/archives/blog/exit.php?url_id=1864&amp;entry_id=1690" title="http://superflys.de/2007/12/05/jimi-und-jutta/" onmouseover="window.status=’http://superflys.de/2007/12/05/jimi-und-jutta/';return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">Superflys Whippets</a><br /><br /><img width="400" hspace="5" height="259" border="2" src="/blog/uploads/whippets/jutta1.jpg" /><br /><br />Jutta mit Jimi<br /><br />

Photography29 Feb 2008 09:09 am

<img width="346" hspace="5" height="432" border="2" src="/blog/uploads/cactus/aloe_arborescens_bloom_closeup.jpg" /><br /><br />Aloe arborescens. <br /><br />This is a closeup of the same bloomstalk as yesterday.<br /><br />

Questions29 Feb 2008 08:07 am

<a href="http://cactusjungle.com/archives/blog/exit.php?url_id=1889&amp;entry_id=1720" title="http://www.contracostatimes.com/homeandgarden/ci_8304476?nclick_check=1" onmouseover="window.status=’http://www.contracostatimes.com/homeandgarden/ci_8304476?nclick_check=1′;return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">Ruth Bancroft</a> answers questions about cactus soil.<br /><br /><div style="margin-left: 40px;"><span style="font-style: italic;">Q: I planted a cactus using a standard bagged potting mix, and placed it on the porch in a sunny spot. Now it looks like it is rotting and I am afraid I have lost it. Could the soil mix have caused this?<br />
<br />
A: Because cacti and other succulent plants require good drainage, it is best not to use a standard potting mix. Instead, use a mix with extra-good drainage. There are commercial cactus mixes available, but you can easily create one yourself by adding materials to promote drainage into ordinary potting soil. Sand, pumice, perlite or crushed rock such as decomposed granite can all be used for this purpose (do not, however, use sand from the beach, since saltiness may cause problems). At the garden, we use a custom blend that is about half sand and pumice, and the other half soil.</span><br /></div><br />They use a very different mix than we do. We don’t use sand at all. And we don’t start with a standard potting mix either since they all have either forest products or peat, and cactus and succulents prefer a more neutral blend while we prefer a more environmentally friendly blend. We start with coir fiber, some rice hulls. We add lots of pumice and lava rock (not perlite, which is a more energy intensive additive.) And nutrients, don’t forget the nutrients.<br /><br />

Photography28 Feb 2008 06:09 pm

<img width="324" hspace="5" height="432" border="2" src="/blog/uploads/cactus/aloe_arborescens_bloom.jpg" /><br /><br />Aloe arborescens in full bloom.<br /><br />These do really well in the Bay Area. They love our winter rains and can be seen in bloom around the bay for months on end. They tend to form large mounds up to 4 ft. tall, but sometimes single stalks will reach up to 6 ft.<br /><br />Some people prune them into hedges, but I don’t like that at all. Big puffy mounds with dozens of bloom stalks all at once is the ideal.<br /><br />

Questions28 Feb 2008 04:42 pm

Q: I’ve read your previous postings which indicate that cactus thorns are not poisonous. However, my mother had a run-in with our Agave Americana last year, getting poked in the arm. The vein swelled up and within a few days the swelling had gone down. She still has problems with pain. The same cactus got my finger today; 5 hours later it is stiff and sore and pain is radiating up my arm. I used peroxide immediately and an antibiotic ointment but it doesn’t seem to be working. Is there anything you can recommend? <br />
Thank you,<br />
Sondra<br /><br />A: Sondra,<br />
Agave are not cactus, and there is an important difference. But first, let me insist that I am not a doctor, and any lingering pain should be seen by a doctor.<br />
<br />
OK, so Agaves, unlike most cactus, do have a nasty sap in them, that many people will have a reaction to. Whenever you are handling them, transplanting them or pruning leaves, we recommend long sleeves, gloves and eye protection.<br />
<br />
But I think the real problem with them is that the leaf tips – i.e. the spines – are huge and thick and very sharp. They can go in pretty deep and cause real wounds, nerve damage, etc. I know I can have lingering pain from getting poked that’s probably caused by the time it takes for the nerve to heal. (I once had a pinched nerve and it’s the same type of pain).<br />
<br />
Whenever we get punctured by a cactus or agave or other sharp plant, we make sure to remove any spines left behind, wash thoroughly, use a local disinfectant and then we like to apply a topical pain reliever. It is a wound so we watch for signs of infection.<br />
<br />
But if the pain does persist, we also have been known to go see a doctor.<br />
<br />
Hope this helps, and you and your mother get to feeling better.<br />
Peter<br /><br />

