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Do you have a plant that you have wanted to add to your garden?  


I have wanted a certain cactus for my own landscape for a long time and earlier this week, I found myself bringing a cutting of my favorite cactus finally home.


I was so excited that instead of putting it in the back of my car, I strapped it into the front seat for the ride home – I don’t recommend doing it that way for a cactus with thorns 🙂


In my work as a horticulturist, I have been fortunate to have picked up cuttings of certain cacti.  Often, the cuttings result from pruning and it’s not unusual to see some left at the curb for trash pick up.

While I have planted a purple prickly cactus and a Mexican fence post from cuttings, I was still missing my favorite cacti in my garden.



I have often used totem pole cactus ‘Monstrosus’ (Lophocereus schottii ‘Monstrosus’) in my designs.  I love its knobby shape and the fact that it is thornless.

What I don’t like about them is their price – a 1 1/2 ft. section can cost up to $40.

So you can imagine my reaction when I was visiting a client and came up upon this sight…


Seeing so many different types of cacti cuttings, just ready for planting, made me almost hyperventilate.

There were beautiful cacti available – Agave americana ‘Variegata’, a unique species of prickly pear, Cereus peruvianus AND my favorite – Lophocereus shottii ‘Monstrosus’

My client had received these cuttings from her next door neighbor who had just pruned back some of her cacti.  It turned out the neighbor had a beautiful garden that has been featured in several magazines, including Phoenix Home & Garden.

I explained to my client where she could use the cuttings and explained the benefits of each one.  When I mentioned that the Lophocereus was my favorite type of cacti, she offered to give me one.

Despite my desire for this type of cacti, I was hesitant to accept, but my client was insistent.

So, I picked out the smallest one and drove home.

On my way home, I thought about where I wanted to put my new cactus.

I finally decided on putting it in my front landscape in the large area to the side of the driveway.


Planting cactus cuttings is extremely easy and the hole doesn’t have to be big.

We planted my new cactus cutting so that the bottom 6 inches were buried.

Taking cuttings from cacti of all types is a fairly simple process, there are some guidelines that you need to follow.

A couple of years ago, I wrote about giving a cutting from our Mexican fence post cactus to our neighbor with step-by-step instructions that you can see here.

Our neighbor’s cactus has been in the ground for 2 years now and is growing so well – it’s formed two new ‘arms’.

I can hardly wait to see how my newest cactus grows!

How about you?  Have you ever given or planted a cactus cutting?


Desert Botanical Garden Plant Sale
 
I enjoy attending plant sales hosted by botanical gardens.  
 
Here in the southwest, you can often find the newest succulents including those that are hard to find as well as old favorites.
 
There are a few tips that I’d like to share with you the next time you are buying a succulent whether at a plant sale or your local nursery that can save you money.
 
 
1. Avoid purchasing agave in 15-gallon containers or larger.  
 
Why?  Well, almost all species of agave will flower toward the end of their life and then die.  That is what agave do.  
 
Flowering is triggered by the age of the agave.  Different species live for differing lengths of time – some live less then 10 years. If you buy a 15-gallon or larger boxed agave – it is safe to assume that they are much older then those in smaller pots and will flower and die much sooner.
 
So my advice is to purchase agave in 1 or 5-gallon sizes – they will last much longer and you’ll save a lot of money.
*Sometimes, you can find more then one agave growing in the same nursery container – that’s like getting 2 for the price of 1!
 
 
Better yet, ask a friend or neighbor for a volunteer (pup) from their agave.  Many agave species produce volunteers that can be transplanted.  To learn how, click here.
 
My husband and daughter checking out the young saguaro cacti.
 
2. Buy smaller cacti rather then larger.
 
Columnar cacti are beautiful, but expensive.  The price is usually based on the height of the cactus.  Saguaro cacti are priced based on each foot in height plus arms.
 
The price for a 1 ft. high Totem Pole cactus was $48.
 
The reason that I recommend starting out with a smaller columnar cactus such as Mexican Fence Post (Pachycereus marinatus) or Totem Pole (Lophocereus schottii ‘Monstrose’) is that they will begin to grow at a faster rate once planted in the ground.  
 
In fact, smaller plants have an easier time becoming established then larger ones.
 
Many columnar types of cacti grow faster in the landscape then in the wild due to the presence of water – that includes saguaro cacti as well.
 
 
Like agave, you can start some species of columnar cacti from cuttings.
 
I planted this Mexican Fence Post cactus in my garden 11 years ago.  It started out as a 2 foot cutting given to me by a client from their large cactus.
 
Look how much it has grown!
 
You may notice on the lower right side that there has been a section cut off.  Soon, I’ll show you how to take a cutting from an existing cactus to create a new one!
 
 
3. Have a plan in place for planting your new cactus/succulent.
 
If you hadn’t noticed, many succulents are prickly.   So, it is a good idea to plan on how you are going to plant it.  Decide whether you can do it yourself or if you will need to hire someone to plant it for you.
 
For small cacti, you can use a towel to help you plant them without getting pricked.  See how here.
 
For larger cacti, you can use pieces of carpet or rubber straps.  But when in doubt about whether you can plant it yourself, hire an expert.
 
 
*As a golf course horticulturist, I used to transplant Teddy Bear Cholla (Opuntia bigelovii) from areas that were to be built upon.  I would use rubber straps to carry the cholla and regular kitchen tongs to pick up the pieces that dropped off.  I would then plant them elsewhere.
 
 
4. Keep an eye out for discounted plants.
 
Often, not all plants will meet the high standards of the nursery.  Sometimes, this can be mostly cosmetic damage, but occasionally you will see a succulent that has not been watered correctly or placed in too much or too little sun.
 
