I told my plant dealers that I would lie low on buying orchids… However, I didn’t anticipate my purchasing impulse on Adeniums. Just look at those double-petaled beauties… no plant-loving mortal could resist taking them home…and yes, I brought home seven potted plants (Adeniums with Greek nicknames).
I guess the sparrows would agree with me if I say that Mammillaria decipiens ssp. camptotricha is not a comfortable plant to handle. This spiny green globular cactus is presently about 5 inches tall and 6 inches wide (it hasn’t achieved its maturity, yet). It also looks like a nest guarded with lots of needles. Hence, its common name Bird’s Nest Cactus, Bird’s Nest Mammillaria or Bird’s Nest Pincushion.
The green tubercles of this plant are about 2 cm long. Its axil is somewhat lightly covered with white hairs and a few bristles. The protruding needles in the photos are its radial spines which compensate for its lack of central spines. Each tubercle has 2 to 8 radial spines about 3 cm long. Those sharp-edge needles are either thin or thick; flexible or rigid; curled or straight; yellow, white, or brown in color.
In between those tubercles bloom the small white flowers about 1 cm to 1.5 cm wide. (I noticed that this cactus flower in dry and wet season.) Despite its plain appearance, those blossoms have a delicate scent which attracts some ants or stingless bees. In addition, its juicy fruits often look like eye-candy to humans and birds alike.
I like this succulent because it doesn’t demand a lot of care; it’s happy growing in a sandy-loam soil mixed with rice hulls. It also just require a full sun exposure and moderate water to thrive well. However during wet season, I have to move it to a dry spot to avoid drowning and rotting.
It’s the third time in 2011 that my favorite cactus flowered; it bloomed in February and in May earlier this year. I noticed that every time this particular Sea Urchin Cactus (Echinopsis subdenudata) blooms, it is always on a rainy day/night. It’s frustrating that it stays open for only 24 hours or so. Because of the wind and rain, I failed to see its flowers open in the evening. However, I could still admire its beauty and oh-so sweet perfume in its remaining blooming hours in the morning up to 12 noon. I guess the bees would agree with me…
For six years, Mammillaria zeilmanniana is the most active of my cacti when it comes to producing flowers. It shows off 2 cm wide pinkish-purple flowers all throughout the year even when I seldom tend to it. This cactus is also commonly known as the Rose Pincushion Cactus. Coincidentally, I bought it from Rose (a succulent-dealer) last June 2005.
The body of this cactus is glossy green and full of tubercles. You need to take a closer look because the spines cover the whole plant. The white ones are the radial spines, which are about 15 or more found on each tubercle. (Their main function is to collect moisture.) Then, there are also the four reddish-brown central spines on each tubercle — 3 straight and 1 hook. (These fend off little birds that covet its whitish-green fruits and humans.) I always watch out for the hooks when I tend to this cactus but I guess I just couldn’t avoid them.
I’ve heard that in its natural habitat, this cactus rarely branches out. However, it is not in the case here in my garden; from a single plant, it initially produced a cluster of offsets that became clumps later on. I say this plant is very generous that I need to re-pot it every two years.
The offsets thrive well in pots with good cactus soil (I just mix sand, loam soil and rice hulls). I put them in an open area where they get full sun exposure and lots of air. During the dry season, watering is only needed when the soil is hard to the touch. However during the wet season, I refrain to give it water for this plant is prone to rot. Overall, I like this cactus because of its purple flowers and that it is easy to care for.
I’ve repotted my Echinocactus grusonii the other day for it has outgrown its medium-sized container. Six years ago, this plant had the size of the human fist. Now, this sphere-looking succulent is about six inches wide in diameter and six inches tall. It’s also called Golden Barrel Cactus or Golden Ball due to its sharp yellow spines, either straight or slightly curved, which grow along the 14 ribs of its rich green body. My cactus is still quite young; when fully matured this plant could have more than 30 ribs.
Yet, I don’t know who started to call this plant Mother-in-law’s Cushion but I could speculate. Perhaps the reason for this moniker is that its shape and spiny-look symbolizes the attitude and treatment of mothers toward their sons/daughters-in law — you know… critical, tough, nurturing, etc. Anyway according to cacti experts, this plant could grow up to a meter tall and would produce yellow flowers at its crown AFTER 20 years… Well, in that case I have to wait for 14 more years to see this plant bloom…Hmmmnn…I’ll be a great grandma by then…
Just like its tough appearance, this succulent is easy to grow even when I neglect it or give it minimal care. It thrives well in warm climates and likes full sun exposure. It requires only a minimum water, so it’s best to be planted in pots with large holes at the bottom for proper drainage. Water-clogging should be avoided though, for this plant is rot-prone.
Most of the kids who visit my garden take an interest on my potted ground-creeping Sedum pachyphyllum.
“Makaon na? (Is it food?)” is their constant query.
And I would automatically answer yes to that question for it is indeed edible. However, I would often find missing leaves of my plants if I leave the kids unattended as a result to that reply. Well I couldn’t blame them; the succulent commonly called Jelly Beans, Many Fingers or Jelly Bean plant are quite attractive especially when the tips of the leaves turn red under the sun.
I have these plants since the1980s and I could say that they are easy to grow. They just require sun and adequate water. Jelly Beans could even tolerate shady areas, dry soil (they could survive without water for a week!) or moist soil (definitely okay during the summer). However, precaution must be taken against water-clogging for the root of this succulent is rot-prone.
Also, I notice that these succulents are healthier when they get more sun than when left in a shade. The light green with bluish-tinged leaves are about 1-2 cm long, less than 1 cm thick and have finger-like shape.
These Jelly Bean plants are also easy to propagate. I just cut the top rosette with 1 inch of stem and plant it in sandy soil, or sometimes I opt to start new plants with leaf cuttings to multiply my Sedum faster..
If I don’t have my eyeglasses on while tending to my cacti, I would see a bunch of small white spiders creeping on my Gymnocalycium denudatum. I would often confuse the spines for bugs attacking the cream-white flowers. Well, I guess that is why they obviously call this succulent as Spider Cactus due to the way its white spines look like — spider legs that cling close to the body of the plant. (See the photo below.)
The dark green body of my Spider cactus is glossy and globular, about 4 inches tall and 3 1/2 inches wide. It is “slightly chinned” and has eight rounded ribs. Each spines are about a centimeter long and not injurious.
The Spider Cactus is very easy to grow. It requires full sunlight, enough water and a dose of fertilizer to yield cream-white flowers with some rosy tinge at the edge. Depending on the size of the cactus, the flowers are about 5 – 7 cm wide.