Sunday, December 25, 2011

ฺPlant bare root cactus

If you buy the plant from online shops or nurseries, the sellers always pack and ship it with bare root or unpotted.  Some people don’t like this way because the plant will be dormant and also need time to recover in the first 2-3 months.  However, shipping with bare root has some advantages: less damage to the plant during transportation, especially big one.  The shipment is cleaner: no soil, small rock or bug.  You will be charged with lower freight due to less weight from soil and pot.  Meanwhile, with new root, the cactus will grow faster and healthier after 6 months that you got it.  

Here is the instruction what to do when you get bare root cactus & succulent.

  • Upon receiving your plants, open boxes as soon as possible. If any damaged roots are observed, trim with clean scissors before planting. Keep the new plants somewhat dry until new roots start forming. This can take a few days if hot or weeks or longer if dormant. During the shipping process, some plants may become de-acclimated from their normal full sun environment, and could burn if they are exposed too soon to extremely hot sun.

  • Before planting, allow it to dry 10 to 25 days after you receive your cutting. (Thick cuts and cool weather require a longer drying period). To dry the wounds, leave the cutting in a shady, warm exposure, not direct sun.

  • Plant it in DRY cactus potting soil and pot about an inch wider than the diameter of your cactus.

  • Do not water for another 10 - 25 days. After the cutting develops a root system it is safe to start a light regular watering cycle. Always let the soil dry out completely between applications of water. It is more likely that a cutting will be killed by over watering than under watering.

The bare root shipping is applied not only to cactus & succulent but also to other plants such as rose, orchid, nepenthe and etc.  But the ways how to deal with each one after receiving it are different.  So study the plant’s habit and ask for advice from your seller.  


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Watering while you're away or on vacation (2)

Here are another easy DIY tips which explain by simple picture.  


Watering while away or on vacation (1)

Watering plants is the daily important task for gardeners but who will do it while you’re away or on vacation??? Here are some helpful ways to solve the problem: 

- Ideal way is to have a friend, neighbor, or family member come to the house and water. There are some drawbacks to this idea and you must weigh them carefully before entrusting this chore to someone else.

- Enclose plants in large transparent or clear plastic bags. Place the plant inside the bag and then close the top tightly with lightweight twine or ribbon. If the top flops and bends the plant, put a tall stick in the pot to hold up the bag. This way will work for 2 weeks vacation.    
 It's important not to water just before enclosing the plant. If you do, so much water will condense inside the bag that the plant surface becomes too moist. 

- The simplest method for outdoor pots and hanging baskets is to move all of them into your dark, cool garage, bathroom or place. (Do this BEFORE watering them; they’ll be lighter and easier to move.) The temperature and will remain constant and evaporation will slow. Always use drip pans under the containers to retain water. For ten days, they should be fine.

fill a washtub with gravel, fill the tub with water just to the level of the gravel, and set a plant on top of the gravel. The humidity from the water will prevent it from drying out. Another method is to set bricks in a bathtub, fill the tub with water to the level of the bricks, and set plants on the bricks.

- Move all your containers to a shady, protected area. Place drip pans under each and water well. Group together those that need less water and place in the most protected spot; then group the thirsty ones together and place them close to the others. Unless a heat wave comes while you’re gone, they should all be fine. If you will be away longer, then ask a trusted individual to come in and give any dry pots a drink.

Double potting smaller containers also helps insulate the soil during the hottest weather. Place the container inside a larger one, then fill the space with soil or fine mulch. (This is beneficial whether you're away or at home.)

- Adding a layer of mulch to the surface of each pot helps cut down on evaporation.

- Make your own self-waterer:
1.      Cut the bottom out of a plastic beverage container.
2.      Remove lid and cover the opening with a small piece of gauze, secured with a rubber band around the neck of the bottle. (This keeps the soil from forming a plug in the opening.)
3.      Push neck of bottle into the soil; do this near the edge so the bottle can rest against the pot.
4.      Fill the bottle with water the day before you leave; then on the day you leave, top up with water again.

