Hi there. I live in England, and I have been growing some cacti for about four years now, but I don’t know what they are. They have never flowered, and I was wondering if you could identify them? I know that the one on the far left is Astophytum ornatum, and that the one one in from the right is Opuntia subulata. I have only had these for about two months.
Also, could you please give me some tips as to how to make them all flower? Thanks very much. Helena
Helena, The Opuntia subulata looks likes it’s probably a O. subulata monstrose, which means it won’t get as tall, which is probably a good thing. The one on the far right could be a Cereus, but I wouldn’t be sure of the species until it blooms, which could be many years depending on the species – they often won’t bloom until they’re 6 ft. tall or more! The one on the left looks like it’s not getting enough sun, so it’s hard to tell for sure what it is, but either a Mammillaria or a Rebutia.
As for flowering, the Astrophytum looks large enough to flower, as well as the Mammillaria/Rebutia. However the other two wouldn’t bloom for many years. To help the first two along in blooming I recommend a lot of sun and a bloom food – Bone Meal, and we prefer Fish Bone Meal, works well.
Depending on where you live in England the sun could be a problem, in which case you might want to try a full-spectrum UV light.
On my front porch I have about 20 potted plants, mostly succulents and a few cacti. The spiders love it! I thought I was wining the battle but I see now I am way out numbered, if anything the spiders are happier having me clean out the old ones so they can spin new clean ones.
Any suggestions how to keep them away. my front porch just looks so ratty.
Spiders are beneficial to succulents. Spiders eat pests while not being pests themselves. However sometimes the spiders can get too numerous. Clearing out webs won’t get the spiders since they’re generally hiding. If you want to catch a spider and move it safely to another location I find that a very light spray of a diluted rubbing alcohol will get them to come running out and you can then catch them and relocate them. Some people will tell you that even a light spray of alcohol will kill them, but I choose not to believe them.
Dear blog master. I enjoy the cactus jungle blog; a visit to your store is on my bucket list.
I have a question. I have a hedgehog cactus set (aka “the Crip”) and a silver torch cactus (aka “Queen Frostine”). Both have been in a constant environment for more than two years – a greenhouse which is the home of many successfully flowering succulents, many of which are cacti. After flowering well in 2012, neither flowered this year but they are both growing very well. Do you have any thoughts?
Sent from my iPad so please excuse brevity and lack of editing.
Pam Memphis, TN
Pam, If they’re getting good sun and other plants nearby are blooming then it’s probably a matter of nutrients. I would recommend feeding with a good organic bloom food in late winter next year. Peter
We bought my mammillaria at Cactus Jungle about four years ago, and it has been pretty healthy since then, though it never flowered since we got it (despite fertilizing).
About a week or two ago after watering it, it started to get smaller and paler, almost like it is collapsing in on itself. As pictured, it is now half the size it was before the last time I watered it. I always err on the side of not watering it since I know overwatering can kill them, but I’m not sure what went wrong this time. I usually water it every four weeks or so (sometimes longer). Is my cactus salvageable, and do you folks have any suggestions for reviving it?
I haven’t fertilized it yet this year, so that is also an option. I live in an apartment that I know doesn’t get as much light as the cactus needs, but it hasn’t proven to be an issue until now.
Any advice is welcome and appreciated. Thanks for your time!
Lisa, I don’t think the plant is savable. It’s hard to tell for sure from the photo, so if you want to bring it in to the nursery we can take a look and see what we can do to try and save it.
You were probably watering the correct amount for not getting a lot of light, however those conditions generally mean that a cactus will have a limited life. So 4 years without a lot of sun seems like you did a good job keeping it healthy as long as you could.
If you want we can suggest a spiny plant that can handle lower light levels to replace it. Peter
Hi Peter, I just potted a large piece from a gi-normous Peruvian apple cactus that my brother has growing in his yard in Long Beach. He cut the piece and gave it to me for Christmas and it has been drying out in in my garage since then. I thought I had left it too long, but the top sections seem fleshy and fine, with only the bottom cut part being nice a dried out. So, I potted it this morning, mixing in some of the soil I bought from you. My question is, should I water it now, or should I wait for several more weeks? Should I fertilize it soon? I have some of the kelp product.
My sister took a smaller piece last year and has it growing inside in her apartment in NYC! It’s doing fine (though no fruit yet…ever?). When she started, she waited 4-6 weeks for the cut to dry out, then potted it. She waited another month before watering it — based on internet research.
The fruit is really good!
ps, I love receiving the newsletter and seeing all the names and photos of the plants.
Brooke, It looks like the Cereus is doing well. If you potted it in our soil you don’t need to fertilize for a year. In general after planting a cactus cutting you want to wait at least a week before watering. Since you have Aeoniums planted in there with it you will need to water sometime in the next 2 weeks, and that’s OK.
