Tag Archive | cactus

Plant Abuse – Case #2 Succulents Tortured with Glitter

Poor little Echeveria…

Every year, right before Christmas, I start to see what type of torture some marketing firms have dreamed up to torture plants. This year seems to be following a glitter / bling theme. As many of the suppliers of our annuals and evergreens also sell the austerities, I get to see these tortured plants first hand. It’s so sad, in my opinion. I don’t understand why a plastic version of these plants can’t be marketed. Non-plant folks don’t understand that the coating of glitter is suffocating the plant.How would you like to be covered in glitter?!? It didn’t turn out well for the girl in ‘Goldfinger‘.

Now THAT is a beautiful Christmas succulent pot!!

I did see a wonderful alternative for folks that want to share winter succulents that look Christmassy and are not being tortured. I have no affiliation to the Edsy shop that sells these, just an appreciation of the designs, and the fact they are not being tortured. They are also very well done, in my opinion. The best part is that you can remove the ‘Christmas’ part of this pot and still have a beautiful arrangement. Please consider one of these arrangements before buying a tortured, painted or glittered plant.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Terrarium ~ Succulent Succulents

I think it’s somewhat* healthy to fail. Even when it is something you are good at. My terrarium had taken a turn for the worse. I neglected to water them a bit too often and I was rewarded with brown sticks. Awesome.
So I figured I’d set-up a re-do.
My three new victims terrarium mates:

Golden Sedum – Sedum adolphi is a low-growing succulent plant with pointed dark green leaves. The leaves develop orange or reddish tips when exposed to bright sunlight. Sedum adophi produces white, star-shaped flowers in spring. It can survive a few hours in temperatures as low is 29 degrees Fahrenheit, but is not considered winter hardy except in frost-free locations, such as United States Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone 10 and warmer.

Stone Face – Lithops occur naturally across wide areas of Namibia and South Africa, as well as small bordering areas in Botswana and possibly Angola, from sea level to high mountains. Nearly a thousand individual populations are documented, each covering just a small area of dry grassland, veld, or bare rocky ground. Different Lithops species are preferentially found in particular environments, usually restricted to a particular type of rock.

Graptoveria ‘Titubans’Porcelain Plant is an intergeneric cross between a Graptopetalum paraguayense and an Echevería derenbergii. It has grey-blue leaves that form compact rosettes on creeping stems. It offsets freely producing soon dense carpets or cushions. Grows to about 20 cm tall.

image  image

This time I didn’t take off as many roots from the bottom and built-up the front berm with a retaining wall of smooth pebbles. This allowed for a bit more soil for them to sit in. There is a flat spot on the bottom for shelf placement, however even if I hung this terrarium, the hole would be at the wrong angle. If I were to redesign this just a bit, I would move the hole up just a tad to allow for more of a soil base.


My Mother was a fan of these crystal art pieces. To me, they are super cute, but high maintenance on a shelf, so they were carefully packed away. This one, however gets to spread its wings and enjoy the tropical environment!


Gee, can you tell we have alkaline water here? And maybe if someone didn’t do a half-assed job, they would have cleaned the inside of the glass with vinegar.  I sux. =-P

  • Although the fear of failing life is quite paralyzing!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Plant Abuse ~ Move Over Blue Orchid, There’s a New Kid in Town

When I visit Home Depot I always peruse the houseplant section. I usually try to adopt rescue a few plants when I go there.  I was quite taken back when I saw these poor plants. This was worse than the hot glued straw flower on the cactus, even more diabolical than the blue dyed orchid.. I feel so bad that humans have to make plants wear decorations. Can’t we like them the way they are?

Really? Someone needed to dye cactus needles green?! Aren’t they already green? These Desert Gems cactus needles will eventually grow out normal. This method isn’t suffocating the plant though, unlike the poor group on the shelf below…


These are Kosmik Kaktus. These succulents (not cactus) are dipped in a non-water based paint. These will surly not survive for very long. Plants do breath… well, not these plants. I can appreciate the fetish latex paint tho 😉

While surfing the web for answers as to what these marketing gurus were thinking when they deemed plant abuse was a great selling point, I found many folks agreeing with me about this atrocity. There were also optimistic folks that tried to see the good in this, by stating these may bring interest to the ‘non-gardeners’ out there. I feel that any good that came from the day of purchase would be lost when the plant lost its fancy clothes or croaked from slow suffocation.

