Cactus bowl freed from weeds

In 2013, I planted a 22-inch terracotta bowl with a variety of claret cup cacti (Echinocereus sp.). The flowers of claret cups, typically shades or red, last much longer than most cacti, often five or seven days. As natives of the Western and Southwestern U.S., they have a special place in my heart. 

Here are some photos from April 2016:

April 2016

Echinocereus triglochidiatus

Echinocereus triglochidiatus

These are the Echinocereus species I originally planted:
  • Echinocereus triglochidiatus
  • Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. mojavensis f. inermis
  • Echinocereus triglochidiatus ‘White Sands’
Later I added Echinocereus stramineus, the purple-flowering strawberry hedgehog. It's not a claret cup cactus, but related.

The terracotta bowl sits on top of the 4-ft. fence separating our front yard from the sidewalk and street. It's highly visible, both from inside and from the street, which is great when the cacti are in bloom. Unfortunately, this exposed location also makes the bowl a landing zone for weed seeds that arrive on the wind.

Here's what the bowl looked like last Sunday morning:

From outside the fence

From inside the fence

I finally had enough and decided to eradicate the weed problem systematically instead of simply trying to pull out individual weeds—which is painful enough because of the cactus spines and rarely blessed with anything but short-term success.

To this end, I lifted out all the cacti, cleaned them thoroughly, and removed the weeds—leaves and roots.

Then I replanted the cacti and added new bagged soil—mixed 1:1 with pumice and a ½ cup of Bonide systemic insecticide granules—to bring the soil level close to the top of the bowl. The final layer is crushed basalt and a sprinkling of Preen weed preventer.

From outside the fence

From inside the fence

I didn't put the tall Echinocereus triglochidiatus ‘White Sands’ back in the bowl because three of its four stems were infested with scale. Those got tossed in the yard waste bin, and the fourth is waiting to go into its own pot.

I try to avoid garden chemicals as much as possible, but I don't hesitate to put them into service when I see no better alternative. The two shown below two are my go-to products. Bonide Systemic Granules Insect Control prevents pests like mealybugs and scale, and Preen Extended Control Weed Preventer blocks the germination of most seeds. I'd never used either of these products in this particular terracotta bowl before, but they've proven themselves over and over again elsewhere in the garden.

I don't know if this invasive procedure will set the cacti back in any way, but I hope they'll still bloom in April as usual. Fingers crossed!

© Gerhard Bock, 2022. All rights reserved. To receive all new posts by email, please subscribe here.


chavliness said…
Generally, I don't mind weeding, but glochids make this mundane chore practically impossible. The red blooms are stunning so the cacti had better perform after such an effort on your part.
Hoover Boo said…
Those flower colors are dazzling. The glochids and spines don't seem so bad when the flowers appear.
Kris Peterson said…
I hope the treatment does the trick! I'm slowly incorporating more cacti into my garden but the spines are daunting.
Homask said…
Excuse, but I thought that glochids only appear on species of Opuntia? Love your blog.
Funny how the species name is Echinocereus triglochidiatus. It doesn't have the kinds of glochids you see on opuntias, just regular cactus spines.

I did a bit of research and found this:

The species name, “triglochidiatus”, means “with three barbed bristles” coming from the Greek "tri" which means “three” and “glochis” which means “a point” referring to the straight spines arranged in clusters of three. []
The spines are pretty sharp but not nasty like glochids on opuntioids.
I know that Preen does suppress seed germination. I just need to reapply every 6 months.