Can you take a look at what is going on with a few of my babies?
Photo 1 is my Old Lady, it looks like a wax, crust, light brown developed around her. almost like an ear wax?
Photo 2 is my prickly pear, it looks kind of brown? the spines are light brown and she isn’t very green?
Photo 3 is a cactus of mine with a grey scar around her base. It isn’t soft, just grey in color and smooth? I’m thinking maybe a sun scar? how can i help her?
thanks again, i appreciate it.
yours in cactii,
Have you ever wondered why we call insects “pests”? No, I didn’t think so.
I noticed some white specks on one of my plants today ! Never saw them before. Are they insects? not sure. Attaching a picture…could you tell me how to get rid of these specks? If I take a damp cloth they come off, but it’s difficult to get in there and get them off….what is it?
It is a bad case of Scale Insects. Think vampire barnacles… you can clean them off with a small paint brush or Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol. Paint on the alcohol liberally and let it set a few moments and then gently wipe them off, the alcohol dissolves the shelac like glue that they have attached them selves to the plant. It may take a few cleanings to get them all and to kill off all the eggs. You can also spray with Neem Oil in a 1% dilution in water to kill them, but you will still need to clean them off with the alcohol after they are dead.
And I write extended headlines too.
I was just at your lovely store Saturday and I purchased a few items for my succulents and cactus. I have done quite a bit of reading on the growing of these guys, as well as have a mother who has the most prolific, vivid green thumb. However, I am still a novice at growing my own cacti/succulents. I recently bought 1 cactus: a notocactus magnificus and a three succulents: an Anacampseros telephiastrum variegata [which I adore!], an Echeveria shaviana, and an Echeveria Topsy Turvy.
For the most part they are doing well. However, the Topsy Turvy has a long stem with a bloom hanging from it; the head of the bloom is hanging, yet to open, and has remained so for a few weeks. Also, the Ech. shaviana has a few rosette “petals” that are limp. They weren’t like this when I purchased them. I am worried about rot, though the rest of the plant is doing well.
I repotted all the plants into terra cotta pots of appropriate size with the Ultra soil bought from your Jungle. I placed some rocks on the surface of the soil. After repotting, I misted some nutrient spray on the rocks of the Echeverias and watered it in. I noticed that the soil dries out rather quickly with this heat, however I do not want to over water them.
Also with the purchase of the Nutrient Spray and Soil Conditioner – I don’t know the best way to use either product.
Can you offer some assistance please? I really am looking forward to growing some beautiful plants to decorate my classroom with. I also love growing things. 😀
Thank you so much for any insight you can offer.
That’s a lot to go through. The answer….
From the comments on our post about Feng Shui Cactus comes this question:
hi.. i love cactus and i dont know about feng shui so i bougth a lot of cactus different ones and i put all then in my kitchen in the top of the closet i love to look at them and i dont feel anything but a friend of mine said id bad to have them inside a home and i start looking for information and i read so many diferent opinions i am confused… can you help me thanks why is bad to have then at home and in kitchen?
Now, personally, I think it is bad karma to ask a cactus grower why you should not have cactus in your home. But I answer the question all the same.
It’s good that you love your cactus. We love cactus too. So clearly it’s not bad to have them in your home as cactus are living breathing growing lifeforms. Many cactus are even edible and are cultivated in kitchen gardens.
Yesterday we posted a question about an echeveria, and asked for a picture. Today we get a picture!
Sorry, meant to send this initially. Watering about every 2-3 weeks. In a room with several windows, with shear white coverings – so it lets in a fair amount of light.
Your echeveria is not getting enough light. Shear white window shades will block the UV that the plant needs. I recommend getting it into a sunny window, however increasing its amount of light each day so as not to shock the plant. Ideally, it wants 2 hours min. of afternoon sun or 3-4 hours of direct morning sun.
They can be prone to pests when not getting enough light, so given its current condition, you may also want to check to make sure that it doesn’t develop pests like aphids or mealy bugs.
