Friday, June 14, 2013


When I see a cactus in flower it makes my heart leap. The flower may only be there for a brief moment but it draws bees and beetles in like a magnet. They have just a short window to do their job.
The excitement this week came from seeing this.

The balloon cactus, Notocactus magnificus, in my home made hypertufa pot, is about to bloom for the second time. This is a response to the recent rains when the pleated ribs swelled with water and buds began to form in the center. Just half an hour after I took this photo the sun reached the plant and within minutes the flowers opened.

This time I was there as the flowers opened and was able to capture them in all their perfection. Not all the flowers opened at once. Just the outer ring. It must be natures way of spreading the chances of pollination. As yet no pollinators had arrived.

The second happening to cause great excitement was anticipation of the blooming of a 12 year old Spanish bayonet yucca, Yucca aloifolia.
As I looked through the kitchen window the other morning I saw something unusual in the center of the tallest spike. Could it be about to bloom?

Not one bud but three blooms have appeared. It will be some days before the flowers open but what a thrill it will be.

I wonder if they will be like those on the twist-leaf yucca Yucca rupicola, which is currently blooming in my garden.

This yucca is endemic to the Edward's Plateau on which our garden sits.  Protected from browsing deer, who love the asparagus-like stalks when they first appear, it bloomed for the first time last year.
Growing up in England no one had cactus. After all they were new world plants.
As they have become more popular and easier to find in the nurseries I have mixed them in with my other similarly adapted plants. Here's a selection of just a few.

A flyer arrived in my mailbox this week. The Cactus and Succulent Society of America is having their convention here this week and their plant sale is open to the public.

I'll be there and I may just be tempted to add to my collection.


  1. I *love* the photo collage of the different cactus and succulents!

    I've never known the deer to take an interest in the Yucca (filamentosa I believe) flower stalks here, and hope they never do!

  2. Great spiky plant love, J.S. I think that some more posts like this, plus shots of Martha Stewart in front of some agaves or yuccas, and places in desert denial wo can grow so much, might get converted!

  3. I'll second that photo collage vote... What a great collection and I appreciate seeing it en masse that way. I've got one coral yucca (out of many) with a flower stalk leaning over a century plant. It is the only one the deer can't comfortably munch down to nothing and is a reminder of the beauty those plants are at least trying to share each season. We don't have a lot of other yucca at our place (yet) but around our neighborhood I watch with fascination as those giant bloom stalks head skyward every year. So dramatic and so many pollinators respond appropriately to the bounty. A great lesson in the fertility of those desert plants we'd all be better off appreciating.

    Say - anybody else noticing there are not so many fire ants around this year? We've got lots of other ants showing up whereas in years before the fire ants had completely taken over.

    1. I think the lack of fire ants is due to the fact that the only rain we have had was so hard it ran off before penetrating the soil. I only have one or two mounds and managed to get into them the other day.

  4. I love cactus too... Thank you.

  5. Cactus were not commonly planted where I grew up either. I've only recently developed an interest in them. I appreciate their thrifty use of water and interesting forms. You have a excellent collection. Your blooming cactus are very beautiful.

  6. That bloom on the notocactus is magnficent. What a soft, buttery yellow, Such excitement in your garden. And what a great show that should be. Please be sure to report back on your blog!

  7. I love when cactus and succulents bloom. I think the sometimes severe foliage makes one appreciate the flowers that much more. Have fun at the sale!

  8. I'm glad you told me, when you were last here, that a bud on a cactus should be watched carefully, so as not to miss the brief bloom. I've been enjoying my cactus blooms this spring too. Hope you have better luck than I have with the yucca blooms though. Leaf-foot bugs keep getting mine.