Sunday, December 30, 2007

Scaley-leaved Cacti?

Fresh evidence of why you can't accept everything you find on the internet as gospel. The following quote if from an article (made available to use in newsletters for free) on creating desert terrariums:
"The surfaces of many cacti are comprised of minute scaly leaves covered with clusters of sharp spines."
Really? Most cacti don't have leaves, scaly or otherwise, except at the seedling stage.

And besides, in my opinion, a terrarium isn't really the best environment for growing desert cacti.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Pre-party Opuntia?

It may be too late for that Christmas Party at which you got a little too carried away, but New Years celebrations are just around the corner. So get down to your local Opuntia patch or the Mexican Swap Meet (there's probably one near you) which sells freshly cleaned and cut up nopalitos. As quoted by the Cactus Jungle:
A new study has revealed that eating the prickly plant before boozing prevents post-alcohol sickness and headaches. Researchers at the Tulane University, New Orleans say that the cactus’ atypical carbohydrates obstruct the gut absorbing too many sugars. “Many of the health benefits of cactus are related to its water-retaining properties,” The Sun quoted lead researcher Prof Tony Blake, as saying. “It is a good source of vitamins A, B, C and K and contains many essential minerals,” he added.
The original source was from the news portal for Indians in Thailand. Oh, be sure to note: You have to eat it before you overindulge!

Rainyday Cactus

While I was out photographing some plants in the greenhouse, I pointed the camera up and took this shot. Tells you why we gave some thought to naming the nursery Rainy Day Cactus. But wisdom prevailed. Besides, there's a nursery by that name in Eugene, Oregon (or at least there used to be), so it wasn't exactly original. Oh well, just another Western Oregon day of rain and muck!

South African "Cliff Marbles"

Lynn-Marie has long had an interest in some of the South African bulbs which can be grown with a very bonsai-like effect. Recently our seed grown (seeded in June of 2004) plants of Ornithogalum juncifolium have become large enough to offer. Here's an example of this lovely little bulb:

Since it often grows on cliffs in South Africa, it is sometimes called the "Cliff Marble", or more commonly, the "Rush-leaved Star of Bethlehem". The bulbs are photosynthetically active and are sometimes translucent. These bulbs are about 2 cm (3/4 in.) in diameter and may grow up to 4 cm. (1.5 in.) and require a well draining soil, adequate water and bright sun. [Hardy to zone 9]

Cactus Cross Stitch

There was a reference to this on Cactus Jungle a while back. For those who cross stitch, hey, why not? Awesome raffle prizes for your local succulent society! patterns are available at

Monday, December 17, 2007

Out and About

Even in the Winter, there's something of interest in the greenhouses. Will be posting some new photos on the nursery website (link on the right) in the photo gallery slide show, including these two. Enjoy.

Microcanthocereus densiflorus


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Hoodia flava (syn. Trichocaulon flavum) flower

Sometimes the unexpected surprises are the best ones. The plant was kind of out of sight (and thus out of mind), but then, while checking out the "out of sight" plants, wow!

The plant is Hoodia flava (syn. Trichocaulon flavum) and what a pleasant surprise.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Aloe vera (syn. barbadensis) in Horticulture Magazine

Aloes get the attention this month in Horticulture Magazine. The author (Daniel J. Hinkley) mentions several aloes which are hardy in the Northwest, especially if given good drainage, and he mentions Aloe vera as his entry point for discovering the many other species of interest.
The genus Aloe merits wider use, be it in a potted collection or in mixed plantings. More than any other plant, aloe vera is an icon of the 1960s and '70s (at least within the realm of legality).
Our nursery doesn't grow Aloe vera for sale, since it's readily available at the local supermarket, but it's an interesting case in point. The name is itself confusing. If you look it up in various reference sources, it has a long list of synonyms. The most common synonymy is with "barbadensis". Which is the correct species name? I've read authorities who come up with differing conclusions, but the trend now seems to be to accept Aloe vera and relegate Aloe barbadensis to synonymy.

And then there's the plant. Some of the plants sold have spots on the leaves, others don't. Some are quite large, others very small. What's what? Let's begin with the fact that the juvenile form and the adult form are quite different (juveniles=spots, adults=usually not). And then there's the matter of culture, how they're grown. And finally, there are probably quite a few hybrids circulating out there.