This can be a great way to save money and provide a little TLC to new succulents.  Research online how to care for that particular plant and soon you will have a healthy succulent growing in your garden that cost you a lot less.
 
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I hope that these tips will be helpful to you the next time you are shopping for succulents.

When I am driving about town, I tend to look at the landscapes that I pass by.  Usually, I tend to see some “landscape no-no’s”, which I like to share with you now and then.


But, I also take pictures of what I like to call “landscape do’s”.  I realized the other day, that I tend to share with you bad examples of landscapes much more then the good ones, so here are a few that I saw the past couple of weeks…



I love Gold Lantana and how it flowers non-stop spring through fall.  When planted next to boulders, you get a great contrast in textures.

What is even better about this arrangement, is how easy Lantana is to grow.  Unlike many tropical climates, Lantana is not invasive in arid climates.  Just water it regularly and prune it back hard in spring (6″ high), after the last frost.  Periodically prune it back every 2 – 3 months, stopping pruning 3 months before the first frost date in your area.  



Sometimes, I see great examples of desert trees that are properly pruned.


This Texas Ebony (Ebanopsis ebano formerly Pithecellobium flexicaule) is beautiful tree that is prized for its dark green foliage that is evergreen.


It does have thorns and gets seedpods, but it highly prized by those who live in the Southwest.



This nicely designed landscape was located next door to a house where I was visiting a client.


I like how the columnar cacti flank the entry on either side.  Totem Pole (Lophocereus schotti ‘Monstrosus’) is on the left and has the bonus that it is thornless.  Another favorite of mine, Mexican Fence Post (Pachycereus marginatus), which is one of the few cacti that I have in my own garden.


The yellows of the Golden Barrel (Echinocactus grusonii)with their rounded shapes contrast nicely with the spiky fans of Desert Spoon (Dasylirion wheeleri).


**Another bonus about this landscape is that it is extremely low-maintenance.



While stopped at an intersection in Scottsdale, Arizona, I noticed this distinctive landscaped area with contrasting spokes of a wheel fanning out from the sign.


Different sizes of gravel are often used to add interest to the landscape by the contrasts in size.


Agave and Aloe vera make up the plantings in the lighter colored spokes while Golden Barrel are used in the darker rip rap.


Well, these are just a small sampling of the “landscape do’s” that I have seen lately.


I hope you enjoyed seeing them and maybe will be inspired to replicate a couple of these plantings in your own landscape.










Do you suffer from temptation when you visit your local plant nursery?

I certainly did during my last visit.  I had such a great time and took quite a few photos, so I had to split them up into two separate posts.
(You can read the first post here if you like).

I have saved my two most tempting moments for this post, so I guess we should get on with it…

Sage shrubs (Leucophyllum species) are available in many different species.  ‘Green Cloud’ Texas Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens ‘Green Cloud’) is perhaps the most popular and I have two growing in my front garden.

However, I must admit that my favorites are ‘Rio Bravo’ Sage (Leucophyllum langmaniae ‘Rio Bravo’), which grows in my back garden and the other is called ‘Thunder Cloud’ Sage (Leucophyllum candidum ‘Thunder Cloud’).
This shrub has silver gray leaves and blooms off and on spring through fall.
The flowers contrast so beautifully with the silvery foliage.
I must confess, that I don’t have any in my garden – but I may need to find a space for these beautiful shrubs.


On nursery visits, I frequently take the opportunity to take pictures of plants such as this Arborvitae.  They aren’t favorite plants of mine, but that really doesn’t mean anything – it is just a matter of personal preference.
Many nurseries showcase ways to combine plants.

I am frequently inspired during my nursery visits by some of their ideas like this Sweet Potato Vine among Sago Palms and Umbrella Plant.


Can you guess what plant was used to create this dense shrub?

Believe it or not, it is Pyracantha.
Usually, you find it growing along the walls….
You can frequently find new uses for plants at your local nursery.


I found a bunch of Mexican Heather (Cuphea hyssopifolia) in full bloom.  I like to use these as groundcovers in areas with light shade.


There were many different types of succulents available like this Lophocereus schottii ‘Monstrosus’.
If you tend to accidentally kill your plants, you can always buy this reproduction of an agave…
I guarantee, you won’t kill this one.  I have seen these beautiful plant sculptures ‘planted’ in pots with gravel or small pebbles instead of potting soil.
Well, my visit was drawing to an end, when I saw two plants that I was sorely tempted to buy….
I love Autumn Sage.  Usually you see them in red, hot pink, peach and even white.  But I saw these Autumn Sage with light pink flowers called (Salvia greggii ‘Heatwave Glitter’).
In my garden, I love to use cool colors like pink.  I wanted to buy one of these plants so badly, but I couldn’t think of where I would put it.

My last temptation of the day was a plant that I have seen occasionally in landscapes, but rarely in the nursery.


At first glance, this may look like Purple Trailing Lantana (Lantana montevidensis), but look closer.

Can you see white flowers mixed in with the purple?

Believe it or not, this Lantana has both purple and white flowers.  It is called ‘Lavender Swirl’.

I love this look of both flowers together.  

Now, if you cannot find this type of Lantana, there is a solution….

Simply plant a White Trailing and Purple Trailing Lantana in the same hole.  As they grow, their stems and flowers will intermingle together.

I really could have bought this plant, but I already duplicated their appearance already by planting White and Purple Lantana together in my front garden.

And so, I left the nursery, only purchasing the plants that my mother-in-law needed.

When I got home, my husband couldn’t believe that I hadn’t bought any plants for myself.  Normally, he has the shovel ready before I even get home from the nursery because he knows me so well 😉