- Use water Delivery Devices or Gels, or time-release water products.  Several products are available which utilize all-natural, biodegradable ingredients to keep soil moist. The gel-form water gradually releases the moisture when it comes into contact with the soil.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tough Flood in Thailand and Cactus Farm

 Now, Thailand has the worst flood in the decade. These floods started in June really and started to move south and have really caused huge damage the whole way down.

“They've affected hundreds and hundreds of villages and towns, they've wiped out 2.5 million acres of farmland. This is a very, very serious disaster." said Matthew Cochrane, spokesperson for the International Red Cross in Bangkok.

Over half a million square kilometers -- an area the size of Spain -- are affected by the floods in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, according to CNN meteorologist Jenny Harrison.

Beyond many of houses, hospital, factories and farmland affected by these huge water, the cactus & succulent farms nears Bangkok were flooded already.  Unfortunately, the valuable cactus & succulent were gone with water without any help as the flood came very quickly and strongly.

The water was higher than 2-3 meters on the next day.  Here are the sample of some cactus farms.  To every people affected by this disaster, don't give up !

If you'd like to donate online

credit: pictures from

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Graptoveria Succulent

 Genus: X Graptoveria (grap-toh-VER-ree-uh)  
The name Graptoveria is a combination of Echeveria and Graptopetalum.  The 'x' before the name signifies this hybridization.  Due to this mixed parentage they form a diverse genus, but most are low growing, cultivated for their beautiful shapes and colors.

Graptoveria Debbie
X Graptoverias, are beautiful and easy to grow of all the Echeveria-like succulents in cultivation. Generally, they are hardier than Echeverias and certainly fast growing and easy to start from cuttings (leaf or stem)

The common species of Graptoveria which can be found and sold normally are
- Graptoveria Fred Ives

- Graptoveria Debbie (thick and pink purple leaves) 
- Graptoveria Opalina, a large, fat-leaved plant with pale colored leaves that vary in colors

- Graptoveria Silver Star. You can get it the succulent nursery normally and it’s not simple to grow it because it can rot easily and doesn't tolerate a lot of direct sunlight

- Graptoveria amethorum, with short, fat leaves

Sun Exposure:
Caring for Graptoverias is similar to that of Echeveria and Graptopetalum.  Bright light or shaded areas are best.  Take care when placing outside as scarring can develop quickly even in partial sunlight.  Most plants can be brought into the sun if done very gradually

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)  With leaf cuttings, you can cut a leaf and leave it on top of pot.  Water it every 2-3 weeks and later the new plant will grow up.

Bloom Time: Late Spring/Early Summer

Graptoveria Silver Star
Once a week for small port and twice for bigger pot. The Graptoveria are drought-tolerant but like water when it's warm Only for some types of Graptoveria (like Superbum, Hakuhou 3) you may use the watering can with small tip and pour water at the soil.  That can avoid water being or holding on its leaves.  

Or if there is water between the leaves, they will use syringe to suck water out of.  Then Graptoveria will have perfect and healthy leaves.

Once a month.  You can apply the orchid fertilizer with the succulent.

If you find the bit leaves, there should be a worm around there.  You may use the pesticide when you find aphid on succulent.  Meanwhile, you should collect and throw the dry or dead leaves as they will be place of pest and bad fungus.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Lithop & Silver Torch Cactus as one of 12 bizarre real plants that look like sci-fi alien monsters

I've read the website about the weird plants that look like monsters. Lithop and Silver Torch Cactus are one of them even though I think Lithop is really a cute succulent (which is not easy to grow.)
In the article, you will find more plants which really look horrible and like monsters or alien.

