July 2011

How-to&Questions31 Jul 2011 06:50 am

Caroline from Marin sends us 2 photos of her recently planted succulents.

I purchased this cactus from you about a month ago. The leaves are slowly turning black, almost as if they are burning? I live in Marin and it recorded full sun almost all day. Any advice?

Thanks, Caroline

Hi. I purchased this aloe plant from you about a month ago and sent a note last week because I was concerned it wasn’t doing well. It seems to be getting worse. Here is a recent picture. Any suggestions what could be wrong?

Thanks, Caroline

Hap was gracious enough to provide an extensive answer discussing Mediterranean climate plants in Mediterranean climate summers (That’s us!)


Both of your plants, Aeonium “Sunburst” and the Aloe striata are winter growing plants from Mediterranean Climates just like ours (the Aeonium is from the Canary Islands and the Aloe from South Africa), where all the rain is in the winter months and summers are basically a long drought.

To deal with this they have a summer dormancy period (just like many native Californian plants) where they shut down and nap for the summer and then wake up with the onset of the winter rains and start their active growth stage.

The Aeonium deals with the summer dormancy by letting some of the lower leaves dry out and curl up, to reduce surface area exposed to the sun and the Aloe by doing something similar as well as developing Carotenoids (red and orange pigments) that are more resistant to UV during the long hot summers and increase in the intensity of the sunlight and UV.

Both of the plants you sent photos of look normal for this time of year and should take off with new growth in October and November and really look great by the Holiday season. You can keep them slightly awake and looking “garden fresh” with an occasional drink (weekly to every two weeks), but do not over water in the summer, since it can lead to rot and infections, since while they are dormant they have a harder time fighting off infections.

Take care,


Berkeley Gardens30 Jul 2011 04:15 pm


California Native Plants&Plants30 Jul 2011 07:26 am

Eriogonum grande v. rubescensis from San Miguel Island of the Channel Islands National Park.

The rubescens is for the red flowers. The grande is for the big leaves, as far as buckwheats go.

We give them full sun, but then we’re at the coast just like the islands they come from. On the other hand further inland they need some afternoon shade to be at their prettiest.

They will bloom on and off for months through the summer, and yet they don’t need summer water after the first year in the ground. I assume that is because they’re native to clay soils.

Butterflies love them. Deer might too, but we don’t have deer very often down here in the Berkeley Flats, so we watch the butterflies instead.

Misc29 Jul 2011 02:52 pm

Twin photographers with a twin gallery in Phoenix, Tilt Gallery, took a photo of a twin cactus for the Phoenix New Times’ Jackalope column.

News29 Jul 2011 11:47 am

They say its the largest cactus and succulent show in the Midwest.

The largest succulent event in the Midwest will soon take center stage at the Missouri Botanical Gardens. The event is being put on by the Henry Shaw Cactus and Succulent Society.

Cacti and succulents of all shapes and sizes will be available for viewing and purchase at the show and sale. The Henry Shaw Cactus and Succulent Society sale July 23 through July 31.

Whippets29 Jul 2011 10:22 am

Jaxx is the only whippet I know who likes to sleep on gravel.

California Native Plants29 Jul 2011 06:51 am

Blooms are popping out all over.

Achillea “Cerise Queen”

Achillea “Heidi”

Achillea “Paprika”

Not to mention the previously posted Achillea “Red Velvet”

Blogs28 Jul 2011 11:53 am

Alessi is discounting their cactus line of teapots, mugs, bowls and more, 20% off through the end of the month.

Also, enjoy this article about a cactus-y sculpture made out of coffee stirrers called the Hyperbolic Coffee Cactus.

All Andrew’s Plants has some new rain-dripped hardy spurges in Canada. How hardy? He’ll find out this winter.

Questions28 Jul 2011 10:51 am

Robin Cooper gets questions on the British Radio. Bites on your cactus – are they head lice? No! But they’re screaming! And they have families too! The lady finally tells Robin that she’ll pray for the baby beetles before she kills them with insecticides.

Misc28 Jul 2011 08:57 am

Akos sends along a link to this video of the sky moving behind a cactus. And other stuff too.

Berkeley Gardens&Photography28 Jul 2011 06:28 am


And finally here’s a supercloseup of the bee showing hordes of pollen recovery by the bee. The hive will be pleased! (more…)

Berkeley Succulents27 Jul 2011 02:13 pm

Apparently there’s a newspaper in the next town over from Berkeley and they have a cactus that blooms so it’s featured in the newspaper every year. They don’t know what it is, but they don’t stop over here and ask us, now do they? Reporters should call us you know, we’d answer all their questions for them.

