Cactus flower extravaganza at Poot's Cactus Nursery

In what has become an annual tradition, the Sacramento Cactus and Succulent Society (SCCS) went on a field trip to Poot’s Cactus Nursery in Ripon, down in the Central Valley. Poot’s is located on Highway 120; if you’ve ever taken route to or from Yosemite National Park, you’ve driven right by (here’s a Google map for orientation).

Poot’s Cactus Nursery was started 35 years ago by Bill Poot (now 83) and his wife Roelyn Poot (now 74). It’s still in the same location, and Bill and Roelyn still live in the house on the 1-acre property. Their son, Brian, is managing the day-to-day operations, with 10 part-time employees helping out in propagation, sales, and online marketing.

I haven’t been on every single SCSS outing to Poot’s, but I’ve been on a few: 2022 | 2018 | 2017 | 2011. The first thing you see as you pull into the small parking lot is the display garden aka the “Poot’s Desert.” It’s filled with a variety of mature succulents, including many Echinopsis hybrids. These hybrids have large showy flowers—some of them are downright massive—but they’re typically open only for one day. On previous trips, we were either too late or too early to catch a wave of flowers, but this time we were spot on.

Here are some of the cactus flowers in the display garden and in the raised bed outside the retail greenhouse:

Echinopsis ‘Flying Saucer’, one of the most stunning echinopsis hybrids of them all. We saw another one with even larger flowers in the propagation area.

Another massive Echinopsis flower poking through the fence







But echinopsis weren’t the only cacti in flower:

Ferocactus pilosus

Ferocactus glaucescens

Rare pink-flowering claret cup (Echinocereus coccineus)

Echinocereus coccineus

This claret cup (Echinocereus coccineus) had so many flowers, you couldn’t see the stems at all. Unlike most other cacti flowers, claret cup flowers often last for a week.

Echinocereus coccineus

Soehrensia formosa

This massive Oreocereus celsianus doesn’t need flowers to stand out

I was too busy taking pictures of the sales area, but I couldn’t walk by this trio Pachypodium geyai without snapping a quick photo. It’s not a bargain, but at a good 8 ft. in height, these are impressive specimens!


As I mentioned at the top of this post, we saw a second specimen of Echinopsis ‘Flying Saucer’ that had even larger flowers than the one outside the nursery. This plant had been dug up in order to remove the offsets, but it didn’t seem to mind the fact that it was just lying there on a bench, with no soil.

Photo by Kyle Johnson

Echinopsis ‘Flying Saucer’

My friend Kyle’s hand for comparison. This flower was easily 9 inches in diameter.

Echinopsis ‘Flying Saucer’ waiting to have its offsets removed

A couple of other interesting sights that caught my attention in the propagation area:

I 🧡 opuntias

In early April, Poot’s lost two of their tallest cacti in the display garden because of high winds and completely saturated soil: Neobuxbaumia polylopha and Trichocereus terscheckii. These are cuttings hardening off.

The black gunk on these Trichocereus terscheckii cuttings is tar applied to seal the cut surfaces

Check out this video on the Poot’s YouTube channel (starting at the 6:30 mark). It shows the Poot’s crew cutting up the Neobuxbaumia polylopha. The specimen was 30 years old.

Bill and Roelyn Poot gave our group a tour of the greenhouse with Bill’s collection, one of the finest private cactus collections in the country. I don’t think anybody really knows how many plants there are—many thousands. A good half of them are cacti, the rest euphorbias, caudiciforms, and miscellaneous other succulents. The variety is mind-boggling, and I could easily have spent a few hours taking photos.

Kyle (who is 6 ft. 2) for height comparison

One of many weird-but-wonderful Astrophytum myriostigma cultivars sought after by collectors

One of dozens of Tephrocactus geometricus in the greenhouse. Online marketplaces charge upwards of $30 for one small ball.

Uebelmannia pectinifera

Uebelmannia pectinifera

Astrophytum ornatum

Astrophytum ornatum (different specimen)

Copiapoa krainziana

Monstrose form of Copiapoa tenuissima

Sulcorebutia arenacea

Aztekium ritteri

Oroya peruviana

×Ferobergia, a hybrid between a ferocactus and Leuchtenbergia principis

Variegated ×Ferobergia

Hundreds of tiny Ariocarpus fissuratus seedlings

Copiapoa coquimbana var. imbricata f. rubriflora

Astrophytum myriostigma

Dozens of Melocactus with their funny-looking cephalium

Melocactus sp.

Melocactus sp.

A few non-cactus succulents:

Dudleya pachyphytum

Dudleya brittonii

Euphorbia cylindrifolia ssp. tuberifera

Unidentified Sansevieria

Insane mature specimen of Euphorbia obesa

I did take one photo in the retail greenhouse:

Mammillaria spinosissima growing upside down. Yep, that’s a thing!

After we finished up at Poot’s, we dropped in on Elton Roberts who lives nearby. Elton is a legend in cactus circles: He’s been growing cacti for 70 years and has been sharing his wealth of knowledge in countless articles in succulent journals. Here are some photos I took of echinocereus flowering in Elton’s greenhouses:

Echinocereus triglochidiatus

Decades-old specimen of Echinocereus schmollii, the lamb’s tail cactus

I bought a small Echinocereus schmollii and will put it in a hanging basket on our front porch

Echinocereus adustus ssp. schwarzii

Unidentified Echinocereus species or hybrid

The variety of cacti we saw at Poot’s and Elton Roberts was mind-boggling. The more I learn about cacti, the more I realize how much I don’t know. No wonder so many people become obsessed!


© Gerhard Bock, 2023. All rights reserved. To receive all new posts by email, please subscribe here.

Comments

  1. That's one amazing nursery! Kudos to the family for keeping it going. Your visit was very well-timed, at least for people entranced by cactus flowers. At the moment, your post has me deeply regretting that I haven't found an Echinopsis 'Flying Saucer' (yet).

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    1. I think 'Flying Saucer' is so popular that it's hard for growers to keep up with demand.

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  2. Oh, to live in southern CA (sigh!). I love Echinocereus coccineus in the pink! I have the orange/yellow combo and it is one flower the rabbits don't touch unlike other Echinocereus flowers! I bought a Ferobergia years ago and mine is getting big now in a pot. The Peets and Elton Roberts are amazing cactus growers for sure! Loved this trip you took, Gerhard.

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    1. Northern California, just an hour south of Sacramento :-)

      I've been looking for a xFerobergia for years. Where did you get yours?

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    2. I got it from Miles2Go. It was a number of years ago but he may have some floating around there!

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  3. Dreamy flowers, amazing specimens. It would have been so fun to tag along.

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  4. What fun to hit the right time to enjoy all those glorious flowers. Thanks for sharing the wonder.

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  5. Wow, the color of the Echinopsis bloom poking through the fence is among my favorites. Showing the hand with the size is really impressive. And all the cacti and blooms are impressive.

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  6. I know where I’m going to stop if I ever am near Ripon! Love the form on the Uebelmannia, Astrophytums, Copiapoa, Sulcorebutia, and Aztekium. Seeing those would make me break my rule to not buy another container plant for the greenhouse.

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  7. Love those Echinopsis ! And that Euphorbia obesa is epic. I still haven't replaced the one I lost several years ago-I need to rectify that. Really enjoyed the tour-so many great specimens.

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  8. An amazing collection. The flower colours of the various cacti are so incredibly vibrant. No wonder the pollinators flock to them. However, my favourite is the Melocactus. Very cool.

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