Search Results for 'pear'

Berkeley Gardens&Cactus&News&Plants07 Jan 2014 10:43 am

The Desert Sun has a suggestion of what to do with all your spare cactus. Make a fence! They have good ideas for using some of the taller prickly pear species, or if you prefer the more modern look they recommend a few different column cactus that will work for fences. Like the Fencepost Cactus, of course.

One first-hand account from mission days explained the cactus fence solved the problem of little suitable timber in coastal Southern California. The cactus fence was devised as a substitute. They were started by cutting paddles from well established cactus that reach the height desired. They’re inserted into the ground in a tightly spaced row where they root and grow quickly if watered. Prickly pear fences were not only perfect for containing livestock; they effectively protected the homestead from hostiles. No living thing on this Earth will penetrate a dense prickly pear hedge.

The cleanest living fences are made of fence post cactus, Pachycereus marginatus. These minimally spined upright cactus stems are ramrod straight, making the most amazing green walls. The best example I’ve ever seen was at the ethnobotanical garden in Oaxaca, Mexico where the fences are crisp and straight.

We use a giant cholla for fencing, both at the nursery and at home. Austrocylindropuntia subulata makes for a very good fence. Very spiny. Fast growing. Dangerous to try to breach. And pretty magenta flowers too. What more could you want?


National Parks&News06 Jan 2014 03:42 pm

In Arizona they are saving the Saguaros one RFID tag at a time.

(S)eeing saguaros disappear from federal lands, Saguaro National Park came up with a modern solution: radio frequency chips.

With the territory so vast and little chance of catching thieves in the act, land managers insert tiny chips into cactus bodies so they can track them down if stolen.

“We’ve literally chipped hundreds of saguaros we think are in at-risk areas — the size and location that could put them at a high risk of being poached,” said Paul Austin, chief ranger at Saguaro National Park, who said cactus poaching has declined since chipping began about five years ago.

Saguaros are Carnegiea gigantea of course. Named for the Robber Baron Carnegie, they are the only plant in the genus and no one has the courage to move it to another genus of plants to which they are closely related. Of course, most botanists would refer to Andrew Carnegie as a Philanthropist, which might be why they’ve kept the name.

Berkeley Succulents&Cactus01 Jan 2014 10:47 am

Opuntia Berkeley

Spruce Street, Berkeley

Opuntia species with a lot of ripe red fruit.

And here’s the ripe red close-up:

Prickly Pear Cactus Fruit

Succulent Wreaths&Travel24 Dec 2013 07:39 am

It’s starting to look a little snowy in Idaho and Hap’s Mom’s cactus is covered in snow. Brrrr…

Idaho Cactus

Prickly Pear Cactus in Snow

Idaho Cholla Cactus

Cholla in Snow

Idaho Agave

Agave in Snow

Succulent Wreaths in California

And for effect, our last few Succulent Wreaths in the California Sunshine before the Christmas Break.

Questions&Reader Photos05 Dec 2013 08:36 am

Hi Peter,

I hope you can help me out with an unusual repotting problem.

A well-meaning friend of ours recently sent us a “cactus garden” as a gift from an online website, pictured below:


Any idea what the different species are? The online vendor simply labeled them all as “cacti”.

Well, the various cacti and succulents are doing fine so far, but now I think they are starting to crowd each other out. I was hoping to repot them, but the potting soil that they used is as hard as concrete! I can barely dent it with a hammer!


Yes, it is that hard. I can’t even pull the wood chips out of the soil!

I have no idea what crazy concoction they are using as a soil. The directions that came with the garden only say that, “The cactus soil is a blend of nutrients combined with a hardening compound. It was scientifically developed to provide a healthy growing environment for cactus while also providing protection during shipment. Although it appears hard and impenetrable, the soil does absorb water and distributes it throughout the planter.”

Have you ever run into this strange potting medium before? If so, are the poor plants going to be okay in that stuff as they grow? And if not, what is the best way to get them out safely so that I can repot them?

Finally, it is currently winter here in southern California, and the cacti are sitting outside on our back porch. Should I wait until the spring growing season before attempting to repot them? And how much space should I give them?

Thank you for all your help!


You have 3 cacti and 3 succulents. This type of potting is not intended as a long term solution, so yes they do have to come out of the concrete (and they do add gypsum, i.e. concrete, to the mix to get it to harden). So basically you will be rescuing the plants.

If they are healthy now, I would wait until spring. If they look desperate, then go ahead and get them out now.

I don’t have any secrets for rescuing them – get the whole thing out of the pot and chisel them apart as best you can trying to save some roots where possible, but allowing for the fact that these may be cuttings you are starting with once they are out.

Pot them in dry fast-draining cactus soil, keep dry for a couple weeks. I would try a 4″ pot for each plant, if I am judging the size correctly.

