Mid-October succulent flowers

In spite of daytime highs in the high 80s and low 90s, fall is definitely here. Summer-growing succulents have slowed way down in preparation for winter, and compared to spring and summer, there’s very little in bloom in the succulent realm. But there’s always something, as you’ll see below.

Coryphantha retusa
Coryphantha retusa is a small cactus from Mexico with dense golden spines. I got two of them in last year’s fall plant sale at the Huntington, and this one flowered in early October:

Coryphantha retusa

Ferocactus herrerae
Ferocactus herrerae is closely related to Ferocactus wislizeni, the common Arizona fishhook barrel, but as the body of the cactus ages, it takes on a pronounced twist. Mine flowers quite profusely from summer into fall. The flower you see below is last one of the year, and quite possibly the most perfect:

Ferocactus herrerae flower; the yellow “pineapples” above it are immature fruits from earlier flowers

Ferocactus herrerae

Ariocarpus fissuratus var. hintonii
Ariocarpus are among the most collected cacti. I’ve long resisted the temptation, considering how slow-growing (and expensive) ariocarpus are. Last year, I had the opportunity to buy an Ariocarpus fissuratus var. hintonii at a price that was simply too good to pass up. Not everybody likes the warty look, but I’ve warmed up to it. To my delight, my specimen produced a flower recently. Even more surprisingly: the flower lasted almost a week! That’s a lot longer than the cactus flowers I’m used to – echinopsis flowers, for example, last a day, maybe two at the most.

Ariocarpus fissuratus var. hintonii flower, day 1

Day 4

Day 6 (last day the flower opened)

Conophytum bilobum
Conophytums are small to tiny succulents from South Africa and Namibia that are much beloved – possibly because you can have a large collection in a small space. As with ariocarpus above, I long resisted the temptation to own conophytums, but I was recently given a small Conophytum bilobum as a gift and it promptly flowered:


Lithops lesliei
Few succulents are as frustrating as lithops. I’ve certainly had my fair share of experiences with them – each time ending in failure. A few months ago, lithops expert Peter Beiersdorfer gave presentation to the Sacramento Cactus and Succulent Society. Newly emboldened, I decided to dip a toe into the water one more time and bought a couple of lithops from Peter. I was promptly rewarded with two flowers:



I’ll have a separate post about lithops once I feel I have a better grasp of what they want and need.

Faucaria tigrina
Faucaria tigrina, or tiger jaws, is a member of the ice plant family (Aizoaceae) and, unlike lithops, very easy to grow. As long as you protect it from temperatures in the low 20°F, it’s almost bulletproof. I didn’t own any tiger jaws for the longest time – maybe because they’re so readily available. However, when I was in San Diego County this past February, I bought one for $0.75 at OASIS Water-Efficient Gardens, Altman Plants’ retail outlet. Without any doing on my part, it has thrived and is flowering now:



Many of the flowers you see in this post aren’t necessarily spectacular, but at this time of year. I’ll gladly take even “simple” flowers.


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

Comments

  1. "Not everybody likes the warty look, but I’ve warmed up to it."... ha!

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  2. Those flowers are all the more interesting as they're so unexpected.

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    Replies
    1. I planted a lot of cacti this year, so I don't have a good feel yet for how they "behave."

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  3. I've had a few Echinopsis bloom in the last week or two now that the heat is somewhat manageable for them. However, we have been over 100º still most days and I am waiting and hoping it gets lower soon.

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    1. 100° during the day is no problem as long as it cools off at night, ideally into the 70s or lower.

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  4. Beautiful succulent blooms! At this time of year I'm OK with cool Midwestern temps, but I'll be jealous in January and February. Happy Autumn

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    1. I don't expect any cactus flowers in January or February. But I'm always open to surprises!

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  5. Help! I planted several varieties of Succulents in an outdoor planter this summer. Although a beginner, all have done well. Winer is fast approaching and expected to be colder than normal. I can bring plants inside but would have to repot as the current container would not be appropriate for indoors. My other option would be to move current planter/ container to a covered screened-in porch. Which option would be best? Any advise on repotting, etc would be very much appreciated. To say I'm a beginner is being generous but I have really enjoyed my first "garden". Thanks!

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    1. Where you located? And what kinds of succulents do you have?

      If your winters are on the mild side (say, typically about 25°F) you can simply move your containers to your covered porch. That would be sufficient.

      If you keep your succulents dry in the winter, they're able to deal with the cold much better than if they were wet.

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