Living with six little spiny guys.

Cacti are definitely the coolest plants around.

If you’ve ever taken a second to look closely at a cactus you’ve probably seen that they have smooth waxy skin that winks at you and suavely says, hey, touch me! Surrounded, a little too over zealously, by sharp spines that say don’t you #@$!- touch me, punk.

I know this because I have six of them on my windowsill! Although they all have very similar basic needs such as requiring about 4 hours of full/direct sunlight a day and needing loose, very easy to drain soil, they have a lot of big differences, too.

My little dudes range in every aspect from species, to needs, to location collected.

cactus1
“Wasabi”

Take Wasabi for example, he was a gift purchased for me from a Lowe’s garden center about a year and a half ago. He’s a Stenocereus Pruinosus (Gray Ghost Organ Pipe) naturally hailing from Mexico! These cacti can become 16 feet (488 cm) tall, if you give them the room to grow. I however, keep him in a small drainage pot inside this almond tin. They can also have up to 200 little bunches of spines with 1-4 spines on each bunch!  Currently my little guy is too young to worry about pruning, flowering or basically anything except watering and soaking up UV’s – but once maturity is reached, he will produce pretty white flowers and large edible fruits.

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“Black Bean”

Next on my windowsill is Black Bean, my newest addition to the family; he’s a rescue. My boyfriend was kind enough to let some loser couch hop at his place for a few months and then he skipped town leaving all his trash belongings in the apartment. One of those belongings was little ol’ Black Bean, left in a dusty corner to die. He needs to be re-potted in a pot with drainage holes, but for right now this is what we’re working with. He seems to be growing strong in the last 6 months that I’ve had him, but his baby friend hasn’t fared so well. (oops!) I don’t know the species of little BB here, but I think he’s an Opuntia Microdasys (prickly pear). There are so many different types of this species, I’m not even going to speculate what color his flowers would be.

Next, was my first ever cactus pal, that I lovingly refer to as “Grandma”. Grandma was

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“Grandma”

actually my grandmother’s cactus. When she died back in 2013, my family had fall outs over who would take which belonging- but for some reason, nobody wanted the thing that she loved and cared for daily- her cactus collection. I took all three of her cactus under my wing, promising to care for them in the same fashion as my grandmother. Though Grandma is the last of the OG cactus collection, she remains the largest and proudest member of the windowsill-sitting cactus family. I believe her to be a Cereus Tetragonus (Fairy Castle), though again, I do not know her species for sure, so I can’t give you any cool backstory. You just need to know that she’s an old friend from Arizona.

cactus4
cactus four; no name 😦

Finally we’ve gotten to the first cactus that I purchased myself, the second cactus I added to my collection. I never named this brute. (Side note: feel free to offer up name suggestions.) This Opuntia Basilaris (Beaver Tail) was left half rotted, on the sale rack at the Ace hardware store by my old house in the middle of BFE. About three years ago I purchased him for 2$, grafted his good parts, and repotted him; which I may have to do again, simply because he has seen better days, for sure. I think it’s interesting that this guy looks the least menacing, when the spines he drops are the most irritating to get out of your skin, clothes, and hair. Luckily for me, he also drops the most spines out of all my other cacti. Ol’ no name provides the sass for this spiky family.

cactusfive
“Mystery”

Continuing down the Family Tree Cactus you’ll meet my last two friends, Mystery and Six. Mystery is named that because he is a complete mystery to me. He was sold as a “silken pincushion”, however, most pincushion cacti are short, globular little things, while as you can see- mine is very tall and skinny. I have had this cactus in between a year and a half to two years, it has pretty much followed this pattern of growing tall and thin this entire time. That’s all I can say about that one other than I’m glad he’s happy and healthy.

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“Six”

Six was a gift to me from my mother, a random thoughtful gift. Six is the most lively of the group. As you can see Six likes to drop his arms off all over the place. He’s constantly growing babies so that they fall off and sprout new plants. I’ve had him about a year now. I don’t know much about him other than he is also of the Opuntia species, similar to cactus four- just much healthier. I believe he is of the “Desert Gems” line by Costa Farms, but don’t quote me.

If you’d like more information on any of my cacti listed here, feel free to ask me! If you’re like me and feeling a little nervous about talking to strangers, you can also check out cactiguide.**I’m endorsing cactiguide on my own free will, simply because I think it’s a really awesome site to help you identify common cacti using photos and text descriptions. I promise they aren’t giving me anything to support them, they don’t even know I exist.

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2 thoughts on “Living with six little spiny guys.

  1. Justin Hancock says:

    Hi! You’re right that Six is part of the Desert Gems cactus collection. Because he’s so brittle, we discontinued that species of Optunia for the collection. He looks great! Keep up the great work! —Justin, Costa Farms Horticulturist

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