Whatever, this is among the most widely distributed of succulent plants and a good starting point for anyone, due to their ease of growing. More later.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Calm after the Storm

The storm did most of its damage on the Oregon Coast with 127 mph gusts and huge power outages. Here, just a few branches down - including a couple from the coast redwood out by the greenhouses. So, it's time for a break and a peek in the greenhouse.

O, those Lithops. Love 'em.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Wind in the Willows...or, worse yet, the Box Elders

Leave it to the newspapers and the TV news to get everyone a little jittery over our next expected storm. Headline: "Oregon may get first hurricane warning" Then, buried deep inside the article, it's explained that the term "hurricane warning" wasn't permitted to be used for non-hurricane wind storms until some 5 years ago. Compared to some of the really big wind storms we've had in the past, this one probably will be significant but not humongous.

Even so, we spent some of our time today battening down the hatches in preparation for another "Pineapple Express." There likely will be wind gusts to 50 mph later today and tomorrow. Probably won't ship any plants until later this week!

The original owners of this home planted a series of variegated box elders along the edge. Pretty, but very brittle, so we'll probably have some firewood pretty soon.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Holiday Cactus at Horticulture Magazine

Meg Lynch, Editor of Horticulture Magazine, blogs about her mother's "Christmas" cactus blooming for Thanksgiving. Which is why I prefer to call them "Holiday" cactus. They bloom during the Fall/Winter when the days are getting shorter. She says:
Short days (and long nights) trigger their flowering. My mother keeps hers in a room not frequented at night. It is dark there from sundown to sunup, and they reliably set buds and bloom in late fall. This year they were just in time for pumpkin pie.
Couldn't ask for a better centerpiece for the table. That's her mother's plant above.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Caught the Agave Bug Yet?

Carl Schoenfeld of Yucca Do Nursery has an excellent article in the latest issue of the online edition of Horticulture Magazine.
The hottest trend in container gardening has its roots in a group of plants that for over 7,000 years delineated the agricultural and cultural progression of Mexico. Throughout its history, the genus Agave supplied food, drink, and materials for building and weaving, and held religious significance. Metl was its name to the Aztecs in the valley of Mexico. It was mescal to the other Mesoamericans. The Spanish conquistadors called it maquey; Europeans called it American aloe. Finally, the Americans dubbed it century plant. It is only now that the ornamental attributes of these remarkable plants are getting the attention they deserve.

Hey, we've had the Agave bug for years. They've been grown on back benches, in nooks and crannies of our home and in various sections of our yard for a long time. They just didn't sell very well for us. But now it seems everyone wants an Agave to plant out here in Portland! And several are able to grow here and in other regions thought by most to be very un-Agave type country.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Haworthia Specialties

Haworthia truncata var. tennus GM268 (The "hairy" truncata)

For those who are interested, we've just posted our new Haworthia Specialities page. This will be a constantly changing and updated list of seed grown haworthias with collection data. Some of these will be plants not offered elsewhere or rarely offered and most are from the collection of David Martin at We are extremely pleased to be able to offer these outstanding plants. Feel free to give us feedback about this new addition.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

(Not Just) Another Haworthia

Haworthia cooperi (aff.) cymbiformis ex. MBB6914 from Spekboomberg

This is a closeup of a beautiful plant from seed which generally is not in cultivation. It's solitary, not clumping, and therefore quite rare in collections.

Lithops at the Plant Peddler

Delivered some Lithops to the Plant Peddler (3022 E. Burnside) yesterday. The owner, Ken Blackburn, lost his wife last month and she was a major part of the business. But he continues on and is worth a visit by all you plant addicts.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Returning from the Hilton

We delivered 20 desert dish garden centerpieces to the Hilton for a Regence Blue Shield conference, and that was what I was going to post about. But on our way home we passed the intersection of Interstate and Greeley, the site of the fatal bicycle/truck accident a couple of weeks ago. As we approached the intersection we saw the fire truck and ambulance and as we passed slowly by, were confronted by what appeared to be another injured cyclist on a stretcher.

We don't know the details. All we know is that we need to do better. We're proud of our city's reputation of being bicycle friendly, but if we are, we need to spend some money on safer intersections and stronger enforcement.

Update: The cyclist will be ok, but was thrown over the hood of the car. Updates are available at

Monday, November 5, 2007

Bicycle City

Cyclists have long revered Portland for its bicycle-friendly culture and infrastructure, including the network of bike lanes that the city began planning in the early 1970s. Now, riders are helping the city build a cycling economy.