My echeveria elegans seems to be wilting. Bought it about two months ago. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Now we get all kinds of questions here at the blog and at the nursery. Sometimes, though, we do need a little more information. For instance, in this case, all we know is that the echeveria is wilting. So let’s review what we know so far:
1. The plant in question is an Echeveria.
2. It’s wilting.
OK, good, that’s a good place to start. But we need more. We always need more. So here was my response:
Can you send us a photo?
Also, here’s a couple questions to get you started:
How often are you watering?
How much sunlight?
I’ll let you know when we know more…
A few months ago, I purchases several succulents at Cactus Jungle. A few are having some problems and I would like to know what you recommend I do.
I have attached a photo of a Sedum Matrona that has developed a powdery material at the junctures of the pedals.
Also attached is a photo of an Aloe Burii whose tips are drying up and turning red. Is this a natural development for this plant?
Thank you so much for your advice.
[Note: photos deleted]
The Sedum looks like it might have some aphids, tight in the growing tips, as well as a bit of powdery mildew damage. I recommend spraying it well with a good, but gentle jet from the hose and then treat with a powdery mildew treatment Neem or “Mildew Cure”. Or you can just cut off the infected leaves and tips. Sedum matrona can be cut back to just stumps when it looks ratty and it will re-sprout with fresh new growth.
The Aloe is just showing signs of summer dormancy, which is normal, it is native to a winter rain fall area of Africa so it sleeps in the summer and grows in the winter just like most California natives. It will perk up and start growing with vigor this winter once the rains start.
They can! They really can! So says syracuse.com.
Dear Carol: I love sedum and have planted it wherever I have enough sun in my yard. However, some of the plants have started to die with stalks that wither. This is not the first year that this has happened; I’ve already lost three plants over the past two years when it was dry…. What’s wrong? – J.H., Liverpool.
Dear J.H.: This certainly looks like some kind of crown or root rot.
The wood chip mulch I can see in your picture may be part of the problem. Sedums are succulents. They store water in their leaves and stems and are adapted to withstand periods of drought. They like a well-drained soil that dries out quickly; any mulch that traps moisture around the stems could promote disease. Heavy soil will also contribute to rot problems.
I’d rogue out the plants that have problems and put something else there instead, not another sedum.
Oh. I guess I was wrong. They can’t grow sedums in Syracuse. Well that seems silly, since sedums are hardy succulents.
I don’t normally complain about customers at the nursery, and certainly not on the blog, but this person was not a customer of ours, so I feel like sharing. I do this because there are times when I really just don’t understand people.
A few weeks ago one of our employees gave some free advice over the phone to a person out of state who was not one of our customers. She had a Pachypodium that was elonated, and not doing well, and it was getting no direct sun at all. So our employee, overheard by my partner, advised her to get it more sun. She interpreted this to mean she was supposed to take it outside, which is not what we told her, but outside would be fine too, you’d just need to harden the plant off before putting it into full sun.
Anyway, she called back yesterday and I answered the phone. She started right off yelling at me that we killed her plant. I tried to find out what was going on, and help her further, not even knowing who she was or what she was talking about. Often pachypodiums will lose leaves but aren’t dead. Anyway, after a few minutes trying to tease the details out of her, she finally explained that she put it on her porch and when the sun hit it, within 45 minutes it had lost all its leaves and was dead. Now I was about to tell her it probably wasn’t dead, but instead she yelled at me,
I didn’t call to get any more help. I called to tell you you’ve killed my plant and you’re all idiots.
And then she hung up.
Like I said, I just don’t understand people. She’s not our customer but she called a small out-of-state retail store and she asked for free advice, and then she gets it into her head to call back and call me an idiot. I guess that’s what you get for trying to help non-customers.
