December 2009

News31 Dec 2009 08:10 am

But mostly cactus blooms. Come and relive the magic with me as we count down the Top Ten Cactus and Succulent Blooms (that I was able to photograph at the nursery) for 2009.

Not making the Top Ten, but still making this post, are extra bonus flowers!

Lewisia cotyledon in a shocking development did not make the Top Ten this year! Oh no!


Schlumbergera orssichiana aka Christmas Cactus – a very reliable bloomer in many happy colors.


Euphorbia flanaganii – the structure you’re seeing is also known as an inflorescence as Euphorbia blooms are tiny. The plant is also known as a Medusa’s Head.


Ferocactus tiburonensis – a classic striped barrel cactus bloom, and yet…


You’d think with all those runner-ups, I’d have just made a Top Twenty list but that would be wrong. And now, onto the Top Ten! I’m so excited…

10. Aloe humilis


9. Mammillaria bocasana


8. Neoregelia rubra – this made the Top Ten Bromeliad list too! Wow!


7. Eriosyce esmereldana – look at the extent of that cephalium! Now that’s a mature cactus.


6. Opuntia violacea is a very reliable bloomer, as are all opuntias. But this one has extra colors. Extra Colors!


5. Clusia orthoneura or the “Porcelain Flower” which it is indeed.


4a. Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi – some of the other Kalanchoes are better known for their blooms, but this one is the best of 2009.


4b. Rebutia krainziana – this was the best of the rebutias. And the rebutias are such a beautiful blooming genus.


3. Parodia ottonis is another small cactus with spectacular flowers. I don’t think you would disagree. Last year the P. crassigibba won out, and really gave it a run for it’s money this year, but there was no loss of certainty in this choice.


2. Echinocereus grandiflora Hybrid (Echinocereus x Echinopsis) I chose a pink flower for this, but the yellow is pretty damn nice too, so here’s both.

echino_grand_0906 echino_grand_0904

And the number 1 bloom of 2009 is…. (more…)

Questions30 Dec 2009 10:25 am

Hey, I’ve been shopping at your place for literally 10 years since you
were way over on ….. And we stopped by today to pick up some stuff
and some cactus and I thought I would get some dirt ’cause one of my
cactus needs some dirt. So I bought a bag of your dirt. Then I read
the ingredients. Give me a break! Composted Rice Hulls! Neem Seed
Meal! I ask you: do any of these cactus have this stuff out in the
middle of the Mojave Desert or out in the middle of New Mexico?? Fish
bone meal?? When was the last time there were any fish in the Sonora
Desert?? Maybe 200 million years ago?? I love it!!

You guys are the greatest and have the best stuff anywhere since Red
Desert went bust in the City!!!

Merry Christmas!

“I’d Rather Be Sailing”

Our cactus soil mix is designed to be used in all places except the desert. If you are planting cactus in the desert, the native soil should work just fine. However, anywhere else, and the plants need a different mix to thrive. Oddly, most commercial mixes are best suited to the desert.

For reference, the Mojave is one of the driest deserts in the world, with about 2″ of rainfall. Here in the Bay Area we get about 25″ per year on average.
Happy New Year

News30 Dec 2009 07:30 am

Before I finish the Top Ten plant lists of 2009, and before I start on the Top Ten cactus of the decade list, I thought I would start with something less controversial:

Top Ten NFL Quarterbacks of the Decade

Now, to be sure, the final 2 are pretty well predetermined. And don’t think the fact that I’ve been a Patriots fan for 35 years, since my dad got us season tickets to the very lousy pre-Grogan Pats in 1974, or that I’ve been a Michigan fan almost 30 years will have anything to do with my final choice. Nothing at all.

First we have a couple that didn’t quite make the list.

Jake Delhomme had one great year mid decade and one good superbowl but that’s not enough to make it onto this list.

Drew Bledsoe – overall career numbers would be good enough (45k yds and 250 TDs), plus a Superbowl season even if he was injured for most of it, but his best was in the 90s.

Onwards to the 10!

10. Steve McNair – if the NFL can give him 3 pro-bowls and an MVP that’s good enough for #10.

9. Daunte Culpepper might be one of the weakest QBs on one of the weakest teams right now, but the first half of the decade he was the best with the Vikings.

8. Kurt Warner sure is good, but is he top ten good? Almost 30k yds and almost 200 TDs for the decade puts him right here. Plus he started off the decade with a classic Superbowl win.

7. Matt Hasselbeck – 3 time Pro Bowl, 5 playoffs and 1 Superbowl. Plus look at those gaudy numbers – 24k yards, 150+ TDs.

6. Donovan McNabb – 5 time Pro Bowl, 1 Superbowl and a massive comeback. Plus 30k yds in the decade is nothing to sneeze at.

