Say ‘Hello’ to my latest Cacti flowers, from my Parodia Mairanana!
I was walking up the side of the house (that we just moved to) and something caught the corner of my eye…it was the gorgeous colour of these flowers.
My Cacti and Succulents (before we moved) had grown to 160 plants. Some of them were duplicates, most not and I have realised that my hobby was getting out of hand. We intend to buy a house next year, however, after the latest move I have come to the conclusion that I need to downsize my collection.
We had a garage sale before moving and I sold/offloaded about 50 plants, reducing my collection to 110. This is still a lot of plants to move, particularly when you consider the size of some of the plants and the pots.
I am going to bite the bullet and pick out my favourite say, 30 plants and have another garage sale.
I also think that I am going to change direction slightly in terms I what future Cacti and Succulent plants I will buy, i.e., I think I will aim for the smaller, flowering plants. There will still be some columnar plants but mainly smaller Ball-type ones.
It has been a bit of a challenge posting in this past week as we are in the process of moving. Always a fun task, not!
Following on from my last post, I can excitedly report that two more of my Cacti and Succulents have flowered in the past week.
The first is an Aylosteria pulvinosa. It is only a small Cacti plant measuring 5cm across and has had pups and the flowers in the image are (apart from that flowered last week) the first full crop of flowers that this plant has produced.
The second plant to flower this week (in fact it bloomed today), is an Epiphyllum Hybrid which is sometimes mistakenly called a ‘Dragonfruit’ plant, according to the Cacti and Succulent Association of Australia. I joined the Society nearly 12 months ago and am learning a lot.
I love the rich, Red colour of this flower which really contrasts well against the Green foliage of the plant.
Two more beauties from my collection that have flowered so far in Spring.
I am so looking forward to the rest of Spring and Summer!
One of my other hobbies is Cacti and Succulents. As mentioned previously, I have had them as an interest for the last 45 years (since I was 14).
I’m not an expert by any means and although I collect them I do not regard myself as ‘true collector’, like a lot of the people that are in the Cactus & Succulent Society of Australia, which I joined during the last Covid lockdown in 2021.
I enjoy their uniqueness and beauty.
Yesterday, one of my Ball Cacti, of the Echinopsis variety, flowered for the first time ever and I thought that was worth of a post.
The stem of the flower has been growing for a number of weeks and leading up to the point of flowering, there is always great anticipation, particularly when you don’t know what colour the flower will be. I walked out the side door yesterday and upon walking past our cattery that holds our single Cat, Miri, the flower came into full view.
I never tire of this type of flower’s exquisite beauty! It begins to open nocturnally and we are blessed with its beauty in the morning. The flower only blooms for 24-48 hours, then its gone. A fleeting beauty.
As mentioned previously on this Blog, I am a Cactus and Succulent enthusiast but certainly not an expert in this area. I was given a Euphorbia Succulent by my Aunt Beryl in 1977, when I was 14 and, if you’ll pardon the pun, my interest grew from there.
A few years back I had a 35square metre Cacti and Succulent garden. Currently, all my plants are in pots as we live in a different place, though when we move in the next two years I feel sure I will have a combination of a garden and pots.
One of the challenges regardless of where they are planted is weeds. Some Cacti (particularly) are harder to weed than others which gives rise to another problem i.e. the enthusiast getting stabbed (usually more than once) with Cacti spines. These spines can range from less than a millimetre or two to over three centimetres long, and regardless of the size, they are all quite painful. Sometimes, you cannot see them with the naked eye.
So, what is the solution or workaround?
Gloves are the obvious thought, however, trust me, they offer little protection against the stronger spines i.e. the spine will go straight through them. Maybe a pair of flexible Kevlar gloves would be good…
I often weed in and around Cacti bare-handed and work slowly, methodically and carefully as I can though even then I still get stabbed and sometimes you cannot see the spine or it may have broken off inside your skin…but you can certainly feel it…
In the event of getting stabbed by a smaller spine, and particularly ones not visible to the naked eye, I have a bottle of Ichthammol 25% w/w Drawing Ointment at the ready. As it says on the bottle, it is a ‘Drawing Ointment’ meaning you apply a small amount to the area where the spine went in and it draws it out overnight. Just pop a bandaid loosely over the affected area and next morning the spine is magically gone!
