Alien Cacti at Grigsby

– Posted in: Garden Adventures


I saw many strange plants on recent visit to in Vista, CA. This one seems to be greeting a fellow citizen of another planet.

Perhaps they’re from a galaxy far, far away.

And visit earth in this space ship.

This is how they communicate with their home planet.

Why are they here? I suspect, seeking brains.

But this stopped them in their tracks: a bromeliad monster that eats everything in its path. Munch, munch, slurp, gulp.

I can’t seem to come up with a caption for this one. Can you? (It’s Euphorbia horrida.)

Or this one…Pilosocereus pachycladus

The Mohawk of the cactus world.

Half plant, half pooch.

This almost looks edible.

A tarantula relative?

Yikes, more have arrived, and  they’re chattering in high-pitched, squeaky voices.

Care for cactus and fat euphorbias: These plants are from arid regions. Cacti, from the Southwest US and Mexico. Succulent euphorbias are old world plants, mostly from South Africa. Like all succulents, they are highly efficient at storing water to get through long, dry spells. The fatter the plant, the less water it needs, and the less it should be given. They need lots of light, but protection from scorching summer sun. Young cacti in habitat are protected by “nurse plants” from harsh conditions, until mature. The smaller plants shown here are in greenhouses beneath light shade cloth. The columnar cacti are outdoors in full sun.

Water lightly, but regularly, during the spring-summer growth season. Soil that dries out completely can desiccate fine root filaments. The plants will be fine, but they may not grow. A light feeding of dilute fertilizer is fine at this time. Grigsby’s soil mix is mainly pumice—from the look of it, I’d say 70 percent pumice and 30 percent potting soil. Pumice is a crushed volcanic rock that makes soil coarse and crumbly, and provides excellent drainage. If these plants sit in water, their roots may rot, which is fatal. Don’t water at all during winter dormancy.

Grigsby is in Vista, CA. The nursery has been there for decades, and they have a big following with collectors. They sell mail-order. Follow the link above to request to be on their email list.

My goal is to share the beauty of waterwise, easy-care succulents in gardens, containers and landscapes via , , , , , , and social media ( and ). My books: , and .   

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Debra Lee Baldwin

Award-winning garden photojournalist Debra Lee Baldwin authored Designing with Succulents, Succulent Container Gardens, and Succulents Simplified, all Timber Press bestsellers. Her goal is to enhance others' enjoyment and awareness of waterwise plants and gardens by showcasing the beauty and design potential of succulents via books, articles, newsletters, photos, videos, social media and more. Debra and husband Jeff live in the foothills north of San Diego. She grew up in Southern California on an avocado ranch, speaks conversational Spanish, and at age 18 graduated magna cum laude from USIU with a degree in English Literature. Her hobbies include thrifting, birding and watercolor painting. Debra's YouTube channel has had over 3,000,000 views.
Debra Lee Baldwin
Debra Lee Baldwin
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