Archive | October 2013

Tiger Jaws-Faucaria Tigrina

Faucaria tigrina, commonly called tiger jaws because of the shape of the leaves and the fact they have teeth-shaped appendages on the edges of the leaves that give the appearance of an open mouth full of teeth, are from South Africa. Mine tend to bloom late in the evening and will reopen once or twice.

I have been known to rot a pot or two of this specimen in the past watering too much when they are not blooming, so be careful. Even when they are blooming, water sparingly.

The foliage tends to turn purple when exposed to some direct sun; mine never have, however, because I have kept them out of direct sunlight and they stay dark green, and I like them that way. But you might prefer the color change. They seem to bloom in the fall, since they are from South Africa, below the Equator, which causes their blooming season to be opposite to ours. They make a nice addition to your collection.


Ariocarpus Retusus and Ariocarpus Trigonus

I bought my first ariocarpus several years ago, maybe around 2005 or earlier, an ariocarpus retusus, and it just sort of sat there. Time passed and it finally grew enough to be repotted. Then last year in the fall it surprised me with a bloom. And then this year, bingo! Jackpot!

Ariocarpus retusus.

Then two years ago at an Albuquerque cactus show and sale, I bought an ariocarpus trigonus, one about the size of the retusus I had had for years. It bloomed one flower last year, and this year it has outdone itself, blooming six blooms at once, as you see below.

Ariocarpus trigonus.


I am intrigued with the body and texture of the leaves of these curious little succulents, and I highly recommend adding them to your collection. 

Mammillaria Spinosissima v. Pilcayensis

When I bought this little cactus probably in  2008 or so-unfortunately that was when I wasn’t keeping up with details like names and dates-it was just two little cylindrical plants about two inches long attached at the base and forming a V-shape. I had nothing like that and thought I would see what it grew up to look like.

Time passed; the little specimen did well, but as it grew and got longer,  it started to curve and the crown pointed down to the ground. And it just keep going. It began to look a bit obscene-use your imagination! Other branches formed and it just keep growing.

And then one day it bloomed. Typical of mammillarias, the flowers wee in a circle or halo around the crown of the plant. Rather pretty.


As I was shopping the vendors at my first Cactus and Succulent Society convention in Tucson in 2009 I spotted  one of these cactus for sale. I didn’t buy it, but I did get its name and then was told they grow on cliffs in Guerrero, Mexico, and droop down toward the ground, just like mine does.

So now fast forward to 2013. The plant continues to grow, adding arms and growing longer. In fact it was in one of those plastic pots I talked about last week; the hanger broke and was dangling when I found it one day.  I did repot it  in a larger pot and put it on a stand instead of re–hanging it. It is now root-bound, no doubt, but thriving just the same.


It is growing and seems happy although it has not bloomed much lately. But if you want an unusual specimen for your collection, I suggest mammillaria spinosissima v. pilcayensis.

Moving in for the Winter

Our first cold front is due this coming week-end, predicted to fall into the 30s by Saturday, October 5th or Sunday night, the 6th. Up here the smart thing to do is move plants in at least by mid-October to avoid the fun of moving them in during blizzard conditions, like we did one year several winters ago, or during a major dust storm, like we did in 2011 (see “ How ‘Bout that Haboob!” at my other blog, The Bright Lights of Muleshoe,

The cold-hardy cactus in my collection are outside in the ground, which makes it easy; pots come in for the winter. I probably have a few plants in pots that can take a light freeze, but I’m not willing to take the chance, since we have too many extended periods of hard freezes, so to be on the safe side, in they come. And I have a boat-load of them

So for the last few days I have been cleaning and organizing rather than gambling against the weather. The last few days the temperature has been in the high 90s, but this is Texas. The weather can change in a heartbeat. And perhaps that is also the case where you live. So I wanted to be prepared.


One thing that has made moving the large pots easier are the ramps my husband built so I could roll big pots in and out on dollies, another piece of equipment that I find indispensible. You see the ramps here, one on either side of the threshold of the door into my side of the barn, and note the planed edges that allow the dollies to roll on and off the ramps easily. I leave the heavy pots on the dollies after they are inside, making it easier to move them around when necessary. Note, too, that Bill added a piece of wood to the top of the dolly for stability of the pot sitting on it.

Here is the barn before and after all the moving:



And the greenhouse, which is 8 x 12,where I put most of the smaller pots:



This ariocarpus retusus bloomed after I moved it in, which was a nice surprise.


Minnie supervised most of the day, but took a power nap before everything was moved in.


I started all this on Thursday, the 3rd, finished by Friday evening, and last night, Saturday the 5th, the temperature dropped to 41, not freezing, but a sign that cold weather is coming. Not bad timing, I must say.



Let it snow. We’re ready.