Monday, August 20, 2007

From Cactus Garden To Rock Garden

Mammillaria boolii

This tiny cactus started out as part of a purchased cactus garden. When the cacti started growing bigger than the pot allowed, I had to disassemble the whole arrangement. This is not easy. These arrangements always come with a top dressing of gravel sprayed with some type of gluey polymer to keep the gravel in place, and that means the whole arrangement comes out of the pot at once, and sometimes, that even the cacti are stuck together.

I’ve found that purchasing these arrangements is an economical way to attain small cacti specimens, and although the cactus in the photo wasn’t something I was particularly interested in, it was part of the bargain. As I potted up the seven cacti, I found I didn’t have a suitable pot for this one, so I decided to plant it on the north side of a boulder in my garden, and promptly forgot about it.

After our recent rains, I came across this cactus just as it had opened one flower, and I was quite pleased with the color. I was surprised that, although still very small, it had clumped and had three new stems. I’ve since identified it as a Mammillaria boolii, which usually blooms in April. This one is not following the normal bloom period, if indeed it is an M. boolii. This cactus is a native of the coastline of Sonora, Mexico, and is tender in winter in Phoenix, so I’m going to have to give it some protection, as it needs to be above 40°.

Since M. boolii stays quite small--usually it gets no taller than a couple of inches; it really has no business hiding behind a boulder in my vast garden. This fall, I’ll probably find a suitable sized pot so it can be displayed at it should be.


kate said...

I love this flower ... oh how I wish I could grow cacti outdoors. It would be great fun coming across a bloom like this.

No Rain said...

Hi Kate,
I agree that these little surprises are fun. Some surprises are not, however. I just found three of my baby golden barrels completely dried up. I forgot I had planted them in that spot, and didn't water. Too hot--too long. Babies can't take going without water like the older cacti. When it's too hot to spend a lot of time walking around in my garden, that's when the bad things happen.