Succulents rooting in H2O

Cuttings rooted on H2O. Took 2 months to develop roots of 2 to 5 cm. These are Eurphorbia resinifera but also other Euphorbia species root well in water. Ideal temperature is around 20 degrees Celcius (=68 F). Just started an experiment with 2 Lophocereus species. Keep you updated.

The reason for this experiment is that there is an overseas demand for this rooted plant material and as it’s a regulation that no soil particle is allowed to leave the country.. (etc. etc.). At this stage we are rooting a few hundred Euphorbia cuttings (diverse species) in water.

We are no scientists (just make use of them) but we like to experiment and prefer to choose for the most unlikable things. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes not but when you never try you will never know.

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A love affair in the garden

scelitium-tomentosa.jpgScientiffically unproven (probably no research) but we experience that there must be some interaction between plants. In our garden the Scelitium tortuosum grows best with the Oreocereus celcianus. It’s a kind of love affair between a cactus from South America and a hallucinatic succulent from Bushmen Land in South Africa

Organic pest- and disease control training

Just a link to the website of one of the South African experts of organic pest- and disease control.

Johan Gerber’s School of Environmentally-Responsible Garden Care has initiated a Integrated Pest Management-endorsed training which is held at a reseach farm in Roodeplaat (Pretoria). See the webwite for details. Interesting stuff for all who want to minimise/eliminate the use of chemicals in the garden.

Although we are not able to attend the training we can dearly recommend it to all. Johan, who visited South Africa’s own Primary Unusual Destination a few years ago, is really passionate about the Green Life.

His websites are:


Recently we submitted a more general article about succulents. this time a bit more about cactaceae

Cactus is the name given to any member of the flowering plant family Cactaceae. Cacti are almost exclusively New world plants. This means that they are native only in the Americas and West Indies. There is however one exception, Rhipsalis baccifera; this species has a pantropical distribution, occurring in the Old World in tropical Africa, Madagascar and Shri Lanka as well as in tropical America. This plant is thought to be a relatively recent colonist in the Old World (within the last few thousand years), probably carried as seeds in the digestive tracts of migratory birds. Many other cacti have become naturalized to similar environments in other parts of the world after being introduced by people.

Many species of cactus have long, sharp spikes.Many succulent plants in both the Old and New World bear a striking resemblance to cacti, and are often called “cactus” in common usage. This is, however, due to parallel evolution; none of these are closely related to the Cactaceae. One distinct identifying characteric of the Cactus family is the areole, a specialized structure from which spines and new shoots grow.

Cacti are believed to have evolved in the last 30 to 40 million years. Long ago, the Americas were joined to the other continents, but separated due to continental drift. Unique species in the New World must have developed after the continents had moved apart. Significant distance between the continents was only achieved around in the last 50 million years. This may explain why cacti are so rare in Africa; the continents had already separated when cacti evolved.

Cactus Flower

Like other succulents, cacti are well-adapted to life with little precipitation. The leaves have evolved into spines, which in addition to allowing less water to evaporate than regular leaves, defend the cactus against water-seeking animals. Photosynthesis is carried out by enlarged stems , which also store water. Unlike many other succulents, the stem is the only part of a true cactus where this takes place. Very few members of the family have leaves, and when present these are usually rudimentary and soon fall off; they are typically awl-shaped and only 1-3 mm long. Two genera, Pereskia and Pereskiopsis, do however retain large, non-succulent leaves 5-25 cm long, and also non-succulent stems; they are possibly primitive genera, thought to be closely similar to the plants that cacti evolved from.

Cacti come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. Some grow to great size. Some cacti produce beautiful flowers , which like spines and branches arise from areoles. Many cactus species are night-blooming, as they are pollinated by nocturnal insects or small animals, principally noths and bats.  Cacti range from small and round to pole-like and tall, such as the Saguaro

A number of cactus species are cultivated for use as houseplants, as well as for ornamental gardens. They often form part of xerophylic (dry) gardens in arid regions. Some cacti bear edible fruit.



The word cactus is ultimately derived from Greek Κακτος kaktos, used in classical Greek for a species of spiny thistle, possibly the cardoon , and used as a generic name, Cactus, by Linnaeus in 1753 (now rejected in favor of Mammillaria). There is some dispute as to the proper plural form of the word; as a Greek loan into English, the correct plural in English would be “cactuses”. However, as a word in Botanical (as distinct from Classical Latin) “cactus” would follow standard Latin rules for pluralization and become “cacti”, which has become the prevalent usage in English.


One of the largest cactus (and other succulents) collection in the unprotected open air (NOT under cover of a roof or shade net) can be found at Soekershof Walkabout in South Africa.


This article is an extract from Brainyenceclopedia


Poisonous succulents

Without realising it many people have poisonous plants (f.e.: Dieffenbachia sp; oleander; datura and frangipani) in their gardens. Succulents are not an exception.