Your sister’s plant in NY should grow fine if its in a sunny window, but it is unlikely to bloom. The flowers are pollinated by bats, so even if it does flower she would need to hand pollinate to get fruit (assuming she doesn’t have any bats in her apartment. I know it’s New York, but still…)
We don’t get fruit on ours here in the flats of Berkeley since we also don’t have bats, however up in the hills they do have bats and they do get fruit. Delicious fruit.
We are sending this to you in hope you can help. Mr. Stewart was not able to offer any help. Jo
Hello Mr. Stewart,
My name is Jo Reynolds. I have a cactus given to me by a grandson on his first Mother’s Day. He passed away at 8. He would be 21 now so the plant is very dear. We used to have a florist who would repot as needed but they have gone out of business. It became so pot bound (cracked the pot) that we tried to repot it. Used cactus soil and one one size larger pot. The plant has many thumb sized, very prickly parts, and a number have turned very brown and opened up to a dead center. We would like to have someone with much more knowledge than us look at it and advise us. We live in Frederick County. Maybe some of the green shoots could be saved. Any help/advice you could give us would be appreciated. We have attached a picture of the poor thing.
John and Jo
Jo, The news is not good, though there is still some hope. The soil you used looks too rich for cactus – too much bark in it. And it looks like the root-bound plant might have been potted with the roots still wound. The change as such was a shock to the plant, and most of the stems are not salvageable. However there are a few still-green stems that might be able to be saved. You will need to do some surgery, cutting them off from the rest of the plant.
In general you want to cut above any rot so that the fresh cut will be clean, no brown spots. Spray with hydrogen peroxide to help it heal, and let it callous over for a week. Then you will want to plant it in dry fast-draining cactus soil and not water for another 2 weeks. Make sure there are still no brown spots when you plant it. If any develop you will need to cut it higher up until again there is fresh clean flesh. If that doesn’t work then the infection has spread too far.
If you need cactus soil, we do ship our soil in 2 gallon boxes. You can call us at the nursery and we can send that off. Peter
I was recently examining my cacti and noticed two very strange (maybe) fungus/viruses on two of the four.
(one is a ‘Fairy Castle’/Cereus tetragonus,
the other might be a Coryphantha georgii,
though I’m not sure about that).
I scoured the internet in search of identification for these possible fungi or viruses, but was unsuccessful. I noticed this blog when looking for answers, and would be so grateful if you could help me. I love these little buggers and would hate to see them go. I’ve attached two photos to this e-mail. Thank you very much for your time and help!
Sophy, I’m not seeing any fungus on the Cereus. Maybe there’s some rot on the inner branch, but it doesn’t look like a fungus. If it’s soft it may be a problem of overwatering, or if the plant has been in the pot for a long time it may not have enough soil left. It looks like it’s ready to be potted into a larger pot – the brown things coming out of the branches are aerial roots looking for more soil.
The other cactus (possibly a Coryphantha, although I would guess a Mammillaria, but I would need to see the blooms to know for sure) looks like a fungus, possibly Rust. You can spray fungus with standard organic fungicides. We like to use Neem Oil.
You have on your list Fouquieria xxxx from California, this incorrect (sic)….. Fouquieria splendens is the only one that grows in the United States, all the others grow in Mexico and Baja. Your Fouquieria xxxx looks more like Fouquieria xxxx from Baja….. Do you have any more information on your plant? I have grown all of the known Fouquieria’s (sic) and have been in Mexico many times studying and collecting them.
Mxxx, Thank you for your concerns. The word “California” can refer to the current political boundaries of the state formerly governed by Arnold Schwartzenegger, or they can refer to the ecological and geological physical area (among other options). We prefer to include plants native to Baja California as part of the ecological area of California.
The previous owners left this plant when they moved. It was in bad shape. Neighbors told me to cut it down to the top of soil over the winter so I did. Now this is what it looks like this spring. The clusters of white flowers will eventually turn a light shade of purple.
Everyone keeps telling me these are Hen and Chickens, but I don’t think so. Any help would be appreciated! I love your cactus blog.
Mrs. Chancellor Brownwood, TX
The plant is definitely not Hens and Chicks (Sempervivums). It is a Stonecrop – one of the Sedum telephium hybrids.
Agave, euphorbia, Pachypodium, aloes and others alike are not cactus correct? They are succulents yes? To be a cactus it has to be under the family of cactaceae? Educate me my mentor! aweezy_27
Yes, you are right! Only cactaceae are “true” cacti. All other spiny plants that look like a cactus are not a cactus. The difference is in the “aureoles” – only cactus have aureoles. On the other side, there are succulents in many plant families, including cactus etc…
Hello, We had big beautiful cactus on the balcony, we cut it into smaller parts and planted them in big pots, but they are dying. Our gardener doesn’t seem to be fixing the problem. we’re not giving them water.. some are at the entrance of the house. no water and no sun (could that be the problem) some are outside on the balcony, so getting water only when it rains and it does not rain much.