Link :

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ariocarpus kotschoubeyanus - living rocks

Scientific name: Ariocarpus kotschoubeyanus

Origin: Mexico (Coahuila to Queretaro)

Habitat and Ecology:  Commonly called "living rocks," they are widely distributed as a large number of small, isolated populations, generally on limestone derived gypsum silt plains and on hills. The area where they grow must be quite wet during the rainy season (Summer). These plants are extremely hidden as they blend in well with the terrain around them resembling dried mud.
When they are found, it is usually due to their pinkish flowers. In times of severe drought the whole above-ground portion of these plants can shrink and be covered by mould, but the taproot remains alive.
Although they can form clumps, often only a small disc of tubercles can be seen flat at the soil surface, however these plants grow a large tap root below the surface of the compost.

Root:  Each plant has a large turnip-like taproot, which lies below the soil surface and serves for water storage.

Cultivation:  The plants need deep pots with loose mineral soil with a well-drained stuff. They need a good amount of light, a place near the roof of the greenhouse helps drying the pot after watering.
Watering and adding fertilizer can be done weekly during summertime, if the weather is sunny enough. Kept this way, plants will show a healthy, although slow growth. They are frost hardy to -10°C.

Propagation: By seeds, remembering that seedlings dislike strong light and dry conditions.  It will be great if the seeding pot can be repotted frequently.
Eventually, when they become mature, they attain a maximum size of 5 to 9 cm. But plants are often grafted to accelerate growth as they would generally slowly grow, but the grafted plants are typical rather tall growing or become multi-heads plant, compared with plants on their own roots that are usually very flat to the ground.

Flowers: A. kotschoubeyanus have a woolly crown, from which emerge bright pink-violet flowers up to 2.5-5 cm, 2 times wider than long when fully expanded. Flowers last for 3 to 4 days.  
Blooming time: from mid-August onwards, and is easy to set seed on, it produces some interesting hybrids with other Ariocarpus species

Ariocarpus kotschoubeyanus is a variable species:

· Ariocarpus kotschoubeyanus forma mostruosa
· Ariocarpus kotschoubeyanus forma prolifera
· Ariocarpus kotschoubeyanus var. albiflorus
· Ariocarpus kotschoubeyanus var. elephantidens (which are larger, highly textured, triangulate tubercles, and a deep purple flower with little or no white content)
· Ariocarpus kotschoueyanus var. macdowellii
· Ariocarpus kotschoubeyanus var. sladovski differs from the other red flowering A. kotschoubeyanus (for having a smoother and shiny epidermis)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Care to Adenium – Desert Rose

A native of East Africa, the desert rose will grow from 6 ½ to 10 feet in the wild. It has fleshy leaves and beautiful 2-inch open-trumpet shaped flowers in shades from red to light pink. 

Desert Rose is excellent in pots especially for people who "kill everything" because Adenium lives with little care and can take a good deal of neglect.  Besides, the coolest Desert Rose plants are hybrids (many dozens of them) produced in China, Taiwan and Thailand, and some in India.

Watering:  Needs little water during winter, especially when kept cool. Increase water during growing and blooming periods.  If left without added water and no rain for a long time or after a cold night, your desert rose can lose most or all of its leaves.  Never fear, they will re-grow after watering or after warm weather returns. 

Soils: Good drainage is essential in any soil mix, yet the soil mix also must have moisture retention properties, along with adequate nutrients. Use a mixture of half potting soil and half perlite, which will hold some moisture but still drain nicely. If you live in a warmer climate where you can plant outdoors, you can use gravel instead of Perlite. 

Repotting: Root prune and repot ever year or two, after the winter rest period, using a good draining soil mix such as described above. Peat can also be added to the mixture. Plant can tolerate being root-bound (tight in the pot.)  

Pruning: Usually pruning is done to reduce overall plant size, or to selectively remove branches to 'sculpt' a more-perfect plant.  
Adenium flower
Do heavy pruning around March to shape the plant. Any new shoots can be pruned off at any time if you don't want them. Wear gloves and don't touch your face if you get any sap on you while pruning, as the sap is toxic. Don't let children or animals play with or around these plants either. Wash sap off with soap immediately.

