California poppies and claret cup cactus

One of the cheeriest sight in the front yard right now is this 22-inch terracotta bowl. The California poppy you see in these photos is a volunteer that arrived on the wind and decided to stay. I couldn’t have planned it better myself.


I blogged about this bowl in September in this post. The claret cup cactus have grown quite a bit since then. They looked pretty sad in January after months of below-average precipitation (i.e. none). Check out this droopy fellow! But the sporadic rains we’ve had since February have been enough to make them perk up.


One of the three claret cups, Echinocereus triglochidiatus, has almost two dozen flower buds.


They will be spectacular when they open up, which could be as soon as next week.


This would be the first time it’s bloomed for me.



So far no buds on the largest of the three, the White Sands cultivar (Echinocereus triglochidiatus ‘White Sands’), or the smallest, a spineless form from the Mojave desert (Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. mojavensis f. inermis).

The agave in this bowl, by the way, is one of the smallest varieties in cultivation: Agave toumeyana var. bella. It hasn’t grown much, if at all, and I don’t expect it to take over the bowl any time soon even though it’s supposed to produce colonies. Mine is still solitary.

The recent rain has really kicked the California poppies around town into overdrive. I’m keeping my eyes on several spots that should erupt into an expanse of orange very soon. Yes, spring is definitely here!


  1. Wish California poppies would self seed like that here, we love them! We scatter some seeds in the spring and although they don't all come up (actually our success rate with them isn't that great) that few that does never fails to bring cheer. The bowl looks fab and glad to see that it's doing well despite the little set back in the winter.

    1. California poppies seem to grow best on poor, dry soil. They don't like rich soil that gets irrigated frequently. And most of the all, they hate being transplated. Few survive, as I can attest to.

  2. I also wish for California poppies to be easy. I scatter seed every spring and although have had a couple germinate, they never survive to flowering stage. I'll try again and again though...

    I'm hoping that one of my unknown cactus seedlings is claret cup (and that it actually survived this brutal winter)!

    1. Claret cup is very hardy and to me has among the most beautiful flowers of any cactus. I can't wait!

      I'll save some poppy seeds for you!

  3. How great is that cactus. Yours is the 3rd post on claret cup cactus blooming. They are great. I need one for sure. I am also enjoying the poppies!

    1. For some reason, claret cup is not easy to find in NoCal nurseries. Maybe because people don't think it's as ornamental as the typical nursery staples?

      Personally, I love claret cup. I have four varieties now.


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