I am attaching picture here. Could you please help. Thank you Hala
Hala, Two of the cacti are dead and the other two look like they might still be alive. I don’t really know what has gone wrong as there are so many possibilities here. No water and no sun seems like a sufficient cause, though.
I would remove the two that might be alive from the pot and start over in a new pot, preferably terra cotta, and new fresh fast-draining cactus soil. Bring them out to a sunny location. Here in the San Francisco area we would water every two to three weeks. Peter
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?
Thank you for your time, ed
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.
Hi! Any idea what my pleiospilos is doing? It was looking happy before the winter, but has slowed transformed into this strange shape. Should I be concerned?
RC, I think they are looking fine. They are a little oversized, which may indicate too much water. But basically you got new leaf-pairs through the winter as is normal, and in one of the plants the old leaf-pair dried out as is also normal. Peter
My Echevierias are blooming, which is nice, but most of the flowers are covered with aphids. What’s your recommendation on controlling that?
As always, enjoy your blog posts a lot (even the dog ones) 🙂 Reilly
Reilly, There are 3 answers to the aphids on succulent blooms issue:
1. Cut the blooms off. This is a very reliable solution.
2. Spray – We prefer either Neem Oil or Natural Pyrethrins. You can also clean them off with a paint brush dipped in alcohol.
3. Ant control. It turns out most aphids on succulent blooms, including echeverias, are being farmed there by ants. Check for ants in the area and do what you need to control the ants. We do have a couple organic products for this as well.
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 Lorraine
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?]
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.
We bought some black bamboo about a year ago from you guys. They are doing great and wow does it grow fast!
I had a question about an agave that we’ve had a little while longer. It has been sporting these little yellowish spots on it lately and they seem to be multiplying. We’ve been watering it about once a month over the winter. This one and another one we bought are the first we’ve owned so I’m not quite sure what its ailment might be. (the other one seems fine aside from re-potting shock it endured a little while back)
Is this indicative of something wrong? Pic is attached. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
Jared, It looks like your Agave attenuata has taken some winter damage from the freeze we had in January. Over time these damaged leaves will die off and be replaced by new leaves that will come out of the center of the plant. In the meantime there’s not a lot you need to or can do. Peter
First of all, let me just say that I love your blog. You guys are wonderful. I have gotten so much of my (admittedly limited) knowledge about succulents and cacti from reading it that I just can’t begin to thank you enough.
I have two questions. One I’m a little worried about because I suspect I won’t like the answer. In the second photo here, you can see my new Euphorbia Ammak up close… and there’s some discoloration, both pink and brown. The brown looks like it could be rot; it was just replanted, and it seems (see: right side of photo) perhaps someone at one point cut away some rot, which scabbed over. The brown is just at the bottom there; it does not continue up and is not soft or mildewy.
The plant itself is about 5′ and seems happy otherwise. The odd pink continues up the plant in a few vertical patches but ONLY one one side.
I am hoping you will say that the pink is just sunburn and the brown was rot that has apparently been handled, as the top looks good and has grown several feet past the brown at the base. If you do, I will do a happy dance. I love this baby and don’t want to have to lop it off at the top. But I’m a little worried these patches are something more serious. Boo!
Two, in the first photo (which also shows the euphorbia’s height), I would love your help ID’ing that beautiful purple plant in the hanging basket. I bought it when it was just a few spindly arms and, since repotting it, it’s grown and segmented quite beautifully, with tiny pink blossoms along the length sometimes blooming. However it does seem the segments are a bit thinner and I am wondering if I am not taking proper care of it. It gets some direct morning light and then a good deal of bright shade the rest of the day.
Thank you for any help you can provide. Love you guys! Wish you were closer! (I’m in San Diego!)
Lindsey, The pink does look like sunburn – when it was repotted maybe it got turned around?
The brown does look like some rot as a result of the sunburn, caused probably by a fungus. It should be able to heal. I recommend spraying, out of sun, with an organic fungicide like Neem Oil – though don’t use anything called Rose Defense. Watch carefully to make sure it doesn’t continue spreading. If it does, it may be prone to a virus which can then spread quickly throughout the plant.
The hanging basket cactus is a Lepismium cruciforme and probably wants less direct sun than it is getting.
I have a plant that I purchased about 2-1/2 years ago from you. While I left it in the pot, it continued to grow and looked heathy. Last summer, I transplanted it into the ground in a sunny spot. It stopped growing, and developed a yellow tinge. Now, the yellow spots are turning soft.
