Plant ID forum: Can anybody tell me more about my plants?

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Wirral, England, United Kingdo
Fountain30
Jun 29, 2020 11:33 AM CST
Hi everyone,

I have been gifted two plants. I have never had an interest in plants previous to this but I am suddenly intrigued and would like to know some more information such as:

- What ARE they? (I have figured they are some type of Cacti but my knowledge is limited-zero)
- Do they look healthy?
- Could you possibly identify how old they may be?
- What should I expect and tips on the best way to look after these plants. How often should I water and how much water?
- What are the positives that I can expect from having these plants / is there anything unique and special about them?

Feel free to speak to me in a 'plants for dummies' way. I am suddenly quite interested and want to develop my knowledge as I feel they could provide positive for my mental health... I just don't know where to start! I have grown up with plants as my mother has always had plants around the house but it's my first time properly taking note and a real interest.

I hope they're alive!

As a disclaimer I appreciate how utterly stupid I must sound asking these questions but I really am very interested :)

Thumb of 2020-06-29/Fountain30/6b9782


Thumb of 2020-06-29/Fountain30/492a49

Name: Stefan
SE europe(balkans) (Zone 6b)
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skopjecollection
Jun 29, 2020 12:27 PM CST
Pachycereus pringlei(but would prefer to see the apex) and ferocactus stainesii
Look healthy to me.
Name: Stefan
SE europe(balkans) (Zone 6b)
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skopjecollection
Jun 29, 2020 12:34 PM CST
Age would be a couple of years at best, but bear in mind, they are grown in different,more favorable conditions than most households have.
Unique and special....... Well you wont see them bloom anytime soon, ill tell you that much. Not the right cacti for that job. But they are cacti none the less, not some boring pine, fir, linden or poplar, or rose. As far cacti go, these are pretty common.
Instead of focusing on watering..I recommend finding good soil instead(mix lots of pea gravel with small amounts of plain soil).
Next bit is a tad hard but very impotant: you want to clean the soil. As in , get a hose, or a shower hose(whatever works with high pressure), and clean the soil off the roots).
You will need large tongs to hold them btw. Or a plasticized newspaper/magazine.
After youve cleansed most of the soil from the roots, put them in paper towels to dry overnight(change a couple of times) and pot them in pots with huge and lots of holes in the bottom with the new soil , ( The thread "Soil for cacti and other succulents" in Cactus and Succulents forum this thread if youre not lazier than gravel and garden soil) . NOT IN HUGE POTS!
Put in a very sunny spot(sunniest you can and leave them there). Water every 10 days or so, lightly. In a year, leave em outside next summer. Bring them in for the winter.
[Last edited by skopjecollection - Jun 29, 2020 12:38 PM (+)]
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Wirral, England, United Kingdo
Fountain30
Jun 29, 2020 1:01 PM CST
skopjecollection said:Pachycereus pringlei(but would prefer to see the apex) and ferocactus stainesii
Look healthy to me.


Thank you! I googled the first one and some of these cacti are HUGE in size? Should I expect much growth from my plant?

In terms of cleaning the soil - do I need to literally handle and remove the plants from their pots to do this? Not very confident with this so will ask a family member to help... I am sorry for the complete lack of knowledge but I'm sure I'll get the hang of it soon. I think they are really beautiful and want to make sure they are looked after well. I've always appreciated plants in a very generic way but this is the first time I've really looked at them and realised how great they are... even though it seems mine are not particularly special!

We do have a large back garden.. Can I get the soil from there? So, I literally want to be blasting the soil away so visibility is the plant from it's roots and then place in new soil with large holes in the pot (but not necessarily a large pot?)

Apologies for my absolute plant 101 here but you have been massively helpful!

Last question... in terms of care, are these low maintenance plants and good plants to have as my first venture into plants, or would you say they are medium/difficult to care for? In terms of water, would a couple of teaspoons in the soil suffice or more?

Thanks again!
Name: Stefan
SE europe(balkans) (Zone 6b)
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skopjecollection
Jun 29, 2020 1:08 PM CST
Fountain30 said:

Thank you! I googled the first one and some of these cacti are HUGE in size? Should I expect much growth from my plant?

