Tuesday, June 5, 2012

My weekend haul from Lowe’s

While I buy most of my plants at smaller independent nurseries—and I wish I lived closer to a place like Cactus Jungle to fill my succulent cravings—I’m not immune to the lures of the big box stores. Last Saturday I went to a local Lowe’s to buy some tools, and as is my wont, I walked through the garden center. I didn’t see anything I had to have on the shelves with the 2- and 3-inch succulents, but tucked away in a perennials aisle I found a surprisingly nice selection of larger succulents. Clearly, water-wise plants are hot this year, or at least they’re being marketed that way.

Pint-sized succulents
1½ gallon succulents
Succulent bowls—actually a great value considering how many plants are packed in there
I even found some prickly pears (Opuntia ficus-indica) in the fruit tree aisle!

While I’ve gotten pretty selective about what I buy, I found three plants that caught my fancy. The first is a particularly beautiful specimen of Agave ghiesbreghtii—so hard to spell and pronounce (I think it’s “geese-BRETT-ee-eye”). This agave species is rarely offered in nurseries. I don’t know why because it’s very attractive with a lighter stripe down the middle of each leaf, cinnamon-colored teeth that turn grayish white with age, and a tendency to produce lots of offsets. It’s a fairly small species—2 ft. across at maturity—and supposedly does very well in a container, which is exactly where mine will live.

Agave ghiesbreghtii after I transplanted it into a red glazed pot I had on hand
Agave ghiesbreghtii
Agave ghiesbreghtii
Agave ghiesbreghtii

I also bought a couple of quart-sized cacti marketed as “cold-hardy.” I love the label; it looks like southern Arizona magically transported to Alaska. OK, some of you may laugh at the thermometer showing 20°F. But in our area, 20°F is considered cold, and a plant surviving 20°F will make it through a normal winter with flying colors.


The funny thing is that the label for one of the cold-hardy-rated-to-20°F plants I bought, Opuntia × basilaris ‘Baby Rita’, says to protect from frost!


Here is Opuntia × basilaris ‘Baby Rita’. Its pads are supposed to turn a vivid purple in the winter…

Opuntia × basilaris ‘Baby Rita’

…and in the spring you’re rewarded with delicate pink flowers.

Opuntia × basilaris ‘Baby Rita’
Photo by Daylily Hill Nursery, the creators of this dwarf hybrid

My final pick of the day was an Echinopsis subdenudata, sold as “domino cactus” because of the white dots formed by soft, fuzzy spines. I must say I bought it mostly because it had two budding flowers that looked like they would open up very soon. And they did. The next morning I was greeted by these exuberant flowers that look positively gigantic on a cactus that is only 4 inches across. I measured one of the flower tubes, and it was 7 inches from where it emerges from the cactus to the tip of the flower. The flowers were almost 4 inches across.

Echinopsis subdenudata
Echinopsis subdenudata
Echinopsis subdenudata
Echinopsis subdenudata with what looks like a triple flower

Another pleasant surprise was the smell: sweet and a bit citrusy.

Unfortunately, right in line with the saying that good things don’t last forever, the flowers are very short-lived. This is what my Echinopsis subdenudata looked like the day after:

Echinopsis subdenudata the day after blooming

Fortunately, I see more flower buds forming so I’ll get to enjoy a repeat very soon.


  1. Same here Gerhard, whenever we visit the big DIY outlets here we still check out the plant section in case on the off chance we see something unusual and we like. Most of the time we don't see anything worth getting anymore but it's a habit difficult to break. And that Agave is lovely!

    1. I can't help looking at plants wherever they are for sale. I even look at the supermarket up the street where they actually had a stunning (but pricey) bromeliad the other day. I didn't buy it, but I was tempted.

  2. That is the most Seussian cactus I've ever seen, even moreso with the droopy flower stalks! Love it!

    I've never seen a succulent at Lowe's around here. :-(

    1. The variety of cacti is breathtaking. Yes, it's very Seussian, and it's a great addition to my Seussian plant collection!

      I'm astounded that your Lowe's has no succulents! Not even now, in the prime plant-selling season? Where do people in St Louis buy their succulents? I sense a good business opportunity here!!! LOL.

  3. You never know what gems you'll find at the block-stores, what self respecting plant lunatic would skip the garden section. Glad to know I'm not the only one accumulating more succulents. Nice scores!

  4. The blooming Cactus looks like a cheerleader with Pom-poms! And that Agave...so lovely. Nice finds! Our big box stores have a couple of wooden shelving units maybe 3 ft wide and 5 ft tall mainly filled with tiny (2-4") pots...nothing to write home about...but better than nothing at all.

  5. Great finds! The Echinopsis is beautiful. It is always worth looking. Sometimes growers will throw in a few odds and ends of cool plants they want to get rid of along with the usuals and ordinarys. I still kick myself for not buying a 2 gallon variegated Agave attenuata at Lowes a few years ago. It took me years to finally find another and buy another.