Succulent Species:
Crassula ovata (Jade)
Faucaria felina (Tiger Jaws)
Pachyphytum, maybe longifolium

Cactus species:
Cleistocactus strausii


Berkeley Succulents02 Dec 2013 11:04 am

Oregon Street Berkeley

Oregon Street, Berkeley

Prickly Pear, maybe Opuntia saxatilis, though it would be hard to know for sure until it blooms. Plus a bonus Aeonium “Schwartzkopf”.

News27 Nov 2013 10:26 am

The Arizona Desert Sun has an article about planting naturalistic plantings next to modern lined out plantings and they use this photo as an example. I find that odd. Here’s the caption that goes with it.

This view shows the naturalistic plantings beside the grids of golden barrels proving a combination of both may be the most sustainable design solution. / Maureen Gilmer/Special to The Desert Sun

I don’t understand where the naturalistic plantings are that are near the grid of Golden Barrels? Is it the lawns? The square pathways? What is this article talking about? The random Cleistocactus or the random tree placed among the barrels? Who knows. According to the article:

A landscape that depends on one species to establish its primary visual character may appear profoundly beautiful in its simplicity. These monocultures are all too common in many of the contemporary landscapes I’ve seen throughout America. I study them closely to keep up with design trends for new and restored, modern and mid-century home landscapes.

Ahhh, now I understand. The writer is using the word “naturalistic” to mean “not a monoculture.” Interesting!

And the picture is nice!

Misc12 Nov 2013 12:27 pm

Denise shares a recipe.

I have made frosting by mixing a few tablespoons of fresh-squeezed prickly pear juice into confectioner’s sugar. It makes a nice magenta-colored glaze when dribbled over oatmeal or sugar cookies and has that subtle flavor.

Sounds easy and delicious.

Questions&Reader Photos22 Sep 2013 07:12 am

They ask us to ID their cactus, and we oblige.

Love your webpage. I hope you can help me.
My question is do you know what species this Opuntia is? It is in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.

The owner gave me a cutting and I would like to find out more about it.
Thank you,
Mike Muench


I believe that is an Opuntia monacantha, also known as the Droopy Prickly Pear.


Questions11 Sep 2013 03:41 pm

Hi Peter,

We talked on the phone a few minutes ago regarding paling/brown color that’s appearing on my cactus. Based on the attached pictures do you have any advice?


Thanks so much!

It’s hard for me tell for sure, but it looks like a little bit of discoloration at the very bottom of the cactus. What I can see looks like it might be a bit of rot. Looking at the pointed-top shape of the cactus, I’m guessing it is not getting enough light, and even though you are only watering every 3 weeks, with that amount of light it would want less water. But mostly it wants more sun.

First, regarding the discoloration – push gently against it to see if it is soft. If it is then it is the start of some rot. I recommend spraying with Hydrogen Peroxide, and a few days later following up with an organic fungicide like Neem (although not Rose Defense).

Make sure the soil is completely dry before watering. And bring the plant out into more sun – although not all at once. Every day bring it into about 1/2 hour more direct sunshine until it is getting at least 4 hours direct sun.


News10 Sep 2013 12:43 pm

Hello Hero, a turn-based RPG for smartphones developed in Korea, is headed to the west. You control a team of five heroes across the planet of Armon, including quirky characters like a guitar-playing cactus and a spear-wielding shark.

Good to know. Here’s a video.

That’s not a very interesting looking cactus. I wouldn’t play that game.

California Native Plants09 Sep 2013 07:26 am


It’s the beautiful Asclepias tuberosa.

Butterfly Milkweed
Native throughout the US, including California
Herbaceous Perennial

Sun: Prefers Full Sun, Handles Light Shade
Water: Moderate, drought-tolerant
Size: 2 feet tall

Dies back in winter and re-sprouts from its underground tuber each spring. The brilliant orange or red flower clusters appear in midsummer followed by attractive green pods.

Reader Photos27 Aug 2013 09:07 am

Dorena sends along this picture of a steel cactus, a steel prickly pear to be more exact.

cody wyoming

Cody, Wyoming

News11 Aug 2013 09:07 am

They were practically rioting in Montana yesterday for the cactus.

A night-blooming cactus causes quite a buzz Friday morning in the Floriculture Building at the Western Montana Fair after two large blossoms appeared on the plant overnight.

Wow! Click through for the picture. There are 2 blooms on this particular cactus, so you know it was twice the excitement.

Blogs10 Jul 2013 02:10 pm

Ohcrackohcrack has a fondness for cactus. Maybe a bit too much fondness.

Pamelalovenyc likes the color pink. Nice Saguaro.

No photo for this next tumblr picture. It’s NSFW and an inappropriate use of cactus.

