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Cactus and Succulent Society Celebrates 50 years With Annual Show and Sale

Prickly pear cactus in the desert
Photo licensed from Adobe Stock

Hundreds of plants will be on display and for sale at the Central Arizona Cactus and Succulent Society Annual Show and Sale. A variety of “weird, unusual and interesting” succulents and cacti grown by society members will be on display, along with homemade pottery and more, says society member and newsletter editor Sue Hakala. The society has hosted the show and sale since 1988 and this year, it celebrates 50 years as a chapter of the national society. See the show March 31-April 2 at the Desert Botanical Garden (and access to the show and sale are included with garden admission). Sue Hakala, editor of the society’s newsletter Central Spine, offered these tips for those who bring home a cactus or succulent to ensure it thrives.

4 Tips for Growing Cacti and Succulents

Pick a sunny spot for your new plant.

“The most important thing to know about growing cactus and succulents is that they must have as much sun as they can take to grow well,” Hakala says.

Choose the right soil.

For succulents, that’s a quick-draining soil that will dry out fast. That’s important because the plant will rot if it stays wet too long, Hakala says, suggesting gardeners add 50 percent pumice to any commercial cactus mix.

Did you overwater?

There’s still hope to save your succulent, Hakala says. If a plant has rotted due to overwatering – telltale signs are brown, black or mushy leaves, starting at the bottom – remove it from the pot immediately. Sterilize a knife with alcohol and cut the plant until you see healthy green tissue. Be sure to sterilize the knife between each cut, Hakala says. Then, let the plant sit in the shade for seven to 14 days, until a callus forms, “sort of like a scab on your arm,” she says. You can then root the plant in pure pumice, with weekly watering until roots form. Then, it’s ready to be replanted.

When in doubt, consult the society “brain trust.”

Hakala says, “we encourage everyone to seek out experienced members for advice,” adding that the society has indexes of member-written articles dating back to its founding in 1973. “The articles are the brain trust of the society as they give specific advice on how to grow specific plants here in this tough environment,” she says. And, they’re available for anyone to read or download at


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