It hardly happens that one read about (terminal) casualties related to poisonous plants. This contributes to the assumption that accidents caused by poisonous plants are a rarity. Most ‘poisonous’ succulents however are capable of causing highly allergic reactions. Few, however, do lasting harm and all should be treated with respect.

Garden and household chemicals are more dangerous hazards than plants!!!

But it’s always good to take some precautions when handling succulents.

The members of the Euphorbiaceae family are the best known for their poisonous content although the alkoides of many Euphorbia species are also used for medical and industrial applications. To provide you with two examples of the Euphorbiaceae:

The latex of the Euphorbia antisyphilitica  is used for the production of Candelila (leather polish) and mixed with rubber it’s applied for sealing wax, dental mouldings and lithographic colours. Mixed with paraffin it’s applied in candles.

The latex of the Euphorbia bupleurifolia is highly poisonous but is used for medical skin creams such as those for cracked skin and other skin disorders.

Cactaceae: No cactus spines are poisonous. Some spines, however, cause more pain than others; mainly due to barbs on the end of the spines. 

The US Army has a guide of poisonous and toxic plants.

Symptoms of poising of plants are, amongst others: vomiting, stomach cramps, irregular heartbeat and burning/irritating skin. There are a few simple first aid measurements:

Skin related; wash skin with clear running water

Eye contact: irrigate the eye with clear water for at least 10 to 20 minutes.

Internal contact: stimulate vomiting and rinse mouth thoroughly with clean water. It’s advisable to see a doctor after this first aid.

If irritation becomes worse always consult a doctor. If possible always tell him/her which plant caused the symptoms.

The best is to avoid poisoning by taking good precautions.

A few hints (maybe it seems a bit overdone; that’s up to you): Never take cuttings of (or prune) poisonous plants during a warm day and always wear protective clothing like gloves and glasses (eye-protection). In case of Euphorbia species and (for example) some Adenium species eye-protection is extremely important. In South Africa the most used implement is de ‘braaitang’ (BBQ-tongs). Wrapped in corrugated paper it’s an ideal tool to handle (smaller) spiny plants.

Hygiene is also of utmost importance when handling poisonous plants. Always wash hands and other (possible) attached bodyparts thoroughly!!!

About Crassulaceae

The Crassulaceae or orpine family consists of 33 genera with a total of around 1400 species. These dicotyledons have the characteristic that they store water in their leaves. Most species are native to Southern Africa and the Northern Hemnisphere.

Another characteristic of this family is that the different species hybridise easily. Advised propagation is (leaf-)cuttings but for gardeners who like to experiment with cross pollination the crassulaceae are very rewarding.

All crassulaceae originate from areas where water is (sometimes) scarce.

In the Western Cape: no additional water in Winter but during long dry spells in Summer Crassulaceae will reward you with extra growth if you give them a good morning soak once every week.

Tip: cut flowerheads out of young plants. This will stimulate growth and spread.

Soil: In general Crassulaceae are not fuzzy about soil as long as it drains and the pH is somewhere between 6.5 and 8. They even grow in heavy clay but too much clay has the disadvantage that after heavy rainfall followed by high temperatures there is a risk of rot.

Pest and diseases: Most common are aphids which are a real pest for some Crassulaceae. Aphids can become a plaque during high temperatures after rainfall.

Crassulaceae originate from areas with a wide scope of temperature-zones (USDA 6-10/11) but most from (sub-)tropical climates.

In South Africa we experience regulary that overseas Crassulaceae like the ones blonging to the genera of Aeonium and Echeveria are sold as “indigenous” by nurseries. Maybe because some of the species of these genera are common in many South African gardens.

Some of the more common known, except the ones mentioned, genera of the Crassulaceae are:

Dudleya; Sempervivum; Sedum; Tylecodon; Cotyledon; Andromischus; Monanthes and Kalanchoe.

Three of our favorite Crassulaceae:

Kalanchoe marmorata: Originate from Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenia. This Kalanchoe has paddle-shaped blue-green leaves with purple markings. Attractive in any rockery of succulent garden. Large white pinwheel flowers in clumps. Easily to propagate with (leaf-)cuttings.

Crassula columnaris (“koesnaatjie“): This monocarpic dwarf (Western and Northern Cape) needs at least 5 years to mature and becomes 5 cm high. When mature it starts to flower. It can grow in full sun in well drained (slightly alkaline) soil. The plant will tell you when it needs water (shriveling leaves). The scent of the flower is divine. Propagation by seed or leaf-cuttings.

Kalanchoe orgyalis: This native from Madagascar is relatively rare in cultivation. This Kalanchoe has thick velvet-like leaves which makes it sensitive in climates with a high humidity. The leaves are silver toned mahogany coloured. The flowers are bright yellow. This specie becomes about 50 cm high but that can take a while. Kalanchoe orgyalis is very, very slow growing in comparison with the other species of this genus.