Archive | September 2013

A Delightful Little Lithop

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I bought this pair of little lithops with hopes of keeping them alive, which isn’t always the easiest thing to do, and not only have they lived, but bloomed beautiful yellow flowers!

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The little horned lizard, or as they are colloquially known in Texas, horny toads, was a souvenir from a trip to Galveston, and I thought he added a nice touch to the dish garden. The pony tail palm, beaucarnea recurvata,  makes a nice contrast to the lithop leslii, v. luteoninidis, and are good companions as both specimens can go several days between waterings, especially the lithops, which can go a long time without water in their dormant season.

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The flowers opened Sunday evening; by nightfall they were beginning to close. Low and behold, for the next four days they have reopened, pretty as every. I am curious how many more days they will do this. Time will tell. I just hope I can keep them alive to do it again. It has been a pleasant surprise to find them open, bright and cheery one more time.

Plastic vs. Wire Hangers for Hanging Pots

Trailing succulents are good choices for hanging baskets. Their fleshy growth stands up well in high winds, and the fact that they are succulents means they don’t wilt if they miss a watering.

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That’s the good news. The bad news is that if they thrive, over time they and their pots get pretty heavy. If you use plastic pots with plastic hangers, like I have, you discover that plastic does not stand up well to the weight along with the sun and weather, and over time will weaken and break. I know this because in the last three weeks I have rescued two of my oldest pots, pictured below, which I found before all three of the lines of their plastic hangers had broken. They were dangling precariously from their remaining two lines, on the verge of dropping on top of various cactus dish gardens underneath them.

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Another of my succulent hanging pots full of donkey tail sedum is really heavy and is at least as old, if not older than the ones that broke, and it is hanging from a wire hanger and shows no signs of crashing to the ground. And usually the wire hangers are on pots made of a more durable material, which is not a bad idea, either.

So I suggest that you use studier pots with wire hangers. They may not be quite as pretty as some plastic ones, but will be more durable for you. And the weight may not be as much a factor as the general deterioration of plastic in our heat, but why take a chance? Succulents are hard to repot without knocking off all their fragile leaves, so by starting out with a durable pot with durable hangers lets you skip that possibility in the future.

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And after the succulent grows, it covers up the pot anyway. So there you go.

Notocactus Magnificus-Another Good One to Add to Your Collection

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Notocactus magnificus, also known as parodia magnificus, is native to Brazil and Uruguay. This cactus is easy to grow and will bloom several times during warm weather. Even though in its native habitat it can withstand lots of daytime heat and cold weather at night, if you have extended cold or freezing weather, I would suggest you treat as not cold hardy.

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All of my notocactus magnificus specimens have the yellow spines and green bodies, but I have seen some with grayer bodies and silver spines. I think they also produce yellow flowers.

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All notocctus magnificus have a nice round ball-shaped body, or at least they start out that way. As you can see here, the older one in the dish garden behind the one in bloom has grown tall. The first one I had grew so tall that it became top-heavy and leaned over the side of the pot and was awkward, so I sliced off the top about 3 or 4 inches from the base. It responded by making a cluster of crowns all around the rim of the cut part of the plant and grew into a lovely clump of cactus. And I took the severed top, trimmed the remaining crown up into the less woody part of the body and rooted it. I sold both parts and started over with younger plants. It will be interesting to see if this taller one winds up falling over, too. And if it does, I will most likely operate on it as well.

But one way or the other, I will always have at least one of these rewarding cactus in my collection.