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A cactus saved...

Posted by leslie6ri (My Page) on
Thu, Feb 16, 12 at 13:54

I bought this little cactus from Home Depot a couple of years ago because it was lying on its side in the pot with most of its roots sticking out of the soil. Even though you should never buy sickly plants, it just looked so forlorn... Then it sat on my kitchen windowsill for a year doing absolutely nothing. Then one day in early Summer, while washing the dishes, it occurred to me that it might enjoy some time outside. So I stuck it, pot and all, into a large planter where a tomato plant was growing. I've done that for two years now and this is my thanks...

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You couldn't know how happy this makes me. I smile every time I see it.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: A cactus saved...

Leslie,

Good job with that cactus! They really do have beautiful flowers. You should try some of the hardy ones outdoors too. Just make sure they aren't in a spot where water collects and sits in winter. I get gorgeous yellow blooms every June and July in mine, and there are many, many hardy ones.

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RE: A cactus saved...

Bill,

That is so beautiful! I do remember you saying you grow cacti outside all year. The only other time I heard of that was when I went to Quacking Grass Nursery in Brooklyn, CT and Wayne, the owner, had a mound of gravel with Opuntias planted there. He too left them out all Winter and they did fine. Is your cactus in the picture an Opuntia? And do you grow it in gravel for drainage? Do you grow more than one variety? I would dearly love to try growing a few hardy varieties outside. --But, then again, I haven't even succeeded in keeping Lithodora alive, so I need to create the right environment.

I'll be looking up hardy cacti today.


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RE: A cactus saved...

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Fri, Feb 17, 12 at 10:02

Leslie: It's a pleasure to see that good deeds are sometimes really rewarded. You did a good thing. That cactus looks lovely and healthy!

I've rescued a few junipers labeled as bonsai plants from Home Depot and planted them outside (with limited success).

Claire


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RE: A cactus saved...

Leslie,
Yes that one is Opuntia humifusa (sometimes also called "compressa"). I have them in ordinary soil, and there is landscape cloth under crushed stone. As long as the area doesn't collect water in winter, any sunny area will do. A slope or top of a gentle mound (or a high mound if that's the effect you want) will do. The cold here doesn't kill them at all, but wet winter conditions will. I have a few other Opuntias, and one Corypantha vivipara. A nice companion to cactus is Delosperma ("Ice plant"). I decided to landscape the front as a xeric (dry) garden because 1) it's very hot and sunny and 2) I'm too lazy to drag the garden hose all the way out front! But they do fine there, along with Yucca, Sempervivum, Sedum, Lewisia, Delosperma, Coreopsis, Hesperaloe, Lavender and Kniphofia. I know it's not the "traditional" New England style garden, but, well really, who cares? I have plenty of other areas with more commonly grown stuff, but this area would have been too hard to maintain in that style, so desert motif it is! And it's fun too.

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RE: A cactus saved...

Nice, Leslie! Love the story of how you 'fell for' this plant!

I grow a lot of cacti, all in a sunny west-facing window shelf indoors, and, if and when they bloom, it just seems like a miracle.

They're the only plants that can stand my husband's black thumb when I travel for extended periods. He forgets them until the day before I'm due back, and then drowns them overnight. So, they have to deal with serious desert conditions, for weeks at a time, and it doesn't seem to bother them too much.


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RE: A cactus saved...

Thanks Claire!

I knew it was doing much better when I saw the offsets it was forming at the base, but the flowers were such a surprise! A miracle as diggingthedirt said!

So I'm not the only one who considers bonsai treatment torture? Starve them, severely root prune them, twist them. Ouch.

diggingthedirt,

Years and years (and years) ago I had a cacti collection in tiny pots in my first apartment. And then I got a puppy. Came home one day to find inches of soil all over the floor and almost no plants left. Puppy "separation anxiety", sigh. That combined with my husband's belief that my cacti attacked him... I only have this one cactus now (and my husband complained it 'bit' him just the other day). But I did have a Stapelia bloom in a sunny window and I'll never forget it. Noticed what seemed like large turnips emerging from the plant which then opened to starfish-shaped, hairy flowers with wavy purple stripes. --And it didn't smell too bad either!

Bill,

Bill! You've listed plants that I would love to grow but I have trouble with. Lewisia for one. I did keep a young one alive through last Winter and it flowered in the Spring, but I'm not sure it's still there. And I wouldn't have thought of combining lavender with Delosperma (I have some tiny, tiny ice plant seeds), but lavender does like it hot and dry. Maybe I could plant 'Arp' rosemary there too! I will be starting a sun garden this year and would love to have a section for a xeric garden. Opuntias may be in my future!


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RE: A cactus saved...

Leslie,
I have grown Rosemary "Arp" in the past, and I have another one growing now. The original plant survived for over 5 years, and was easily 3 feet high and four feet wide. It was so big that I had to shear it like a hedge to keep it off the walkway! But it finally succumbed to the wicked winter of January 2004. The new one is a bit smaller and only on its second season. I have also found Rosemary "Barbecue" which is said to be hardy to zone 6. It has straight, strong stems, which I guess can be used as skewers when grilling, hence the name. It was only planted last spring and looks perfect right now. Of course this "winter" was hardly a test!

The lavender blooms for quite a long time, and then reblooms as well as self-seeds, so I have some small plants, and they bloom the first year later in the season.

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