Fresh and Green

Hi there,

I bumped into your blog while trying to research to check if my cactus is becoming healthy: in the center of each cactus stalk (not sure what to call it!), it looks like the center is starting to brown and decay. But I’m not sure exactly if it in fact it is doing it, and I’m getting concerned and wondering if I can catch this potential problem right now. Would you by any chance know what’s going on right now with my cactus? Any information would be helpful!

 

Thanks,
Marc

Marc,
It looks like it could be a burn on the newly growing centers of each stem of the cactus. Was it recently brought out into sun, or turned around so a different side was facing the sun? Maybe it was under an overhang and the sun finally came around to its part of the yard? Also, it might have been from spraying it.

It looks like it has healed over enough that you probably don’t have to worry about it getting an infection. But watch for soft spots.
Peter

Succulent Weeds

Hey guys:

What in the heck is this growing up beside my H. attenuata? I noticed it a month ago, but it has started morphing into the growth that is now evident on the edges of the leaves.

Thanks,

Dustin

Dustin,
That’s a Kalanchoe tubiflora, also known as a Mother of Millions because of all the little plantlets coming along the leaf edges. In other words, it’s a succulent weed.
Peter

Watering Succulent Terrariums

This is a tough one.

I have a new succulent terrarium and am in need of watering instruction. I had instructions included saying to use a spray bottle and moisten at the base of the succulents. I am aware that over-watering can lead to root rot, so I want to make sure I do not get to that point. The middle of my two main succulent plants are showing signs of brown leaves. I feel quite certain that I have not over-watered just solely on the fact that I’ve watered once in the week that I’ve had it, but I am concerned with the browning. Everything I have read has said the lower/base of the plants will brown and those leaves will die, but as long as the middle/center of the plant isn’t turning, all should be fine.

 

You can see in the pictures attached that is exactly what I’m noticing. I have the terrarium indoors in in-direct sunlight during the day. Could you please offer some watering suggestions? I do not know if I’m even watering enough, I don’t see any of the water going down into the soil-is that a visual indicator I should/not see? Thanks for your time.

Ashley

Ashley,
It’s hard to tell from the photos what is going on. The plant in the middle is a Haworthia and they are very sensitive to over-water. The bottom leaves dropping off look like they are rotting, rather than drying, which would imply over-water.

Terrariums are difficult to get the watering right. You may well lose a few plants before you figure out your own conditions. In general when a succulent is in a regular pot we water every 2 weeks (in our area), drench the soil and let it drain away so it is never sitting in water. In a terrarium you can’t quite do that since there is no drainage. So you water more often, but less water. You want to wet the soil, but you don’t ever want water sitting at the bottom (we add charcoal at the bottom of our terrariums to neutralize any sitting water). So you need to test it out over time – a small amount of water and then check the soil to make sure it is dry before you water again.

Good luck,
Peter

We Get Questions

Dear Cactus Jungle,
I have an established echeveria plant outside my yard in long beach, California. Lately, it appears to be losing some of its color and dropping a lot of leaves. It used to be bright green and completely full, you could not stick your finger in the mass of flowers. Now there are holes. It gets plenty of sun and has good drainage. Is this too much water? Too little water? Normal?

 

Also, we recently had a laundry to landscape gray water irrigation installed near the plant, so maybe stress?

I appreciate any help as it is a favorite and I don’t want to lose it.

Thanks,
Pixie

Pixie,
It looks to me like this is an Aeonium (possibly A. haworthii or one of the A. decorum hybrids) rather than an Echeveria. Aeoniums are winter growers, so they often look exactly like this in a sunny location in the summer. Also, the plant has crowded out this area and probably has fully used up the nutrients in the soil.

Do not overwater going forward since it is dormant for the summer. Let it look like this for now, and then in the fall I recommend thinning it out by taking cuttings. Fertilize in fall and winter (see our Ultra Soil Cactus Meal).
Peter

Agave Question

Sometimes people are so quick to send us a question they forget to tell us who they are, or where they are. In general, it’s always nice to see a question signed by a person so we know it’s not a bot.

Not sure why it looks like this. In raised pots, we do get frost on occasion, maybe too much/little water?

Any advice?

In general succulents do lose bottom leaves, so as long as there are new leaves growing in the center its not really a problem. However it does like like it might have been some freeze damage, so maybe next year if you’re going to get a freeze you could cover it with a frost blanket.