Blogs28 Feb 2008 02:30 pm

<a href="http://cactusjungle.com/archives/blog/exit.php?url_id=1883&amp;entry_id=1713" title="http://www.harmelphoto.com" onmouseover="window.status=’http://www.harmelphoto.com';return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">Mark Harmel</a> takes pictures of succulents. Here’s an agave mostly out of focus, but just the right parts just enough in focus.<br /><br /><img width="350" hspace="5" border="2" src="/blog/uploads/misc/20071123_stk_5227.jpg" /><br /><br /><a href="http://cactusjungle.com/archives/blog/exit.php?url_id=1884&amp;entry_id=1713" title="http://www.harmelphoto.com/blog/?p=7" onmouseover="window.status=’http://www.harmelphoto.com/blog/?p=7′;return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">Photo borrowed</a> without permission, so go see the original and others too.<br /><br />

Photography28 Feb 2008 09:08 am

<img width="432" hspace="5" height="324" border="2" src="/blog/uploads/misc/arctostaphylos_pajaroensis_paradise.jpg" /><br /><br />Arctostaphylos pajaroensis &quot;Paradise&quot;<br />This is my favorite manzanita. The soft grey-green leaves are beautiful year-round, while the large sprays of small pink flowers in winter are spectacular. The new leaves come in deep red!<br /><br />

Travel28 Feb 2008 08:29 am

<a href="http://cactusjungle.com/archives/blog/exit.php?url_id=1882&amp;entry_id=1712" title="http://travel.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/travel/destinations/africa/article3374694.ece" onmouseover="window.status=’http://travel.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/travel/destinations/africa/article3374694.ece';return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">Traveling in Africa</a> for a plant enthusiast can be very rewarding indeed. There are native succulents of the most spectacular types. Some may prefer the animal safaris, but what can beat the sight of a forest of aloe trees?<br /><br /><div style="margin-left: 40px;"><span style="font-style: italic;">We pick our way along vertiginous, boulder-strewn ledges and down slick limestone slopes where only the tiniest indentations give hoof purchase. At one point, a succulent aloe cactus proves too tempting for Seputsoe, creating multi-horse gridlock around a hairpin bend. By the time we splash across the river, there’s no doubt which of us is best qualified to navigate.</span><br /></div><br />OK, so the article from London was really about a trip on horseback across the highlands of southern Africa, where they did not come across any aloe trees at all. Still, I’m just saying, there are aloe forests in southern africa and they are pretty neat.<br /><br />

Questions27 Feb 2008 03:29 pm

Follow-up to <a href="http://cactusjungle.com/archives/blog/exit.php?url_id=1874&amp;entry_id=1704" title="http://cactusjungle.com/blog/archives/1702-We-Get-Questions.html" onmouseover="window.status=’http://cactusjungle.com/blog/archives/1702-We-Get-Questions.html';return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">yesterday’s question</a> about barrel cactus, and how to tell if they’re alive.<br /><br />Q: It seems firm, here’s two pixs. Thank you so much for your help! I lost my Mom, her plants are my daily visit with her.<br />
<br />
Susan<br /><br /><img width="396" hspace="5" height="432" border="2" src="/blog/uploads/misc/barrelcactus002.jpg" /><br /><br />A: Susan,<br />
The plant is still alive. It is in desperate need of getting repotted into a larger pot with fresh cactus soil. There are also some spots of rot on the plant (the soft brown spots) and you should spray them with a fungicide, like Neem oil.<br />
<br />
Good Luck,<br />
Peter<br /><br /><br />
<br /><a href="http://cactusjungle.com/archives/blog/archives/1704-guid.html#extended">Continue reading "We Get Follow-ups"</a>

Environment27 Feb 2008 12:48 pm

Poaching is a problem throughout the world. Many countries may have tough laws against poaching and yet lax enforcement. Many of these countries are far far away. <a href="http://cactusjungle.com/archives/blog/exit.php?url_id=1881&amp;entry_id=1711" title="http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/world/5546791.html" onmouseover="window.status=’http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/world/5546791.html';return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">Others, not so far</a>.<br /><br /><div style="margin-left: 40px;"><span style="font-style: italic;">Cactus poaching is booming in Mexico, helping to make wildlife species trafficking the third-largest smuggling industry in Mexico behind drugs and guns.<br />
<br />
The trade is fueled by private collectors and the burgeoning xeriscape movement in the U.S. South and Southwest.<br />
<br />
Rare cacti species can fetch hundreds of dollars on black markets from the United States to Japan.<br />
<br />
Mexico’s deserts are so ravaged by cactus poachers that researchers no longer publish the location of new species they find, lest eager collectors plunder the newfound cacti….</span><br /></div><br />more after the break…. <br /><br />
<br /><a href="http://cactusjungle.com/archives/blog/archives/1711-guid.html#extended">Continue reading "Threatened Species and Poaching"</a>

