October 2011

Misc31 Oct 2011 12:42 pm

Christie stopped by to show us her costume, a rare orange-flowered spineless prickly pear.



Photography31 Oct 2011 10:07 am

What makes a succulent a Halloween Succulent? Why, it’s the gravestone sitting next to the Tillandsia in the the terrarium. And the ghostly figure of Rikki reflected in the glass while she’s holding the terrarium up for me to photograph.

News31 Oct 2011 06:44 am

The Santa Cruz Sentinel wants to make sure you’re ready for the holidays by letting you know about the cool things you can do around Santa Cruz to get ready for the holidays.

DIG is a very cool place if you can make it to Santa Cruz and have some time left over after surfing. If you haven’t stopped by to check them out, now would be the time because they’re going to teach you a skill.

DIG Gardens is planning ahead for the holiday gift-giving season.

DIY Hypertufa Pots, 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, will be taught by concrete artisan Katrina King from 5 Feet from the Moon Concrete and Metal Designs. Hypertufa [pronounced hyper-toofa] is a man-made stone created from various aggregates bonded with cement. Participants will make two medium pots to take home. The $50 cost includes instruction and all materials.

California Native Plants30 Oct 2011 09:52 am

California deserts have some of the prettiest marigolds. This flower is just starting to open.

Baileya multiradiata from Southern California

Photography29 Oct 2011 10:50 am

Desert Rose, also known as Adenium obesum, is a nice little flowering shrub in the Oleander family (Apocynaceae), more commonly called the Dogbane family for some reason, from the nether regions of the Sahara Desert, and thereabouts.

They like a lot of sun and a lot of heat. We tend to grow them in normal indoor Berkeley conditions, in a sunny window, but not particularly hot, so they tend to be less leafy for us, and grow a lot slower too. But they are still very reliable bloomers, even into and through the winter.

Colors vary, and some people name the differently-colored-flower-cultivars so that people can collect them all. But we don’t. I consider it natural variation.

Nursery29 Oct 2011 07:21 am

This is what an unsuccessful delivery to us looks like.

Note the Up arrows, one is up the other down. Clearly the worst of it was the box being turned upside down. Oh, and crushed too.

Photography28 Oct 2011 11:30 am

We have new grafted Euphorbia lactea crests all grown up now. 3 colors! 3 styles! 3 pretty pictures!

I support all 3, but this one is the better.


Whippets28 Oct 2011 07:26 am

Jason doesn’t want to get up this morning. He heard it was cold out.


How-to28 Oct 2011 06:28 am

The Arizona Republic features DIY home renovations.

The cactus wall-hanging is made of leftover wood-flooring slats that Michelle attached. She covered the whole piece in contact paper. Then she projected the cactus image onto the piece, drew around the image with a pencil and used an X-Acto knife to cut around the design. She peeled off the background and painted it white, then peeled off the cactus design. She figures she spent less than $10 on the piece. Michael McNamara / The Republic

Seems easy enough. If you have a nice branching cholla that you can put a strong light behind to get a shadow on a piece of paper.

California Native Plants27 Oct 2011 12:02 pm

Asclepias tuberosa – Butterfly Milkweed with seeds getting ready to be carried on the wind.

Photography27 Oct 2011 10:51 am

Ornithogalum caudatum Pregnant Onion

Ornithogalum caudatum

How-to27 Oct 2011 09:14 am

Can you get a cactus through security and take it home on an airplane? My Ngoc To did, as she wrote in the Harvard Crimson recently.

I have a pet cactus, and his name is Earl….

I was a bit nervous going to the airport. I was really afraid that they wouldn’t let him through because I know they usually don’t allow pets or plants on any international flight. But I figured—this is a domestic flight, and Earl wouldn’t hurt anybody … his spines are fuzzy. But just in case something happened, I asked my parents to stand outside of the security line so that I could give them Earl if he couldn’t pass. They waited.

I walked up to the start of the security line and handed my ID to the man at the counter. He saw Earl in my hand, looked at me, and said, “You’d better not eat that thing—I hear they’re poisonous.” He smiled and let me through.

