Issue 29:


Hoyas: Easy-Care Plants Provide Flowery Rewards  (with photo)
 by Janet Kister
Henry Shaw C&S, St Louis, MO 



By Eric Driskill

Henry Shaw C&S, St Louis, MO



By Eric Driskill

Henry Shaw C&S, St Louis, MO


Gassterias – The Leaf Succulents
 By  Meena Singh 
Email: u4bias4meena (at)

Indian Society of C&S ISOCS Journal


What’s in a Name?

By Stan Korabell

The Beaver Tale C&SS of Southern Nevada


Mammallaria Clusters (with photo)

By Tom Glavich  May 2003

Los Angeles C&S Society


Coryphantha and Thelocactus

By Tom Glavich 

Los Angeles Cactus and Succulent Society


Echeveria  (with photo)

By Tom Glavich 

Los Angeles Cactus and Succulent Society


Columnar Cacti  (with photo)

By Tom Glavich 

Los Angeles Cactus and Succulent Society


Photos from Anza Borrego Desert State Park, California in April, 2003 Brazil  by Nels Christianson Sunset Succulent Society   (Photos and captions)



Hoyas: Easy-Care Plants Provide Flowery Rewards  by Janet Kister
Henry Shaw C&S, St Louis, MO 

Photo, Click here, 180kB

Hoyas are climbing succulents that originally came from the tropical forests of India, China, Indonesia and Australia. In the Western Hemisphere, these climbers are usually of the Hylocereus, Selenicereus or Epiphyllum variety. The Hoya group is in the family of Asclepiadaceae, which is considered made up of mostly stem succulents, although to me, the leaves are the more "succulent" part of Hoyas.
Common Hoya names -- wax plant, wax vine, wax flower and porcelain flower -- originate from the plants' leathery, waxy leaves or jewellike flowers. Wax plants are usually vines with fleshy 2- to 4-inch leaves and long-lasting clusters of one-half- to 1-inch star-shaped flowers that are sweetly fragrant and shiny.
Bob Smoley's Gardenworld catalog lists over 40 varieties of Hoya. They allow one to select for ornamental leaf patterns, superb flowers or both.
Hoya leaves can be variegated gold and green, green with pink edges or splotches, edged with white, fuzzy, oval, pointed, veined, ivylike, large or small. The well-known Hindu rope plant, Hoya compacta, has versions with glossy, dark green, twisted leaves or curled leaves of cream, green and pink
The flowers of Hoya carnosa are pinkish-white with red centers, but there are many other flower colors and shapes available. H. australis has red-centered, bluish-white flowers, while H. bella features white flowers with rosy violet centers. H. purpurea-fusca has purple-centered, brownish-red flowers with white hairs. H. multiflora boasts white and yellow flowers shaped like shooting stars.
Many Hoya vines do very well when allowed to climb on a trellis or tiered plant stand, while other varieties are better suited for hanging baskets. The common wax plant, Hoya carnosa, has been described as a "lovely climbing plant" or "rampant grower," depending on whether you have allowed enough space for it.
Wax plants are easy to grow in average soil mixtures. They like warmth, water and some sun, and do well outdoors in summer in sunny protected places like porches. Full afternoon sun can burn the fleshy leaves, but early-day sun encourages flowering in the summer or fall months. A few varieties prefer more shaded conditions.
These plants require plenty of warm weather and some water in winter months. Water freely during their flowering period, but allow the soil to become almost dry between waterings when the plants are resting.
Day temperatures of 70 degrees F or higher and night temperatures of 60 to 65 degrees are ideal in summer. Hoyas prefer a minimum winter temperature of 45 degrees F, but tolerate cooler temperatures if kept dry. Some leaf loss can occur under these cooler conditions.
One important point to remember regarding Hoyas: Never remove the peduncles (stalks from which flowers emerge) after flowering, as more flowers will continue to be produced from these stubs.





By Eric Driskill

Henry Shaw C&S, St Louis, MO


Everyone has that problem plant you find as appealing as it is difficult to grow.   Usually those are the expensive ones.  Each time you buy another, you drag out your notes if you are lucky enough to have recorded them the last time you tried that plant.  You water a little more or a little less.  Maybe too hot or cold through the winter.  Not enough fertilizer or was it too much?  Those are some of the challenges of the hobby that keep it from getting boring.  Sometimes after I have lost yet another of the highly prized, expensive plants, I think that I should concentrate on the successes of growing.  What bloomed this spring.  What plants are doing great.  Yeah, those are nice to watch; new spines, new leaves and blooms. 


