September 2010

Misc30 Sep 2010 09:36 am

People often ask us what a rhizome is. Usually they’re talking about running bamboos, but the subject comes up for other plants too. Here’s one.

Agave parryi

I don’t often get such a clear photo of a rhizome since they’re an underground structure, and when you dig a plant up the longer rhizomes usually get cut off. But this one shows you the plant, the roots, and the very different looking rhizome that was off on a traveling rampage through the underground precincts.


So here we go with some botanical information for you. A rhizome is not a root. From the Botanical Dictionary it’s,

A horizontal underground stem

OK then. So what have learned so far? It’s the same as an above ground stem and can grow roots and shoots and new stems and all the other good stuff.

Here’s a diagram of a bamboo rhizome.

Questions30 Sep 2010 06:39 am

Hello! I have had this cactus for about 7 years and a friend “babysat” it for me for about 1 1/2 years while I was traveling quite a bit. I just got him home and noticed several problem areas. After looking at your blog (which I totally love!) and other websites, I am still not sure if this is a fungus, a scale problem, a dreaded virus, old injuries or nothing to worry about! There are good shots of the problem areas. Thank you so much for taking a look.

South Carolina


It looks like the spots are barked-over, healed infections of some kind. You could spray them with Neem Oil just to be on the safe side, but it does look like the plant has fought off the infection and is doing fine. If more start then the infection is back and you should treat with Neem Oil which is a natural fungicide that usually is effective without being too dangerous to use on a houseplant. I like the Greenlight Organic Neem Oil, which you should be able to find at local nursery or garden center. If it is a virus there is not a lot you can do but seaweed extract seems to help boost plants immunities, so you can give a few douses this fall and then again next spring. But do not fertilize this late in the year, since the plant is about to go dormant for the winter.

Good Luck,


Questions&Reader Photos29 Sep 2010 07:15 am

hi cactus expert,

can you tell me if this plant belong to cactus family?
(please see attached image)
and what’s the name of this cute plant?
do you have it?



The plant is a Kalanchoe (or recently reclassified as a Bryophyllum, which is not yet really used by horticulture, just by botanist…). It is one of the “Mother of Thousands” which are usually Kalanchoe (Bryophyllum) diagremontianum or a close relative, the plant in the photo is very green so it may be on of the more tropical clones or hybrids. We do have cute small plants in stock, but they are not as large-leafed as the ones in the photo. Please note a better moniker for these plants is “Mother’s of Millions” and that the leaf margin plantlets can become “weedy” in frost free gardens. But their look and interesting reproduction method makes them a fun plant to have in pot.

Take care,


Blogs&Quotes28 Sep 2010 10:56 pm

Forty-five percent of Catholics did not know that their church teaches that the consecrated bread and wine in holy communion are not merely symbols, but actually become the body and blood of Christ.

via Atrios

Questions28 Sep 2010 12:27 pm

Hi there….
Can someone tackle a question regarding my cactus?

My cactus collection includes 20-30 large cacti (5 feet and taller)growing in half wine barrels and positioned around my yard in the Los Gatos/Santa Cruz mountains. Average temp through the summer is 5-10 degrees below temps in the valley….hot but not stifling. They get 2/3 sun, 1/3 shade through the day. I water them heavily every 3-4 weeks in the summer, every 2 months in the winter.

This year I am having trouble keeping them green. Healthy color has always been a minor problem, more prevalent in the summer than in the winter. This year is much worse. The tall varieties are all light green, with a couple of them tending to yellow. With every second watering, I use a very diluted measure of Schultz liquid plant food (10-15-10), approximately 3 droppers full (50-60 drops) per 5 gallons of water. Once a year in the fall, I add ½ cup of bone meal to each plant, not yet done this season. Is there something I can safely add to the soil that over time will improve their health and “green them up”, so to speak?

My naturally yellow varieties appear to be doing okay.

Thank you for your time.

If you can send us a picture, we can give you more specific info.

In general, yellowing is a sign of stress more common in the winter when they go dormant, not in the summer. If this started happening about a month ago, it could be because of the sudden heat we had back then. A lot of plants in the Bay Area, including cactus, got damaged.

We mix our own slow release nutrients for cactus, which we sell in 1 pint for $4 or 1 gallon for $18, and will ship. We prefer slow release to the liquids.

If your cactus has been in the same soil for many years, there may not be any soil left, and it may be time to repot them all.

Finally, you can try kelp meal to help green them up.

Nursery28 Sep 2010 08:53 am

Phyllostachys nigra has been very popular the past 2 weeks here at the nursery. In fact, people almost came to blows over the plants. I exaggerate…

Hopefully we can convince Ian to call the farm and get us some more black bamboos on Wednesday, otherwise the woman we told yesterday that they’re back in stock, when they were temporarily back in stock, will be very disappointed.

Maybe she’ll read this and realize it is best for her to wait until Thursday to come by.

