I was wondering if you could help to identify this cactus. I saw it while walking down a street of mid-century homes while visiting Palm Springs. I love its color and form, really got my attention. I live on the east coast and would love to care for a (much) smaller plant of this type indoors, if you happen to know any specifics.
Thanks for your time! Nicole
The cactus is a Myrtillocactus, also known as the Whortleberry Cactus.
Hey there. I recently purchased this barrel cactus from a shop in Denver and then took it with me back to NYC. (As carry-on.) It looks basically healthy except for this discoloration, which seems to come in two parts. At the upper end of the plant there are these lighter (yellowish) spots. With an x-acto knife I can slice them off, tho it’s not the easiest thing in the world to do. Towards the bottom, the discoloration isn’t raised, and it’s pretty thorough at the bottom two inches, creeping up in some places.
Maybe the bottom is natural barking, and the top is related to frost in Denver? In which case, let it be?
Or maybe it’s a scale infestation? In which case, should I take that knife to everything I can?
Spent forever online looking for advice but have gotten nowhere. Any thoughts you have would be so appreciated!
It’s hard to tell from the photo. It’s either some previous damage that has healed over, in which case you don’t need to do anything. Or it’s scale, which is an insect, so please put away the exacto blades. If you think it’s scale then you should spray it with an organic insecticide. You can also dip a soft paintbrush into rubbing alcohol and that will break the shell down so that you can clean them off after they are dead.
I live in kansas city and was gifted this beauty for mothers day.. I want to take the best care possible of this gorgeous cactus! Our home has tons of natural light and we were told by the nursery we purchased it from that the spot we have it in is a good one even though it doesn’t received direct sun. I’m terrified of under/over watering. With a plant this size, how often should I be watering , and when I do, how much should I give? Do I fertilize? It’s about 8 ft tall. Thank you for your expertise.. Love your blog!
That’s quite large! In general I would recommend some direcgt sun, though these Euphorbias can sometimes handle a bright room with no direct light, but it’s tricky.
Basically, with lower light levels you want to water less. A lot less. I would try starting with watering every 2 months – try to soak the soil as much as possible without the plant sitting in water. I would fertilize just a little bit once per year in the spring. You want to slow down its growth so it doesn’t grow more than 2 or 3 inches in a year.
However it would be best if you can move it to where it gets some directct sun and then you can water more often.
I have a couple of cactus that are in need of serious re-planting. And I want to make sure it gets done right.
I have included some pics. Looking for any advice on the best way to go about this.
Those are some impressive looking cactus! I assume you are not going to try to replant the whole clusters, but rather are asking about taking cuttings from the fallen branches. Generally we recommend take tip cuttings and about 2-3ft. in length. Use a serrated blade, like a bread knife. Take a clean cut at a slight angle. Spray the cut end with household Hydrogen Peroxide and then set it aside in a shady location for a week or two so that the cut end callouses over.
When you are ready to plant, if it’s in a pot use fast draining cactus soil. Plant it 4 to 6 inches deep into the soil and stake it up. Don’t water for another week or two. Then start regular watering (every 2-3 weeks in the Bay Area, more or less depending on where you live.)
The dark green growth is shooting up from the variegated “ghost” , should I remove it and replant it? The white part isn’t showing new growth, I think the green is stealing the limelight.
Thx again, Karen
Wow – that is a very green sport from that Ghost Euphorbia. I kind of like it, but if you want it can definitely be cut off and replanted into another pot. If you’re stopping by here we can do it for you.
Hello, you once posted a picture of a vine that looked like grass, but it is no longer in your photo data? I am trying to find it but can’t remember it’s name. Does this ring any bells? I thought part of the name had something like tweedia in it but not the tweedia with the blue flowers. Thanks, Jamie (in SF)
The one you are looking for is called Mormon Tea, Ephedra tweediana. I guess the Tweedy part is the memorable part of the name. Although ironically Ephedra is sometimes used for memory.
A house on my street has these mounds of aloes. Not too attractive as far as it’s design, but something very cool popped up out of it.
Is this how variegated versions of plants are made? By mutation?
I’m considering asking to buy this lil special guy and try to see if I keep it healthy it will put out pups. Have you ever seen one like this? Cuz I never have.
It does look like an albino variegation mutation on that Aloe nobilis. In full sun and low water it will likely fail long term, so indeed try to bargain for it. That type of mutation is usually better grown where they get afternoon shade and a bit more care since they lack so much chlorophyll they are a bit “sickly”, but look pretty good with the right care.