News27 Feb 2008 09:48 am

An interesting exhibit is up at the Peabody Museum at Yale University in New Haven Connecticut. That’s a lot of places in one sentence. Anyway, the <a href="http://cactusjungle.com/archives/blog/exit.php?url_id=1880&amp;entry_id=1710" title="http://www.newstimes.com/ci_8289066" onmouseover="window.status=’http://www.newstimes.com/ci_8289066′;return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">Danbury News Times</a> has a good story about the tree of life.<br /><br /><div style="margin-left: 40px;"><span style="font-style: italic;">&quot;We have more in common with fungi than plants,&quot; said Michael Donoghue, director of the Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven. &quot;Our ancestry with mushrooms is more recent than our ancestry, say, with corn.&quot;…<br />
<br />
Donoghue said that some of the new discoveries are highly surprising. The stars of the show are two giant elephant shrews on loan from the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington — a rare species that’s hard to see live in the United States.<br />
<br />
With long skinny snouts, the two look very much like rodents. But in recent years biologists have, through DNA analysis, grouped them with real elephants, as well as manatees….<br />
<br />
It has two desert succulents — one a New World species from Latin America, the other an Old World species from Africa. They look very much like two species of cactus. In fact, the Latin American cactus is more closely related to flowers like carnations, while the African cactus’ cousins are orchids.<br />
<br />
What this illustrates, Donoghue said, is that if you place very dissimilar species is the same environment — in this case, a desert — they will in time evolve into plants that can best survive a hot dry world. They will become cactus-like….</span><br /></div><br />There are other surprises in the article, and presumably at the exhibit. Now I haven’t been to New Haven in years, except passing through driving between New York and Boston visiting family and all, so I don’t know anything about this here Peabody museum and its evolution exhibit, but it sounds like a nice place to visit in the late stages of winter.<br /><br />

Berkeley Succulents27 Feb 2008 08:29 am

<img width="360" hspace="5" height="432" border="0" src="/blog/uploads/cactus/oxford08.jpg" /><br /><br />Oxford Street<br />In amongst the weeds we see an Echeveria, an Aeonium and an Aloe peeking through. It’s definitely weed season here – the oxalis are in bloom!.<br /><br />

Blogs26 Feb 2008 03:02 pm

Beth at Capturing the City, in San Francisco, has an obsession with photographing green plants. In this entry, <a href="http://cactusjungle.com/archives/blog/exit.php?url_id=1877&amp;entry_id=1706" title="http://www.capturingthecity.com/2008/02/12/green-green-everywhere/" onmouseover="window.status=’http://www.capturingthecity.com/2008/02/12/green-green-everywhere/';return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">green, green everywhere</a>, she features succulents, with some artful cropping and compositions.<br /><br /><br />

Questions26 Feb 2008 12:08 pm

Q: Hello,

I spoke with someone from your store on the phone this afternoon about a problem with one of my cacti. They suggested that I email a closeup of the affected cactus. This yellowish covering is now over much of the surface area of the plant. I’d appreciate any suggestions for treating the problem. Thanks,


A: Mark,

It does indeed look like a fungal infection of “Rust”. Your plant should be treated with a fungicide as soon as possible. Under normal situations I would recommend spraying the plant with a 1-2% Neem Oil solution, an effective, natural fungicide that has limited toxicity to humans and pets and I think you should start with it. Spray liberally with Neem to the point of run off and keep your plant out of direct light for a few days. Reapply after a week. It may take several treatments to kill off the fungus. There will be scaring of the plant tissue, but the orange should fade. Neem Oil is available in 100% that you mix yourself or a ready to use diluted spray, either one will work.

Unfortunately it may be that your plant is so infected with rust, that you may need to resort to something nastier to save your plant. But the systemic fungicides should only be used at last resort and handled with extreme caution, they are designed to cross the cell barrier and do not

care if it is a plant’s cell or your skin cell. If you go that route use chemical resistant gloves and follow the directions completely. Systemics are dangerous and like I said only to be used at last resort.