Peter

Some Questions are Easier than Others

I’ve had this fellah for a few years now and I’ve never seen this kind of growth before. What is it?? Plus, I’m not sure what kind of columnar it is since I got it from a chain-store nursery.

 

RK

RK

That’s an Echinopsis pachanoi, also known as San Pedro Cactus, and the new growth at the bottom is a new branch. Congrats!

Peter

Aphids

Hi,
I have had this succulent for about 6-9 mos. After it was planted, I noticed some sand-like granules on some of the blooms. Sadly, it has spread, and the plant looks very sad now. Any suggestions to heal it? The whole plant appears to be turning a dark purple color. It is very beautiful when it’s healthy.

Any suggestions would be appreciated!

Thanks,
Kristie

Kristie,

The sand-like stuff on the blooms is Aphids, an insect that is feeding off the blooms. You can spray the blooms and try to get rid of them, but often the answer is to cut the blooms off. As for the rest of the plant, a Graptopetalum, it doesn’t look good. I think the plant may already be dead, though it’s hard to tell for sure from the photo. If it was the aphids, it would have to have been a major infestation to do that kind of damage. To me it actually looks like the plant may have suffered sun burn. Was it recently brought outside?

If it is still alive, the best thing you can do is get it afternoon shade, cut off all the bloom stalks, hose it off vigorously, and then spray it with an organic insecticide. We recommend Neem oil, diluted from 100%.

Peter

Succulent Leaf Cuttings

I happened upon your blog while looking up some info on succulents and found it very helpful! I’m still a little unsure about watering succulent starts though. None of the nurseries I have talked to have been able to help me solve the problem. I have a few successful leaf starts growing and recently tried starting a few more. I’m having a hard time telling if I’m over or under watering them though. I’ve attached a picture of two sets I currently have (“Dying” and “Healthy”). One is pretty healthy (they are about a week old) and the others have completely changed colors (they are mostly from a purple graptopetalum). I’m thinking they are over watered. Is that correct? How often would you recommend watering these? I’m in Utah and these are outside in temperatures between 40 and 80 right now in partial sun. I think I may have gotten rather lucky that my first batch had some success, although quite a few of the leaves did die rather than grow.

 

Cassidy

Cassidy,
I can’t tell you how to grow them in your climate as it is so different than ours. In general, you can expect a certain amount of loss, and it should take a year or so to get small plants. It’s probably better to grow them inside. And it’s probably better to use a succulent soil, rather than the bark based soil you are using. Finally, I would bury the cut tip of the leaf into the soil a bit, rather than just set them on top. All that said, I do not know if it is overwater or underwater, too much sun or soil that isn’t drying out, or some other possible problem – that’s the joy of propagating – learning your conditions and how to get the plants to grow locally. You’ll need to do some tests treating different groups differently and see how they grow.

Aeonium Questions

Howdy cactus jungle,
My crested aeonium has developed some brown spots on its leaves, but everything else seems fine. There’s even healthy looking new growth/rosettes. Should I be concerned? Should I give it a neem oil treatment?

Thanks for any advice you can give,
Tony

Tony,
I wouldn’t be too concerned since the new growth looks good. It was probably freeze damage or hail damage. On the other hand, it could be mites. Check for tiny insects, for barely visible webbing. If it’s mites then it does need to be treated with neem oil.
Peter

Pads or Buds?

It can be difficult in the Opuntia family to tell if new growth is going to be flowers or stems. Eventually though they grow big enough that we can make a determination.

Now is that time for Shelley’s cactus.

Dear Peter:

Here are the things growing from my cactus.

Please advise.

Shelley

In this case my answer was visual:

Haworthias in Trouble?

Hi, love your blog! I’ve had these haworthia plants for about 1-2 years, while they do ok (haven’t managed to kill them yet), but they just don’t look as healthy and lush as the ones I see in nurseries and pictures I see online. They get morning sun until about 10-11, then they’re in shade for the rest of the day. They’re a little dry looking, I’m hesitant to water them too much fearing of root rot. I water about once every 2 weeks. Any idea how I can make them “better looking”?

