Monday, October 12, 2020

Serious cactus collector = seriously large greenhouse

In my recent post about my friend Theresa's garden—remember her incredible Southwest-inspired home?—I mentioned that she and her son, a serious succulent collector in his own right, have several greenhouses. The smallest of them can be seen reflected in the pool:

Theresa's smallest greenhouse reflected in the pool

This is Theresa's greenhouse. It may be the smallest of the three, but it's chock full of wonderful plants, mostly cacti:

Mostly Astrophytum

A special form of Astrophytum myriostigma

Flowering Astrophytum myriostigma

Astrophytum asterias (front) and A. myriostigma (back)

Ortegocactus macdougallii, the only species in this monotypic Mexican genus

Rebutia rauschii

Euphorbia cylindrifolia (best guess)

Aloe hybrid

Echinocactus polycephalus

Ariocarpus retusus ssp. furfuraceus

Ariocarpus retusus

Ariocarpus fissuratus

Ariocarpus fissuratus

Ariocarpus kotschubeyanus

Tephrocactus geometricus

Coryphantha pallida ssp. calipensis

Aloe 'Sawbones' (a Karen Zimmerman hybrid released by the Huntington)

The two other greenhouses are on the back forty of the property. There are much larger than the poolside greenhouse and contain Theresa's son's extensive collection of cacti and other succulents. He's not only a serious collector, but also an active propagator and seller (he operates an Etsy shop under the name RadiantCactus).

With a few exceptions (Ferocactus, mostly), cacti aren't my area of expertise. That means I can recognize the most common cacti, but not much more. As I was walking through the greenhouse aisles,  I found it easy to appreciate the intricate details of the hundreds (thousands?) of specimens, but I couldn't have identified more than 10% of them. Fortunately, many had tags.

Easily one of the largest private greenhouses I've seen

Copiapoa cinerea

Nice selection of Copiapoa

Fancy crested cactus



Lithops community pot


Copiapoa hypogaea var. barquitensis

Copiapoa monteamarguensis

Agave victoria-reginae 'White Rhino', large and beautiful

Melocactus sp.

Crested Myrtillocactus geometrizans


Boojum tree (Fouquieria columnaris)

Rebutia sp.

Echinocactus polycephalus

Conophytum community pot

Aloe castilloniae

Ariocarpus sp.

Astrophytum caput-medusae, my new plant crush because it's so weird-looking. The flowers are truly beautiful.


Two Ledebouria species that grow much larger than the common Ledebouria socialis

Conophytum danielii

A variety of Ariocarpus.

Crassula tecta

Tall and narrow tree pots to accommodate the long tap root of some cactus species


Ortegocactus macdougallii....

...the only species in this genus from Oaxaca, Mexico

Turbinicarpus subterraneus

Weird flower of Ceropegia armandii, an equally weird succulent perennial from Madagascar

I didn't spend much time in the third greenhouse (as large as the second one). It's full of cacti as well. In fact, if this were a commercial cactus nursery, I'd call it well stocked!




These greenhouses, and the plants they house, are truly impressive, even intimidating. Caring for such a large collection is serious work. I'm not just talking about watering, not a trivial undertaking in and of itself, but also keeping the plants healthy and pest-free. It's a labor of love that requires dedication and discipline. This is a big-league stuff—far above the amateurish dabbling I engage in.



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14 comments:

  1. Wow! Every single plant you photographed looked show ready.

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  2. Spectacular! especially impressive individual portraits of plants. Thank you!

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  3. Serious collectors indeed. The amount of work to keep these all in such great shape is a bit overwhelming. That Crassula tecta stole my heart.

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    1. I don't think I'd ever seen Crassula tecta before. I want one, too :-).

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  4. Totally amazing! I need to check out Radiant Cactus on Etsy! I order on Etsy all the time! Thanks again for this fantastic tour. I have so enjoyed it!

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    1. I'm very happy that I was able to get my excitement across in these posts.

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  5. Wow, that's a lotta cactus! I can't imagine trying to keep them all healthy and bug free.

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    1. Just the thought of managing a collection this big makes me nervous.

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  6. I'm blown away by the size of this collection. It's clever to turn an obsession into a business.
    Aloe 'Sawbones' is gorgeous, so it crested Myrtillocactus.

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    1. I think Theresa is definitely nudging her son to monetize his collection :-)-

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