I was in last week and bought a few things to start out growing cactus from seeds. At you employees recommendation, I bought the small green seedling container, some coir, and some activated carbon. I put added the quite wet (but not soupy) coir, added 20 or so seeds to various spots, and then covered in a pretty fine layer of pulverized carbon (used a pestle and mortar). It is now sitting in out bubble window with the other plants. The lid is on and the humidity inside must be at 100% or close to it. Since I only have the seeds I put into this container, any other ideas for carefully germinating my seeds and not losing them to some other competitor would be IMMENSELY appreciated. That includes things like extra supplements, additives that modify PH, or anything that would be beneficial.
Cactus seeds like warmth to germinate, I try and get the temp up to about 80-85 degrees. You do need to watch that the seed dome is not in direct hot sun, or it could get too hot and cook the seedlings. The humidity is good to help break the seed’s dormancy, but do lift the lid now and then to give them some fresh air. Cacti can take a few weeks to even a year to germinate so be patient. After you see little green things that look like transparent green candy rice grains poke a few holes in the plastic lid to let in more air. As it starts drying out faster with the air, you will need to mist occasionally. Watch for mold and algae, though that is why you were told to use the charcoal, but in humid environments it can always be a problem. A low strength mist of Neem Oil usually takes care of it if it does cause problems. Plan on leaving the seedlings in there for about a year, though once they get some size and spines you can wean them off the humidity dome.
Good luck and happy growing.
morning Hap…i am wondering what to do about one of the cactus in the living room which has about two inches of rot on the top of one of the branches (this is the specimen which had the rootball reduced…form is like a candelabra)…i assume i cut off the rot…but am wondering if i should apply something on the top…i am watering every 30 days (about 3/4 gallon)…this has never happened before…any cactus wisdom is appreciated…hope you are well…best…diane
You can treat the cut area with household Hydrogen-Peroxide. Paint it on liberally or put some in a spray bottle and spray the injured surface. Reapply every day for a week or so, it should keep the infection from spreading.
Picture 1 is of my Silver Torch, looks dry? It has not grown well the past 2 years?
Picture 3 is not sure of the type but, it is one of my favorites and it got too much water in a recent storm. The base of one of them is now a hole and very soft. Is it the end? can I save it at all?
Thanks so Much,
I recommend pulling it out of the pot, spraying the whole plant with either household 3% Hydrogen-peroxide or a 1% solution of Neem Oil. Let dry a few days, spray again and if need be cut out rotting parts. Save top parts to re-root, though Cleistocactus are hard to get to root but you might get them to grow roots if you keep it warm and dry. Make sure to re-pot in fast draining, gravely soil with very little organic material.
The 2nd plant is Opuntia pyrrhantha. Same care issues – spray, let dry out, and if needed cut and reroot.
Ruth Bancroft is very good at answering questions.
But first they publish a photo from the gardens.
Prickly pear, Opuntia ficus-indica, is tree-like. Becky Rice/Ruth Bancroft Garden
Q: I have an assortment of planters on my deck, mostly planted with succulents. Their interesting forms and delightful colors have long been a source of pleasure for me and my visitors. In the last year or two, I have noticed that many of them seem to be in decline, with shrinking heads of leaves and less flowering. What might the problem be?
A: First off, people often plant Aeoniums… and are alarmed when the leaf-heads become markedly smaller and stop growing in summer. Since this is a winter-growing plant, summer shrinkage is normal…
Aside from this, it is not uncommon for planter boxes and dish planters to decline over time if the planting medium is not renewed.
Ric thinks we may have mislabeled a plant, not that it matters when it has 26 blooms, but still…
Hello Hap & Peter,
I wanted to know if by any chance the plant labeled Echinopsis thelegonoides on your web site is in possibly mis-labeled? I am being told that the one I purchased from you almost 2 years back is possibly a E. spachiana and most likely not a E. thelegonoides as it is not tree like and will not reach 20ft height. It really makes no difference to me but would like to know what the exact specimen is. Anyway, your clarification in this would be appreciated. We enjoyed over 26 flowers this year from the plant. I have attached a photo.
Hope you are both well,
Great photo, your garden looks great!
