Echeveria setosa v deminuta
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daily news and photography about cacti and succulents
and some california natives too
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And just in time for the holiday. The one that is coming up this week, not the one coming up next month. Although it is in time for that holiday too.
I have a large pricklypear cactus growing outside my back door. Most years… it produces large numbers of dark pruple-red fruits. I make these into either jelly or syrup, depending on whether it sets or not. This year, I turned my less bountiful harvest into a variation on cranberry sauce–the jellied kind….
24 or so ripe pricklypear cactus fruits
1 bag fresh cranberries.
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 box pectin
3 cups sugar
Click through for the full instructions.
And who is this Tom and why should we follow his recipe? He’s Tom Fitzmorris of WWL AM870, a talk radio fixture in the Gulf South Region with a food show. On the radio! I trust him. I really do.
These are the blooms on one of our Nepenthes sanguinea, and it appears we have a female! Seeds, too?
Sun: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Size: Shrub to 3ft.
Commonly found growing wild on California hillsides. Orange flowers appear sporadically throughout the year. Much more drought tolerant than other mimulus. Deer resistant. Hardy to 25°F.
I was looking at your very helpful blog and was wondering if you had any insight to the below. My cactus recently had a bit of scale and once I removed it with a tooth brush it began to discolor with brown/black spots. I’m not sure if this is caused by the scale or if it is rotting and what my next steps should be. I bought some organic neem oil and treated it on Saturday evening but wanted to see with you if you think this is the right approach or what you would recommend. (I have attached a photograph for your reference) do you think there is any possibility this cactus could live?
Additionally I have another cactus potted in the same pot which appears to be healthy but I wanted to see if you think it is ok to leave it or if I should repot the ‘sick’ one.
I look forward to hearing from you and thank you in advance for your help!
I can’t tell what is going on from the photo. That wouldn’t have been caused by the scale. Generally we don’t recommend using a toothbrush since the bristles can be too firm – a soft paintbrush dipped in alcohol is sufficient to remove scale. It is possible that the skin of the Cereus was damaged and now has a fungus or other rot-related issues, but I can’t be sure. Neem wouldn’t have caused it unless you sprayed in direct sun, but it would help with any fungal issues. Or it can also be something entirely unrelated to the scale removal.
I would definitely separate the two plants, clear off all the soil from the clean one’s roots, and plant in a new pot with fresh cactus soil. If you live near Berkeley you could bring it in and we can help you with that.
Page Street, Berkeley
Cotyledon orbiculata in full bloom. Now that’s a nicely shaped shrubby and chalky succulent, just like your mother used to make.
And in case you don’t also follow me on instagram, here’s the instagrammed and filtered version that appeared there.
Which do you like better?
Huernia schneideriana is the blood-red Dragon Flower.
Long recumbent stems can reach 20″, small burgundy flowers.
This Carrion Flower in the Stapeliad Family, which is now Stapeliae, the Stapeliad Tribe in the Milkweed (Asclepiad) Family, which is now Asclepiadoideae, the Asclepiad Subfamily in the Dogbane Family, Apocynaceae.
So to recap, Carrion Flower, Stapeliad, Dragon Flower. But not in the Stapeliad Family as once thought and not in the Asclepiad Family as once thought since Stapeliads were moved as a tribe to Asclepiads which were moved as a subfamily to the Dogbane Family which got a lot bigger, and this recap failed in being a recap and ended being more of a restatement of the facts as they appear.
And what does the rest of the plant look like? Here is a picture of the unflowered stems.
First up us a lovely little Prickly Pear, Opuntia “Baby Rita”.
That sure is a nice plant. Small pads, brightly colored flowers, low growing, and prolific. I better get started parenting one of these.
Although it’s not the largest saguaro ever discovered, the colossal specimen along the Dutchman’s Trail in the Superstition Wilderness is a commanding presence. Balancing a massive, Medusa-like crown of spiny arms and isolated in a landscape where neighboring saguaros sport more modest profiles, this impressive plant grabs the spotlight.
But, it might not stand for much longer. An ominous gray scale on its north side and what appears to be a lightning strike in its core may spell its doom…
And then there’s the whole location and hike and map and description information so you too can go and see this mountainous cactus before its gone.
The hike begins at the Peralta Trailhead on Bluff Spring Trail…
Orange County has a lot of prickly pear cactus growing, so the local newspaper, the OC Register, recommends you eat your share of the delicious green vegetable. Not only do they say it’s delicious, but it’s rich in anti-oxidants too. So it must be good!
Strips of grilled cactus leaves taste delicious combined with pepper jack cheese on an open-faced sandwich.
You won’t be able to read the whole article unless you are a OC Register subscriber, which I am not. So I haven’t been able to verify that there recipes are worth the effort. But the picture looks good.
Apparently a local Landscape firm in Austin, TX has now opened a Succulent Store.
If an alien race were to land in Austin for the purpose of surveying our dynamic with our natural world, they might surmise that Austinites in particular have a symbiotic relationship with succulents, as it appears nearly no stylish home or business can be caught without a sweet succulent adorning a corner, tabletop, window sill or bedside table….
Austin residents have a recent reason to rejoice (whether you love succulents or not): Austin landscape design + build firm Big Red Sun has reopened their nursery… at 1311 E. Cesar Chavez St. at Navasota.
Nice frontage. I’ll check them out next time I’m in Austin. It’s been a few years.
From the local newspaper in Lincoln Nebraska, the Lincoln Star-Journal, comes a story of a small flowering cactus.
Desert Cacti come in all sizes, from ones that barely show in the soil like the LIVING ROCKS (Lithops). They consist of two flat leaves, fused together, with only a slit between them. At maturity, Daisy-like yellow flowers appear from the slit, usually larger than the leaves. When the flowers dry, the “stones” shrivel and a new set appears from the slit. It takes patience to wait for this and you can kill them with too much water.
Now I’m not going to go ahead and correct this little article, but be forewarned that local newspapers often make large botanical errors.
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?
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.
Spruce Street, Berkeley
Opuntia species with a lot of ripe red fruit.
And here’s the ripe red close-up:
It’s starting to look a little snowy in Idaho and Hap’s Mom’s cactus is covered in snow. Brrrr…
Prickly Pear Cactus in Snow
Cholla in Snow
Agave in Snow
And for effect, our last few Succulent Wreaths in the California Sunshine before the Christmas Break.
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.
Crassula ovata (Jade)
Faucaria felina (Tiger Jaws)
Pachyphytum, maybe longifolium
Oregon Street, Berkeley
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!
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.