Thanks in advance!
RC

RC,
Your Haworthias look fine. In fact, they look great. I would say you are doing a stellar job with them. If you are at all concerned that they are a little less lush than some others online you’ve seen, in general that’s because other people do grow them with more water, but they are very rot prone when grown that way, less healthy, and less likely to survive long term. If you want, you can reduce the amount of light they get so that instead of 3-4 hours of morning sun they only get 2 hours, and then they will be less red, more green, and a little more lush. But considering that your plants look very healthy and natural, I’m not sure I would change anything.
Peter

Sloat Garden Center Sends the Tough Questions to Cactus Jungle

Greetings and thank you.
Is there any chance you know what this plant is? The Plant Guru at Sloat Gardens said you might, although i don’t agree with the idea that this is a succulent because it takes a lot of water. Some leaves bifurcate into these little paddle shaped clusters (which although predicted, have not yet fallen off yet any) thanks again if you have any ideas.

~ : }
suki

Suki,

It is a succulent, and I believe it is Kalanchoe beauverdii. The leaves at the ends are plantlets, designed to fall off and root and grow into new plants. It’s a common strategy for Kalanchoes.

Peter

Cleistocactus on the Prowl

Attached is a photo of a cactus that you repotted for me a year or two ago. I water it every 2 weeks as you advised. This morning it was leaning a little and this afternoon it went all the way over. Any suggestions as to why, what I need to do, are the others at risk?

Thank you for any help you can give.

Susan

Susan,

It’s hard to tell what happened from the small photo. But in general Cleistocactus have a life cycle where each individual branch only lives 7-10 years and then dies, generally by breaking off at a rot spot. They grow new branches as it goes. If this is what has happened then you can cut this branch off. New branches will eventually grow and replace it. However, as best I can tell the branch is bending not breaking, and if there is no rot down at the bend, then it is possible that this is a case of too much water for the location. Cleistocactus can sometimes start sprawling like that, but usually if its growing too fast. So while we recommend more water in sunnier locations, as much as once every 2 weeks, it needs less water if it’s not getting all day sun – every 3 weeks or so. Also, as it is sitting in a saucer, you want to make sure that it doesn’t actually fill up with water. The soil needs to dry out between waterings, and sitting in water keeps the soil moist.

Peter

Fockea Crispa

I rescued this plant from the trash; but, I don’t know anything about it. Can you help ? I assumed from the base it was an arid climate plant.

Thanks
Joan

Joan,
Nice! That’s a fairly mature Fockea crispa, one of the easier caudiciform succulents to grow. I would make sure you have it in a fast draining cactus soil, water every 2 weeks or so, indoor and a few hours of sun but not too much.
Peter

Small Dead Cactus

Hello,
I was desperately googling after finding my favorite little cactus in a sorry state and I found your blog. I attached a picture of my cactus. Two days ago it was perfectly fine. I have had it for 1 year, I water it every other week and it has a drainage hole. Do u know what has happened to my poor little cactus? Anyway to save it?

Thank u!

Sara Beth

Sara Beth,

I can’t really tell what went wrong from the photo. While usually watering every 2 weeks is fine for most cactus, assuming it’s in a sunny window and you’re drenching the soil and letting it drain away so it never sits in water, for such a small pot you sometimes have to water a little more frequently. On the other hand, the soil looks too rich for cactus, so maybe it wasn’t drying out between waterings in which case it could have been overwater.

Peter

ID Fest

Dustin, who you should be following at CactGuy, sends along some plants to help with ID’ing.

Hi Peter,

I was hoping you could help me ID this random assortment of succulents that I have received from various people – I really am hopeless on the non-Cactaceae front!

 

Thanks,

Dustin

With help from Rikki and Brian we came up with these:

Dustin,

The large purple plant is Kalanchoe ‘Desert Surprise’, and those are surprising colors for a desert, so I guess the name is apprpriate. To the right is an Echeveria “Topsy Turvy” and then Pleiospilos nelii. Around the back under the large leaves is Crassula ovata, and the small red-leafed plant is another Kalanchoe, probably Kalanchoe blossfeldiana.

Peter

Aeonium Bloom Season

We often get asked questions about these giant blooming stalks. The news isn’t good.

