February 2009

Photography28 Feb 2009 02:28 pm


Haworthia cuspidata

Yay! A haworthia has a common name! This is one of the larger haworthias, not as big as H. aristata, but the rosettes can get over 4″! Oy, that’s a lot of haworthia. This one is also thicker-leafed and less prone to mushiness. That’s my technical term for the day.

News28 Feb 2009 12:41 pm

(Christina House / For The Times)

A tour of historical gardens

The conservancy’s two-day program, “Gardens That Re-Make Themselves: A Discourse on Regeneration, Sustainability, and Preservation,” will feature lectures by local designers, landscape architects, botanists, architects and historians. Home tours will include several gardens in Pasadena, including this private residence.

I don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s a mystery to me. But it’s pretty, so who am I to argue. Maybe you can figure it out.

Man, this is some lazy blogging from me. I really should figure out what this is about, go down there myself and interview the participants, take my own photos rather than steal the LA Times’, and do some work for you, my patient and understanding readers.

Yes, I should do all that.

Costa Rica28 Feb 2009 08:08 am


We saw a lot of blooming orchids in Costa Rica last month. I have a few thousand more photos to share. Well, maybe not quite that many.

We’re still in the cloud forests of  Monteverde.

Photography&Poetry27 Feb 2009 02:21 pm


Haworthia outeniquensis

That’s quite a name there.

Here, have some poetry:

While walking along the Western Cape
in South Africa attempting escape
a gardener did flee
from the succulents he’d see
cause the plants had a scarier shape

Whippets27 Feb 2009 12:05 pm

A closeup from last week’s picture of Benjamin at the nursery.


News27 Feb 2009 09:53 am

Tomorrow in Los Angeles! Hurry!


Succulents peek out the sides of their containers in one garden to be featured in the Garden Conservancy event… Feb. 28.

Oops, we’re  going to miss it.  You don’t have to. Maybe they’ll have another one soon? We can hope.

Quotes27 Feb 2009 08:17 am

I haven’t done any political quotes in a while, and I don’t really want to. But then along came these 2 quotes from the Conservative Political Action Conference. I must quote them. You cannot stop me.

“My Bad”
Michael Steele (RNC) on the last 8 years of Republican governance.

Followed up with:

“Michael Steele! You be da man!”
Michele Bachmann (R-MN)

Costa Rica27 Feb 2009 06:30 am


Today’s Costa Rican plant is an orchid. And there’s that wonderful yellow-green color that could lead one to call this orchid species by a name like viridis. But don’t even try, cause the orchid collectors will complain that you don’t know what you’re talking about. They do that you know.

Photography26 Feb 2009 02:56 pm


Haworthia pygmaea

Looks a lot like H. retusa, but then don’t they all.

This little festival of haworthias has been fun. So. Let the fun continue! More haworthias! More!

Environment26 Feb 2009 02:14 pm


An ecospace studio provides a stylish, multi-purpose solution… It has an organic low maintenance sedum planted roof.

Now that’s progress we can believe in.

I wonder if it comes with the lounge chairs out front?

Questions26 Feb 2009 12:30 pm

Hi Peter,
As we were just discussing on the phone, I have an Echeveria hybrid that I purchased from your fine company back in June. As you can see from the photos, since then it has grown quite tall and I am wondering what I can do for it. Also, the second photo shows the top of the trunk that split yesterday. What have I done wrong and what can I do for the split trunk?
Thank you very much for your time.



As we discussed, it does appear that your echeveria is not getting enough sunlight. The split developing at the top is because it is top heavy, and because the stem is not strong enough. What I recommend is waiting til late March, if possible (if the head is about to break off then don’t wait) and then cutting the rosette off with about 6″ off stem, clearing off the bottom leaves as necessary. Spray the cut end with household peroxide to help it heal and keep out of the sun for 1 week to let it dry. Then plant about 4″ deep into fresh dry soil, and wait another week before starting to water. Make sure the plant is in a warm sunny window and it should begin to root pretty quickly. Given the thickness of the echeveria stems, we often use a rooting hormone to help the plant root faster, but it’s not necessary.

You can then cut the rest of the stem down to about 3″ above the soil, removing all dead leaves, and the rooted stem will probably grow new rosettes. Spray the cut end with the household peroxide also, and keep out of direct sun until the tip heals a bit.

In general, we recommend these echeverias have 4 hours of direct sun per day, so a south or west facing window is ideal.