5. Ben Roethlisberger – close to 20k yards in only 6 seasons, 2 Superbowl wins, including one in which he played well.

4. Drew Brees – I’m putting him pretty high up here because his best seasons have come at the end of the decade, leading this years Saints and with last years awfully gaudy numbers: 5,069 65% 34

3. Brett Favre – an easy choice who may have been the top if not for his damn lingering, plus his best years were in the ’90s. Good cameo in “Something About Mary”.

The final two are… (more…)

Misc29 Dec 2009 01:14 pm

If you can’t tell, it’s going to be a slow week on the blog with the store closed and me catching up on my 2009 naps with the dogs.

News29 Dec 2009 08:33 am

If you don’t know what a caudex is, check out the pictures and you can probably figure it out for yourself. Or click through here. It’s hard to put these in any semblance of an order since they’re all so fantastic.

10. Jatropha berlandieri – the classic round caudex that goes fully dormant in the winter.


9. Ipomoea platensis is one of our succulent morning glories.


8. Bombax ellipticum is a subtree from Mexico, also known as Pseudobombax.


7. Ibervillea lindhemerii is pretty much our least popular caudex, and it’s in the cucumber family, so go figure.


6. Sinningia tubiflora is one of the easiest caudiciforms to grow.


5. Dioscorea macrostachya – babies!


4. Ornithogalum caudatum is the Pregnant Onion.


3. Urginea maritima – generally a solitary bulb that blooms when it is 15 to 20 years old. If it were in bloom this year, it would be number 1. But it will have to wait for another year.


2. Nananthus transvaalensis X Aloinopsis orpenii is a caudiciform mesemb with rose flowers


And the number one caudex for all of 2009… (more…)

Travel28 Dec 2009 10:12 am

Back from christmas in Idaho. We didn’t see any cactus, but the niece did get to feed the neighbors horse. It may have been bitter cold out, but she’s from Alaska, so she didn’t seem to mind.


Misc27 Dec 2009 05:37 am

Nopalito Pie from RecipeZaar

An unusual dessert from Margarita C. Hinojosa of Benavides, Texas, famous in the Rio Grande Valley for her Nopalito Pie as published in the Texas Highways magazine. Her creation is reminiscent of the taste of apple pie, especially if served warm and topped with a gorgeous vanilla ice cream (whipped cream works well, too).

Misc26 Dec 2009 01:28 pm

It must be Christmas Break, because we are having pie in Idaho.


Carnivorous Plants&Environment26 Dec 2009 10:15 am

Rat-eating plants do exist! Nepenthes attenboroughii.


The plant is among the largest of all carnivorous plant species and produces spectacular traps.” Co-discoverer Stewart McPherson

And another picture from io9


Questions&Reader Photos26 Dec 2009 05:28 am

Here is the plant given to me by Harriet.

Can you tell us what it is and how to care for it?


plant 001-1

Yes, my Dad sends me succulent questions. He’s in Florida, and has killed every plant we’ve given him, including most recently a Tillandsia bulbosa. We’ll see how long this one lasts.

You have a Kalanchoe thyrsfolia variegata. Water every 2 weeks, by drenching the soil and letting it drain away – never have it sit in water.

It is a good indoor plant and doesn’t require too much sun, but it does need some – a bright area, or some direct morning sun is best.

Whippets25 Dec 2009 11:19 am

If it’s Christmas then the dogs must have new coats.


Handmade by Maggie.

I see it must have been warm out yesterday since the employees have all shed their coats. But not so warm for the dogs.

News24 Dec 2009 11:13 am

OK, this is a new one for us, since this was the first year we carried organic veggie starts, and the photos aren’t really very good, so maybe I won’t do 10. Maybe I’ll be happy with only 5. Or 4. Let’s see what we have.

10. Lettuce. Yes, this is a summer blend lettuce. get a grip, what do you think veggie starts are?


9. Tomato “SF Fog”


8. Cilantro


7. Kale “Red Russian”


6. Lettuce Mesclum Mix


5. Mint “Bergamot”


4. Super Sugar Snap Peas


3.Tomato “Fireworks”


I guess that’s enough. Maybe I should renumber them 1 thru 8. Man, I’m lazy today, what with it being christmas eve and all, and we’re open til 5pm so it will be a long day before christmas dinner.

I would have to say this is my worst top ten list ever. If I made a list of Top Ten Worst Top Ten Lists, this would be number 1. Yay!

Questions24 Dec 2009 11:02 am

Hi, Cactus Jungle,

I am hoping you can help me! My 18-year-old 9 ft. tall, historically
healthy Euphorbia Trigona has been in shock since I moved. It has
dropped all of its leaves and the limbs appear to have “given out”.
It happened during the 10 minute drive to my new house, so I think it
was just shocked by being jostled around so much on the move. The
biggest problem is that the entire plant is limp and can’t hold itself
up from leaning in one direction. I have had to splint it to the wall
to hold the plant upright. Otherwise, the entire HUGE pot would
topple over. It is winter, so there is no bright sun to help it to
“perk up”. Should I buy a plant light? It has been this way for two
weeks now. I hate to prune because it will leave brown tops where the
cuts were made. What to do?