I have a new raised bed with much better drainage and a bit less sun. My question is: can I move it right now, or must I wait until it warms up? I live in Sacramento. Is it too late to save? It is soft at the top of the plant, not near the roots.
Thanks for any suggestions you can offer,
Kathryn, If when it was in the pot it was in a less sunny location, it may have sunburned from being put out into full sun, especially in a Sacramento summer.
And then in winter, it looks like you have automatic watering at the plant? If so that could make the problem worse in winter. It is possible that the soil was moist when we had our freeze in January.
So it looks like it is rotting from the tip. In general that means you want to cut the rotted tips off down to where you can see fresh clean green tissue on the inside of the plant. You will then have to protect the tips for a few weeks while they callous over. Given how far this has progressed, I would recommend doing the cutting now, turning off the water and protecting it from any rains, and then waiting until April or May to transplant it. Basically you want it to start getting better before you cause any transplant stress.
You should spray the cut tips with hydrogen peroxide to help them heal over. Watch for further rot and if needed spray with an organic fungicide like neem.
In the future it is best to water Opuntia subulatas in the ground very very sparingly. Once established you don’t have to ever water them unless you are getting over 95F.
Elizabeth has a question for Yahoo Answers. I thought I would post it here so you all can join in and pass along your cactus expertise to Elizabeth.
Cactus for Valentines Day? So my boyfriend and I have been together for three years now and I always make him crafts or get him odd little things for Valentines day and he loves it. So this year I was going to get him a Venus Fly trap that said You caught me ;D but all the fly traps were dead and i bought him a “Golden Ball Cactus”…
The cactus has a yellow straw flower actually hot glued onto the poor cactus… stupid people.. and all the others were like,,, dead and such and i was wondering if there is any way i can keep this crinkly little flower alive. I wasn’t sure if it was fake or not.. but im assuming fake flowers can’t die although it has obviously been glued on.
I’ll start it off by saying that if all the Venus Fly Traps and all the Cactus except one were dead that the store she bought the one from is not doing a good job taking care of the plants and I would watch the cactus carefully for signs of stress and not worry about the straw flower.
My succulent grew a baby plant. Should I put it in its own pot? Thanks!
I would definitely cut it off and put it in a new pot – BUT – wait for spring. It will be fine for a few more months as it is. When you do take the cutting, I recommend letting the cut end dry for a week before planting it in fresh dry cactus soil.
Also, not that you asked, but it looks like your Echeveria could use a bit more light. These are full sun Echeverias and would do best with 3-4 hours min. direct sun, without a screen.
I stopped by Cactus Jungle a few months ago asking about Edithcolea grandis. At the time, you said you didn’t have any because you always get it from a supplier. When I asked about propagating, you said that it’s hard to grow from seed, and you have never been able to get it to root. Since then, I’ve been doing some experimenting, and wanted to share some successes.
First of all, I don’t know how people grow it from seed; I couldn’t do it at all.
But, after my main plant started to rot and I took a few cuttings, I was able to experiment with rooting. What worked (with 2 separate cuttings) was to use rooting hormone, put pots in a warm-ish place that’s accessible to sunlight – nothing drastic, just a windowsill or an inner covered patio), keep the soil moist, but not wet, and keep the pot covered with a plastic bag. I just had regular 2-inch plastic pots covered by a ziplock bag. I live in the foggy part of San Francisco, so it was never especially warm or cold. What did NOT work was keeping pots uncovered, keeping them in the greenhouse (probably too much temp variation?), or keeping the soil too dry or too wet.
I hope this is helpful to you, and thanks for the beautiful nursery and great plants.
Thanks for the update! Do you have pictures of the new little plants?
I’m having an awful time with mildew (or some similar fuzzy gray fungus) on Euphorbias in my house, one room in particular. I tried neem oil, but that just makes everything defoliate. Then I tried spraying with basic copper sulfate (it was the cheapest and least toxic thing I could find at the garden center), but that has no effect. So I’m looking for something not found in nature, ideally something that’s illegal in multiple countries. Bonus points if it’s a yellow-green liquid that produces its own dry ice fog. Can you recommend anything?
 Affected so far: Euphorbia milii, Euphorbia drupifera, Pedilanthus tithymaloides, Synadenium grantii, Euphorbia bougheyi variegata, Euphorbia trigona, Euphorbia lactea, Pedilanthus ‘Jurassic Park 2.’
We have the same ongoing problem with Euphorbia milii, various Pedilanthus and Synadeniums and a few others. It is an ongoing battle with organic fungicides. We do use a product called “Mildew Cure” from JH Biotech, although it is also as natural as neem, but it works better on Euphorbias in our experience. Hydrogen peroxide might work. I don’t know of any systemic fungicides to recommend, but if you want something not listed for this use try a sulfur smudge stick used for seasoning wine barrels, and you light them.