Cactus and Succulents forum: How to get cactus to bloom?

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Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
May 17, 2018 5:33 PM CST
I have various Cati that never bloom for me. Hears a couple.
Thumb of 2018-05-17/Philipwonel/21eadc
My only way of keeping them from rotting last summer, was to torcher them. I only watered them every 6 weeks, and we had lots of days of 100 plus days.
During our especially wet winter. I only watered a couple three times.
There under south facing patio. They only get a few hours sun in summer, more in winter. I give them catus fertilizer every time I water. It's, grow more, catus juice, 1-7-6 with 1 percent calcium. Might I be better of giving them, sea grow, bloom fertilizer, 4-26-26 ?

This year, with temps in the 80s to 90s, I have increased watering's to every 4 weeks. No results !

What do y'all recommend ???

Thank Y'all ! 👍👍 😀
😎😎😎

Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
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Hamwild
May 17, 2018 5:44 PM CST
The yellow one (Golden Barrel) won't bloom for yeeears. I've read it blooms at 30--40 years old. And that may be for in ground specimens (meaning it may take longer for a potted one, as in ground specimens grow bigger, faster).

The other one looks like some sort of cristata form of a prickly pear (I think it's a prickly pear). It may or may not be one that blooms (I don't know if the cristata form of cacti bloom or not; it's some sort of genetic mutation).

Erm, editing. Cacti need very little fertilizer (and a weak one at that). Fertilizing more or with stronger fertilizers will only create other issues.
[Last edited by Hamwild - May 17, 2018 5:46 PM (+)]
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
May 17, 2018 5:48 PM CST
The one on the left is a Golden Barrel Cactus (Echinocactus grusonii). They have to be quite old before they bloom - the easiest way to judge is to not expect bloom until your plant is at least 12 inches wide.

The crested cactus may not bloom because its a crested cactus - some just don't.
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Name: Thijs van Soest
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mcvansoest
May 17, 2018 5:55 PM CST
If the one on the left is a Golden Barrel it is way too small (ie. young) to flower. If it was some regular Ferocactus it might be a question of finding the right comfort zone for it in terms of sun/shade/temperature.

Crested cacti are not known to flower very often. Never say never, but certainly not a common or easy to achieve event.

If at 100+ temperatures you have trouble keeping them from rotting your soil is way too water retentive even at a relatively humid 100F that you might get in Fresno a well draining soil should dry out in a week or so. So I would suggest transplanting them to faster draining soil, then you can water them more frequently and that will certainly help them grow better.

Now all that said that crested cactus looks like a crested Austracylindropuntia subulata, which is incredibly prone to rot, so you have to be careful with that one even in well draining soil.

If in well draining soil Golden Barrels actually will take a good amount of water and that will help them grow. They tend to be pretty slow when young and small, but when they reach say 3-4 times the size of your plant they go through a growth spurt before slowing down somewhat as they get pretty big. Usually at some point in that growth spurt is when the flowering starts.
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Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
May 17, 2018 6:43 PM CST

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To add to everyone's good advice... Smiling

My golden barrel is about 12 inches wide (the body, not counting spines) and it hasn't even thought about flowering yet. No fuzz at all. I am definitely not mistreating it so I think it just takes a long time for them to flower. The Ferocacti tend to wait a while too. Our native Mammillarias flower several years sooner than the native Ferocacti.

I had the second plant (the Austrocylindropuntia subulata crest) for years and it never flowered. I think AgaveGirl recently had some flowers on her non-crested plant, so this is in theory what they would look like if they ever ventured forth.

https://garden.org/thread/view...

As for the general question in the title, I would be most curious about people's strategies or voodoo magic for getting great cactus flowers. I would imagine strong light is probably really important (I consider it mandatory for my own plants). Some cacti are real shy to flower here (they get part of the way or the flower never really opens up) and I think that's because our climate is too mild and doesn't provide the kind of heat they need to really pop. It's like they're waiting for something that never happens.

My own experience (providing regular water, when the soil goes dry, but not leaving the soil dry for days and days on end) is that the actual fertilizer you use is not that important, if it's a reasonably balanced formula. The quantity you use is much more important, or easier to get wrong anyway. For reference I use 0.5 tsp of liquid 7-9-5 formula per 5 liter bottle. (Metric and gringo units commingle here as you would naturally expect.) Smiling

You can scale accordingly, based on the the first number in the N-P-K listing. 5 liters is about a gallon, if you want to round to the nearest container. My dosage works out to be a little under 50 ppm N, and here is a handy calculator to arrive at that precise amount with your own preferred brand.

http://firstrays.com/free-info...