In terms of cleaning the soil - do I need to literally handle and remove the plants from their pots to do this? Not very confident with this so will ask a family member to help... I am sorry for the complete lack of knowledge but I'm sure I'll get the hang of it soon. I think they are really beautiful and want to make sure they are looked after well. I've always appreciated plants in a very generic way but this is the first time I've really looked at them and realised how great they are... even though it seems mine are not particularly special!

We do have a large back garden.. Can I get the soil from there? So, I literally want to be blasting the soil away so visibility is the plant from it's roots and then place in new soil with large holes in the pot (but not necessarily a large pot?)

Apologies for my absolute plant 101 here but you have been massively helpful!

Last question... in terms of care, are these low maintenance plants and good plants to have as my first venture into plants, or would you say they are medium/difficult to care for? In terms of water, would a couple of teaspoons in the soil suffice or more?

Thanks again!


Had I only know the shenanigans store soil brings( dutch and otherwise, anything short of a pro cactus breeding nursery) nine years ago when I was like you, all fresh and enthusiastic , a LOT of stress and heartache could have been avoided. But yeah, good soil is super important for indoor growers. Drainage is a workaround and compensation for a lack of discipline and good conditions.
No,a teaspoon or few will not suffice, maybe in winter. About...half most drinking glasses(about 100 mil) should suffice every 10 days or so.
[Last edited by skopjecollection - Jun 29, 2020 1:12 PM (+)]
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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Jun 29, 2020 1:25 PM CST
Water well, until the soil is saturated and water is coming out the bottom. Water again a few minutes later to make sure the soil is properly saturated. Then make sure the plant is not sitting in a pool of water afterwards, and wait however long it takes for the soil to dry out at depth (not just at the surface, which dries out sooner). It would be a mistake in your climate to adopt a fixed schedule, because the drying out time will vary depending on the season (temperature, exposure, humidity, etc. all affect evaporation). There is no particular benefit to allowing the soil to remain bone dry for any extended period. There is a significant risk of adverse outcomes if the soil does not dry out enough often enough. Do not overwater during late fall and winter if light or temperatures are low.

These plants are both very demanding about light and the more, the better indoors, especially during winter. Right in front of your sunniest southerly-facing window would be ideal.

Welcome!
Wirral, England, United Kingdo
Fountain30
Jun 29, 2020 1:57 PM CST
I will certainly do some research about soil etc... I have been told that these plants are incredibly boring and do more or less 'nothing' and I'll be very lucky to see them bloom at any point?!

I've also attached two images - do they look ok? The first image is the taller cactus which I suppose is fairly well soiled, but the second cactus (the much smaller one) looks like it has almost no soil at all? Should I be worried about this?

Will these plants die if I resoil using soil from my back garden? Do I need to purchase specific cacti soil (I can research and look into this)

Should I expect the plants to grow in size (the taller one based on images seems to be a pretty huge plant?)

I guess that's all from my questions... you've all been wonderfully helpful . Please see images below Smiling

Thumb of 2020-06-29/Fountain30/283d1a

Thumb of 2020-06-29/Fountain30/a38ad0



[Last edited by Fountain30 - Jun 29, 2020 1:58 PM (+)]
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Name: Stefan
SE europe(balkans) (Zone 6b)
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skopjecollection
Jun 29, 2020 2:07 PM CST
Fountain30 said:I will certainly do some research about soil etc... I have been told that these plants are incredibly boring and do more or less 'nothing' and I'll be very lucky to see them bloom at any point?!

I've also attached two images - do they look ok? The first image is the taller cactus which I suppose is fairly well soiled, but the second cactus (the much smaller one) looks like it has almost no soil at all? Should I be worried about this?

Will these plants die if I resoil using soil from my back garden? Do I need to purchase specific cacti soil (I can research and look into this)

Should I expect the plants to grow in size (the taller one based on images seems to be a pretty huge plant?)

I guess that's all from my questions... you've all been wonderfully helpful . Please see images below Smiling

Thumb of 2020-06-29/Fountain30/283d1a

Thumb of 2020-06-29/Fountain30/a38ad0




There are cacti you can get to bloom. Just not large columnar or barrel cacti.
Look up: mammillaria-s elongata, gracilis, polythele inermis ; gymnocalycium -s baldanium, mihanovichii, damsii ; rebutia miniscula ; parodia -s scopa, mamillosa, hasselbergii ; thelocactus setispinus; opuntia humifusa; echinopsis oxygona, subdenudata.
Most fall under the small and spherical type, save for the opuntia. Also, holiday cacti...
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Jun 29, 2020 2:39 PM CST
Do not use soil from your back garden. Get a bag of decent quality potting soil (I think the British term is compost) and mix it with an equal volume of pumice/perlite/gritty equivalent. Regular cactus mix typically does not have enough rock in it, and would probably also need some rock added.

