Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Prickly and Wrinkly



I blew all my current blooms on my last post, so I decided to show a couple of cactus photos instead. This prickly photo will probably scare some folks who are leery of cacti and succulents. The Agave in the background is Agave angustifolia ‘Marginata’. This Agave species freely produces pups which must be removed to help the original plant to maintain its shape. The problem is that the leaves have such sharp points that it's sometimes hard to get at them when they're young, which is what happened with this one. Now I have two Agaves growing into each other.


The prickly pear is an Opuntia phaeacantha. It is a double threat prickly pear--long sharp spines and glochids. Most all prickly pear species have glochids (small hairlike hooked spines that are at the base of the long spines) that are especially tough to get out if you brush against them.





This potted Echinocereus viereckii ssp morricalii is all wrinkled and flabby from lack of water. I don't water many cacti during the winter because of potential root rot, so they shrink up about 1/3 to 1/2 their summer size as they consume their stored water. I will begin regular watering of the cacti in a couple of weeks as the weather warms, and they'll all plump up quickly. You can see the summer size of the stems here.

15 comments:

Claude said...

It's amazing how desicated cactus can get and still come back, isn't it?

The agave is great, even if it does have two heads... I just got an A. americanna - one of the variagated varieties. Don't know which one... I'm going to plant it some time next weekend. I think it already has pups starting... so I might end up with a few more planted around...

Darla said...

Neat photos. I like the first photo with the cacti in the background. Had no idea about not watering them in the winter.

playsdolls said...

Aiyana your cactus photos are real great.I love a beautiful cactus.

Suzanne said...

I always learn a lot from you! Since I've never lived in the southwest, I've never been around cacti much, but I enjoy hearing about the different varieties from you!

verobirdie said...

Although I'd hesitat to come near them, I love the first picture.

Jean said...

Great info about not watering the cacti in winter and the fact that they store water. It must be fun to watch them transform when you start adding water. Great post! Jean

Laurie and Chris said...

Cool post. I have learned so much about cacti by visiting your blog.

GardenJoy4Me said...

Aiyana .. you don't have to have flowers to have great plant pictures : )
I enjoy seeing all of these plants !

beckie said...

That prickly pear looks very menacing. I learned the hard way there are 2 set of spines. :} The pups of the agave-when do you transplant them and do you have to cut the roots? I love looking at all your cacti, Aiyana!

Aiyana said...

Beckie,
Agave pups are best transplanted in spring, summer and fall. They need to have water to establish, maybe once a week for a few months, then taper off to about every 10 days to two weeks depending on your climate. Some folks don't realize that Agaves do need water, but not a lot and not often. When removing pups, keep some of the roots if possible. Then, just set the pups aside to callus for a week (or when dried out) and then place in a pot or in the ground. No soil amendments are necessary unless you have very slow draining soil. In that case, you'll need to add some gravel, sand or some other agent to loosen it up to help it drain. Water and wait. I've only had one pup that didn't make it in the dozens I've planted. I have so many around in pots and in my garden that if I can't give them away, I just put them in the trash. It's hard, but there's dozens more any time I want one!
Aiyana

Dee said...

I need to learn how to "not water". I panic at the wrinkled look but I know that is normal this time of year.

WiseAcre said...

Whew, When I saw the title I thought you somehow got a photo of me.

Aiyana said...

WiseAcre,
You continue to live up to your name. That comment was hilarious! LOL!
Aiyana

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Great pics! Reading your post reminded me why I don't like prickly plants. I'm a touchy-feely gardener and with these plants it would not be an enjoyable experience.

Mary Beth said...

I planted a few Agave Marginata last fall after admiring them in many tropical landscapes around here. But I'll keep my eye out for pups that need to be removed. I know they are desert plants - but they do look great with tropicals, too. Maybe it's the bright white stripe.
Next week, I'm heading to Phoenix to visit my mother - our first excursion is to see the glass display at your Desert Botanical Garden. One of my friends saw it both in Florida and in Phoenix. She felt that the desert landscape was the perfect backdrop.