I bought a small aeonium from you guys a long while back. It now is flowering and I just read that you said it would die after flowering. Should I cut the branch off below the flowering large branch now? thanks RoseAnn

RoseAnn,

Aeoniums are “almost” monocarpic, the rosette that blooms, certainly dies after flowering and the plant uses a lot of resources to “get frisky”. So I generally cut the bloom off when the first of the flowers open and use it as a cut flower, it actually can last over a month in bloom if you change the water regularly. You can let it bloom out on the plant as long as there are other rosettes on the plant, but it will struggle if it sets seed.

Take care,

Hap

Thanks Hap. Will the other rosettes on the plant die along with it?

RoseAnn,

Usually the other rosettes survive, but they seem to sulk for awhile before showing normal vigor again. I assume the flowering and seed making hormones suppress their metabolism and active growth. So they can look pretty ratty for a year afterwards.

Hap

And just for fun here’s one of our Aeonium “Cyclops” going through the whole bloom cycle thing. I think it’s time to cut cut cut it’s head off.

That’s a lot of little yellow flowers.

Mealie Bugs

Jodie sends along a photo.

Hap sends along information.

Jody,

It looks like the Aeonium has Mealie Bugs, the white messy part is a waxy coating they make to protect themselves from predators. You can clean them off with a Q-tip or artist brush dipped in alcohol (rubbing or drinking). Then follow up with either Insecticidal Soap or Neem Oil spray. Watch for ants, as they farm Mealie Bugs like dairy cows and carry them around to new plants to “milk” them.

Take care,

Hap

Questions

hi there,

i purchased a few succulent plants from your store a couple weeks ago and in recent days started to notice some yellowing (or even drying) of leaves. this is my first time planting anything so i am not sure if it’s common. please see attached pictures and let me know how to better care them.

thanks,
winnie

Winnie,
In general the plants look fine. Succulents lose bottom leaves naturally, so as long as the centers are solid, there’s no real long term problem. However, it looks like you’re losing more bottom leaves than I would like to see. It looks like it could be overwatering. We recommend watering them every 2 weeks – drench them and let the water drain away, never letting them sit in water. If that’s not the problem, let me know how much you’ve been watering and how much sun they’re getting.
Peter

Yummy Honey Plants

Hey Guys,
Thank you SO much for taking the time to answer my question. I was in the City yesterday & discovered this growing in my old neighborhood…..since my partner & I collect unusual cacti & succulents, I was wondering if you could identify this specimen so I can find one for my Honey for his upcoming birthday.

Thank you,
James

James,

It is a yummy Aloe marlothii! One of the Mountain Aloes of South Africa.

And we have cute babies as well as a few larger in stock. I even have a 15 gallon one at our grow-space that looks like the larger one in your photo…

Take care,

Hap

Quick Question

Quick questions go by quickly, so slow down, read carefully, and don’t skip over any part of this at all or this quick question will go by quickly.

Hello!

Could you help me identify this aeonium?

Thanks!
Allison

Allison,
It looks like it’s A. canariense, but there are a few types that look very similar.
Peter

Do you think you could do better?

Now That's What We Call a Question

I’m sorry to be a bother but it seems after I bought an aloe ferox (in a 3 inch pot) from you two weeks ago, I’ve neglected to ask when it should be repotted and into what size of a pot? I can’t find a definitive answer anywhere. Thank you for you attention!

Most of our plants are good in the pot they cam in for about a year. With Aloes when the rosette is covering the top of the pot and making it hard to water it is time to repot. Of course it will grow faster in a larger pot, but it is easy to over water if you go too large, so it is better to keep the scale of the pot to the plant.

Take care,
Hap

And in case you were wondering, we have a beautiful crop of 1ga. Aloe ferox out now.

By the way, did you know that in the nursery trade gallon pots are not abbreviated 1ga. like normal people would do it, but #1, and #5 and so on. But I refuse to give in to the forces of evil and will continue my habit of abbreviating things normally. I’ll give out more secrets of the trade if you ask me.

It's a Question! We Love Questions!

I’m sorry to be a bother but it seems after I bought an aloe ferox (in a 3 inch pot) from you two weeks ago, I’ve neglected to ask when it should be repotted and into what size of a pot? I can’t find a definitive answer anywhere. Thank you for you attention!

Jennifer

Most of our small plants are good in the pot they came in for about a year. With Aloes when the rosette is covering the top of the pot and making it hard to water it is time to repot. Of course it can grow faster in a larger pot, but it is too easy to over-water if you go too large and then the soil doesn’t dry out properly, so it is better to keep the pot sized right to the plant.