Long-time residents know that the plants bloom once a year, subject to the vagaries of weather and traffic. At one time, there were more cacti in the group with multi-colored flowers, but so far this year we just have a single bloom atop one plant.

Gardeners will probably know the names of the plants, but for most of us, the beauty is in the patterns and the blooms.

Geez, don’t reporters have phones anymore?

Not sure what variety of succulent this might be, but it’s an interesting visual effect.

Oh, the humanity. Should we tell them what they are?

Misc27 Jul 2011 01:44 pm

Keith tosses snails onto the roof. This snail is crawling back down the wall, from a height of about 22 feet. Brave snail! Do you think it will make it all the way down to safety?

I suppose this photo is a bit hard to read, so at the top of the photo there is blue, that is the sky. I am standing 18ft. below the snail looking up at a solid concrete wall with a snail crawling down from the metal cap flashing on the roof parapet, with it’s slime showing the trail down. Does that make more sense now?

How-to27 Jul 2011 12:04 pm

Ellen from Ledyard near Gales Ferry, Connecticut has an activity you can do with your small children, as long as you have paper and spaghetti.


Picture 1 – Supplies

Green paper, glue, scissors, about 20 or 30 spaghetti noodles and something to use as a pattern (I used a wooden spoon)


Picture 6 – Finished

These make great 3-D table decorations for a party and they are also a great take-home item for the party too. Have the kids sit at a table and have the cactus cut out ahead of time. That way they only have to take one side of the flat paper and paint with glue. Have them add spaghetti and they have a wall hanging to bring home or add a magnet to the back for the fridge.

You’ll have to click through for the rest of the photos, not to mention instructions numbers 2 through 5. Nice! But I don’t recommend trying this with more than 1 kid at a time as suggested by the author. Getting a bunch of kids together can only mean HAVOC! Spaghetti noodles everywhere! Strips of cut up cactus papers on the floor, glue on the chairs, magnets stuck to the underside of the couch.  And imagine the horror if there were a dog in the room too. Too much!!!

News&Recipes27 Jul 2011 09:01 am

We missed the Santa Cruz Cactus Festival again this year. I’m sure it proved to be delicious. It was last weekend.

The Santa Cruz Sentinel hasn’t posted the winners online yet, but they did post this Nopales Salad recipe for us to share with you so you could enjoy it.


2 medium nopale pads, cleaned
1 tablespoon Spanish (or other fruity) olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoon finely chopped Maui onion
1 teaspoon finely minced roasted garlic
1 tablespoon finely minced serrano chile
2 tablespoons finely minced red brll pepper
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoon queso fresco

1. Slice nopales into thin strips. Saute in olive oil till just browned, but not soft.
2. When cool, toss with other ingredients. Add more lime , if necessary.
3. Serve in a chilled bowl, or iceberg lettuce cups, or on a crisp tortilla. Sprinkle with queso fresco.

Cheryl Marquez grows her own cactus for nopales dishes at her Tortilla Flats restaurant in Soquel (Dan Coyro/Sentinel)

Photography27 Jul 2011 07:12 am

Oxalis vulcanicola

Hey! If you’re paying close attention to this blog then you realize I already featured this plant last year and the year before that too. It must be a pretty reliable bloomer for me to keep photographing it year after year and posting it here for you to enjoy. Maybe it’s a sign that you should grow it too and enjoy it year round in your own home.

Jus’ sayin’.

Plus it’s vibrant.

Photography25 Jul 2011 08:58 am

And I just happen to have a bloom photo of a Parodia magnifica hanging around waiting to be used today.

Plants&Questions25 Jul 2011 06:50 am

Hello! I was wondering if you might be able to identify the attached for me? Someone thought it might be an Echinopsis – but the flowers look wrong for that to me. If you have any suggestions, I’d appreciate it very much!

Again, I really enjoy your blog, and read it all the time.

Thanks very much!



Very nice cactus! And not an Echinopsis at all. It’s a Parodia magnifica. Very distinctive.


Plants23 Jul 2011 11:37 am

We’re starting to get tomatoes of all types ripening. I added Sun Golds to the salad last night.

These are delicious and no I’m not sharing them with you.



Photography23 Jul 2011 09:11 am

Euphorbia leucodendron

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