Now your fertilizer will come with dosage recommendations and they are generally way too high for succulents, especially out of the blazing sun. The Miracle Gro granular product was recommended at 20 times the amount I use. Try a quarter or less for starters, or use the handy calculator to arrive at a sane dosage. And don't fertilize every time you water unless you are prepared to flush the container well every time.
[Last edited by Baja_Costero - May 17, 2018 6:59 PM (+)]
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Georgia (Zone 8a)
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Hamwild
May 17, 2018 6:48 PM CST
I had a couple cacti bloom this year, some I've had for a year, one four, but they actually haven't received any fertilizer until this year (after blooming no less). Adding to Baja, I don't let mine dry out for very long either. Some get watered almost daily in our 100+ heat index weather. But mine get sun from about 10 am-3pm and they are in at most, 4 inch pots. I think regular watering in Summer is a must, as they are in their growing season.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
May 17, 2018 7:25 PM CST
I fertilize my cactus once a year whether they need it or not. Smiling

Philip, I know that you know what soil to use, so maybe its the fertilizer that's causing your cactus to rot? Just a thought. On the other hand, watering once every 6 weeks is WAY out of line. My potted cactus get watered once a week in summer, once a month in winter. But I also think you need to find a spot in your yard where they get more sun.

There is no humidity in Fresno so that is not the problem. Are you using your cactus soil with added perlite? 1:1 ratio? When I lived in Oakdale (same weather), I was watering every other day when it got hot.



Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

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Name: Philip Becker
Fresno California (Zone 8a)
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Philipwonel
May 18, 2018 8:11 AM CST
Thank Y'all for your input ! 👍😀

I'm also curious as to why, in early spring, at nurseries I see so many Cati and succulents blooming, some in in as small as two inch pots.
That's how I got mine, it wasn't one of those pin-on flowers, as it dried up and made seeds.

Cheers Everyone 👍👍
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Anything i say, could be misrepresented, or wrong.
Name: Stefan
SE europe(balkans) (Zone 6b)
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skopjecollection
May 18, 2018 8:36 AM CST
Phulipwonel
My experience with dutch plants? A combination of roids, and special growing conditions.
They pump them full of nutrients, heat them up and blast them with light, and make more money. Alas, they dont last very long. Probably the process is to much for the plant to bear.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
May 18, 2018 10:12 AM CST
I have never seen either of the pictured cactus bloom in a nursery setting. Perhaps it was one of your other cactus that had flowers?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
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Name: Stefan
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skopjecollection
May 18, 2018 11:12 AM CST
Daisyl
Ive seen an echinocactus bloom in a nursery once(just dried flower husks though so Shrug! ). But the plant was huge. Im talking 40-45 cm diameter, and about 30cm tall. Ive also seen a ferocactus with flower husks it was almost half a meter tall, 30 cm wide.
Its not that they cant bloom, they just need to big enough, and grown in proper conditions, something many growers cant attain.
Why do you think mammillaria is labeled as the best cactus genus( Thumbs down my least favorite though)? Because a lot of those plants neednt be the size of a beer keg to bloom- some even start at ping pong ball width.
Philipwonel
If you want blooms, and arent tiny and magenta, start looking for parodia, echinopsis, gymnocalycium and rebutia. they are easier to grow to flowering size than a lot of large to medium north american cacti. Even stuff like thelocactus setispinus or astrophytums might work out for you.
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
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Baja_Costero
May 18, 2018 12:13 PM CST

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skopjecollection said:My experience with dutch plants? A combination of roids, and special growing conditions.
They pump them full of nutrients, heat them up and blast them with light, and make more money. Alas, they dont last very long. Probably the process is to much for the plant to bear.


Like it or not, most succulents (of the size and type which are mass produced for sale) come from a greenhouse somewhere, where they are being pampered to the maximum by the grower with the goal of pumping them up as fast as possible. The amount of time a plant requires to be sellable is not at all fixed... it can vary a lot depending on care. More than one might expect.

These observations to the group in general and not skopje in particular, regarding hormonally altered succulents...

