And so it begins

What is beginning, you might wonder. The “it” in the title of this post refers to cactus flower season. For a few weeks now, peeps in Southern California and Arizona have been flooding social media with photos of their flowering cactus. Finally, we’re catching up here in Northern California.

Kicking off the season for me is Echinopsis ‘Flying Saucer’, which produces one of the most spectacular flowers of any cactus. It literally causes people driving by to slow down or even stop (we live on a quiet street so there’s not much traffic).

This year, our ‘Flying Saucer’ has 20+ flower buds on two stems (the third stem is still too small to flower). The two largest looked like this on April 9:

Echinopsis ‘Flying Saucer’ with two buds (April 9)

A day later, one of the buds opened:

Echinopsis ‘Flying Saucer’ with one flower (April 10)

To give you a sense of scale, here’s my hand next to the flower. It’s a full 8 inches across!

Usually, these large flowers only last a day. But, to my surprise and delight, I was greeted by this stunning sight on day 2:

Echinopsis ‘Flying Saucer’ on day 2 (April 11)

The “old” flower (left) opened for a second day. If you take a closer look, you’ll see that the petals are more magenta than on the new flower.

This is my favorite photo I’ve ever taken of our ‘Flying Saucer’ – two perfect flowers next to a clump of white-flowering California poppies:

Echinopsis ‘Flying Saucer’ on day 2 (April 11)

On day 3, the first flower is spent, but the second flower opened again:

Echinopsis ‘Flying Saucer’ on day 3 (April 12)

The show will be over tomorrow, but with so many buds in various stages of development, we’ll have several flushes of ‘Flying Saucer’ flowers in the weeks to come. Plus, other echinopsis hybrids will be ready for their big performance by then.

© Gerhard Bock, 2024. All rights reserved. To receive all new posts by email, please subscribe here.


  1. I'm still looking for a local source for 'Flying Saucer'. I should have asked about it when I was at Flora Grubbs when I visited the Marina Del Rey garden center last week.

    1. There is a gentleman down south who sells them through social media. I bought two beautiful specimens from him earlier this spring. His name is Brent Wigand and he came be found under Torchcactus.

  2. Good grief! Those things are huge! If I ever move to the SW again, I am going to be growing some Echinopsis hybrids myself.

  3. I'd certainly stop and pull over for a photo if i was driving down the street and saw that beauty!


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