Good luck and if you get it and grow it out and want to share a pup in a few years let me know!
I bought this cactus many years ago for a dollar 99 and there were 4 inches of it straight up. I’ve kept it usually just back in the corner not really paying attention to it and probably in the same dirt it was in for 12, 13, 14, years.
Cannot get pictures not when it was real tiny but when I was about 3 feet high and then I’ve got pictures of a more currently when I transplanted it in cactus soil and a larger pot (it was root bound). And it has grown Beyond belief shooting out things everywhere my question is I don’t know if I planted it in enough cactus soil with enough depth. There is a bout 10 to 12 inches of soil hello pot that is probably 2 feet around tapering down to a foot around. And I don’t know how to describe how far Down the plant goes.
The question is how deeper the roots go on something like this finished just one stock coming out of the center from the center supporting all these things and I will attach photos. I look forward to some answers and maybe even what kind of cactuses if it should be repotted again. It sits in the large picture window so it’s getting good sun. I live in Minnesota supported out during the summer would just open it up to bugs that.
Your plant is a Euphorbia. They are a great indoor houseplant. They can be underpotted for years, as you know, and then given some new fresh soil and some water they will grow like crazy! Water less for slower growth. We water no more than once per month. If you pot it up to a larger pot now it will keep getting bigger. However in the ground this is a full size tree, so it’s OK to not repot it for a few more years.
I’ve got a challenge for you with this Crown of Thorns plant. The plant is obviously not as healthy as it was when it was attached to the roots. I cut off the top because it had these weird growths on it. If I had to guess, I would call them galls. What do you think?
Uggh! It looks like a virus that is mutating the tissue. It should be disposed of right away. Sorry about that! The bottom parts of the plant may or may not be infected, so give it a chance, but if the stuff shows up then dispose.
Hi, Bought plant year ago and you repotted. Plant is on balcony in Mission Bay SF. Watered 4-6 cups every 2 1/2 weeks; fertilized in Sept.
Lower leaves of plant gets soft and shrivels so I cut off. However, as plant grows, the lower leaves continue to get soft and shrivel; is this normal? Also, some of the leaves get these brown spots as you can see in the lower leaves in the photo. What is this? From water? In strong rain and wind over a number of days, I cover plant with a plastic bag; is this necessary? Thank you for your help! Mary
Your Dudleya is looking great! All succulents lose bottom leaves, and Dudleyas are no exception. They do get the brown spots and if its on a bottom leaf that will be falling off soon then there’s nothing to worry about. On upper leaves the problem is that Dudleyas prefer not to have water sitting on them, so in the ground it is often best to plant them at an angle so the winter rains roll off. Not as possible in a pot, but generally a little water on top won’t hurt the plant more than the occasional spots. Or bring it under cover when we get those too-rare rains these days!
We have this little plant sitting in my shop and my coworker and I have no idea what sort of succulent it might be! It has what looks like roots coming out from places on the stem (even from the little one) but they might not be roots?
Tea M. from California
Tea M., It’s a fuzzy little Kalanchoe, probably Kalanchoe tomentosa that is not getting enough light – it wants more light! They can get aerial roots coming off the stems so that when they fall over they will root from right there.
Thank u Peter for responding so quickly. I must admit i am sort of surprised that you wouldn’t have a market for such a handsome looking guy but there you go.
alright thanks again maybe you’ll see it someday sitting on the street corner forlorn, unwatered and untouched by neither human nor dog wandering by. Give It a fond glance wontcha?
And what got Barbara to get poetic on us? Why this particular Euphorbia tirucalli right here:
Barbara asked if we wanted it since she has new grandkids and the plant is pretty poisonous, and we declined to take on this 5ft. tall x 4ft wide Euphorbia, attractive as it is. If anyone else local wants a referral to Barbara for this plant, let me know and I’ll pass along your information. Hopefully together we can forestall a “forlorn, unwatered and untouched” Firesticks.
Hello! I’m writing you from the Netherlands. I was looking for a Dutch website that could help me out with my problem, but there doesn’t seem to be any. I landed on your very helpful site, so I very much hope that you can help me out.
I have a ammak since my birthday last August. It used to be standing in a light room, with no direct sunlight. After a while I started seeing green “fresh” looking tops arriving and took that as a good sign: that cactus seemed happy. (I must admit, I don’t know anything about cactus plants). I haven’t given it any water.