So writes William Yardley in The New York Times today. Portland's reputation as a bike friendly city continues to grow. All of which plays into what appears to me to be the amazing success of The Little Red Bike Cafe down the street from us. Ali and Evan are doing a fantastic job and are a great addition to our community.

...and Ali even likes succulents like Agaves....

Friday, November 2, 2007

Frost Arrives

Woke up this morning to our first real frost with a low of 32 F. Brr. But everything that needs to be is in the heated greenhouse and the rest is in the cold house which can be heated if it really gets cold. So far everything's fine. And it's going to be nice and sunny again. I'm all for that! More later.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

This is among the plants we've been potting up recently. They were grown by David Martin at and are all seed grown, most with extensive data. This is a closeup image of Haworthia magnifica var. splendens from GM282 seed.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Portland Outdoor Succulents

This is just a small portion of a very well designed and implemented rock garden in SE Portland on S.E. Caruthers. Note the two small agaves and the Echeveria glauca in the front. David - the owner - provides the Echeverias some protection from the rain during the Winter.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

These are a couple of photos from the recent Fall Home and Garden Show. Thanks to Steve Nelson, President of the Oregon Cactus & Succulent Society, for the photos.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

For those with a Wierd Sense of Humor (or maybe I've been watching too many horror flicks lately!)

I know this has nothing to do with succulents, but I was just browsing for some recipes and found this 'interesting', if somewhat macabre suggestion.
Oh well, it is almost Halloween!
Amish Apple Cake
A great pennsilvania dutch dessert recipe. Cook this Apple Cake recipe with your mother

Question of the Day

This blog has only been up and running for about a month and we have no idea who's checking it out. Therefore, the question of the day is "Where do you live?" and "What brought you to this blog?" OK, that's two questions, but hey?

It may be too soon for very many to have visited here, but who knows? I certainly don't. Help us out here! Hear?

Simply add your comments to this blog. Thanks.

Friday, October 12, 2007

from the Cactus Jungle Blog

"It got a US Patent, so please don't steal this idea. What is it for? It is:

The ornamental design for a motor driven toy cactus, as shown and described.

It's hilarious! Did they manufacture this? Can I get one? Who knows?!? I better check Ebay."
I checked. Darn! No one seems to have it for sale!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Another Day another Succulent

This is a plant which received quite a few comments at the Home & Garden Show. It's Haemanthus albiflos of the Amaryllidaceae family from South Africa. It gives a great lift in the greenhouse this time of year. Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Portland Cactus

We passed this opuntia this morning as we were driving our mini horse "Ladybug" through the neighborhood. It's on N. Oberlin.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Haworthia magnifica var. splendens MBB6751

After the show

First, thanks to all of you who made it out to the show. And "welcome" to all of you who are first time visitors due to conversations at the show.

Now it's back to our most unfavorite task of running a nursery, getting things ready for winter. Some of you know that several years ago we had a major garage fire which destroyed many plants and did major damage to the greenhouse. Following the fire, we built the current large greenhouse and have used the old, still damaged, greenhouse for a variety of purposes - without heat. However, it appears that this year, due to a larger inventory, we will be rebuilding the old greenhouse and using it as a cool house (40 degrees F minimum) for cacti only. It should work out ok when done, but in the meantime things are a bit chaotic to say the least.

And, for those waiting for the new "Haworthia Specialties" pages, we're working on them. Soon...


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Off to the Home & Garden Show

Won't be posting much here for the next few days as we're out at the Portland Fall Home & Garden Show through Sunday. If you're in the area, come out and have a visit -- 11-8 daily with free parking Thursday and Friday at the Portland Exposition Center.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Where's the Cactus???

Yes, I know. We named this the "Oregon Cactus Blog" and there's ne'er been a single cactus on it's pages since it began! What gives??

When we named the blog, "Oregon Cactus & Succulent Blog" and "Oregon Succulent Blog" just didn't have the right ring to them. So we succumbed to the common (if inaccurate) practice of placing all succulent plants under the moniker 'cactus'. We then proceeded to focus exclusively on that part of our "Cactus Blog" subject matter that isn't cactus at all.

So it's time to rectify that with a photo from our cactus collection.

