January 2011

Questions31 Jan 2011 04:48 pm

HI Peter,

My Orchid Cactus has develped these orangie spots. They look ugly and menacing as there are more and more appearing everyday. What product can I use to get rid of them, short of cutting the branch off?

Thank you!

Your Epiphyllum has a fungus known as Rust. I recommend a strong organic fungicide sprayed on immediately. We do have a couple products at the nursery we can recommend, but if you are not local, we would suggest 100% neem oil at a 2% dilution.

Blogs31 Jan 2011 12:01 pm

San Francisco’s Paxton Gate Nursery has a Portland branch office, now, so it seems. This comes to us via words and pictures and links from Danger Garden who happens to be in Portland, so they are probably a reliable source for this.

Check out the fully dormant and named Desert Roses they have. I thought we were the only ones to put out leafless succulents.

California Native Plants31 Jan 2011 06:46 am

This very blue California Lilac cultivar was first discovered on the Owlswood Ranch in Marin, across the Bay from us, less than 15 miles as the owl flies.

An early bloomer for us, and a bluer bloomer than most of the Ceanothuses. Fast growing to around 10 ft. tall.

Ceanothus “Owlswood Blue” in bud, looking purplish.

Here they are fully open:

Man, that’s some blue flowers. Wow, indeed. I think I need to copy that color and paint some sneakers that blue. That would be awesome.

Environment30 Jan 2011 07:17 am

It’s a hospital, which seems to be a good location for green roofing, since the roofs are often overlooked by more patient rooms higher up. As usual, we have a sedum roof, a “Pre-Vegetated Sedum Mat” with some grasses and small trees too.

Project Name: Providence Everett Medical Center
Year: 2010
Location: Everett, WA, USA
Building Type: Healthcare
Size: 13700 sq.ft.
Slope: 1%
Access: Inaccessible, Private

Not the prettiest of green roof projects. No doubt it will fill in and be a better attraction for the patients over time.

My brother is working on a hospital project in New York. I wonder if he’s got a green roof going?

California Native Plants29 Jan 2011 11:49 am

More Coreopsis gigantea flowers opening!


Stories29 Jan 2011 07:09 am

Ever wonder what it would take to deliver a very branchy, very spiny 8 foot tall cactus 40 miles to someone’s house?

Opuntia subulata being mummified for the trip. Ian, Keith and Hap (and Brian not in photo) are hard at work with newspaper, cardboard and plastic at the nursery in Berkeley.

Securing the plant in the truck.

On the deck? That must have been hard to get it up there. Four people lifting it up stairs.

And the final resting place of this giant cactus, with pot feet, in Pleasanton.

Nursery28 Jan 2011 02:51 pm

The new orchids are in! They’re adorable.


Whippets28 Jan 2011 11:11 am

San Francisco27 Jan 2011 11:40 am

A whole trough worth.


News27 Jan 2011 11:37 am

Here’s the headline on the book review,

South African Succulents Certainly Don’t Suck

That is a truism. The rest of the review for the book Succulent Flora of Southern Africa by Doreen Court would have to be all downhill from there. Do you trust me enough to stop at the headline, or do you want to click through and see for yourself? Your choice.

San Francisco27 Jan 2011 09:53 am

Crassula ovata on Fillmore.


Questions26 Jan 2011 02:30 pm

They like their succulents black on the Isle of Wight. That leads, inevitably, to Black Rose.

Marie Langford e-mailed me the other day and asked if I know of any nurseries on the Island which specialise in ‘black’ plants, most especially succulents. One such is (A)eonium arboreum Swarzkopf. I bought one during a garden visit when Alan Titchmarsh was our high sheriff a few years ago now….

But I can recommend the tall, arching, tree form of this aeonium with its large heads of deep, purple-black foliage. If anyone knows where this and other black succulents can be easily obtained by Marie on the Island, please e-mail me and I will pass it on.

I like that title, “high sheriff”. I wonder what you have to do as a sheriff to become a high sheriff. Clearly a knowledge of succulents is required, which I have, but is that all? There must be more to it than that.

I can also recommend Gasteria nigra, and this one too. Anything else we should pass on to Marie?

