April 2008

Misc30 Apr 2008 04:44 pm

It’s true, the magazine Real Simple, as featured on CNN.com, keeps it real.

Choose the potting mix

If you are planting succulents or cacti, use a mix especially formulated for them….

Choose the plants

Don’t put a cactus and a pansy together in one pot and expect them to get along….

Prepare the pots

Fill the container with the soil….

Pot the plant

Now that’s all good advice. For more of that advice, you can click through and read the rest of the article. Or not. The rest of it is pretty generic, actually.

Questions30 Apr 2008 03:39 pm

Sometimes we get questions about sick agaves and they’ve sent along a picture too.

hello Hap,

i met you at your store a few weeks ago…i have a sick agave that i was hoping you could diagnose. per your suggestion, i have attached some pictures. as you will see, the leaves seem to be splitting. we have really poor, clay soil here in San Rafael. We just amended the soil today and moved it to a new spot in our yard.

Any advice you have on what else needs to be done would be very much appreciated.

Thanks so much.




It looks like your agave took some winter wet/frost/freeze damage. Moving and improving drainage will help a lot. They can usually handle the cold if they have dry feet(roots) and leaves. You can clean the infected areas with household Hydrogen-peroxide which should help them fight off the fungi. The Damaged leaves will always look bad but given time it should grow enough new leaves that you can cut off the older damaged one.

Good Luck,

Misc30 Apr 2008 01:31 pm

Sometimes the Cactus Art is art that is made out of cactus and sometimes it is cactus that is made out of art, so to speak. In this case, Margarita Cabrera’s show at LACMA is cactus made out of art. There, I said it. From CindyLu’s Flickr stream.

News30 Apr 2008 10:24 am

Who says you can’t make wine from Cactus? Just ask the Coppola winery, up in Napa. From Wine Spectator:

(Francis Ford) Coppola has… supplied the obtuse travel diary of one 26-year-old “Nick,” who has been sent to Europe in search of wine-based adventure and discovery, with decidedly mixed results. Here’s Nick on Luxembourg: “…um, anyone know what language they speak in Luxembourg?”

Wait, that wasn’t the cactus part of the news. Let me see, here it is, further down in the article, below the picture of the cactus. It turns out that Coppola has nothing to do with the cactus wine at all. I must have just wanted to name drop on the blog to increase hits.

Cactus Wine

Anhui Cactus winery is currently marketing a range of drinks made from a combination of Languedoc vins de pays and cactus juice. The red and white wine drinks, sold under the label “Cactus,” contain 5 percent of the prickly plant’s juice—not a lot, but enough to knock your socks off. “It’s similar to a cactus-flavored Campari,” said company spokesperson Eric Lathan. Chinese drinkers, who prize cactus juice for its nutritive and energy-giving qualities, purchased more than a million bottles of the brand last year. Lathan added, “You can pick up the [cactus] aromas straight away and the attack on the palate is really surprising.”

News30 Apr 2008 07:23 am

Who wouldn’t want to replace your lawn with 10,000 succulents?

Xeriscape landscapes are kinder to the environment and less expensive than lawns because they don’t require a lot of watering.

For many yards here, succulents and cactuses achieve all of the above without soil amendments.

Mitch Kessler has 10,000 of the plants in his North Tampa yard. “They’re eco-friendly and require almost no care,” he says.

My parents live near Tampa in the winters now. They have no yard at all, what with living in a condo. But they do have lots of Tillandsias in the trees on the property.

Anyway, that article was from the Tampa Tribune.

Blogs29 Apr 2008 05:36 pm

Greenfish Artist and Gardener has a whole bunch of little cactus from the Austin Spring Fling thingy, plus a picture of an unlabeled Rechsteineria leucotricha in bloom.

Misc29 Apr 2008 02:20 pm

Apparently serious advice to the US Government, no less.

Larry Niven, the bestselling and award-winning author of such books as “Ringworld”… said a good way to help hospitals stem financial losses is to spread rumors in Spanish within the Latino community that emergency rooms are killing patients in order to harvest their organs for transplants.

My eyes hurt. Please make it go away. via Sadly, No!

National Parks29 Apr 2008 12:32 pm

…among the Saguaros!

“We had our first rattlesnake sighting today,” she announced….

Hikers on the Cactus Forest Trail in Saguaro National Park were startled Sunday by a sign warning that aggressive mountain lions had been sighted in the last 36 hours….

All this, and more, signal that the Sonoran Desert spring is full upon us, with all its ambivalent blessings.

So goes the Arizona spring. Via the Arizona Daily Star. Click through to see the Palo Verdes in bloom.

Berkeley Succulents29 Apr 2008 09:52 am


Senecio repens
Grant Street, Berkeley

Everybody loves the blue color these get in full sun. Dismayingly they go green in shade. So I would not recommend them in Bakersfield where they would need to be in light shade. Hah!

White flowers, puffy seeds, delicious alongside a sunny deck in the summer sun, dazzling in the brightness as I shade my eyes to watch the hummingbirds frolic in the aloe blooms, a glass of freshly squeezed lemonade at my side. Maybe with a touch of vodka.

Photography29 Apr 2008 07:08 am

Well, you really have to click through to the full size original.

Martin Heigan

It’s a bee on a Hoya carnosa bloom. The one bloom and the bee are both in amazingly clear focus. You do know how small those hoya flowers are, now don’t you? Well, they’re only about 1/2″ across. And apparently, if you look very closely, fuzzy, just like the bee. Plus, if you click through to the original, you can see the pollen on the bee’s knees.

Photo © Martin Heigan, from his Flickr stream.

