Cool Cactus Blooms!!

Our cactus that we have had for only one year bloomed last fall, but just for one day, actually just a few hours. The cactus stands 5 ft tall when 3 bloom buds appeared out of nowhere. When it opened the bloom stem was about 6” long and the bloom 6” across. I had get up at 5 AM to take pictures. The bloom closed by 9:00am that morning never to open again. We never dreamed that the bloom for as large as it is would only be open for a few hours.

San Pedro Cactus, Trichocereus pachanoi, is native to several places in South America. San Pedro Cactus is found in Southern Ecuador at the Chanchan valley ranging from 6,600-9,000 feet. In Peru, in the Huancabamba valley and in Quebrada Santa Cruz at 10,800 ft. San Pedro Cactus grows naturally in these locales, San Pedro Cactus is cultivated all over Peru and in other places in South America.

San Pedro Cactus cuttings are fast growing (12-18" per year) if grown in warm, moist and rain-rich areas. If San Pedro Cactus cuttings are grown indoors they should be kept in a warm area of your house, direct sunlight is important for San Pedro Cactus cuttings to flourish in-doors. Watering San Pedro Cactus cuttings should be done daily, doing so you can almost watch your San Pedro Cactus cutting growing. San Pedro Cactus is a very hardy cactus, it grows quickly when watered daily but will survive long periods without water. San Pedro Cactus cuttings can survive for months or even years and can develop lateral shoots even without food or water.

The almost spineless columnar San Pedro Cactus can grow as tall as 19 ft. San Pedro Cactus has several ribs, usually six but often seven or eight, sometimes as many as twelve. San Pedro Cactus has beautiful white flowers which only appear at night and very delicious red fruits which develop very rarely.

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The Dramatic Angel Trumpet

There are few more dramatic flowers in Texas than the angel’s trumpet, which is blooming Summer to Fall. I have 4 varieties, pink, yellow, white and tropical sunset, the pink however is by far the most vigorous grower.

The Latin name is Brugmansia, and the flowers can be nine to 12 inches long. A really mature shrub can sport 200 such dangling trumpets at the same time.

The flower is very fragrant, but unlike the tree-born bloom, you probably should not mix these gigantic flowers into your scrambled eggs. All parts of the plant are poisonous.

Nevertheless, these are popular garden specimens in Texas because of their enormous flowers. Plus they also can endure sun and shade. They usually are found as shrubs, but a mature plant can be 20 feet tall.

Some debate exists on where the plants originated. Some say Chile or Peru. But some Brazilian Indians have worked the plant into their culture. They smoke the leaves for a narcotic high and possible relief of some respiratory illnesses. This is not recommended for mere mortals nor should gardeners fail to wash up after casual contact.

There are three basic types of propagation in use by the hobbiest. They are seed, cuttings and air layering. Several other methods,such as tissue culture, are in use commercially but these are beyond the scope of the home gardener.

Brug seed are enclosed in a corky covering. Inside the cork is a small "bean". This is the true seed. The covering may be removed or it may be left on. The only difference is that the peeled seed may sprout a bit sooner. Many of the flowers from seed will be white as this is the dominant color in many species. But, that said, we do also get all of our colorful new hybrids from seed.
Use fine potting soil or you may use a mixture of sand and peat as a starting mix. Plant the seed about one half inch deep and firm the soil over it. Water well and then do not water again until the soil becomes dry. Too much water for too long a time will rot the seed. Expect germination in from two weeks to six months. Fresh seed do germinate faster. When the seedling has grown its second set of leaves move it to a larger pot. Generally speaking, the larger the pot the faster the seedling will grow. Do remember to keep the soil warm in colder weather. Expect blooms when the seedling has reached three to five feet and formed a "Y" on the main stalk.

Plants grown from cuttings are exact clones of the parent plant. For instance, if you have a Dr.Seuss it has been produced from a cutting of a cutting of a cutting etc. of the original plant and is a part of that plant. It will not cross and produce seed with another Dr.Seuss. Select cuttings from older wood.The cutting should be about six inches long and one half inch in diameter or larger. The cuttings may be started in water or in good potting soil. If you start in water,change the water daily and move the cutting to soil as soon as the roots begin to form. If starting in soil place the cutting about two inches into the potting medium, firm the soil and water thoroughly. After this water only sparingly until the plant is well started. Too much water will cause the cutting to rot. Most cutting failures are due to too much water instead of not enough.

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Texas Mountain Laurel Mescal Bean

Texas Mountain Laurel - Sophora secundiflora
Drooping clusters of purple blossoms, very fragrant
Native to Texas and Mexico

Texas mountain laurel grows in limestone soils in Central and Southwest Texas and to 5000 feet in the Chisos and Davis Mountains.

 The pinnate leaves with their lustrous, leathery upper surface provide year long beauty, enhanced in mid-spring by the densely-flowered racemes of lavender or violet wisteria like flowers having the scent of grape Kool Aid. 

The gray to black, somewhat constricted seedpods contain red to red-orange seeds which are sometimes used in jewelry. 

In zones colder than Zone 8, flowering is not reliable because of late freezes which damage the buds. Texas mountain laurel is difficult to successfully transplant from the wild because they dislike root disturbance.

Seeds found available here:  Texas Mountain Laurel

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Desert Willow

Chilopsis linearis, Desert Willow.

How about a willow with flowers? Or one with Hummingbirds?

Desert Willow belongs to a genus of flowering plant, containing a single species, Chilopsis linearis. It is a small tree native to the southwestern United States and Mexico. Despite the common name Desert Willow, given because of its willow-like leaves, it is actually a relative of the Bignonia. Gardeners love this plant because it evokes the shape of a true Willow, but produces a canopy of intensely colored flowers.

It is cultivated principally for its large showy flowers, but also for its tolerance of hot, dry climates. Although the natural growth produces a very irregular shape, it can be readily pruned into a conventional tree shape. A number of cultivars have been selected to produce flowers ranging in color from deep burgundy to flaming pink to white.

The plant will grow in full sun and partial shade. It needs very well drained soil. Although it grows best along streams and low places, it does not like moisture at its roots. It grows well in rocky and gravel soils and thrives in very hot and dry areas.

Native Americans used the flowers, leaves, and bark medicinally. They also used its wood for bows and baskets. The tree attracts hummingbirds as well, inviting these desirable guests into the garden.

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