Cactus

Why Your Garden Needs Golden Barrels

How, why to grow barrel cactus

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. 

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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…

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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…

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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…

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Succulent White-Pot Pairings

White pots are a simple, effective way to display your prized succulents and cacti. Here I’ve paired colorful, geometric cacti and sculptural succulent euphorbias with an assortment of white-glazed containers. Solo or in groupings, succulent white-pot pairings would look good on your patio, deck, entryway or sunroom. Watch the 4-min. companion video: Succulent White-Pot Pairings.…

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The Joys of Cholla (Cylindropuntia)

In Baja California recently I was showing off my knowledge of native succulents when one “got” me. The friend who was taking a video with my phone gasped when I unsuccessfully tried to set a 3-inch-long chunk of cholla (“choy-ah”) cactus back onto a boulder. It resolutely clung to my fingers.     When I…

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Why Grow Paddle Cacti? DLB’s 16 Reasons

Of the dozen or so types of cacti in my garden, I have more opuntias than any other. Also known as paddle cactus or prickly pear, Opuntia species have stems shaped like ping-pong paddles. New pads grow from older ones after rains drench the roots and help fuel new growth. Typically these new pads, and flowers that turn…

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Gardening Books I Recommend

The Bold Dry Garden - book cover

My books’ publisher, Timber Press, is the leading publisher of gardening books in the US. Among the Timber gardening books I recommend are: When it comes to garden plants, cacti are anything but standard issue. The bulk of home gardens contain exactly zero species of cactus, and the thought of growing them makes gardeners think, “Ouch!”…

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I Come Out as a Cactus Lover

When profiled by Garden Design magazine, I took the opportunity to come out as a cactus lover. Well, I had to. They asked about trends in the world of succulents. I believe my progression is fairly typical. Most of us start out loving succulents that look like fleshy roses—echeverias, graptoverias and the like. As people gain appreciation for the…

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