Blogs28 Apr 2008 04:09 pm

Daystar Shine on Me visited the Botanico Jardin Las Palmas Canary Island and took some great shots of some giant cacti in the gardens. How come I never get to go to the Canary Islands?

News28 Apr 2008 01:12 pm

McClatchy News has a simple and unassuming article about going green in Texas, referring to LEED certified homes and such. But what I was interested in was the clear and unambiguous competition between cactus and bamboo. Which is greener? Which will win out for more points in your LEED certification process that your architect can check off the list?

“It’s pretty much an experiment,” says Ward, 52, of his new home…

“Cork, stucco, wood, cinder block, steel, laminate … they’re just used in a more precise way.”…

Low-maintenance mass plantings of cactus and native grasses add subtle texture, and a few potted plants such as bamboo and succulents blend well with the home’s tactile exterior.

Aha! We have a winner! The cactus are planted in the ground while the bamboo, poor things, are stuck, even confined, in pots. Over time, the entire yard will be overtaken by the prickly pears, while the bamboo will eventually outgrow the pot and die. It is very sad to see a competition like this get so brutal, so very very brutal.

Questions28 Apr 2008 11:24 am

Q: Hi Peter,

Wondering if running the tillandsia under water till it’s all wet is enough, or does it need soaking? I’m doing this twice a week, and it’s cohabiting with a cymbidium under the eaves on my deck.

It’s like having a pet – I can bring it in for a bath, talk to it, walk it around & put it back or put it anywhere else! What fun.

I’ll get some liquid kelp too.


A: Phyllis,

The key to growing tillandsias is what you say when you talk to them. I prefer to read to them from Vonnegut.

Running it under water twice a week is enough – it doesn’t need to soak but once a month with the kelp.

You can even mist it 3 times per week, or leave it in a bathroom where it gets light misting every day.

It’s all good.


News28 Apr 2008 07:09 am

(T)he Center for Creative Photography’s… current exhibition (is) “Debating Modern Photography: The Triumph of Group f/64,”

Then there are the unique close-up observations of plants and flowers — cactus and aloe and succulents and buds and blossoms by Brett Weston, Noskowiak and others. These images of humble, simple objects, simultaneously detailed and sparse, slow us down, call us to a peaceful attentiveness….

They favored using the f/64 aperture lens setting, the one that provided the greatest depth of field, the most detail, the sharpest focus. They used large-format cameras and made contact prints on glossy gelatin silver paper.

This was revolutionary.

In late 1932, in San Francisco, a group of these photographers — Group f/64 — held its first exhibition at the de Young Memorial Museum. The show included work by group members Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Willard Van Dyke, Sonya Noskowiak, and Imogen Cunningham…

From the Arizona Daily Star

News27 Apr 2008 06:50 am

The Tuscaloosa (AL) News likes cactus and succulents for your container garden. I think I should collect a list of all the newspapers that think you should make a succulent container garden. I wonder if it’s all Martha’s fault. She was first, of course, recommending them a year ago.

Container gardening is a rapidly growing garden trend….

A shallow dish or saucer is fine for cactus and succulents.

See, it’s a trend. I blame Martha Stewart.

Environment26 Apr 2008 09:17 am

And I don’t mean eggs…

Anyway, the BBC tells you what’s going on down in Mexico.

But in Mexico, organised crime has moved into a different market: cactus plants.

It has become a multi-million dollar business, so sought after are some of the species.

I know none of you do this, so I guess I should stop my harangue, as if I had even started one. Maybe someday.

Blogs25 Apr 2008 02:59 pm

Mallorca Daily Photo Blog has a lovely photo of a Cleistocactus at the…

Botanicactus near Ses Salines in South East Mallorca is a huge botanical garden.

I’d click through to see the full size photo if I were you.

Whippets25 Apr 2008 12:03 pm

Benjamin likes to collect his toys by his food dish.

Benjamin\'s Toys

And then he looks at me wondering where those flashes of light are coming from.

Misc25 Apr 2008 07:52 am

In Denver they had never thought to plant succulents in a trough before. Never. I find this to be a mysterious use of valuable newspaper real estate. Anyway, it was a TV report. TV9 News.

The newest use for troughs is in growing small cactus and succulents. In the next few years, look for succulents in particular to have a more visible presence…

Whatever plants you select for trough growing, you’ll create unique miniature gardens with great visual impact.

It’s good to know they are catching up to the rest of the world in Colorado.

Environment25 Apr 2008 07:15 am

It looks like we’re in for some water rationing in the East Bay. Reservoirs are moderate, but it seems that erratic rainfall has made the water board worried about 2 bad years in a row on water levels. They’re considering restrictions and rationing this summer. From the SF Chronicle.

EBMUD… said that although January and February were wet months, March was the second driest March in the district’s 85-year history and April is the driest to date.

That means the Sierra snowpack, which melts into the Pardee Reservoir where 90 percent of EBMUD water comes from, is yielding half its normal runoff….

More from the Chronicle

“All the research around the impact of climate change in California shows potential prolonged droughts, drier winters, more wild swings between drier years and wet years,” said Tony Winnicker, spokesman for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which provides water to residents of the city as well as communities on the Peninsula. “As water agencies and as consumers, we need to manage our water more wisely. There will never again be a period in California where we don’t have to think about water conservation.”

Winnicker and officials from 10 other regional water agencies met Wednesday to renew a campaign urging consumers to use less water. The meeting came one day after the East Bay Municipal Utility District, which provides water to 1.3 million customers in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, announced that its board is examining mandatory water restrictions, price increases and even water allotments in an effort to stretch its dwindling supply.

This is sounding like serious stuff. We’ve already had customers (yesterday) mention changing over to low-water gardens because of this.

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