It is possible that our “parent plant” was mis-labeled (however it was originally from UC Berkeley Botanical Garden so hopefully it was not mis-labeled…), Echinopsis thelegonides and E. spachiana look very similar looking when young and out of habitat could end up being very much alike when grown. Our big old timer has hit at least twelve feet tall before I took cuts for resale.
What can I do to save it?
I have been watering it more regularly (every 2 weeks)
I just gave it food.
It gets plenty of sun.
That’s kind of like a poem. I like it. Shall we answer? Well, Hap already has:
It is a Pachypodium. Most likely a Pachypodium saundersi that wants more light or a Pachypodium succulantum that wants more light (I would need to see the plant in person and perhaps in bloom to tell for sure which species it is). The branches look elonated which means they are stretching for more light and that makes it hard to know which one it is.
You know that we get questions here at the Cactus Blog, and we post them on the blog, and we like when readers send us photos. However, sometimes we’re stupid and lose the photos. But I’m posting the question and answer anyway. Because that’s just the way I feel today.
I saw this cactus in a magazine and thought it was really cool. Any idea what kind it is or if cactus jungle sells it?
p.s. Got the Neem Oil you suggested!
Alas the photo is too small to tell for sure, but it is either an Echinocerus, Echinopsis or an Euphorbia. But we have all three that look very similar.
[Ed: Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you.]
What a great resource! Attached is a golden barrell of mine. I cant exactly describe what it is doing, but as you will see it is striping or shriveling? Maybe varigation (sp)? See attached. I dont think these are wrinkles, although it is very difficult to get a finger in there and tell. The cactus has been around for many years and has been healthy and otherwise appears so. It is currently in a greenhouse, with filtered sunlight. Any thoughts or anything to worry about?
Matt (portland oregon)
Plants grown inside usually have a few quirks. Your Barrel (Echinocactus grusonii) looks pretty good, the odd lines are likely seasonal growth lines, so I would recommend giving it a bit more calcium, as the spines are getting thinner and try upping the light exposure, Echinocactus can take full sun once they are over a few years old.
Here we have a 2 part question.
Q: I have a cactus tha is over 15 years old. I was watering it the other day and was picking it up when it almost broke in half. What should I do to keep it alive.
Can you email me a photo? If it is a big break it may be that you need to cut it off and re-root it, if it is a species that will re-root. If it isn’t you will need to “splint” it and hope that it will heal up strong enough to support it’s weight. But a photo would help me give you better advice.
…and, yes, here comes a new email with photo… so now we get the rest of it….
I would recommend repotting in fresh cactus soil, mulching with a small rough gravel like lava or small crushed rock and laying the whole cacus on it’s side on top of the gravel, it should root along the length and then grow new “pups” along the length and turn in to a many headed cactus. Do not use smooth gravel like aquarium gravel as it stays too wet. It does look like it would like more light… so try moving it closer to the window or to a south or west facing window.
I have a question for you about a beautiful Ferocactus latispinus that I purchased from you in February. The plant had been living at your shop, on one of the outdoor racks, for many months through the Berkeley winter. About a week after I bought it I moved to Los Angeles…en route to New Zealand. Unfortunately, the cactus had to stay behind in southern California, where it is living with my mom. About 5 days after we (the cactus and I) arrived in LA I noticed that parts of the plants were experiencing what looked like bleaching or loss of pigment. It was warm in LA, but not too hot, and for acclimation reasons I had put the plant in an area where it would get some direct but mostly filtered light. I thought the bleaching would be a temporary effect of the transition to a warmer and/or brighter setting, and that the pigment would return, but my mom just sent me some photos and it looks like those parts of the plant are still quite pale…about the color of the pale/yellow form of Euphorbia ammak v. variegata. This concerns me, but the cactus does appear to be (somewhat) “happy” as it is growing and the region of new growth on the top of the plant is the deep green color I’d expect. Can you explain what I’m seeing? This little guy is my favorite plant and I want to do whatever I can to keep him healthy and happy. I’d send a picture but my mom doesn’t have a digital camera. If you need a pic for proper diagnosis I can arrange for one to be taken. Thanks very much for your help! Hope all is going well at the jungle.