The barrel will do fine in a small pot. The pot it's currently in should be good for another year or so, if it's filled up to the line where it becomes constricted near the top. If and when you repot either plant, be careful not to water immediately afterwards. Wait a week or so to water deeply for the first time. Try not to handle the roots more than necessary for best results.

Barrel cacti can and will bloom in containers at a relatively young age (though individual species may vary in this respect). 2 of the 3 barrels that I have grown from seed have flowered at the 8-10 inch pot size. I'm not sure about the specific plant you have, but it's untrue speaking generally that Ferocacti do not bloom in cultivation. For best results provide strong light and exercise patience as your plant continues to grow bigger, because it does take a few years. Examples in bud here (8-10 inch pots):



You can click on the names linked above those images and you will see what the flowers look like.

I'm not 100% sure about the ID of the taller plant, but if it really is Pachycereus pringlei (a native of Baja California) it will do well in containers for several years. I have had one here for over 15 years and it has grown from maybe 4-6 inches to over 2 feet tall (currently in a 12 inch pot). Try to provide more space very gradually over the course of years, so that the pot size is not overly limiting, but these plants (like the barrel cacti) tend to grow in cracks in the rock in nature, and they do well in limited space. If this is the species you have, you will almost certainly never see it bloom (because it will never go in the ground and reach blooming size).
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - Jun 29, 2020 2:46 PM (+)]
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Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
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porkpal
Jun 29, 2020 4:27 PM CST
Baja, you're a great teacher.
Porkpal
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Jun 29, 2020 9:11 PM CST
Thank You!

I try. Smiling
Name: Stefan
SE europe(balkans) (Zone 6b)
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skopjecollection
Jun 29, 2020 9:25 PM CST
Baja_Costero said:Do not use soil from your back garden. Get a bag of decent quality potting soil (I think the British term is compost) and mix it with an equal volume of pumice/perlite/gritty equivalent. Regular cactus mix typically does not have enough rock in it, and would probably also need some rock added.

The barrel will do fine in a small pot. The pot it's currently in should be good for another year or so, if it's filled up to the line where it becomes constricted near the top. If and when you repot either plant, be careful not to water immediately afterwards. Wait a week or so to water deeply for the first time. Try not to handle the roots more than necessary for best results.

Barrel cacti can and will bloom in containers at a relatively young age (though individual species may vary in this respect). 2 of the 3 barrels that I have grown from seed have flowered at the 8-10 inch pot size. I'm not sure about the specific plant you have, but it's untrue speaking generally that Ferocacti do not bloom in cultivation. For best results provide strong light and exercise patience as your plant continues to grow bigger, because it does take a few years. Examples in bud here (8-10 inch pots):



You can click on the names linked above those images and you will see what the flowers look like.

I'm not 100% sure about the ID of the taller plant, but if it really is Pachycereus pringlei (a native of Baja California) it will do well in containers for several years. I have had one here for over 15 years and it has grown from maybe 4-6 inches to over 2 feet tall (currently in a 12 inch pot). Try to provide more space very gradually over the course of years, so that the pot size is not overly limiting, but these plants (like the barrel cacti) tend to grow in cracks in the rock in nature, and they do well in limited space. If this is the species you have, you will almost certainly never see it bloom (because it will never go in the ground and reach blooming size).


In cultivation...in 20 years (or so). My assertion is correct. Therefore the plant will bloom. Just not anytime soon, like I said. And the user...doesnt have the proper doodad to make it go any faster(like a greenhouse). Third, soil and pumice costs money. I wouldnt recommend buying any large amount unless commuted to cacti(for 2 small plants, its hardly justified). Im pretty sure that much stuff would cost the user a lot more than the cacti themselves.
Wirral, England, United Kingdo
Fountain30
Jun 30, 2020 6:38 AM CST
skopjecollection said:

In cultivation...in 20 years (or so). My assertion is correct. Therefore the plant will bloom. Just not anytime soon, like I said. And the user...doesnt have the proper doodad to make it go any faster(like a greenhouse). Third, soil and pumice costs money. I wouldnt recommend buying any large amount unless commuted to cacti(for 2 small plants, its hardly justified). Im pretty sure that much stuff would cost the user a lot more than the cacti themselves.