Take care,

Hap

We Get Questions

It’s a short question. Bear with us, because the payoff is worth it.

Hi,
I was wondering if you could help me identify a plant, it is a succulent, I have attached a picture of it – it’s the little plant climbing up out of the globe.
Thank you!
Ilana

And here’s the picture of the plant in question:

Cute! Seems tricky to get the plant to grow through the side holes. Of course, the plant didn’t actually grow through those holes so much as the stems were placed there.

And here’s Hap’s answer to the question in question about the plant in question:

Ilana,

It looks like Crassula ‘Tom Thumb’ or one of the similar dwarf clones from the Crassula perforata group.

Take care,

Hap Hollibaugh

An Aloe Grows in berkeley

Hello guys-
I was just at your store last week visiting from San Diego. I wish I lived closer so I could buy more than the pink garden gloves I got! My sister lives in Berkeley and she takes me to your nursery every time I come up. We love to roam around and find out the names of some things in our garden which are unnamed.

I’d like to know if you could please identify this aloe for me. Seen here, it is about 3 years old and was given to my sister by her succulent guru who has a fantastic garden, but doesn’t always remember the names of her plants!

Thanks very much,
Pat

Pat,

You have an Aloe striata v. karasbergensis. We love this aloe but it is a lot slower growing than the Coral Aloe species it comes from.

Peter

Jade Flowers

Hello,

My fiance and I bought a jade tree from you (which we love!). However, this morning, we noticed what looks to be an infestation of aphids(?) all over the leaves (I’ve attached a picture). Can you suggest what type of pet-safe spray we might use or what might be the best way to safely get rid of them?

Thanks in advance,
Susan

Susan,
That is a lot of aphids. I would check for ants, as the plant is in bloom and ants bring aphids to crassula blooms to farm them.

We carry a pet-safe organic insecticide called Eco Smart we can recommend for the aphids, and if you find that ants have moved into the pot or nearby, we also have an Eco Smart ant product too.
Peter

Hi Peter,

Ooooh, you’re good! We recently found a nest of ants in another plant which (we thought) we’d cleaned out in time, but alas, apparently not. Clever little buggers…

We’ll try to stop in tomorrow afternoon for the Eco Smart.

Thank you so much!
-Susan

Peregrina Questions

CJ,
I bought a Jatropha Interrigima from you last year and love it! It’s been quite healthy and happy, until I went away for Christmas. Could you please look at the attached info and let me know if there is anything I can do to help it recover?

Thank you!
-Evan

Evan,
While this kind of defoliation can be caused by the pest, Spider Mites, there would be tiny webs and near microscopic vampire spiders on the underside of the leaves… but if you don’t see any sign of that, it looks like the combination of temperature, light and perhaps water change sent it in to a winter leaf drop and dormancy. As long as there is new leaves developing it should come out of it as spring brings more light and warmth. Just don’t over water trying to perk it up, let it dry out and keep it on the schedule that it was happiest with you. The other thing to look at is now that it is winter is it getting blasted with forced air heating? That can really shock a plant when it gets turned on for the winter. The low strength fertilizer should help give it another dose in mid March.
Let me know if it isn’t responding and you can bring it by for us to take a closer look.
Take care,
Hap

How to Rescue an Echeveria

Anyway to save this Echeveria?? Is that even what it is?..

Had this for 3 years now and would hate to see it die.
Could it be cut and repotted above the weak stem area?.. Looks like it is still getting water from the stem though.. I also noticed that it has root like protrusions coming off it.
Any help would be great.

Thanks,
james

James,

It’s hard to tell right now, but it is probably an Echeveria.

The base of the plant is not really saveable but the small rosette at the end of the stem can be rescued. Trim the stem about 1-2″ below the leaves, making sure there is no rot in the portion of the stem you are keeping. If you see rot, keep cutting higher up until there is not rot visible. Spray the cut end with hydrogen peroxide to help it heal. Let it dry for 2-3 days, and then plant it in a new pot with fresh cactus soil, keeping it dry for at least another week. I would recommend throwing out the existing pot and soil. If you want to reuse the pot clean it with bleach first.

Good luck,

Peter

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