Good luck,


Photography26 Feb 2008 09:03 am

<img width="432" hspace="5" height="346" border="2" src="/blog/uploads/misc/arctostaphylos_morroensis.jpg" /><br /><br />Arctostaphylos morroensis – from Southern California, it’s <a href="http://cactusjungle.com/archives/blog/exit.php?url_id=1865&amp;entry_id=1693" title="http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ARMO2" onmouseover="window.status=’http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=ARMO2′;return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">listed</a> as a threatened species. It grows well in coastal areas throughout the state, and is fairly tall for a shrubby manzanita – up to 6′ tall. It will have red berries if these lovely lavender flowers get pollinated.<br /><br />

News26 Feb 2008 08:12 am

They sometimes grow cactus even in Iowa. Indoors, in a sunny window. But not too close to the glass, mind you. The <a href="http://cactusjungle.com/archives/blog/exit.php?url_id=1878&amp;entry_id=1708" title="http://www.qctimes.com/articles/2008/02/15/features/home_garden/doc47b5f4341ce73805608735.txt" onmouseover="window.status=’http://www.qctimes.com/articles/2008/02/15/features/home_garden/doc47b5f4341ce73805608735.txt';return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">Quad-City Times</a> tells you what will work best in Iowa.<br /><br /><div style="margin-left: 40px;"><span style="font-style: italic;">(C)acti and succulents (aloe, jade) prefer direct light…. (S)outh-facing and west-facing windows have more direct light….<br />
<br />
In my home, for example, the cacti and succulents perform best. I have a tendency to under-water, so I have selected those that will tolerate — even thrive — with a bit of forgetfulness.</span><br /></div><br />I knew that. But did you know: <a href="http://cactusjungle.com/archives/blog/exit.php?url_id=1879&amp;entry_id=1708" title="http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2008/02/robot_unemployment_crisis_solv.php?utm_source=sbhomepage&utm_medium=link&utm_content=sublink" onmouseover="window.status=’http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2008/02/robot_unemployment_crisis_solv.php?utm_source=sbhomepage&utm_medium=link&utm_content=sublink';return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">Robot Unemployment Crisis Solved with Make-Work Program.</a> I didn’t think so. Now you do.<br /><br />

Questions25 Feb 2008 03:36 pm

When in England, Ask Dan about your garden issues. <a href="http://cactusjungle.com/archives/blog/exit.php?url_id=1875&amp;entry_id=1705" title="http://lifeandhealth.guardian.co.uk/gardens/story/0,,2253409,00.html" onmouseover="window.status=’http://lifeandhealth.guardian.co.uk/gardens/story/0,,2253409,00.html';return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">He’s at the Guardian</a>.<br /><br /><div style="margin-left: 40px;"><span style="font-style: italic;">Q Hi Dan, Eight years ago somebody brought me a wonderful cactus that was about 6ft tall. It has stood in my hallway for the past eight years slowly getting taller! It is now at its maximum height for my hallway and I would like to get rid of it. I was wondering if there was a retirement home for cacti? It’s so big I can’t move it and I obviously don’t just want to destroy it as it is magnificent. I thought that some place might want to take it off my hands and wondered if that kind of thing went on. Any advice you could give me? Many thanks.<br />
Sarah</span><br /></div><br />That’s not a garden question. I was fooled into thinking he offered helpful advice to people who want to grow their plants in the harsh and unforgiving climate of England. Well, here’s his answer anyway.<br /><br /><div style="margin-left: 40px;"><span style="font-style: italic;">A Hi Sarah, Is there a local school that might take it off your hands? Failing that, you could try your parks department. There may well be greenhouse space for such a specimen. You could also try the British Cactus and Succulent Society (bcss.org.uk).</span><br /></div><br />My god, I had no idea. That’s no answer at all. Why not just tell her to place it on craigslist? I mean, they have that over there don’t they? I don’t know. Let me check. <a href="http://cactusjungle.com/archives/blog/exit.php?url_id=1876&amp;entry_id=1705" title="http://london.craigslist.co.uk/" onmouseover="window.status=’http://london.craigslist.co.uk/';return true;" onmouseout="window.status=”;return true;">Yep, there it is</a>. Hey! I could answer UK questions too! I could be a garden advisor all over the world! Growing clematis in Indonesia? I’ll tell you what you need!<br /><br />

Questions25 Feb 2008 11:44 am

Q: I have a barrel cactus about 4" x 4". It has looked the same for what seems like years, how can I tell it’s alive?<br />
<br />
Björnvik <br />
<br />
A: You can gently poke it with a pencil, and if it gives resistance, then it is alive.<br />
Or you could send us a clear closeup photo and we can take a look.<br />
<br />
Some barrels are miniatures and won’t get any bigger (like the gymnocalyciums) while others really do want to grow much bigger (like the ferocactuses)<br />
<br />
If it is still alive and the right species and you want it to grow bigger, you should probably repot it into a 6"-8" terra cotta pot with fresh well-draining cactus soil (which we do sell) in Spring, and make sure it is getting at least 4 hours of direct afternoon sun. Water it every 3 weeks.<br />
<br />
Good Luck,<br />
Peter<br /><br />

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