Recently I moved to another place. Bringing the cactus with us in the truck must not have been fun for him. It was a bumpy ride. Once it got to the new house, it was moved around a little bit and ended up behind some boxes in order to protect it. The house was freshly painted and smelled horrible (chemical) for weeks. It still does a bit.
Meanwhile. The ammak seemed to do fine, but after not paying too much attention to it for about a week, today, I suddenly noticed that a couple of his arms are turning brown!!!!
I’m soooo scared that something horrible is going on with him!
It seems that these cactus plants get “rot”, but as far a I can tell, that normally starts from the bottom. In this case, the discolouration mostly affects his arms and also his leg a bit, but there on the leg, there are mainly brown edged and just a bit of discolouration. I did notice that a couple of areas on the arms are also more “wrinkly” / mush, but not much. I also read about a fungus/virus.
Do you think that’s what’s going on?
I very much hope you can help me out!! Thanks so much in advance!!
Unfortunately it doesn’t look good. I was surprised in your email when you said you hadn’t watered it since August. And then after the move that you kept it hidden behind boxes (where it presumably didn’t get light.) The move is going to be tough on any plants, but no water and no light is not something that a plant can survive.
In general if you get another one to try again I would recommend watering every 3 weeks. They should be in a very bright room or get a couple of hours of direct sun.
I’ve spent hours looking at pics online and can’t identify these cacti/succulents I recently acquired. Can you possibly identify them? Also, does the large brown swath on the prostrate plant indicate damage or a slow demise of some sort?
Thanks for any help you can give.
The plants look like they need more sun, so it’s hard to ID them for sure. The one that is laying over is probably an Opuntia or less likely a Quiabentia. The brown is past damage and looks like it is fully healed.
The tall green one is maybe an Echeveria, like Echeveria setosa, but stretched vertically because of not enough sun.
The blue one is a Senecio, probably Senecio mandraliscae.
Are you able to offer advice on Haworthias? I have a Haworthia chocolate pictured below that is losing leaves one by one. Not sure if it is going to stop or not, and if this is normal for a healthy C. chocolate. The dying leaves will turn a bright red color while losing their firmness, then became a pale red, and even more soft before drying up completely. Any thoughts?
Attached here is a picture of the specimen with leaves showing this activity.
I’ve searched the internet for information, but haven’t been able to find much about it.
Thank you for all of your help and time here.
Given the natural brown coloration it’s difficult to tell for sure, but I think that it is just losing bottom leaves, which is normal for succulents. Maybe it’s been a bit more water than it wants? Hard to say from the photo. In moderate direct sunlight you should water every 1 1/2 weeks through the summer and in lower light less than that.
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.
Hello Peter, I was wondering if you could help me take care of my plants and maybe give me some advice! So as you can see I love plants, especially cacti and perennial plants. In every picture you can see that the soil is wet because I just watered them all today. Can you tell me how often each one needs to be watered?
I would also like to know whether they should be outdoors or not? I have a garden where I could put them but I would rather have them with me in my room. I recently put 6 and 7 outside but I am worried about that ‘burnt look’ they have going on now… Maybe the transition was a little too abrupt since they used to be inside. I never changed the soils, could you tell me if I should and how to?
Can you also tell me if they look healthy or if one of them needs special care? For the ones that stay in my room, I try to let as much sunshine in as I can, but I think maybe they would like to be outside. Also some parts of 7 died and I don’t know what to do with the remaining parts, does it mean that the whole cactus is going to die too?
I don’t know that much about cacti but I love them and would hate for them to die, so please help me! I’ve had the euphorbia 5 for a few years, I keep it inside the house and it looks really happy to me, it has grown a lot! Most of the others are new and I can’t tell if they have grown or not.
I live in Paris and it is rather hot and sunny during the summer and spring, but it can get really cold in the winter.
Also, if you know their names I would love to learn! THANK YOU so much, I LOVE your blog, I really hope you get a chance to reply and maybe help me.
When you bring plants outside they need to be “hardened off” to the sun, which means bringing them slowly out into sunshine over the course of a week or longer, or they will get a sunburn.
All plants can be grown outside, it just depends on your local climate. Here in Berkeley or San Francisco we can grow those outside, but I am not sure in Paris. There is a cactus shop there that might know better for your particular locale.
The plants that I know are:
1. Euphorbia ferox
2. Don’t know
3. Opuntia microdasys
4. Ferocactus, too young to know the species
5. Euphorbia – could be trigona
6 and 7. Mammillaria
Generally you can water them every 2 to 3 weeks, but they look like they’re not getting a lot of sun, so maybe every 3 weeks is best.