Let us know how it goes,

Misc26 Feb 2009 12:15 pm

It turns out the word I’ve been using for years, “elonated”, which I learned from Hap, is not a word at all. I think it was a combination of the “elongation” of stems from “etiolation” that Hap mushed together into “elonation”.

In other words, I’ve been telling customers that their plants are “elonated” because they aren’t getting enough sun. It’s easier to say than “etiolated” and maybe I should just continue with our made-up word.

Costa Rica26 Feb 2009 08:28 am

Did I mention we saw orchids while traipsing through the rain forests of Costa Rica?


This one shouldn’t be too hard to identify. Anyone want to try?

Photography25 Feb 2009 01:33 pm


Haworthia reinwardtii

Finally, a different type of haworthia – no more of those small stemless groundcover rosettes that grow better in shade. Now we have a small stemless vertical rosette that grows better in shade, but can also handle a bit more sun, should you so choose. Also, they get up to about 8″ tall! Big time! Clusters of them!

News25 Feb 2009 11:31 am

I’m feeling jaded these days; reading so many newspaper articles about cactus and succulents over the years has me bored. I want better pictures, more species featured. Hard-hitting news about cactus. You know what I mean?

Whispering Meadows Garden Club had its February meeting at the home of member Donna….

Valentine’s refreshments were served after Donna gave an interesting program on succulents she displayed in her sun-room.

Now that’s some news I can use, straight out of Fremont.

Questions25 Feb 2009 09:41 am

Dear Sirs,

This could be my third e-mail to you guys regarding strange cactus disease/bug/fungus (all of which were generously answered). Hopefully this isn’t becoming annoying. I do appreciate your time and check in to your blog frequently. Here’s the latest.

Two photos of a Myrtillocactus pup. This is the first trouble I’ve had with it. Seems to have some kind of big orange spot? Its not a “scar” like other spots that occur. Any suggestions, I’d hate to lose this one.

The second cactus I can’t ID. I do know it may have burnt a bit this summer (you can sort of tell from one photo to the other). It appears like this one maybe toast (the black spots appear to be brown-rot like, but I cant say for sure). I worry the winter is too far away before I can re-pot. Even so the problems appear to be high on the cactus.

Both cactus are in a greenhouse in Oregon, which we keep dry (and usually bug free believe it or not!?!!?). It doesn’t get cooler than 50 and we open it up during sunny days. This winter I have been limiting water to approximately monthly, or as they needed. I don’t think overwatering is an issue but who knows.

img_0976 img_0977

Any input is appreciated.

Happy to help when we can.

The Myrtillocactus looks like it has Rust, which is a fungus. We treat with neem oil. You can alternate with a teaspoon of baking soda and a quart of warm water, sprayed on.

The other cactus, probably an Echinopsis, may have the same disease, or another fungus, just further along. You can try to treat the same way, but the prognosis is not as good.

Please note: Where you are using smooth pebbles as a mulch, that is going to keep the plants wetter in the winter. We prefer a rough stone, like lava which dries out faster.

Good luck

Costa Rica25 Feb 2009 06:33 am


Cloud Forest Orchid

Photography24 Feb 2009 02:39 pm


Haworthia fouchei appears to be an old name no longer in use. Some may group it into H. retusa but I don’t want to. I see subtle differences in our retusas and foucheis, so I shall always think of them as different species. Some may call me stubborn, but I prefer to think of myself as strong-willed. I shall continue to think of myself as strong-willed no matter what some others may call me, to my face or behind my back. As an interesting aside, my hebrew school teacher used to call me Pedro.

News24 Feb 2009 11:07 am

Yes, yes, we all have travel woes, like the time I forgot to take my tiny keychain knife off my keychain before flying (more below). So here’s someone with a column who has a cactus jelly tale to tell, a prickly run-in with the TSA.

Given the throngs of shoeless penitents getting themselves processed like so many heads of cattle, and the $15 check-in fee per bag, I opted for the TSA confiscating my prickly pear jelly.

I’m sure those TSAers had some nice toast for lunch.

As I was saying above, they were going to confiscate my small knife, which cost about $25, so I went to the newsstand, bought an envelope and put the knife in and gave the woman there $10 and asked her to mail it to me. And she did! Woohoo!

News24 Feb 2009 09:48 am

You wouldn’t think residents of Phoenix would need to be told to plant desert plants to save water, but then if you thought that you clearly haven’t been to Phoenix. From ABC’s KNXV-TV

A desert landscape can save hundreds of dollars a year


“After a few once-a-month waterings, a cactus will take care of itself,” says Rilé Leblanc, otherwise known as the Cactus Doctor.

I find such advice to be quite astute.

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