January 2011

Questions&Reader Photos24 Jan 2011 07:47 am


I bought a Rebutia krainziana cactus from a plant show in San Francisco last spring. At the time I bought it, the cactus looked as it should; short, round, plump, spiral pattern of spines, and was blooming. I decided to keep this cactus on my work cubicle, which is next to a window. However, over the summer the cactus grew to be an irregular shape…it’s now very tall (10cm), and cone shaped. The top of the plant is very narrow, and it slowly starts to round/plump out towards the lower half of the plant. The spines are also no longer arranged in a spiral shape and are not fully formed (there are very few actual spines in the white spots on the upper half of the plant). Other than the abnormal shape of the cactus, it looks perfectly healthy. I’m just wondering what’s going on with the plant, and if there is anything I can do to get it back to its original round, plump shape. Could lighting be an issue?


It sounds like it is not getting enough light. Can you send a photo or
bring it by the nursery? Anyway, try getting it a minimum of 4 hours
direct sun, or adding a full spectrum light bulb within 12″ of the


Hi Peter,

Per your request, attached is a picture of my Rebutia. Would it be okay to keep my cactus outdoors (I live near ocean beach in San Francisco), or is San Fran weather too cold for it?


That is an extreme case of not enough light. Quite the interesting shape!
It can survive just fine outside in SF, but it would do better in a terra cotta pot with a fast draining cactus soil, and no saucer – you never want it sitting in water.

When you bring it out into the sun, it will need to be “hardened off” which means giving it progressively more light over a couple weeks, and not putting it straight into full sun.


Questions23 Jan 2011 07:30 am

There are some amazing carrion plants out there, in the Asclepiadaceae family. Including the Asclepiads too! Who knew the Milkweed Family and the Stapeliads were related.

Anyway, so on the recent foray into the jungles of Florida, we found this stunning stapeliad at a nursery and we snapped up a few for parenting. We should have plants ready if we’re successful, in a year or so. I took this picture of the tiny bloom with my cell phone camera and this was the best I could get it while on the road.

Now, what is it? It was totally mislabeled. So I looked it up on Martin Heigan, the stapeliad king’s, flickr feed and I can’t find it at all. Any Stapeliad experts out there who have a clue?

Misc22 Jan 2011 07:45 am

I’m back from Florida, and while I didn’t make it all the way to Tampa, I did get a comment on the blog from a garden writer there, Penny Carnathan.

She occasionally blogs about some of the great succulents they can grow outside in Florida that we have to bring inside.

Plant No. 5 – Desert rose (Adenium obesum)


This isn’t my desert rose, but it looks just like it. My blooms haven’t opened and, in fact, the leaves are curling up and dropping at an astonishingly fast pace. But that’s normal! It’s winter. This is dormant time for desert rose.

The tips I’ve learned for this plant: Don’t water during the winter, when it’s natural to drop leaves and go dormant. (I take mine inside during winter rains.) In the growing months, it needs lots of sun, and water and fertilizer about once a month. Prune after it blooms and you’ll be rewarded with more branching and more blooms.

There are a lot of cultivars of this plant out in the trade all with slightly different flower colors, or completely different flower colors. On this trip we saw new Adenium cultivars growing as full blown shrubs with flowers constantly, and completely covered in glossy green leaves. Apparently if you live in the right climate, it can work! We grow them primarily for the caudex and the up to twice a year flowers.

Photography&Travel21 Jan 2011 08:41 am

We’re having a last minute tropical storm on our last morning in Florida. Assuming our flights take off, Hap and I will be back at the store this weekend, so you have one more day to harass the crew, or just go over and be really nice to them too. And then we’re back!

Have one more Florida plant, a Jatropha integerrima.


Travel21 Jan 2011 06:36 am

Pedilanthus tithymaloides at the circle in Sarasota.


Whippets21 Jan 2011 04:42 am

Photo of Benjamin and Jason courtesy of Dani this week.

Nursery20 Jan 2011 09:04 am

We’re open all year round. So here’s what we look like on a wintery California day. A bit gray and drizzly. Looks inviting!

Berkeley Succulents&Reader Photos20 Jan 2011 08:22 am

We custom planted these succulent wall panels for a customer who gave them to his wife as a birthday present, covering a wall right outside the window. Nice!

He sent us this photo. Thanks, Doug.

Travel20 Jan 2011 05:15 am

A few more photos from Florida.

Selenicereus is a jungle cactus that is quite large in this particular case, I think. It was big enough to catch my attention and cause me to photograph it.

And then I see a nice big fat, tall Pachypodium. Ours are all inside in Northern California and never end up looking quite like this.

They grow their Staghorns big in Florida, as you can tell from this Platycerium.

Those are the only remaining shots that came out from that day. It was cloudy, and my phone is a less than ideal camera. One lesson: Do not zoom. The loss of detail is too great, or there would be a couple more nice epiphytic cactus shots. Live and learn.

How-to19 Jan 2011 09:01 am

It’s a Lion!

That’s a Cryptanthus “Black Mystic” and a Crassula “Tom Thumb”. The layering is charcoal, cactus soil and black gravel on top.

Travel19 Jan 2011 05:41 am

Tillandsia bulbosa clump in bloom.


Travel19 Jan 2011 04:44 am

Selby Gardens in Sarasota have a koi pond. Did you know? You do now. I would like to name this beautiful fish after my uncle Harry but I don’t have an uncle Harry. I do have a nephew Harry so maybe its named after him then.


Misc18 Jan 2011 09:54 am

While I’m traveling, I have a few more terrariums to share with you. This one is Ian’s favorite, a String of Pearls in hanging bullet shaped glass. And yet it hasn’t sold since Ian made it a few months ago. What is wrong with you people? Don’t you know quality when you see it?

Senecio royleanus

Travel18 Jan 2011 07:27 am

Great blue heron.


Travel17 Jan 2011 02:14 pm

Bombax Ceiba at the Ringling Museum


How-to17 Jan 2011 08:48 am

Here’s another fancy pants terrarium with a toy gorilla. This one is an airplant terrarium, with 2 types of tillandsias, a stick, some moss, and a gorilla holding on for dear life. All in a glass carafe. How big is the gorilla? about 1 1/4″.

Travel17 Jan 2011 05:08 am

We’re in Sarasota where the statues are naked. Here we have a muscular Poseidon.


How-to16 Jan 2011 09:01 am

The latest in gorilla-themed terrariums, utilizing Ian’s latest tiny toy find.

Reader Photos15 Jan 2011 10:23 am

Hi Peter,
I got this from you last year and after accidentally breaking off the flower stalk it grew another one.  This one clocks out at 46″ long and sideways…this plant has both amazed and disturbed my friends with it’s “babies from the inside” feature, to the “tentacle of satan” stem..here’s a pic. Thanks.

Misc15 Jan 2011 05:55 am

We made it to Florida and are at my parents condo where they don’t have a lot of plants.

Here we see they have a former tillandsia and an artificial echeveria.



« Previous PageNext Page »