 Fertilizer: Feed Adenium obesum with a general houseplant fertilizer half-strength about once or twice a month during the warm months. Blooming fertilizer may help encourage blooming during the growing season.   Along with reducing watering to increase cold tolerance, fertilization should be ended in late August or early September. Availability of nutrients (especially nitrogen) encourages the plants to remain active and produce new growth.

Light: Adenium needs lots of light and fresh air. Keep in a bright location in winter. In summer plant can be moved outside and can tolerate full sun but partial or filtered sun is fine. Plant will bloom better if getting more full sun and regular water.

Temperature: Never below 40 degrees; however, in the winter, keeping it cool (between 40 and 61 degrees) gives the plant a needed rest. 

Pest and Diseases:  The common enemies of Desert Rose are aphids, caterpillars, sometimes scale insects and fungus.  Bugs are pretty easy to handle if you observe and inspect your Desert Rose often'll see the pests and can take action.  Sometimes, the leaves are eaten by small worm.  If the trouble is not serious, just remove the worm out of the plant.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

What to do when cactus is rotting???

The before picture. 
when my mammillaria was still healthy in the big pot
Thailand is in the rain season now and some cacti in my garden were also rotten.  At this time, it happened with my favorite mammillaria which became rotten and I just noted it recently.  So I think it’s important to fight with rotting seriously although before that, I led the plant rot without do anything. Here is the way to do that and hope it’ll be helpful when you have same trouble like me.

  • How do we know or notice that the cactus is rotting?
The brown base of can mean that the plant is aging (become woody) or rotting. To tell the difference, touch the base and see if it is hard or flabby/soft. Hard means everything is OK. But, it’s soft, it means that plant is rotting and it must be treated with care.  

Here is after picture.  It was so soft and I had to cut some rotten part out and dried the rest for 3-4 days together with the rotting aloe

  • Can I still save the rotting cactus? 
The second way to save a rotting cactus is to simply cut of its top.  Using a sharp knife cut off the top of the plant.  After that, let’s it dry for a 2-7 days. Once dry, set about 1/2 the plant into potting mix/perlite or cactus mix/perlite.

Do not water too much. Just enough to make the soil to become a little humid. Over watering at this point could cause rot again. With luck and the right conditions it will start to root. Once it develops its own roots, the watering can be increased.  Establishing the new roots may take several days or weeks depending on the condition of plant and care.

I put them on top of pot with 100% perlite

After several days with humid from rain, the new root came out finally! 

Another option is to take a cutting or two for grafting which need skill & experience to do that.

  • What if my cactus is rotting from the top? What shall I do?
If a cactus is rotting from the top you need to act immediately before more of the cactus rots. Just like as if it is rotting from the base, carefully cut off the top of the cactus that is rotting. Dispose of the cactus top.

As for the bottom, clean it with a spray to make sure it does not catch the top's disease. Change the soil unless it looks as if the cactus can't take a repot. The remaining cactus should now be healthy. After a few weeks of extra care, start caring for it as for a normal cactus. It will not grow a new top or increase in height but it will grow branches which will grow.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Free seeds of Gymnocalycium cacti to get

Recently, my Gymnocalycium cacti flowered and gave me some seeds. I want to give them for free because they are too many for me and it'll be a good practice to grow normal cactus from seed.  Then you'll know to do it with another cactus which may need more advance experience.

In the past, my friend ever gave the free seeds, then I learnt how to plant cactus from seed and now I want to do it to other people, too. Here is the picture of mother Gymnocalycium.

But you may need to pay $2 for shipping.  (Please don't forget that I live in Thailand.  If you stay here, I'll send you for free!) So if you'd like to get those seeds, please send money $2 via Paypal.  Here is my account :  There are limited amount: 3 sets (about 20-30 seeds/set)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Cactus vs Scale

Today topic is about the scale, one of common pest for cactus as the blog reader has asked me about how to heal the cactus when scale attacks.  Hope it'll be helpful for you guys.