     Gymnocalyciums are plants you can turn to in times like these.  Gymnocalycium, a large genus of globose cacti from east of the Andes in South America.  Gymnocalycium was described by Ludwig Pfeiffer in 1844 for three species, the name derived from the Greek gymnos, naked, and calyx, bud, referring to the smooth flower bud.  Gymnocalycium are among the most popular cacti for hobbyists.  Currently there are 71 accepted species. 


Gymnocalycium is characterized as having low-growing, usually solitary stems with several ribs that are sometimes tuberculate.  Flowers are open during the day, funnelform to bell shaped, and white or pale pink. 


There are many Gymnocalyciums to choose from and all seem to thrive when grown in a well-drained soil with no particular specialized care required.  Gymnocalyciums are rewarding plants to include in your collection.  A tip I heard recently suggested fertilizing them a little sooner than other cacti. 


I would be remiss if I failed to mention Gymnocalycium mihanowichii or ‘Ruby Ball’.  This is undoubtedly one of the most popular cactus in the world.  It is a mutant first appearing in Japan in 1941. Lacking chlorophyll, they can exist only when grafted onto a stock.  This is no other that the red grafted cacti everyone thinks of when you tell them you collect cacti.  You may even have a non-cactus friend who gave you one as a gift knowing you to enjoy the hobby.  There is one small G. mihanowichii in our greenhouse that belongs to my daughter.  I just can’t seem to make room for any more than that one small G. mihanowichii.


Gymnocalyciums are easy to grow, reasonably priced and you can find one at most places that sell any cacti.  Add one to your collection and rest assured that you have one more plant with beautiful blooms that you don’t have to sweat over and feel like your walking on eggshells.



By Eric Driskill

Henry Shaw C&S, St Louis, MO


     South and Southwest Africa are the home of the genus Titanopsis, with its 8 species of dwarf clump-forming plants.  The species have variously colored leaves with rough, fissured, pimply ends, and they form low, clustering rosettes.  Yellow flowers are produced in autumn.  They grow quickly from seed and require a porous compost and careful watering, being kept dry in the winter and spring resting period.  It is a very rewarding succulent and can be cultivated on windowsills in the home.  Titanopsis also tolerate intense heat and heavy frost. 


Titanopsis are truly impressive plants, with unique leaves.  Being a dwarf, you wont have to devote much space for an impressive representation of the genus.  Titanopsis would make a great plant to enter in the Mini Succulents class of the show.


Titanopsis calcarea is the best-known species, with whitish tubercles at the tips of blunt leaves.  They are propagated from seed or by division of larger clumps.  You can also purchase a mature plant from various nurseries.


For a really odd succulent that is sure to be a conversation piece, find a Titanopsis to add to your collection whether it is in a greenhouse or windowsill.




Gasterias – The Leaf Succulents
 By  Meena Singh 
Email: u4bias4meena (at)

Indian Society of C&S ISOCS Journal

The genus Gasteria is a genus of leaf succulents endemic to South Africa, being found mostly in the Eastern Cape region. It is said to have a ‘chameleon like’ nature, being extremely variable in habitat. The genus had about a hundred described species within it at one time, but over the years the number of recognised species has been greatly reduced as similarities within them were found. The latest revision carried out by E.J. van Jaarsveld (1994) recognises only 16 species.

Gasteria habitats are subject to erratic rainfall patterns and therefore the genus has evolved to become drought resistant plants that can do without water for long periods of time. Most Gasterias tolerate low light levels and grow in shady places. They can be easily hybridised with Aloes to which they are closely related.

Gasterias are almost all stem less and have thick, tongue-shaped leaves that are interestingly arranged in dovetailed ranks.  Leaves are linear-lanceolate and fleshy with a distinct keel to them. They are spotted in white or dotted with pale papillae (warts). Leaf margins are tuberculate.

  Small, tubular flowers, swollen at the base and green in color with pink markings-or pink all over, are carried in racemes on 1 to 2 foot stalks whose upper parts assume a peach-pink color, as the flowers open. Their characteristic shape can easily identify all Gasterias species.

Species most commonly in cultivation in India are : G acinacifolia, G. batesiana, G. baylissiana, G. bicolour, G. croucheri, G. carinata and G. nitida. G verrucosa etc.

