April 2012

Questions&Reader Photos30 Apr 2012 11:28 am

Hi, love your blog! I’ve had these haworthia plants for about 1-2 years, while they do ok (haven’t managed to kill them yet), but they just don’t look as healthy and lush as the ones I see in nurseries and pictures I see online. They get morning sun until about 10-11, then they’re in shade for the rest of the day. They’re a little dry looking, I’m hesitant to water them too much fearing of root rot. I water about once every 2 weeks. Any idea how I can make them “better looking”?

Thanks in advance!

Your Haworthias look fine. In fact, they look great. I would say you are doing a stellar job with them. If you are at all concerned that they are a little less lush than some others online you’ve seen, in general that’s because other people do grow them with more water, but they are very rot prone when grown that way, less healthy, and less likely to survive long term. If you want, you can reduce the amount of light they get so that instead of 3-4 hours of morning sun they only get 2 hours, and then they will be less red, more green, and a little more lush. But considering that your plants look very healthy and natural, I’m not sure I would change anything.

Photography30 Apr 2012 10:51 am

Bee in the Echinocereus flowers.

First it lands.

Then it dives in.

You can see all the pollen it has been collecting.

Plants29 Apr 2012 01:08 pm


Pennisetum “Fireworks” is a particularly vibrant variegated grass. I don’t know why I’m featuring it on Cactus Blog since it’s not a cactus, or a succulent, or even a California native grasses. Such will be.

Questions29 Apr 2012 07:24 am

Greetings and thank you.
Is there any chance you know what this plant is? The Plant Guru at Sloat Gardens said you might, although i don’t agree with the idea that this is a succulent because it takes a lot of water. Some leaves bifurcate into these little paddle shaped clusters (which although predicted, have not yet fallen off yet any) thanks again if you have any ideas.

~ : }


It is a succulent, and I believe it is Kalanchoe beauverdii. The leaves at the ends are plantlets, designed to fall off and root and grow into new plants. It’s a common strategy for Kalanchoes.


Questions28 Apr 2012 07:09 am

Attached is a photo of a cactus that you repotted for me a year or two ago. I water it every 2 weeks as you advised. This morning it was leaning a little and this afternoon it went all the way over. Any suggestions as to why, what I need to do, are the others at risk?

Thank you for any help you can give.



It’s hard to tell what happened from the small photo. But in general Cleistocactus have a life cycle where each individual branch only lives 7-10 years and then dies, generally by breaking off at a rot spot. They grow new branches as it goes. If this is what has happened then you can cut this branch off. New branches will eventually grow and replace it. However, as best I can tell the branch is bending not breaking, and if there is no rot down at the bend, then it is possible that this is a case of too much water for the location. Cleistocactus can sometimes start sprawling like that, but usually if its growing too fast. So while we recommend more water in sunnier locations, as much as once every 2 weeks, it needs less water if it’s not getting all day sun – every 3 weeks or so. Also, as it is sitting in a saucer, you want to make sure that it doesn’t actually fill up with water. The soil needs to dry out between waterings, and sitting in water keeps the soil moist.


Nursery27 Apr 2012 02:37 pm


It’s only fair that I do some shots of the Mittster of Romneyland in the Garden too, along with the Obama in the Garden series, but there aren’t any appropriate toys yet available, so the Queen it is, in the garden,  of course.

Whippets27 Apr 2012 11:41 am

Nursery Whippet

Photography&Plants27 Apr 2012 08:00 am

Coryphantha ottonis

I blogged this little cactus earlier this year. We hadn’t had a new crop or featured it in our monthly email in a few years, so I got my act together and featured it for this month. Nice little specimens they are, too.

These are small barrels with recurved spines so they’re not particularly dangerous. Originally thought to be Mammillarias since they also have prominent tubercles, the grooved tubercles in the Coryphanthas are the give-away that these are their own genus.

While thse will stay small, getting only about 3″ across, eventually they might get slightly more vertical and top out at about 5″ tall. Flowers are highly variable – mostly yellowish white but some are pure white and they also can come in a range of pinks too, although nobody has named cultivars based on the flower colors that I’m aware of.

Did I mention that they’re from Mexico? Pretty widely spread too, which might be the reason for the range of flower colors.

California Native Plants&Plants26 Apr 2012 10:58 am

Yesterday’s Spiny Gooseberry was the most unusual California Native Ribes we’ve had this year, but today…

Ribes sanguineum ‘Spring Showers’ is much more popular, what with these dripping with pink happiness for months on end throughout the spring and then following up with delicious berries. Of course these are also quite hardy – 10F is pretty good. It will get 6ft to 8ft. and in unusual circumstances maybe a touch taller. Hummingbirds flock to it.

Plus, it’s clay-soils tolerant, and can be grown under native oaks.

Plants25 Apr 2012 11:55 am

These are small flowers for this cactus.