Outdoor Arizona has some good access to the Saguaros in Summer. Classic!

Photography18 Apr 2013 07:33 am

It’s cactus bloom season, also known as Spring. Part 2.

I hope you are still enjoying these pictures of cactus flowers because we have a few more to share, right here on the cactus blog.


Echinocereus viridiflorus is the infamous green-flowered cactus, Green Pitaya, from the Plains States. That’s right – it’s native to a range from Texas to South Dakota, even found in a corner of Wyoming.


Opuntia erinacea, possibly a subspecies of Opuntia polyacantha, is the Mojave prickly pear. That means its a California Native!

yellow flowered cactus

Yellow flowered Echinocereus grandiflora “Sunshine Yellow”

How many flowers are there on this one yellow flowered cactus? A Lot.

echinocereus yellow


How-to&Questions15 Apr 2013 03:22 pm

Hello, my cactus is getting a light brown discoloration on his arms, I am very worried, please advice on what to do to save my cactus. I stupidly placed the cactus inside a barrel that didnt have proper drainage and when I noticed one of his arms truning light brown i figured it was because of the water, I drilled some holes into the barrel and drained a little water until it was dry. the cactus arms started turning light brown and it seems to be spreading. I am attaching 3 pictures, the first one was taken one week ago, the second one was taken today. Is there any way the cactus can recover from this? What should I do?

euphorbia ammak euphorbia ammak branch

Thank you for your time,


The branches can be saved, but since the rot has started from the bottom the whole base of the plant, roots and all, can’t be saved.

First be aware that this is a Euphorbia ammak which has a caustic milky-white latex sap. You need to wear gloves and long sleeves and eye protection when working around this plant. Given its height, this is going to take at least 3 people to safely take cuttings. One to hold the plant, one to hold the branch being cut and a third to do the cutting. If it is taller than it appears you may need a 4th person to help hold the branch as it is being cut. Please make sure you feel safe with all this before you start. I recommend using a serrated bread knife to cut, and blankets to wrap the branch before cutting.

Basically you need to cut each branch off above the rot, making sure there is no rot inside at the cut edge. Spray the cut with hydrogen peroxide and set aside to dry for 2 to 3 weeks.

If you see rot when you cut, keep cutting higher until there is no rot in the branch.

When the branches are fully healed over you can plant them in dry cactus soil and keep dry for a few more weeks. Water only every 3-4 weeks. Do not re-use any of the old soil as it is possibly infected.

Good luck


Questions01 Apr 2013 03:57 pm

Hi Cactus jungle,

A friend sent me a spineless prickly pear pad from Texas. I planted it and place it outside in a sunny southern exposure in Michigan. It sprouted 2 more paddles right away.

I was wondering. Can this plant get scales? I asked because in the process of wiping the dust off the paddles I noticed that the surfaces look like they were covered with scales. I took a damp cloth and removed as much as I could…most of them wiped right off. If it is scale, is simply wiping the plant down the best way to treat it?

Thank you for any and all insight. A neophyte cactus person

Generally in Michigan the larger prickly pear (Opuntia) plants will want to be inside in winter. If you keep them completely dry they can sometimes survive outside.
Opuntia are definitely prone to scale, however if they are rubbing off with a damp cloth they are probably not scale, since scale insects bite down and hold on tight. Generally we recommend dipping a soft paintbrush in alcohol to break through their hard outer shell and gently rub them off.
[Ed. Note: I don't know that I actually answered the question. Could I have done better?]
Questions04 Mar 2013 09:31 am

cactus rot

I have recently seen this appear on my cactus it is hard to the touch. Could you tell me what it is and how to treat if I can.



From the photo it looks like it could have been beetles chomping on your cactus, or a simple case of winter rot. Since you say it is now hard to the touch you probably don’t have to do anything, however I would spray with hydrogen peroxide and follow up in a week with an organic fungicide like Neem Oil (never use any neem product called Rose Defense) just to be sure. On the other hand if you see it spreading then send me another picture, a closeup in good focus.


Misc28 Feb 2013 07:16 am


Fenestraria aurantiaca is the classic strange succulent in the Mesemb family. Related to the Lithops, these are also very low water plants. We recommend keeping them out of full sun and watering every 3-4 weeks. With more sun and more water they can grow quite big, relatively speaking, but then they are very rot prone and most people will find that a higher water level schedule will kill them. Harsh!

The Fenestraria genus includes only two species: Fenestraria rhopalophylla (with white flowers) and Fenestraria aurantiaca (with yellow flowers), which in time have gained various hybrids, with very beautiful flowers (red and orange).

It also appears that F. aurantiaca is no longer considered a separate species, but is a subspecies of F. rhopalophylla. So I guess I better get all my tags updated.