The genus is easy to grow if local climatic conditions are kept in mind. In the climate of extremes in northern India, where hot is often scorching and cold is fairly cold, they need protection for most of the year.  A few thumb rules of growing healthy plants are:
·    Give them shade in summer and filtered sunshine for the rest of the year. Experience will mostly tell you that some species require more shade than others.
·    Give them a potting compost that is porous and not too rich.
·    Water frequently in summer, every 3-4 days, as compost dries very fast, reduce watering considerably during the monsoons. In winter, water only when the compost dries.
·    Fertilize with light doses of NPK in early spring when they are in full growth.
·    Grow clustering species (verrucosa, glomerata, bicolour etc) in wide shallow trays and repot every second year.
·    Grow large species (acinifolia) in large deep pots or in a shady corner in the ground.
·    Spray them with a fungicide (Benomy/Subdue) during the monsoons and in winter to prevent fungal disease like black-spot to which Gasterias, like Aloes, are prone to.

Gasterias can be propagated easily either from seed or leaf cuttings or offsets.

·    Pollination and setting seed is easy. They grow readily from seed. Sow almost immediately after harvesting seeds.
·    Leaf-cuttings taken in early spring and placed on some porous potting compost in the shade will soon root. After a few months it will send out little plants and in a year or so you may get new plants. Large leaves of some species can be cut into sections and each section rooted e.g. G. acinacifolia.
·    Some species are stoloniferous  e.g G. verrucosa, G glomerata etc. and will give  plenty of side shoots that can be detached  with their roots and potted up.






What’s in a Name?

By Stan Korabel
from The Beaver Tale -- Southern Nevada


Recently I deviated from my usual evening ritual of studying the works of the 18th and 19th century philosophers while I listened to my collection of Gregorian chants.  Instead I watched a TV special entitled “Girls Gone Wild – Retrospective and Critique”.  As I was taking notes I suddenly remembered that 250 years ago Carl Vonlinne (Linnagus) introduced Binary Nomenclature, the method in which organisms are classified with two names, genus and species.  A set of rules, universally accepted by taxonomists governs the naming of plants – the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature.


Now I think that all of us are familiar with the concept.  The problem for most of us is the Latin and Greek nomenclature.  While I don’t want to play down the difficulties there are some ways to overcome them.  One of the best is a good dictionary (good=5lbs).  My new Webster’s Dictionary (Lexicon Publisher) has many botanical terms.  You will find words such as Glauca=sea green, Glomerate=clump forming, Seta=bristle, and Cephala=head and many more.  Did you know that Alexander’s favorite horse was named Bucephala, “Hammer Head”?  When I lived on Floogle Street one of the guys went by the name of Hammer-the simplest tool known to man.  (took me a long time to get there).


Another source is our library.  Many have a Glossary of Terms.  One of the best is “Vygies, Gems of the Veldt”.  Attached is a list of some words (prefix, suffix) you might come across.


I’ll end this with botuliform=shaped like a sausage.  Otto Von Bismark, one of the most savvy politicians of the 1800’s, said “There are two things you don’t want to know—how sausages are made and how laws are made”.





Poella, pulchra, pulchella=beautiful

Truncate=cut off



Fili=thread like

Tenuis=thin or hair like

Pubescent, Villose, Pilose, Tomentose=hair like (in varying degrees)

Glabrous=smooth, hairless


Micro=small (also Parvi)




Phyllum=leaf or plant


Brachy=short, also Brevi

Oides=resembling  also Opsis








Dentate=sharp teeth

Digitate=with fingers

Echinote=with spines or horns

Eriv=wooly Sycefig

Opsis & Oides=closely resembling







Pectinate=comb like (spines)








Mammillaria Clusters

By Tom Glavich May 2003

Los Angeles Cactus and Succulent Society

Photo Click here, 44kB
(This is a low-quality version of the image. We are trying to get a better picture.)

Mammillaria is one of the larger genera in the Cactus family, and one of the most variable, with some members remaining as solitary columns for their entire lives, some remaining as fingernail size solitary globulars, some straight spined, and some clumped and heavily spined with hooks. This month we will show off our collections of Mammillaria clusters.

A Mammillaria is often one of the first cacti that a beginning grower buys.  They are still available, often for less than a dollar in discount stores, and for just a bit more at local home centers and discount stores.  A credit to the toughness of these plants, is that many survive for years in spite of all sorts of abuse and neglect.  Many inexpensive purchases at local chain stores have been grown on to be become show plants, the quality of the plant maturing with the skill and experience of the grower.  In part because they are so generous with flowers and seeds, and the seeds germinate so readily, many rare species end up in unlikely places like home centers, supermarkets, and hardware stores.  It’s worth keeping an eye out for unusual specimens, but beware of names found on discount store plants.


