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!
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