Thank you - you have all been very helpful.

So are the plants ok with the soil they are current in? I'm not in a position to spend a lot of money on compost / mixes etc at the moment. I also don't feel confident about handling the plants without killing them.
Name: Stefan
SE europe(balkans) (Zone 6b)
Cactus and Succulents Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Procrastinator Bulbs Foliage Fan
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skopjecollection
Jun 30, 2020 8:11 AM CST
Fountain30 said:

Thank you - you have all been very helpful.

So are the plants ok with the soil they are current in? I'm not in a position to spend a lot of money on compost / mixes etc at the moment. I also don't feel confident about handling the plants without killing them.


Youll kill them without handling them(much easier that way). Like I said, get kitchen tongs, any decent sized kind will do. The plants are stiff as cucumbers(and even more elastic, so you dont have to worry about damaging them too much.
Gravel...pretty sure you can scoop a small amount from a bunch of public places without anybody batting an eye.
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Jun 30, 2020 9:15 AM CST
The barrel needs more space (but no more than the pot it's currently in, filled to near the top). Like Stefan says, gravel can be found in small quantities in all sorts of places.
Wirral, England, United Kingdo
Fountain30
Jun 30, 2020 9:36 AM CST
Baja_Costero said:The barrel needs more space (but no more than the pot it's currently in, filled to near the top). Like Stefan says, gravel can be found in small quantities in all sorts of places.


The barrel is the taller cacti, right?

Thank you all for educating me on plant basics Smiling it'll be trial and error I guess but I certainly feel a little more prepared!
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
Jun 30, 2020 9:42 AM CST
The barrel is the lower cactus, the one with hardly any soil in the pot.
Name: Stefan
SE europe(balkans) (Zone 6b)
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skopjecollection
Jun 30, 2020 9:49 AM CST
Fountain30 said:

The barrel is the taller cacti, right?

Thank you all for educating me on plant basics Smiling it'll be trial and error I guess but I certainly feel a little more prepared!

Alright, cactus basics
Columnar- tall, pipelike stems, may branch like a tree.
Barrel- Short or semi collumnar, fat, resembling anything from beer kegs to wine or whiskey barrels.
Segmented/padded- generally applies to the genus opuntia, but does apply for others(christmas and easter cacti, rhipsalis etc)
Globular- basically anything resembling small collumnars or small barrels. Small round stems, cylindrical, short. Most tend to clump, others are solitary. Mammillaria and gymnocalycium are prime examples
Angled- the cactus' ribs have sharp angles. The most uncommon form of growth.
Most of these also fall under the category of sprawling and epiphytic , with thin stems either spreading outwards on an objects, or upwards on a tree's canopy.
Name: Stefan
SE europe(balkans) (Zone 6b)
Cactus and Succulents Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Procrastinator Bulbs Foliage Fan
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skopjecollection
Jun 30, 2020 10:08 AM CST
Part 2
-Leaf succulent- tissue modification of a plant that results in thick waxy, chalky or hairy leaves. Sometimes with spines. Most aloes , crassulaceae and agavoid succulents fall under this category
-stem succulent- nearly all cacti(yes, there are cacti that dont look like cacti, look up pereskia), most euphorbia succulents, and a lot of stapeliads(now a defunct term).
-Pachycaul and caudiciform- swollen, but woody stem, or rootbase. Think baobab. Also look up pachypodium, adenium, dioscorea elephantipes(a relative of the yam)
-rosette- the growth pattern in which a lot of leaf succulents grow(resembling rose petals)
-areole- what sets cacti from other succulents.
Wirral, England, United Kingdo
Fountain30
Jul 1, 2020 6:01 AM CST
Thanks for all the informative info!

I watered them both over a week ago and soil still feels damp. Of course I'll wait now until they are bone dry as I may have over-watered. How will I be able to tell if the plants die?

They are beautiful plants and have added tons of character to my room (especially the taller one which I'm hoping will keep growing) but I am under the impression cacti are on the more, shall we say boring side of the plant world - in terms of not really doing much and everything seems to go very slowly for them. I suppose that's down to climate though?

Can anyone recommend a plant for my bedroom which will show me a bit more love?

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