Monday, September 5, 2011

Latest additions to my cactus collection

Whenever I happen to be a home improvement center, hardware store or nursery, I can’t help check out their succulent selection. While in previous years I was focused on larger succulents suitable for in-ground planting, especially agaves, aloes and yuccas, this year it’s been cacti, especially smaller ones for container culture. Fortunately, almost every place that sells plants carries at least a few cacti, and some nurseries, even small ones, have surprised me with their selection.

The other day I stopped by Redwood Barn Nursery not far from our house, and I was very happy to see a large selection of cacti in 2” and 3” containers. Usually I’m drawn to the larger 4” size for instant impact, but there was something so irresistible about the 2” pots. While some plants don’t develop their wow factor until they’re older, others have it when they’re tiny. Check out the first three cacti below. Pretty neat, aren’t they?

110804_Mammillaria-gracilis_01
Mammillaria gracilis
110804_Mammillaria-gracilis_02
Mammillaria gracilis
Mammillaria gracilis in flower
Source: Wikimedia Commons
110804_Mammillaria-crinita-duweii_03
Mammillaria crinita sup. duweii
110804_Mammillaria-crinita-duweii_05cu
Mammillaria crinita sup. duweii
Mammillaria crinita sup. duweii in flower
Source: Wikimedia Commons
110804_Mammillaria-microhelia_02
Mammillaria microhelia
110804_Mammillaria-microhelia_05
Mammillaria microhelia
110804_Mammillaria-microhelia_05_cu
Mammillaria microhelia

These three tiny beauties went in a shallow bowl together with another mammillaria I already had, Mammillaria elongata ‘Julio’ (center). At first I had planned on adding two or three more cacti but then I decided to add some rocks as contrast. These cacti will form clumps and when I need the room, I can simply remove the rocks.

Most of the time I’m focused on the larger landscape, especially when working with bamboos but also perennials. This is the exact opposite. Here I’m trying to create small-scale vignettes that will make people stop to take a closer look (literally) at these incredibly intricate plants.

110904_mamm_bowl
Finished bowl. My wife thinks the design is too symmetrical; I’m inclined to wait for a while to see how things shape up before making changes. I also want to add a top dressing of finely crushed lava rock but I haven’t been able to find a local source yet.
These mammillarias are hardy to the mid-20s so they’ll be able to stay on the front porch in the winter. 

4 comments:

  1. Love the first one -- it's like the meaner brother of the webby sempervivum you like so much.

    One thing I don't like about bowls of succulents is that they're so low. Get too many of those and you start running out of real estate.

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  2. I have the grasilis too in a couple of places. In a great place they will make babies fairly quickly. But it will take a while for the mammi's. You could still add another. Those two rocks are huge. You could pile them together kind of like a TP a put a mammi in the spot of one rock. You can go to Walmart and get rock that you put in fish tanks really cheap. It is brown and looks perfect.

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  3. Candy, excellent tip about getting aquarium gravel at Walmart. I hadn't thought of that!!

    Since I'm still relatively new to cactus cultivation, I have a hard time figuring out what it means when a source says "rapid growth" in relation to a cactus. Within what time frame? 6 months? 1 year? 2 years?

    I will take out one rock and stick another small cactus in this pot. It's easy enough to remove if things get crowded.

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  4. That sounds great! I know what you mean by the growth but cactus just don't grow very fast. Some prickly pears do. And like you said you can always move the rocks and even move the plants around.

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