Department of Zoology
University of Otago
It sounds like the bleached parts are a sign of sunburn, it most likely happened by the north facing side suddenly getting rotated to face south after the move and the skin cells that were not ready for UV getting a good zap. It will take a long time to heal up and if it was a bad burn it may convert the burned areas to “bark” rather than green skin… but the chlorophyll may still recover. As long as the growing tip at the crown looks green and healthy, the plant will eventually grow out it though it may have scars.
p.s. does your post-doc in zoology get you out to see the Tuatara? They are so cool! I want to meet one someday.
…if we can identify a plant or two for them.
Q: Hi Peter and Hap,
I’m attaching some not good photos.
The red succulent I just wondered what it’s called. It grows great in the clay soil.
The biggest cluster of “little blue/green beans” is on the left side of my shadow in the vertical center of the shot. There are a few more above those and more in the center. And there’s a lone one below the big cluster. They have a spike-like texture to them & they’re the size of peas. I love them & would like to try them in the other, better soil.
In North Andover, MA they have a question and answer section in the paper.
Q: I was given a sunrise cactus three years ago, and it was in full bloom. It was beautiful! However, it hasn’t bloomed since then. I have it on my dining room table, and it gets morning sun. The plant itself is very green and healthy looking, but no buds. I have put it outdoors in the summer and will do so again this weekend. Any suggestions on how I can get it to bloom again?
A: Your plant sounds very healthy! Now your sunrise cactus, so named because the flowers open in the morning and close at night, isn’t a desert cactus but rather one of the family of epiphytic jungle cactus, sometimes called holiday cactuses. This particular variety is often called an Easter cactus, because of the spring blooming period. And yes, it’s related to your Christmas cactus. Some sun year-round is desirable, but be very careful of direct, hot sun at any time of the year. They do love to be outside in the summer!
In the fall, like poinsettias, they require a period of cooler, drier, longer days to bloom well. In October, reduce watering, keep the plant in a dark place from late afternoon to dawn and replace in strong light each morning. The cactus is going through a period of semi-dormancy then, so do not feed during this period. You should have beautiful blooms in the spring!
Well, that made for easy blogging this afternoon, farming out my chores to those crazy Bay-Staters. That should give me time to write some more limericks…
Q: Hi Hap,
Thanks for your help with the cactus! The tubular shaped cactus has bad discoloration and little white larvae/mites? in the saucer. The beaver tail/flat shaped cactus thankfully does not have the white bugs in the saucer but it has some rough patches of brown discoloration.
Any suggestions on how to correct this problem?
They need a good spray/drench with a Neem Oil solution. It looks like they actually have two types of bugs, scale and mealy bugs as well as a start of a fungal infection, most likely brought on by the bugs sucking on their sap. Neem Oil will kill the bugs as well as help the plants fight off the fungal infection. We use a 1% Neem dilution with great success. We have it available at the nursery.
The Las Vegas Review Journal takes all kinds of questions from their readers, including this simple one about some sedum.
Q: I have a Vera Jameson sedum that has grown and spread. However, the plant leaves in the center are dying. I have planted this in the front yard where it receives full sun all day. I water it every day for four minutes in the morning with a shrubbler. I have placed rubber mulch around the base of the plant and two days ago I added some liquid plant fertilizer that I diluted in water.
I also have a Spanish bayonet yucca that the bottom leaves are turning brown from the tips. The trunk looks healthy. This also is receiving full sun and I have been watering it for four minutes each day on a shrubbler drip system.
A:…When I first read your e-mail, it struck me that the problem was either with the soil or with irrigation. But, after finding out that you are watering every day for four minutes, I think the major problem for you is water.
Four minutes of water does not tell me much. I do not know if four minutes of water is the same as 1 gallon or 1 teaspoon. You should apply enough water so that you irrigate to a depth of 12 inches for the sedum and even deeper for the yucca. The sedum will require water more often than the yucca….
When you do water, try to water more deeply and less often to give the soil and plant roots a chance to breathe.
