Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Cacti and Succulents

If you know me or read my about page, then you know I am terrible at taking care of things. The ghosts of Vortex, Skymaze (both hamsters), two neglected hermit crabs we got at the Oregon Coast, and Alpha, my Beta fish that miraculously survived for two years, can attest to that. Forget plants - if I can't even remember to feed living things (that move and make noise, therefore garnering more attention) properly, then I hardly consider it realistic that I will water plants consistently.

Now I was never much of a nature buff while growing up, so the idea of not owning plants did not bother me in the least... until this year, for some reason. Thankfully, it occurred to me that there are plants out there suited exactly to people like me. Gorgeous ones too! How did it never occur to me to get cacti and succulents before? While it does seem foolish to attempt growing cacti in a climate like the Northwest, I discovered the power of the "windowsill garden." We get (barely) enough sunlight for them to survive... in the windowsill! An obsession immediately took hold, and I went out and bought a bunch of cacti from Absolutely Cactus, a great family-run business in Southern California. I also picked up a few colorful moon cacti, an aloe plant, cactus soil, and terra cotta pots from Home Depot.

Left: Euphorbia Horrida Noorsveldensis; Right: Gymnocalcium Mihanovichii v. Hibotan

Check out my feisty euphorbia on the left. See the sprouting spikes? They slowly turn pink/purple, then grey/brown as they age! It is also growing new sprouts at the base now. My pink moon/ruby ball cactus is on the right - I love the colors of these. The colorful cactus on top is actually colorful due to a mutation where it lacks chorophyll and cannot survive on its own - hence, it is grafted onto a healthy cactus plant to serve as a base and keep it alive. Teamwork!

Left: various, unknown; Right: Leuchtenbergia Principis

I brought home the three cute little cacti on the left as a souvenir/gift for my boyfriend when I went to Scottsdale, Arizona for a work-related training two years ago. I love the tiny round spiky cactus on the far left - it just looks so badass. The plant on the right was a gift with one of my orders from Absolutely Cactus. Told you they are awesome! I looked it up and if all goes well, it will be sprouting pretty yellow flowers someday!

Left: Crassula "Moonglow"; Right: Gymnocalcium Mihanovichii v. Hibotan

I could not resist the cool tower-like succulent on the left. Plus, the name just gets me. "Moonglow" - so fitting. The surface is a frosty whitish color and it almost looks fuzzy. I love the coloring. And of course another moon cactus on the right... I could not resist getting another color! They are only about $3 at Home Depot, so I did not feel too bad about it.

Left: Ferocactus Latispinus "Barrel Cactus"; Right: Ferocactus Hamat ss Sinuatus

Had to get a few of the round, spiky cacti. Besides, who could resist a "ferocactus"? Or two... Seriously, I'm telling you. Cactus = badass. Pretty sure "ferocactus" comes from "ferocious" + "cactus" anyway... attempts at dissuasion will likely be futile. These ones hurt to plant, despite being very careful! The one on the right is rare and supposed to grow yellow flowers eventually.

Left: Gymnocalcium Mihanovichii v. Hibotan; Right: Pilosocereous Azureus

Another moon cactus! In my defense, the red one belongs to Jacob. The cactus on the right is a very cool specimen - one I sought out for several months (my newest addition). It is a blue cactus, although it does not look particularly blue right now. I am worried it will not get enough sunlight here to really bring out the blue. Seattle problems. Pretty though, and of course the columnar cacti are iconic, if such a thing can be said about a plant.

Aloe (subspecies unknown)

Jacob wanted to get this little "rescue plant" from Home Depot. It was not faring too well in the warehouse. Since this photo was taken, it looks less healthy... hopefully it survives! I know next to nothing about nursing any kind of plants back to life, so I hope it does not take a turn for the worse.

Gymnocalycium Mihanovichii v. Friedrichii

And my favorite (right now) - the purple cactus! When I first got it, there were no signs of sprouts at all. Then the two little buds popped up... and slowly it grew into this!

So that is my (+ Jacob's) collection so far! I would love to keep acquiring new plants, but our windowsill space with good lighting is unfortunately quite limited at the moment. Maybe once I buy a house later this year (fingers crossed)! And yes, I will totally turn down any house that cannot accommodate my windowsill collection.

You will definitely hear more about these in the future. Hopefully some of my other cacti flower as well and I can post pictures. Someday, when I have time (which is how so many of my sentences start these days), I hope to experiment with cactus grafting. I am not sure that is sanctioned, considering my track record with care-taking (experimenting hardly seems a way to increase survival odds)... but I think it would be fun. Someday!!

Thanks for joining me for day 5 of launch month!



  1. all i have to say is they look reallllly yummmy ... srsly next time i'm in seattle we are going to senor moose!!


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