Not surprisingly, I get a lot of use out of this product…maybe too much!
I have also tried using a pair of Long-Nosed Pliers with varying degrees of success.
This Christmas, my Wife Susan surprised me with an additional mini-present within my actual present and it was a set of unusually long pair of straight and angle ‘Tweezers’ for pulling out weeds around Cacti that she had stumbled across online. There are 27cm in length and made of steel.
I road-tested these last weekend and must say that I am delighted with them. One of the Cacti I have the most trouble weeding is from the Echinopsis family, pictured below. The weeds seem to come up between the ‘Balls’ of Cacti and can be most difficult to remove. Today it was relatively easy.
Obviously, the goal is not to let the weeds get as bad as this but as usual, life gets in the way sometimes or it rains for long periods or we get so busy etc.
Now that I am armed with these tools I just need to ‘get onto the weeds’ before they get too big and unwieldy. At least now, I can look forward to my hands getting punctured less. That is, in itself a great way to start a New Year!
I’ve commented a couple of times on this Blog about my love for Cacti and Succulents. It was an interest that started when I was 14 years of age when my Aunt Beryl gave me a Succulent on one of the family visits to our place. It was (as I later found out) from the Euphorbia family.
Over the years my liking for Cacti and Succulents increased to the point where I had a small, shallow pot with about 5-6 small Cacti plants in it. I used to dream of the day when I would have a big garden. That came when I got married and moved onto an acre and a quarter of land. I built a 35square metre garden. All up, I had 120 plants in it and in pots around the yard.
Sadly, we don’t live there any more, we moved after 16 years there and are currently on a residential block. What happened to the plants? I brought them all with me didn’t I! They are currently all in pots of various sizes which is not quite the same but it will have to do until we make our next move.
This week, I was accepted as a member into the Cactus and Succulent Society of Australia which is the oldest Cacti Society in Australia. My first meeting (this week) was on Zoom. They usually meet face-to-face in another State (Victoria) but even then have a ‘Zoom-room’ for people that are too far away. There are lots of benefits for being a member of the Society, including a 32 page quarterly magazine which I’m quite looking forward to receiving. They have a Facebook group, library etc so I am looking forward to increasing my knowledge of this wondrous species of flora that captured my imagination at the age of 14, some 44 years ago.
If you are interested in finding out more about the Society, I’ve included some links below to their website and Facebook page and also some other links if you feel you are in any way curious about this species of plant.
In a blog article I did back in September 2018, I explained where my love of Cacti and Succulents came from…a gift from one of my Aunts at the age of 14. I fell in love with their uniqueness and beauty and started off with just a few plants in a low, Terracotta pot whilst living at my parents home to a 35 square metre garden when my wife and I lived at our first location.
We live in a different location now on a much smaller block so currently, all my Cacti and Succulents are in pots. When we move in the future, I’m sure I will have a garden for them as well as keeping some in pots.
With some recent additions early in the year, I now have 133 plants of all different shapes and sizes. Some of the species include: Cereus, Lobivia, Echinopsis, Cleistocactus, Astrophytum, Parodia, Mammillaria, Echinocereus, Corypantha, Cotyledon, Crassula, Agave and more.
Three things that I am looking forward to are:
Growing Cacti from seed.
Sketching/Painting my Cacti and Succulents.
Growing my collection.
This love affair with these unique and beautiful plants has now been running for 44 years and will continue long into the future!
Poetry and Prose by #1 Amazon Bestselling Author of Nature Speaks of Love and Sorrow, Co-Author of #1 Amazon Bestseller, Wounds I Healed: The Poetry of Strong Women, and Jan/Feb 2022 Spillwords Press Author of the Month