Whenever I get a new plant that's not already familiar to me, I spend 5-10 minutes looking at pictures of that plant on the web, to get a general sense of how it might look under proper light, and what the usual variation may be. That's a good exercise because it gives you points of reference as you dive into the new one's way of life. A pampered plant will need to be gently coaxed into the non-pampered (real) world, which is mostly a matter of patience and observation, but cacti and succulents tend to be extremely adaptable plants when allowed to proceed in a gradual way.

Sometimes I see plants at a nursery, all stretched and out of proportion, or gigantically huge for the size of the container, and think to myself I need to never let that happen with my own plants. It's like the example you need to remember not to follow. Smiling

That said, I'm pretty sure you don't make more money by blasting cacti with light. Speaking from my own experience, they grow smaller and slower if they are in the sun, compared to 50% or even 20% shade cloth. When young, that is, the size that would be suitable for nursery sale. I have had the opportunity to experiment with various lighting situations, whether shading by the walls and overhangs on my home patio or different types of shade cloth. The sale plants that suffer from freaky gigantism are coming out from under filtered light, not direct sun.
Name: Christie
Central Ohio 43016 (Zone 6a)
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cwhitt
May 18, 2018 12:24 PM CST
I have heard that putting the cactus in a cool, dry, bright place can induce flowering - the emphasis on COOL & dry. Shrug! Good luck! Crossing Fingers!
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Name: Stefan
SE europe(balkans) (Zone 6b)
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skopjecollection
May 18, 2018 12:27 PM CST
Baja, im not saying that regular dutch nursery plants arent pampered. But comparing :
Life expectancy
Size
Durability
Compared to regular plants, cant help but feel some things are out of place.
Eg, 7cm gymnocalcium has same level of development(spination, rib structure, height to width ratio) as a small 3cm one(because ive seen old specimens), but is bigger and produces bigger blooms.
The soil is much heavier and more organic than the regular plants.
I am talking about extreme conditions.
That being said, i was far less experienced then than i am now. Ive killed hatioras due to improper care after blooming in the same period.

Georgia (Zone 8a)
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Hamwild
May 18, 2018 1:05 PM CST
cwhitt said:I have heard that putting the cactus in a cool, dry, bright place can induce flowering - the emphasis on COOL & dry. Shrug! Good luck! Crossing Fingers!


I have read that too. It's supposed to mimic their winter dormancy I think. Mine go into the garage in the winter and it freezes here outdoors, so I'm sure it gets cold in the garage.
Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
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Jai_Ganesha
May 18, 2018 2:21 PM CST
Like Daisy I also fertilize my desert cacti, but I do it twice a year (in spring and in summer) using very weak (10%-15%ish) flower fertilizer.

I also fertilize my epiphytic cacti, but they get a lot more because they love it.

There are so many variables like species, subspecies, indoor/outdoor, exposure (NSEW), soil, amendments, pH, and so forth that fertilizing or not fertilizing are both good practices.

When offering cacti a cool and dry "rest" period to encourage blooms, remember that not all species have a "winter" in their natural lands, and of those who do, some of them have much wetter winters than others. With a lot of epiphytic cacti you're not mimicking "winter" as much as a brief dry season.
Keep going!
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
May 18, 2018 2:41 PM CST
skopjecollection, My point wasn't that nurseries don't carry full grown cacti but that Philip did not buy full grown cacti, he bought babies. So, if he bought cacti with spent flowers, it was neither of the two plants that he asked about.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: Jai or Jack
WV (Zone 6b)
Om shanti om.
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Jai_Ganesha
May 18, 2018 2:43 PM CST
Baja_Costero said:

Like it or not, most succulents (of the size and type which are mass produced for sale) come from a greenhouse somewhere, where they are being pampered to the maximum by the grower with the goal of pumping them up as fast as possible. The amount of time a plant requires to be sellable is not at all fixed... it can vary a lot depending on care. More than one might expect.


This is another good reason to grow them from seed--you know exactly from whence they have come and what treatments and conditions they have received from the moment of germination. I have grown several of mine from seed and I find them all to be relatively straightforward. A lot of people think it's difficult but after two or three failed starts (at most) I think anyone who starts vegetables or annuals under lights can grow cacti from seed.
Keep going!
Name: Stefan
SE europe(balkans) (Zone 6b)
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skopjecollection
May 18, 2018 9:04 PM CST
Except it takes forever for most things to bloom that way....
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
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DaisyI
May 18, 2018 10:43 PM CST
Most of us are growing cactus for the joy of growing cactus. I have grown quite a few of mine from seed also and they are my favorites. Its not size that counts.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org

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