Oroya peruviana

The buds are bright pink, as you can see behind the bloom, and last for months before finally opening. This is the first one I’ve managed to capture on film, so to speak.

They are generally solitary and usually flattened, except as they age eventually they start to grow vertical. Not too vertical, mind you, but they might even get up to 10″ tall! As compared to 8″ across, and you can see how they might be mistaken for a column cactus.

I’m going to guess from the name that it’s from Peru. In fact, I refuse to look it up to check. It might not be from Peru, and someone may have mistakenly misnamed it, but whatevah. My confidence in it’s origin outweighs my curiosity in looking it up (also known as my laziness).

We have been growing them outside for a few years, even though originally we assumed it wasn’t hardy around here, but they’ve been thriving so I think we can announce with great confidence that these are hardy here. To 28F or maybe even below!

Misc25 Apr 2012 11:28 am

I see the 2012 Succulent calendars are on sale at Etsy. From $30 originally to $25 now. That doesn’t seem as discounted as I would expect for April.

California Native Plants&Photography&Plants25 Apr 2012 09:42 am

Ribes roezlii ssp. cruentum

This plant is amazing, and yet we haven’t sold any. Look at these flowers! Look at those fresh green leaves! And the spines, too! You love it, everyone who has ever walked this earth loves it, and yet….

Let me tell you some more about it, and then maybe I can convince you that your garden also needs one. It’s native throughout Northern California, as far south as Napa County. Chaparral as high up as 7000ft. (And that is high up) so that means its going to be pretty cold tolerant. How hardy? 20F? 10F? How about 0F! Yes!

Spiny and moderate-sized – it will get 4ft. tall and maybe 6 ft. across if you let it go wild, which you don’t have to since the branches are not particularly hardwood, just get your gloved arm through those spines and clip away to shape them, preferably in late fall.

Still not convinced? How about another picture.

My god that’s amazing. And they really do look like that in person.

Some more good info for your personal files: Deer resistant! Edible fruit – the native wildlife will thank you for the treats. Care must be taken since they are a host for Rust, so watch for fungus.

Blogs25 Apr 2012 07:16 am

From the tumblrverse, by Clara Draws.

Videos - Instructional24 Apr 2012 08:02 pm

Yesterday’s video was the painful side of this same plant.

Here we see the prettier side of Cylindropuntia bigelovii. Now to be clear, the video is labeled as featuring the flowers of the cholla, however, there are no flowers in the video that I can find. What I see are the fruit. Still, it’s more calming than yesterdays video.

Nursery24 Apr 2012 12:59 pm

This is the last picture in this series, Obama in the Garden Series 1. I’ll start posting Series 2 in June.

I saved the worst one for last, which is why the image is so small. This one is not as good as the other ones in the series, so I almost didn’t post it, but then I did. You can click to enlarge, but I don’t encourage it. The orchid is a twinkly orchid known as Oncidium “Twinkle”. Personally, I would have called it Oncidium “Yellow Twinkle” in opposition to the “White Twinkle” variety which is actually called “White Caps”.

Misc24 Apr 2012 11:25 am

Any idea what this is advertising? I don’t know what Plant Vigor is, but it seems to make cactus lose all their spines except for one small ring at the top.

If you have courage, you can click through to this video, but be warned – not safe for work or home or kids or adults. Plus, I still don’t know what the product is.

How-to24 Apr 2012 06:55 am

Not only are these photogenic cupcakes made to look like Echeverias and Stapelias, but the website they come from, Pixel Whisk, has complete how-to, DIY, baking and decorating, do-it-yourself, frosting and molding, follow along instructions that you can follow along the instructions with to make your own by doing it yourself. (Was that last phrase too much? I think I went one phrase too long in the run-on clause bonanza. Maybe I should take it back and end it on “to make your own.”)


Thanks to Tony for the heads up.

Plants24 Apr 2012 05:21 am


Pelargonium “Indian Dune”

We’ve got a few different variegated Pelargonium but this one has the biggest flower clusters. But don’t take my word for it. Look it up. You know how to use the Google.

This is only being able to get the right one for you.

That last sentence was brought to you by Swiftkey X. Again, to the Google!

Videos - Instructional23 Apr 2012 03:58 pm

Don’t do this at home. Jumping chollas (Cylindropuntia bigelovii) hurt.

Travel23 Apr 2012 10:53 am

If you click through the link to the article and watch the video you’ll see that this story is really all about the house, and not about the cactus. But there it is, and it’s the photo that goes with the article, so we’re going to pretend that this showcase is for the cactus and not for the house.


A cactus older than the villa stands at the entrance of the Robbins House, a Spanish-style retreat built in 1927 for a family that traced its roots to colonial times. Only the third owner lives there now. It’s this year’s Pasadena Showcase House of Design for the Arts, bringing in dozens of designers who show off their very best ideas. (KABC Photo)

Next Page »