Scale is pinhead-size insects that present themselves as raised tan/brown spots. It is actually hard shell coverings that protect the insect or eggs underneath. Scales reproduce like rabbits, prefer columnar and rock cacti, and dine on plant juices. Infected plants appear yellow and weakened. Left untreated, scale can cause bud and shoot drop. Scale are treated similar to mealy bugs. 

Life cycle 
Scale and mealy bugs are related insects, and since their life cycles closely parallel each other.  In a general scale life cycle, eggs are produced beneath the female shell and hatch into tiny crawlers which are invisible to the unaided eye. Crawlers are not covered by a hard shell and they migrate to newly expanded foliage, finally settling near leaf veins on the underside of leaves or stems. It is this crawler stage, which is practically impossible to detect on cuttings or other propagation material that is responsible for spreading the infestation. 

Outbreaks of scale can be triggered by plants being under stress (overwatering/underwatering), too much new growth resulting from an overabundance of nutrients (overfertilizing), overcrowding (unavoidable in some collections) and other conditions specific to the infestation. These other conditions can include injudicious spraying that kills the predators but leaves the scale eggs alive, introduction of a new, more favorable host plant, etc.

scale on rose branch
How to rid scale? 
Many remedies are available for control depending on how much the scale outbreak. 

1. At the beginning, you may choose organic controls including alcohol spray (isopropyl alcohol, straight or diluted), soapy emulsion (can be mixed w/alcohol), horticultural oil (read the directions, taking the plant out of the sun is a must) and pyrethrum spray. 
Soapy water/alcohol should be reapplied every 2-3 days for 2 weeks. This is because little residual action can be expected, and newly hatched insects are occurring.

Alcohol in large quantities in the root zone is generally to be avoided since it can dehydrate some tissues. Soapy water/alcohol mix should not be allowed to dry in the root zone since damage can occur. If it is used, after a short period it can be flushed by pouring clean water through the root zone.

2. The most common and easy choice to remove scale is Chemical spray with proven results include Sevin and malathion.  DO NOT use sprays containing malathion on the Crassulaceae family of plants. These plants include the common Jade plants.  Some species in these genera are very sensitive to Malathion, and damage or death may result.   For your safe health, follow the pesticide instruction strictly when you use Malathion.

3.  Sometimes, spraying contact pesticides on scale is not effective since their protective hard shell coverings shed water like a well-made roof and the chemical ends up killing the natural predators (lacewings and their larvae that generally keep the scale under control in garden). 
Systemic pesticides can work but we should get rid of the alive scales, too.   They can't move, so once they are detached from the plant they will die. So you should scrape off the cactus scale by washing the plant with a weak detergent solution or by mechanically removing insects with a toothpick.  Then spray Malathion to control major infestations weekly. When fighting scale, be sure to cover the soil, otherwise, these pests will just drop off and then get right back on the plant. 

Information & Photo Source:,,

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Haworthia koelmaniorum

Family: Aloaceae 
Species: koelmaniorum 

Synonym: Haworthia koelmaniorum var. koelmaniorum, Haworthia limifolia var. koelmaniorum
Origin: South Africa (Mpumalanga: Pretoria area)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 °C (40 °F)

Sun Exposure: Light Shade to shade (Its leaves can be burn if the sunlight is too severe.)

Growth Habits: Stemless rosette, very slowly clumping, 2 to 2.8 inches in diameter (5-7 cm); 14 to 20 leaves.
Watering Needs: regular water (every 3-4 days/time) 
Bloom Color: White/Near White
Bloom Time: Mid-late Summer, Early Fall
Grown for foliage

Propagation Methods: By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets) or leaf cuttings
From seed; direct sow after last frost, From seed; germinate in vitro in gelatin, agar or other medium.

