Baby cactus update

In April, I received a bunch of cactus seedlings from fellow garden blogger Alan in St Louis. He had chronicled their early days on his fantastic blog It’s Not Work, It’s Gardening (1 2 3 4 5 6).

In the four months since they’ve been living at our house, some have put on a tremendous amount of growth while others have been much slower. I guess it all depends on the genus and species. Some cacti, like prickly pears (opuntias) are much faster growing than, say, saguaros. According to the seed packet, these seedlings could be any number of things: saguaro, hedgehog, fishhook barrel, dollar prickly pear, desert prickly pear, christmas cholla, cane cholla, Santa Rita prickly pear, cardon. There is no way of making a positive identification until they are much bigger.

Anyway, let’s take a look at these spiky fur balls:

Some of the seedlings in early May…
…and in mid-August
These are clearly columnar cacti, and they’re also the ones with the brightest color. The taller of the two is about 1¼" in height.
These are are round and very spiky, about ⅜" across
Amazing how the spikes are longer than the cactus!
This one might be a fishhook barrel (Ferocactus wislizeni). At least it reminds me of my much larger specimen (check here).

A little while ago I also got some cactus cuttings from my mother-in-law who had gotten them from the receptionist at her doctor’s office (talk about passalong plants!). The cuttings weren’t rooted, so I stuck them in some pots with well-drained soil and let them do their thing. Starting three or four weeks later, I began to water them once a week, and they’ve clearly liked this treatment.

I still haven’t positively identified these babies, but they might rat tail cactus (Disocactus flagelliformis). In any case, being a tropical cactus, they are unlikely to tolerate any kind of frost so they’ll live inside during winter.

Rat tail cactus (?) babies. The taller ones are close to 3".
In this close-up you see how many new “branches” have developed
on this one small plant

I also received a few other tropical cacti from fellow blogger Steve of Steve’s Garden. In the photo below, the three cuttings on the left are an Epiphyllum species, and the three on the right are Hylocereus, also known as dragonfruit or pitaya (most likely Hylocereus undatus)

Cuttings received on April 28, 2011

Let’s take a look at how much they have grown since I got them at the end of April.

Dragonfruit cutting four months later. The section with the blue outline is the original cutting, everything else is new growth (about 16").
Another dragonfruit cutting—the two branches (about 3" in length)
on either side of the vertical stem are new
Epiphyllum cuttings. About 6" of new growth. The section with the blue outline are the original cuttings.

It’s been great following the progress of these plants all summer long. Unlike my beloved bamboos, these plants are small and still fit on one table where I can keep a close eye on them.


  1. Nice to see how they're doing! Watching a cactus grow isn't the most exciting thing if you do it every day, but a look every month or two and you can definitely see progress!


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