This is the plant we chose for our logo. We list it as Rebutia krainziana Kesselring, but it is now generally considered to be a "form" of Rebutia marsoneri Werdermann. R. marsoneri generally has yellow flowers, whereas R. krainziana has very distinctive red flowers. Call it what you wish, it's one of the showiest cacti in our nursery despite its relatively small size, flowering off and on from Spring to early Fall. One plant is still flowering!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Bog Blog

The rains have come; the dry summer season has ended.
The other day we had 1.1 inches of rain, the most for any day this year. And it looks like it's going to be a rather boggy week, with rain or showers expected every day.
It's when the weather becomes like this, and the terms "Oregon Mist" and "Liquid Sunshine" and "sun breaks" are used to describe our daily experience, that people start saying things like "and you grow cacti?"
Ah yes, even during the grayest days of midwinter.
Even more-so then than in the brightest days of summer.

Little Red Bike Cafe

We have a new cafe in our neighborhood. They've been open for about a month and had their "Grand Opening" event yesterday. It was a great event. And all I can say is that this is what American capitalism is really all about: people pursuing their dream and striving to make a decent living doing so. I don't think Ali and Evan have any expectations of becoming millionaires with this venture, but they will make a decent living and do something good for the community at the same time. (Click on the title for a link to their blog and prepare to salivate!) Our best wishes to them.

Justice Brandeis Quote

We can have a democracy or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of the few. We cannot have both.
Justice Louis Brandeis

Friday, September 28, 2007

Images from the Nursery

OK. I need a break. Time to get the camera out and share a few images from the nursery. Enjoy. (And remember, you comments - including questions and disagreements - are welcome. Just click on the comments link.)

Echeveria gibbiflora hybrid

Echeveria 'Black Knight'

Thursday, September 27, 2007

To insecticide or Not to insecticide, that is the question.

Actually, it's not much of a question at least, not with a large collection of plants such as we have. Growing so many different genera and species of plants in such a relatively small space isn't natural in and of itself. As a result, in our situation, it's pretty much a necessity to use insecticides in order to have a healthy population of plants.

It's not a job I enjoy, but somebody's got to do it. The key is what to use and how to use it effectively so as to not have to do it more often than necessary. And to do it safely. We use a systemic in order to have a longer term effect without having a long term residual presence on the plants or in the soil.

What are the primary beasties we're after? The usual culprits: Mealy bugs, scale (though we almost never encounter these), red spider mite and fungus gnats (an occasional nuisance). Good cultural practices (adequate air circulation and proper watering for example) can reduce the incidence of these pests, and botanical and certain household remedies will often be adequate with small collections. But we outgrew that point a long time ago!

Soooo, if you don't see or hear me for a while, I'm that guy with the mask and gloves and long sleeves and a big sprayer pack on his back.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Eisenhower quote:

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Dwight Eisenhower, Farewell Address (January 17, 1961)

And speaking of cold hardy plants...

Our expertise over the years has not focused on cold-hardy succulents (other than semps and sedums). The exceptions have mostly been the result of accidents.

Take Echinocereus viridiflorus, the green-flowered hedgehog. For years we've grown plants whose parents grew in Northern Colorado, almost into Wyoming, at a fairly high elevation which gets exceedingly cold during the Winter. But it wasn't until last winter that we found out how well they can do, even in our wet-cool winter climate.

These plants are usually in an unheated greenhouse during the winter. Last winter we brought them in from an outside growing bed and placed them in a flat, ready to be potted up at our convenience. The pot was at the back of the unheated greenhouse next to an area open to the outside. We got busy and forgot about them. (It happens!)

Sometime early in the winter, something - we assume a cat - knocked them out onto the outside ground where the remained bare-root through the snow and rain. They survived quite well thank you.

But, please note! They did have excellent drainage!


Monday, September 24, 2007

Getting winterized

As I got up this morning it was in the 40's (F) outside. Brewed a cup of coffee, bundled up a bit, let Osita (our dog) have a run, fed "Lady Bug" (our miniature horse), and sat on the deck for a bit. And then we begin "bundling up" the greenhouses and "stuffing" the plants therein. Oh, for more room!

The question this year - as always - which plants do we dare leave out, with protection from the rain, and which ones dare we take the total risk with, letting them get both Oregon rain and cold temps.

If you live in the Portland area, you can help us out though. We're going to be selling plants at the Fall Home & Garden Show during the weekend of October 4, 5, 6 and 7 at the Portland Expo Center. Every plant you buy means more room in our greenhouses!!!



This is our first attempt at blogging, so here goes. Our purpose is to provide a forum for discussions regarding the cultivation of and information about succulent plants. It also allows us to share with you as soon as it occurs, new additions to our nursery catalog.

More later.