What Makes Succulents SUCCULENT?

Aloe leaf cut open (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Become a better plant parent by learning the “how’s” and “why’s” of these lovable chubby plants. Discover what makes succulents so efficient. Slicing and squishing may seem unkind, but be assured there’s method to my madness.

Read More

Euphorbia or Cactus? How to Tell

Cactus vs Euphorbia (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

How can you tell a spiny euphorbia from a cactus? Observe key characteristics: the type of spines, flowers and leaves (or lack thereof). As I compiled my site’s new Euphorbia page, I happily acquired the ability to tell at a glance which is which. Sure, you can scratch a plant, and if it drips milky sap, it’s

Read More

Succulent Lovers’ Favorite Tools

Joyce Chen scissors

Do you own the favorite tools of your fellow succulent lovers? Consider: We differ from other gardeners in that our prized plants can turn on us. Cacti, agaves, euphorbias and even aloes can act like dogs who resent having their nails trimmed. (I don’t know about yours, but my Chihuahua is a two-person job.)

Read More

Ten Edible Succulents and How to Prepare Them

Dragon fruit edible succulent (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

These ten edible succulents can go from garden to kitchen. Most are fairly easy to obtain, cultivate and prepare. The mucilaginous (goopy) texture of certain edible succulents makes them—to spin it positively—great in soups and stews. Vitamin C is

Read More

How to Repot a Stuck Spiny Succulent

Roots growing out bottom of pot (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

In a new YouTube video, I’d planned to show you how to repot a spiny succulent. For my overgrown corn-cob euphorbia, I picked an art pot in the perfect size, color and pattern. But (yikes!) the spiky succulent was firmly stuck in its old pot.

Read More

Can You Grow Ariocarpus?

Ariocarpus, CA Cactus Center (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

It’s autumn and the ariocarpus are in bloom. Typical cacti, they do it spectacularly. But atypical of cacti, they’re not easy to grow. Unless you live in Texas or northern Mexico, forget about growing ariocarpus out in the open.

Read More

Why Your Garden Needs Golden Barrels

How, why to grow barrel cactus (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Find out why and how professional designers use golden barrel cactus in succulent gardens, tips on using and caring for the plants, info on their habitat, plus a garden idea gallery. But first a reassurance: For a cactus, it ain’t bad. Yes it’s spiny, but the spines curve downward, so it’s not as treacherous as it looks. IMHO, its plusses far outweigh any minuses. 

Read More

How Cactus Snowflakes Seduced Me

Cactus snowflake

Remarkably, the spination of certain cacti suggests snowflakes, something I first noticed years ago at a succulent specialty nursery. I was there to photograph aloes in bloom, but I’d come too early in the season. I thought of leaving, and I’m so glad I didn’t! That afternoon forever changed the way I see certain succulent…

Read More

The 12 Days of Cactus

12 Days of Cactus

When putting this together, I envisioned friends and family sitting around the tree with a fire going. They’re finishing hot mugs of cocoa (laced with whiskey for the grownups). I hand out Xeroxed copies; they peer at the words. Teens giggle at the word “obesa.” Someone asks how to pronounce “saguaro.” But no one groans. They all know…

Read More

Jim Sudal’s Cactus Pad Holiday Tree

Cactus Christmas tree

Jim Sudal’s cactus pad holiday tree is a great reinterpretation of the traditional fir tree, and perfect for the dry, hot Southwest. Like Jim, many residents of Phoenix (and well beyond) have stands of prickly pear (Opuntia ficus-indica). The juicy-leaved succulent is iconic to the region. “Last year I built a garland around my gallery…

Read More