Both plants… should not be watered daily. The yucca can be watered less often than the sedum, but probably not more than once a week. I would think every two weeks should be adequate, but it is hard to know without knowing other things like what the soil is like.
Well, I could have told you that. Of course, there’s more to the answer than all that, so click through to find out about build up of salts and the author’s opinion of the rubber mulch too.
Q: I have a graptoveria ‘debbie’ that is giving me some difficulty. it had a bloom spray on it when i purchased it 2 months ago. the spray is still on it and no blooms have opened. it sits in an eastern window and although it is getting leggy (not enough sun) it is getting burn spots on it (too much sun). what do I do with it? cut the spray and move to different soil (currently standard cactus mixed with specialized pumice from garden center)?
Please help. If it is lighting, please tell me how to add extra lighting for them. Thank you thank you thank you.
Your plant is fine. It’s hard for me to be sure since the photo is a little out of focus, but it looks like there are 2 blooms that have opened on the bottom of the bloom spray. It is possible when moving a plant to a new environment that a bloom can abort, but it doesn’t look like that has happened here. Hopefully the rest of them will open. You might want to get it closer to a sunny window.
As for the plant, it is a tiny bit leggy, I suppose, but not too bad. Basically it looks fine. The “burn” spots you mention are just the plant losing bottom leaves. All succulents lose bottom leaves. Check out my instructional video.
A customer wanted to know what the name Aloe cryptopoda means. Crypto means false, hidden, fake; poda means foot. Well, that doesn’t make any sense. So I looked it up.
It really is derived from “Hidden Foot”. Because the base of the bloom stalk is hidden by the plant’s leaves. That is the dumbest excuse for a latin plant name I have ever heard.
Here’s a few we’ve ID’ed from photos sent in recently.
Ooh, it’s a baby! But clearly identifiable as a Cotyledon orbiculata.
So far, nothing too tricky.
Well that’s just a common Jade, aka Crassula ovata.
Q: I bought the arrangement in the attached photo and the leaves are beginning to yellow and fall off. I’ve been watering every 10 days or so. Ususally I soak it for a few seconds and then let it drain. Any help?
It looks like you just have a dead branch, the rest of the plant looks fine. Trim off the dead part and it should be fine. You can also bring it by for us to take a look at…
Well, that was an easy one for Hap to answer.
Q: Hi there,
We bought some plants from you in the little coconut husk pots. Do the plants get removed from those pots or are they planted in them?
You can just water the plant and pot, plant the whole thing and then water it again and the pot will break down quickly after it is planted.
Followup: COOL! That’s what we did yesterday, so I was hoping that was correct!
Sometimes we have to interpret the questions we get. In this case, it wasn’t too hard to figure out what she was asking about.
Q: My husband and I were in Arizona and saw a lovely flowering (multi colored) cactus. We think the name was “troia” or “troya”. We live in southwest Florida and wondered if it could survive here and, if so, where could we buy it. We couldn’t find any information when we googled “troia”.
Sometimes our answers are simple and direct, other times, well, a little wordier…
The name you are looking for is “cholla”.
There are many different species of plants that are called cholla, all in the Opuntia family (actually the Opuntioideae subfamily), with the genus being either Opuntia, Cylindropuntia, or Austrocylindropuntia.
(Basically, the Opuntia family has been divided into prickly pears (Opuntia) and chollas (Cylindropuntia). And then just for fun the botanists added an “Austro” in front for plants that are native to South America. We don’t actually agree with these divisions, and so our website lists them all still as Opuntia.)
Some common Arizona species include the Teddy Bear/Jumping Cholla (Cylindropuntia bigelovii) and the Buckhorn Cholla (Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa). We also like the Pencil Cholla (Cylindropuntia ramosissima).
As for how well they will do in Florida, well… Not well. It really depends on your humidity, which is generally too high throughout SW Florida. The chollas are a pretty dry plant. Some of the other Opuntias, the prickly pears, will do better in Florida. You can even find a list of those that are native to Florida.