The real panic came at the security line. I didn’t think I could carry Earl in my hands through the scan. I couldn’t put him on the conveyer belt either because a million monstrosities could happen to him—he could get knocked off, he could get confiscated, he could get tipped over or caught in one of the grooves and lose all his soil. Luckily, I realized that I could nestle him inside one of the trays.

I went through the scan and looked back in anticipation at the man overlooking the scans. A few beats passed, and I knew that Earl was safe when the man turned back, gave me a weird look and shook his head. He was trying hard not to smile.

Click through for the picture of the happy cactus. And now you know how to get a cactus through airport security.

Do you have a traveling-with-cactus-story to share?

Questions27 Oct 2011 07:03 am

I recently blogged about getting christmas cactus to bloom and Sara has a question about the instructions.

I’ve got some Christmas Cacti I would like to start getting prepared for blooming. I was reading through the latest posts and saw that link for this very thing. The instructions prompted a question that I feel you guys may be able to answer quicker than I can find it myself online.

That question being- When they mention feeding it bloom food- is their an organic, chemical free option for this type of product. I guess my refined question would be what is bloom food and is their an organic chemical free option for this?

Thanks for your time and assistance.


That’s a pretty fair question.Fortunately there’s a pretty simple answer.

We use organic Fish Bone Meal for blooms. We do sell it in large boxes and small packets as well.

What’s nice about this is that fish bone meal works for all types of flowers. (And yes, I mean that generally, not specifically every type of flower.)

California Native Plants26 Oct 2011 12:00 pm

Asclepias tuberosa – Butterfly Milkweed with Bee.

Blogs26 Oct 2011 10:19 am

Cactus Hair Brush

Designer: Murat Suyur

How-to26 Oct 2011 08:25 am

Apparently gardeners in Ohio are lazy because the Plain Dealer recommends you replace all your difficult to grow plants with the easy to grow Sansevieria.

One reason for the drop in popularity of house plants is that so many varieties were just too difficult or demanding to grow….

Probably the easiest house plant to grow is the… extremely hardy houseplant is sansevieria….

Low light, low water – easy is right.

Size-wise there are two types, low-growing Bird’s Nest (Sansevieria trifasciata) that is perfect for a desk or table, or the old-fashioned taller varieties that look spectacular in an 8-inch or larger pot….

The taller types are definitely old-fashioned, but the bird’s nest types can actually be very modern and quite appropriate even for your well-designed home.

A study by NASA found that it is one of the best plants for improving indoor air quality by passively absorbing toxins such as nitrogen oxides and formaldehyde.

NASA got in the act studying sansevierias too? Nice!

Berkeley Gardens26 Oct 2011 06:17 am

Rikki noticed that we have a crested Euphorbia characias right up the street from us.


She’s been noticing strange plants like this ever since she started working at the Jungle.

Do you think we should ask the building owner’s if we can take a cutting and propagate it ourselves?

California Native Plants25 Oct 2011 02:57 pm

Asclepias tuberosa – Butterfly Milkweed with butterfly.

News25 Oct 2011 12:43 pm

Another article about the New Zealand cactus thieves I blogged this morning indicates they thought they were stealing San Pedro cactus, which makes more sense.

The writer also assumes they had stolen San Pedro cactus.

But it was a Cereus. Also known as the Peruvian cactus apple they have delicious fruit, but no mescaline.

One Hamilton garden centre staff member, who did not want to be named, said she had been approached in the past by people wanting to buy cactus and boil it up for a “high”.

Associate Professor Merilyn Manley-Harris, of the chemistry department at Waikato University, said the stolen cactus looked strikingly familiar to the Echinopsis pachanoi, the San Pedro cactus, that contains the hallucinogenic mescaline.

The cactus held a “chemical cocktail of psychedelic agents” that if taken in the wrong dosage could kill, Ms Manley-Harris said….

And always they must tell you that drugs are bad and even here that drugs can kill.

“If you muck around with it this sort of thing can kill you.”

News25 Oct 2011 11:53 am

Big news in the cycad world.

Cycads are considered living fossils from the days when Jurassic dinosaurs browsed upon them. New research has found that modern cycads are much younger than that. Specimen in Strybing Arboretum in Golden Gate Park. Photo courtesy Tantek Çelik of Flickr under Creative Commons license.

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