Klein’s Cylinder Pencil Cactus

I can’t remember when I first met Cylindropuntia kleiniae, but it was somewhere back in my early years, during a family cross country drive, designed to expose us kids to the entirety of the US. I fell in love with cactus, despite being repeatedly stabbed as I tried to rescue a pad to take home.

Since that time, I’ve encountered this native of Texas, New Mexico, and into Mexico more times than I care to remember. This hardy pencil cactus is the Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree of cacti…kinda homely, but loveable in a motherly sort of way. In the garden, it forms an open 6′ specimen.

Desert Beauties

This winter took out several of our trial barrel cactus, but despite the losses, we’ve still got a good selection of survivors. Peak flowering season is late April through late May, so below are a few that we’ve manage to photograph during that period. The key for growing barrel cactus in cold wet climates is excellent winter drainage and bright sun. There are many genera to choose from, as you’ll see below.

Coryphantha scheeri is a Chihuahuan desert species that ranges from Texas south into Northern Mexico.

Coryphantha scheeri

Coryphantha macromeris ssp. runyonii is a sea level species that’s only found on both sides of the Rio Grande River, which divides the United States and Mexico.

Coryphantha macromeris ssp. runyonii

Echinocereus coccineus is native to much of the Southwestern US. This seed grown collection hails from Hudspeth County, TX.

Echinocereus coccineus

Echinocereus x roetteri is one of our favorites. This naturally occurring hybrid between Echinocereus coccineus and Echinocereus dasyacanthus has flower colors that range through the entire rainbow spectrum. This is a stunning purple flowered form, we grew from seed from Pecos. County, TX.

Echinocereus x roetteri purple flowered form

Echinocereus palmeri is another Chihuan Desert species from Northern Mexico.

Echinocereus palmeri

Echinocereus papillosus var. angusticeps stradles the Texas/Mexico line. Our plants sailed through our 11F winter.

Echinocereus papillosus var. angusticeps

This beautiful clump of Echinocereus reichenbachii var. baileyi was grown from seed from a population in Granite, Oklahoma.

Echinocereus reichenbachii var. baileyi

Gymnocalycium deeszianum hails from south of the Equator in the Cordoba Province of Argentina. Unlike most of the previous cactus, which tolerate or prefer alkaline soils, gymnocalycium prefer acidic soils.

Gymnocalycium deeszianum

Notocactus floricomis is another superb performer from Argentina

Notocactus floricomis

Notocactus x hertonis is from a Mike Papay cross of the pink flowering Notocactus herteri and the yellow-flowering Notocactus ottonis.

Notocactus x hertonis

Finally, Notocactus x subteri is another superb Mike Papay hybrid of the pink-flowering Notocactus herteri and the yellow-flowered Notocactus submamulosus.

Notocactus x subteri

Minimally Endangered

Flowering now is the Federally Endangered hardy cactus, Escobaria minnima. Our plants are now almost five years old from seed. We are thrilled to see that these have performed so well, sailing through our 11 degree F. winter this year. This extremely rare gem (G1 rank) is only found a single rock outcrop in Brewster County, Texas, hence it was added to the Endangered Species list in 1979. (Hardiness Zone 5b-9b).

Escobaria minnima

A Bunch of Little Pricks

If you go through the garden slow enough, you’ll notice little treasures like the NC native, Opuntia drummondii. This tiny growing coastal native prickly pear cactus can be found from NC around the gulf coast to Mississippi. Our specimen was shared with us from a collection on NC’s Bodie Island–a name made famous as the place where the Wright Brothers took flight. This prostrate grower is great to keep animals from trespassing onto your property.

Opuntia drummondii ‘Bodie Island’

Cow Tongue Takes a Lickin’

The gigantic, winter hardy, North American native, cow tongue cactus, Opuntia lindheimeri ‘Linguiformis’ is looking wonderful in the fall garden. We planted our original plant back in 2000, but when reworking a bed, needed to move it about 4 years ago. We took a couple of pad cuttings which languished, laying bare root on a bench for nearly 2 years. Despite this abuse, this is the result two years after those cuttings finally went in the ground. We find this to be the largest of the Zone 7 winter hardy prickly pear cactus, maturing around 7′ tall x 12′ wide. Winter hardiness is at least Zone 7b-10b, and perhaps colder.

 Opuntia lindheimeri 'Linguiformis' (Cow Tongue Cactus)
Opuntia lindheimeri ‘Linguiformis’

Cat Whiskers Cactus

Our planting of Glandulicactus wrightii is looking quite lovely as we head into fall. Sadly, few folks take time to closely examine the fascinating and intricate arrangements of cactus spines. Glandulicactus wrightii, which is native to Texas and adjacent Mexico has amazingly long, hooked spines that resemble cat whiskers. Long term winter hardiness is hopeful here in Zone 7b, since the seed from which this was grown came from a population at 5,000′ elevation on the New Mexico/Texas border.

Glandulicactus wrightii in the crevice garden
Glandulicactus wrightii