Photography28 Sep 2010 08:50 am

Aloinopsis villetii Titanopsis schwantesii

We’re bringing out more mesembs as fast as we can. Blooming mesembs! Blooming mesembs from South Africa!

Tidbit of info for the day: Aloinopsis is named for being similar to Aloe. Yay! Also, they are generally winter growing, like a lot of the South African Aloes. So this is the beginning of their growing season. It seems to like to bloom first, then grow later.

UPDATE: Not an Aloinopsis, of course! But Titanopsis is named for, well, I can’t really say here on this family blog now can I?

Blogs&Carnivorous Plants27 Sep 2010 04:19 pm

The Pitcher Plant Project has some great photos of Sarracenias by moonlight.

Hap27 Sep 2010 03:33 pm

In amongst the Begonia richmondensis we see some very happy Aeoniums too.

We planted this shade planter 2 years ago for a client, and look at how it’s grown in so nicely. The Billbergias are hanging in there.

Photography27 Sep 2010 08:51 am

Protea laurifolia “Rose Mink”

That’s a bud. The flower isn’t open yet. Hopefully this won’t sell before it opens and I get a really awesome photo for you of the open cone-flower. And let me tell you, it is AWESOME. Feel the power of the awesome protea cone.

Reader Photos27 Sep 2010 06:46 am

We love reader photos, whether you got the plants from us or not.

Hello Cactus Jungle,

I thought you might like to see the flowers my new cacti just produced. The Astrophytum asterias is living in my kitchen. I bought it 3 weeks ago and this is what happened. The Echinopsis subdenudata (looked like a brown biscuit) had its flower soon after it came home and now is living outside with all my other cacti and succulents.

Thanks, Karen

Photography26 Sep 2010 11:11 am

One of our gorgeous Crassula falcatas is coming into a vibrant red bloom spray.


Misc25 Sep 2010 06:47 pm

News25 Sep 2010 12:10 pm

The Pittsburgh Gazette, or Tribune, I forget which, is recommending Sedums to their readers this year.

Here’s a photo of Sedum “Angelina”. Just don’t try to take a cutting of this fast grower and trade it with your neighbor – it’s patented and they could sue your pants off.

Carnivorous Plants25 Sep 2010 09:07 am

At Dark Roasted Blend and at National Geographic.

Don’t miss the rat being swallowed whole by a plant.

Questions25 Sep 2010 07:28 am

The three varieties I bought from your store have now been in the ground (Vallejo, zone 9b) since early spring, and some questions have popped up. Would you mind helping me trouble-shoot and plan ahead?

May Planting

The plants I got are 6 Graptoveria ‘Debbie’, 4 Echeveria Imbricata and 4 Echeveria ‘Topsy Turvey’. They’re planted alongside the sidewalk by the street, in a 1′ w x 1.5 d’ trench filled with cactus mix.

Imbricata is doing very well, flourishing even, with lots of little ‘chicks’ clustered under their ‘hen’s wings’ .

However two of the Debbies have some problems with something (powdery mildew?) in the center, leaves falling off, which were attracting ants. I feared they were going to be killed by this, so I sprayed them with neem oil and they seem to be rebounding. But would welcome ideas as to why/how this infestation was encouraged to set in.

Problem Debbie

Topsy Turvy surprised me in that it seemingly can’t handle either strong sun or heat, not sure which — and, as you know it has been an extremely mild spring/summer. Not sure if you can tell from the photos, but the lower leaves turned yellow and some died. I did give them extra water when I thought conditions were again going to cause this situation. However I worry about a normal year. Can they survive? What measures do you think I can take in the future?

September Garden

Then for all of them: What should I look out for over the winter, and how can I best prepare for it? — cold dips [the most extreme we get here hovers just barely above freezing], and significant rain. Should I rig up some sort of a tent of frost cloth to put over them? Any suggestions as to how to fashion it?

Healthy Debbie

Is it possible that Topsy Turvey and Debbie just aren’t suited for the conditions in my garden and will never prosper?

Thanks so very much.


I’ll take my answer after the break, please… (more…)

How-to24 Sep 2010 11:03 am

Let Master Gardener Anne Lowings introduce you to the wide variety of succulents that thrive in our Sonoma climate at a free workshop on Sat., Sept. 25 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Healdsburg Regional Library, 139 Piper St . She will discuss choosing, cultivating and propagating these tough and fascinating plants.

Berkeley Gardens24 Sep 2010 10:17 am

OK, so with this crazy cold few months, it appears that today is the first official day of summer in Berkeley, and probably in the rest of the Bay Area too. Now it is true that summer will only be lasting about a week this year, so enjoy it while you can. Get a tan!

Gardening is good too, and you can get a tan while gardening if you garden topless.

We got our fall veggie starts in yesterday. Lots of delicious broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, butter lettuces and of course more herbs. Always with the herbs around these parts. Cilantro is very popular and you can keep planting it into October or so.

Whippets24 Sep 2010 09:36 am

When Jason helped V make a quilt.

He blends in well with the sofa, dontcha think?

Nursery23 Sep 2010 04:56 pm



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