Charlotte, NC


A bright light would help, you might just want to get a “shop-light” and use full spectrum bulbs in for the winter. You can also try giving it some liquid seaweed in it’s next drink, it has growth stimulants as well as nutrients and vitamins that will help the plant recover from its trauma. If you email us a few photos, we can try to give more detailed recommendations.

Good Luck & Happy Holidays,


How-to23 Dec 2009 12:58 pm

I share with you this video.

Berkeley Succulents23 Dec 2009 12:41 pm


Agave americana v. marginata – the kinder gentler century plant.

Questions23 Dec 2009 10:58 am

Anyone out there able to help Charlie in Virginia?

Hi Guy’s, Charlie from Virginia, you don’t by any chance have this agave do you, agave ferdinandi-regis Blue form. The picture I sent you is from UC Berkley Botanical Gardens. What I’m looking for is A very nice clone, and I really like the one at UC Berkeley, it has everything I’m looking for, wide blue leaves, very nice markings and the jet black spine. I know they sell plants at the garden but I’m not sure if they have any plants from this clone or not.If you guy’s have it or happen to run across A nice blue clone with nice markings and black spines could you let me know please.

Agave ferdinandi-regis

Thanks Alot


We do not have any A. F-R’s, plus we don’t ship plants. But other than that we have lots of really nice agaves and such if you should happen to find yourself in Berkeley.

Questions23 Dec 2009 10:01 am

I see below that I’ve chosen a Euphorbia lactea crest as a Top Ten, and then here we have a question about one.

I’ve attached a photo of my “frilled fan” Euphorbia lactea which I purchased at SummerWinds nursery here in San Jose. I purchased a graft exactly as shown. Unfortunately, left out in NorCal December frost/rain. What was bright pink in summer is now olive green and I see white spots (on the plant…;-) I assume that’s latex. Will it recover now that I’ve brought inside?

When I first discovered it after the frost I saw how much olive green there was and thought it would get mushy (like ice wilted lettuce…). But, now that we’ve had some sun for a few days, it seems to me it’s not getting mushy and it’s getting pinker…;-)

I also noticed the white splotches (sorry again about cell phone resolution) and thought this was mold. But I read about the latex and that it’s poisonous so I haven’t touched the white spots, but so far they haven’t grown. Mold or latex secretion maybe caused by frost damage?

So, any suggestions on Euphorbia care? I’ve got it out in the sun now, but have had it inside near a window and haven’t watered it since the rains/frost earlier this month.

Euphorbia lactea-JT


I’m sorry to say that your crest is probably dead. They cannot handle frost. It should not have changed color at all, besides maybe a bit more pink in sun.

If you want a definitive diagnosis, we’d need to have you bring the plant to the nursery for us to take a look, but I’m pretty sure it’s not going to survive.

News23 Dec 2009 07:37 am

I haven’t decided yet whether this list will be for the genus euphorbia or the entire family euphorbiaceae. Let’s get started and see what turns up. Either way, they’re all poisonous, and none of them are poinsettias.

10. Euphorbia ammak


9. E. “Helena’s Blush” – This was very popular this year. We’re not usually big on the variegated spurges.


8. E. tirucallii, aka Milk Bush, Pencil Cactus and Firesticks.


7. E. ledienii – seems quite cactus-like, now that I think of it.


6. E. gariepina – this would have ranked higher if Hap were making this list.


5. E. myrsinites, the Donkey Tail Spurge


4. E. lomi “Salmon”


3. E. lactea crest “Ghost”


2. E. stenoclada


And the number one Euphorbia for 2009 is… (more…)

Misc22 Dec 2009 01:29 pm

Recipes22 Dec 2009 11:59 am

Just in time for christmas dinner, I found this seriously delicious looking cactus salad at and it only takes 2 nopales!


* 2 medium cactus pads (nopales)
* 1 teaspoon olive oil
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
* 3 tablespoons chopped green onions
* 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
* 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
* 1 teaspoon sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
* 2 medium tomatoes, diced
* 6 cups shredded leaf lettuce
* 6 tablespoons crumbled queso fresco cheese
* 2 1/2 tablespoons fat-free sour cream

You’ll have to click through for the instructions. I don’t want to give it all away, you know.

And it’s probably one of those “heart-healthy” meals too, since nopales are supposed to be good for you.

Nopales… contain flavonoids, a type of antioxidant…. (and) can reduce the glycemic index of a meal, and have been used to decrease the level of glucose in diabetics’ blood…. The American Heart Society, for example, is researching the use of nopales to help manage cholesterol levels.

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