 Other details: 
·       This plant is suitable for growing indoors like normal harworthia.   
·        Koelmaniorum grows slowly and can be rotten easily, too.  The plant is not cheap so its soil should be light and take care of it carefully.  You may mix the cactus soil and pumice in small size with the ratio 1:2.  I've been told that it worked.
·       Although Haworthia koelmaniorum naturally occurs in the summer rainfall area, the plants seem to have no problem when cultivated under similar conditions as their winter-growing relatives.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Making your own compost at backyard

What you do usually do with the dead leaves and food waste?  Composting is also a good answer to recycle leaves and other yard waste. Instead of burning or hauling away leaves, you can compost them and return the nutrients to your garden to save money with your own compost!

What is compost?

To gardeners, compost is considered "black gold" because of its many benefits in the garden. Adding compost to clay soils makes them easier to work and plant. In sandy soils, the addition of compost improves the water holding capacity of the soil. By adding organic matter to the soil, compost can help improve plant growth and health.

The composting process

The composting process involves four main components: organic matter, moisture, oxygen, and bacteria.
Organic matter includes plant materials and some animal manures. All composting require three basic ingredients:
  • Browns organic materials such as dead leaves, branches , twigs. The brown materials provide carbon for your compost
  • Greens organic materials such as grass clippings, vegetable waste, fruit scraps, and coffee grounds. The green materials provide nitrogen.
  • Water provides moisture to help breakdown the organic matter
The best ratio is 1 part green to 1 part brown material.  Shredding, chopping or mowing these materials
  1. Select a dry, shady spot near a water source for your compost pile or bin.
  2. Add your brown and green materials as you collect them, making sure larger pieces are chopped or shredded. Smaller pieces will help speed the composting process by increasing the surface area.
  3. Moisten dry materials as they are added.
  4. Once your compost pile is established, mix green material into the pile and bury fruit and vegetable waste under 10 inches of compost material.
  5. Optional: Cover top of compost with a tarp to keep it moist.
  6. When the material at the bottom is dark and rich in color, your compost is ready to use (this is usually occurs in two months to two years).
  • If the pile is too dry, materials will decompose very slowly. Add water during dry periods or when adding large amounts of brown organic material. 
  • If the pile is too wet, turn the pile and mix the materials. Another option is to add dry, brown organic materials. 
  • Turning the pile is important for complete composting and for controlling odor.
  • Wait at least two weeks before turning the pile, to allow the center of the pile to "heat up" and decompose. Once the pile has cooled in the center, decomposition of the materials has taken place. Frequent turning will help speed the composting process.
my compost bag
  • You may also add layers of soil or finished compost to supply more bacteria and speed the composting process. Commercial starters are available but should not be necessary for compost.
(I live in the city and have limited garden space.  Therefore, I make my own compost in the soil/cement large bag (which water can go through) and shake it every 2 weeks.  About 2-3 months, the compost will be ready J.  You can adapt another bag or sack to make the compost.)

How long does it take?

The amount of time needed to produce compost depends on several factors, including the size of the compost pile, the types of materials, the surface area of the materials, and the number of times the pile is turned.

The number of times the pile is turned influences composting speed. By turning more frequently (about every 2-4 weeks), you will produce compost more quickly. Waiting at least two weeks allows the center of the pile to heat up and promotes maximum bacterial activity. The average composter turns the pile every 4-5 weeks.

With frequent turning, compost can be ready in about 3 months, depending on the time of year.
In winter, the activity of the bacteria slows, and it is recommended that you stop turning the pile after November to keep heat from escaping the pileís center. In summer, warm temperatures encourage bacterial activity and the composting process is quicker

  • If the pile has more brown organic materials, it may take longer to compost. You can speed up the process by adding more green materials or a fertilizer with nitrogen (use one cup per 25 square feet).
  • ·When turning the compost pile, make sure that materials in the center are brought to the outsides, and that materials from the outside edges are brought to the center.

 Using compost in the yard
Incorporate compost into your garden as you prepare the soil in the spring. Cover the area with 3-4 inches of soil and till it in to at least the upper 6 inches of soil. 

Or you also use compost as mulch around flower beds, vegetable gardens, or around trees or shrubs in landscape beds. Apply a 3 inch layer. Be careful not to apply mulch close to the main stem or trunk of the plant.