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For The Garden

Unusual Cacti and Succulents

Author: Cathy Cromell
Issue: April, 2013, Page 122
Photo by Cathy Cromell

BLUE BARREL CACTUS
(Ferocactus glaucescens)



cacti and succulents with unusual markings

BLUE BARREL CACTUS
(Ferocactus glaucescens)


Type: Cactus       

Elevation: Low, mid

Blooms: Yellow; spring

Size: 8-15"H by 8-15"W

Soil: Good drainage

Light: At hot, low elevations: filtered or morning sun/afternoon shade; full sun elsewhere

Water needs: Low

Maintenance: Hardy to 15 degrees F. Provide protection from rabbits and javelina with wire cages.

Attracts: Birds, deer, javelina and rodents, which eat the fruit and seeds.

Note: Over time, offshoots may cluster around the parent and can be transplanted.

Why we like it: Showy gold spines contrast against the blue body. Its globular shape and distinctive coloration add interest to rock gardens and container plantings.



Photo courtesy Mountain States Wholesale Nursery

PALE LEAF YUCCA
(Yucca pallida)
PALE LEAF YUCCA
(Yucca pallida)


Type: Succulent

Elevation: Low, mid

Blooms: White; late spring-summer

Size: 1-3'H by 2-3'W

Soil: Good drainage

Light: Full to partial sun

Water needs: Drought tolerant

Maintenance: Cold hardy to -10 degrees F. Remove spent flower stalks.

Attracts: Yucca moth (pollinators)

Note: Its slow growth rate makes it a good choice for containers or small spaces. To expedite growth in landscape settings, water to a depth of 12 inches monthly in summer. No supplemental water needed in winter.

Why we like it: Unusual pale bluish leaves have thin yellow margins. Its tall inflorescence (bloom stalk) bears hundreds of bell-shaped flowers.



Photo by Kirti Mathura

CORAL ALOE
(Aloe striata)
CORAL ALOE
(Aloe striata)


Type: Succulent

Elevation: Low

Blooms: Coral-orange; spring

Size: 18-24"H by 24-30"W

Soil: Good drainage

Light: Full to partial sun

Water needs: Low to moderate

Maintenance: Hardy to 20 degrees F. Protect emerging flower stalks during cold snaps or late frosts. Monitor for tiny aloe mites, which cause malformed stems, leaves and flowers. Remove and dispose of infected plants.

Attracts: Hummingbirds

Note: Does best in filtered light beneath tree canopies.

Why we like it: Branching 2- to 3-foot-tall flower stalks are loaded with vivid blossoms. Smooth, spineless succulent leaves display fine parallel lines and pinkish-coral margins that emphasize the color of the flower.



Photo courtesy Mountain States Wholesale Nursery

BLUE LEAF NOLINA
(Nolina nelsonii)
BLUE LEAF NOLINA
(Nolina nelsonii)


Type: Succulent

Elevation: Low, mid, high

Blooms: Creamy tan; summer

Size: 12'H by 4'W

Soil: Good drainage

Light: Full sun

Water needs: Drought tolerant

Maintenance: Cold hardy to 17 degrees F. Protect during extended cold periods.

Attracts: Yucca moth (pollinators)

Note: Deer resistant. Leaf edges have tiny serrated teeth. Juvenile leaves are green; mature leaves are powder blue.

Why we like it: Rigid but graceful bluish leaves form an attractive hemispherical shape. As it matures, the plant develops a trunk. Its striking 6- to 11-foot-high  bloom stalk (inflorescence) is covered with hundreds of tiny flowers.


Other Favorites:
Beavertail, fire barrel, golden barrel and purple prickly pear cacti; blue euphorbia; red hesperaloe
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