News26 Jan 2011 12:26 pm

Darlinghurst Rooftop Garden, 221-223 Darlinghurst Rd, Darlinghurst
New to Australia’s Open Garden Scheme, this garden has been designed with imagination to maximise space.

The sunny rooftop has stunning views over the city and contemporary plantings including over 100 sedums, succulents and frangipanis, which have been chosen to withstand full sun.

Communal areas have been created around… outdoor showers…

Also known as Plumeria. Can these survive in Sydney? Bloom? I guess we’ll find out after a winter.

California Native Plants26 Jan 2011 11:02 am

Ribes sanguineum “Claremont”

It’s out favorite time of year in the Native California plant world – the time when the Ribes grow fresh new green leaves and stunning displays of pink flowers. Also, the Arctostaphyloses and the Ceanothuses, too, but more on that later.

I wonder if the currants from this plant are delicious? Most of the Arctostaphylos berries are terrible tasting, to us, though delicious to bears, and thus healthy and nutritious for us, but still terrible tasting.

This is one of the larger Ribes, getting 8 ft. tall! Now that’s impressive. We like these for being shade tolerant and drought tolerant and clay tolerant too. Very versatile. And attractive to native butterflies and bees and birds. Check out the honey bees in Davis collecting nectar on this plant. Very nice photos! Happy bees!

Questions26 Jan 2011 08:47 am

Hi…can I get a little advice?  I moved into a new home with a fantastic agave about four months ago.  We recently had a cold snap here in Phoenix (if you can believe that), and it’s looking sickly now.  Is there anything I can do to help its recovery?


It does look like cold damage. There’s really nothing you can do at this time of year to help the plant. It looks like it will eventually come out of it. You’ll know when you see new leaves starting to grow out of the middle, and then you can start cutting off the older dead leaves. But you shouldn’t really start any pruning until spring. At that time, after you see some new growth, I would recommend fertilizing with something like a Liquid Kelp, or other low-strength growth stimulant, but not until the plant has started coming out of winter dormancy.
News25 Jan 2011 12:54 pm

That’s the recent headline for the Sealy News. I wonder where Sealy is? I think it may be my new favorite town if everyone there with limited space follows through on the promise of the headline and buys succulents. It’s all good.

And it turns out that we’re talking about Texas. Texas! Who knew.

Here we have a picture of the Old West version of Sealy.

And here’s one of the New West. Sealy has something for everyone.

Reader Photos25 Jan 2011 11:06 am

Auntie R sends along this fabulous photo of the burros and the cactus. No word on where this is, but I would guess it’s in the desert.

If those were my burros, I would name them Blackie and Brownie, while the cows would be Peg and Bill.

Misc25 Jan 2011 10:51 am

I wonder how many horses are named after a cactus? Maybe there was a famous stud named Cactus. Here’s a horse that has won,

the prestigious First Citizens Gold Cup on Boxing Day.

Now that’s exciting news for the horse, Cactus Amour, who seems to race out of Trinidad and Tobago.

Questions25 Jan 2011 06:49 am

We get the fun questions!

Hi Peter,

I think the cankers on my cacti are a fungus. Regardless, I am not sure whether there is any hope (treatment) for the first one and whether the second is suffering from the same problem. Any help/advice would be much appreciated. I live in Oakland, CA.



It does look like a fungal issue. You can treat with Neem Oil, which is a natural and usually effective fungicide. We usually use it in a 1-2% solution in water with a drop of soap as an emulsifier. Spray to the point of run-off on an overcast morning or in the evening, but not on a sunny day as oil treatments on sunny days can cause burning. Retreat after a week at least twice. It should deal with the fungus, though the scaring will always be there, though eventually it will bark over and just add character to your plants. We carry Neem Oil at the nursery, and can talk you through it’s use.

Take care,

Hi Peter,

Thanks for the prompt reply. I will stop by, say hello and buy some Neem oil from your store.

I was contemplating getting rid of the cactus because it looks so sick, so you saved it.

BTW, can this fungus spread (wind, etc.) to other cacti in the garden?

Love your blog and your helpfulness.


I do recommend spraying the plants that are near the infected one, the fungus can spread.

Blogs24 Jan 2011 10:40 am

Anyone want to help Mr. Subjunctive ID his cacti on Plants are the Strangest People? Click over and have a go at it!

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