May 8, 2012

My Desert, Under Glass

I keep adding to my collection of blossoming cacti species, even when not it bloom, the thorns can be very decorative.
Cacti and desert plants can be pretty as thorny potted plants, but getting them to bloom can sometimes be challenging for people. Contrary to popular belief, cacti are very cold tolerant, and many will not form flower buds unless they freeze a little bit. The desert environment can be very cold in the winter where the finest blooming cacti come from - not Arizona or New Mexico, but in South America, in the high alpine deserts of Chile, Bolivia and Argentina. The Rebutia and Lovibia cacti from the high Andes offer some of the finest flowers in the cacti world, and I try to keep a collection growing on my high, dry shelves in the greenhouse, where the plants can spend the winter getting full sun through the single pane glass, and sometimes a light frost as the night time temperatures drop to near 32 degrees.

 Not always the easiest to get to bloom, cacti require a cold, dry winter, and then as spring grows near, a shift between day temperatures and night temperatures. In April, I move my collection to a sand bed in the greenhouse, where Cyclamen are kept until they start to enter their dormancy. Switching these collections allows me to have more than one display, on a bed that would normally just remain empty for half of the year. 

Alyogyne huegelii var. alba, a drought tolerant sunloving native hibiscus ( Malvaceae) realative from the deserts of South and Western Australia. It grows well in a sand-filled container, in the desert collection. It seems to never stop blooming, having flowers in during the short days of January. It will spend the summer outdoors, once any threat of frost is over.

After a flood of water, the cacti begin to break their dormancy, quickly forming flower buds, although many will bloom in late May and June.

Other desert plants are included in my collection, This thorny tomato relative is Solanum pyracanthum.

Rebutia growing in a bonsai pot. It will soon be time for the dreaded repotting.

Even though I have only a weak interest in cacti and desert plants, I think I am starting to get more and more additions to the collection.  Here you can see some Euphorbia, Adenium and small desert shrubs.


  1. Good grief is there anything you don't grow?

  2. Nice little "weak" collection.

    How often do you repot your cacti?

  3. Awesome collection and stunning pictures!

  4. These are really beautiful plants!


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