Good God, what’s next? Pastel dyed chickens?

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Cactus Terrarium

image My husband and I were at thewpid-wp-1443303724211.jpg Dollar Store and he saw these terrariums for sale. He just HAD to have one! Funny, I’m the one that usually goes for this stuff. His eyes lit up when I said he could have it.

I really didn’t think it was going to grow. I know the USDA stamps seeds for sale and figured it wouldn’t have this and confirm my suspicions that nothing will grow. I was very surprised to see the seal of approval on the bottom! OK, I now move up the chances of germination from 50/50 to 70/30.

My sweety meticulously read the directions and planted the  seeds it came with including the Giant Saguaro, Golden Barrel, Organ Pipe Cactus, and the Fishhook Barrel Cactus. We placed it on the kitchen window sill and waited. And waited… It tat a speck? it IS!! Turns out, after about 10 days, we had one out of five grow. We think it’s the Organ Pipe (Stenocereus thurberi) that survived.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Poinsettias and Christmas Cactus – Happy Holiday Houseplants

Two of the favorite plants for the winter holiday season are Poinsettias & the Christmas Cactus. With a bit of knowledge, you can choose and care for either of these rather easy.
pointsettaChoosing Your Poinsettia:

      • Choose a plant with dark green foliage. Avoid fallen or damaged leaves as this indicates poor handling, fertilization, lack of water or a root disease problem.
      • Avoid plants with too much green around the bract edges, as this is a sign of insufficient maturity.
      • Be sure to check the underside of the leaves for insects.
      • The colorful flower bracts should be in proportion to the plant and pot size.
      • Little or no pollen should be showing on the actual flowers, the red or green button-like parts in the center of the colorful bracts. This indicates a younger plant.


      • If you are planning on reblooming your plant for next year, examine the branching structure. If the plants are grown single stem (non-branched with several plants per pot), these cultivars do not branch well and will not form attractive plants for a second year.

Read the FULL post: How to Choose, Care For, and Rebloom Your Poinsettia

imageTo distinguish the difference between a Thanksgiving and a Christmas cacti, look at the shape of the flattened stem segments called phylloclades. On the Thanksgiving cactus, these segments each have saw-toothed serrations or projections along the margins. The stem margins on the Christmas cactus are more rounded and less pronounced.

Since flowering plants sell better than nonflowering, merchants tend to fill their shelves with Thanksgiving cacti.

To initiate flower buds on your holiday cactus, the plants need:

  • A bright location.
  • Fourteen hours or more of continuous darkness each 24 hour period is required
    before flower buds will occur. Long nights should be started about the middle of September and continued for at least 6 continuous weeks for complete bud set. Just like the poinsettia.
  • Fall growing temperatures should be between 60F and 68F, but as close to 68F as possible for maximum flower production. Plants grown with night temperatures between 50F and 59F will set flower buds regardless of day length, but growth will be slower.
  • Pinching at the end of September to remove any terminal phylloclades that are less than a half inch long, to make all stems approximately the same length. These short, immature stem segments will not make flower buds.

Read the FULL post: How to Care for Your Thanksgiving / Christmas Cactus

Copyright Ilex Farrell

Succulent Plant Display Terrarium


I had to go to Home Depot for some things and can’t not go through the plant section. I found these three lil guys. From left to right;

  • Crassula ‘Caput Minima’
  • Sedum nussbaumerianum
  • Hawthorhia fasciata – zebra plant.

The glass succulent bowl was a gift from my brother and his girlfriend. Since no one is perfect… I killed the plants they originally gave me with the bowl… I figured I’d give myself 1 more chance with these 3. May God have mercy on their souls! I teased out the roots and used a very light sandy soil. These arrangements should stay on the dry side, only watering lightly when necessary.


Enjoy the day & keep on planting!
© Ilex Farrell