The secrets to good growth are a continual supply of water and fertilizer during the growing season, strong light, and maintenance of a clean and insect free growing environment.  Many people starve and under water their plants, in attempt to avoid rot.  Most Mammillaria will take quite a bit of water and fertilizer when in growth.  The main growth period is the late spring (Middle of April, through July.)  When summer heat really appears growth slows for a time, picking up again when the weather cools, before stopping around Thanksgiving. Almost all Mammillaria will do just fine in Southern California, with little or no winter protection, as long as they are potted in a freely draining potting mix. 


The appearance of white mealy bug egg cases (Mammillaria’s worst enemy) on the tips of the spines or the appearance of ants means that mealy bugs are sucking the sap and life of the plant.  Immediate treatment is required, with a thorough washing, and spraying with an insecticide.  A less toxic solution is to soak the entire plant in soapy water overnight. Followed by a good rinse with water from a hose.



E. Anderson, The Cactus Family

J. Pilbeam, Cactus for the Connoisseur

R. Craig, The Mammillaria Handbook

Innes & C. Glass Cacti






Coryphantha and Thelocactus

By Tom Glavich 

Los Angeles Cactus and Succulent Society


Coryphantha is a medium sized genus of mostly globular plants from Mexico and the Southwestern United States.  There are about 50 to 80 species depending on the reference chosen, and the accepted extent of the genus.  They are grown for their beautiful spination and large, colorful flowers.  They are one of several genera that are similar to Mammillaria in appearance, with tubercles arranged in spirals.  These beautiful plants deserve to appear more frequently in our shows.


Coryphantha have furrowed tubercles (Mammillaria do not), and most Coryphantha have extra floral nectararies (glands that produce nectar located in the skin of the plant.  The furrow is a groove that goes from the tip to the base of the tubercle.  It is sometimes obvious, and sometimes so faint that it is hard to see.


Cultivation of Coryphantha is similar to Mammillaria, except that they are more sensitive to over watering, and in general, somewhat more prone to rot. Overall, cultivation is not difficult, and well within the capabilities of all growers.


The range of Coryphantha overlaps that of Thelocactus, stretching through Texas into Oklahoma in the North, and continuing into Arizona, and California to San Bernadino.  In the South, the genus stretches to Oaxaca.  The center of the range is the central states of Mexico, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas, and Nuevo Leon.


Thelocactus is a small genus in the cactus family, with only 11 or 12 species.  In addition to the species, there are also half


a dozen legitimate varieties, and a large number of less legitimate varieties that can be found in reference books and collections.  Many of the Thelocactus are spectacularly beautiful plants with dense multicolor spination, well shaped tubercles, and large colorful flowers.  They have been a favorite with collectors since they were first discovered.


Thelocactus are found from Southern Texas through central Mexico, mostly in the Chihuahuan Desert, but extending into brush land and thorn scrub in the western parts of its range, and into the Rio Grande Plains region in Texas. 


Thelocactus are easily grown, tolerant of heat and moisture, but not cold and moisture.  Some species develop fairly large tap roots, and should be planted in deep enough pots to give them room to grow.  They are easily propagated from seed, and this is the best way to develop a good collection from different populations.  They can also be propagated from offsets, with a cutting allowed to dry, and then replanted.  They are sensitive to mealy bug infestations and spider mites, in the same way that all cacti are, but in general are fairly rugged plants.



I. Lawrie, Coryphantha and Associated Genera

Cullman, Gotz and Groner, The Encyclopedia of Cacti

J. Pilbeam, Cacti for the Connoisseur


June 2003





By Tom Glavich 

Los Angeles Cactus and Succulent Society


Echeveria is one the principal members of the succulent New World Crassulaceae. 

Photo (Click here, 78kB) Echeveria subrigida grown by Marilyn Henderson from the 2000 Inter City Show
(This is a low-quality version of the image. We are trying to get a better picture.)

Echeveria come principally from the mountains of Eastern Mexico, although there are plants found from Texas into South America.

The genus Echeveria is named after Atanasio Echeverria illustrator of a projected Flora Mexicana prepared under the direction of Martin Sesse, from 1789 to 1803. Martin Sesse received a Royal Patent for a botanical expedition to Mexico from Charles III, King of Spain in 1788.  Charles III was one of the most enlightened of the late 18th century kings, with widespread cultural and scientific interests. Unfortunately, he died shortly after giving the Patent, and before supplying any money.  His son, Charles IV, was not enlightened, not particularly bright, and unlucky.  He lost Spain to Napoleon, and spent the last years of his life in exile in Rome. Sesse went on with the expedition, and although chronically short of funds, and often sick and hungry, with Jose Mocino, Atanasio Echeverria, and others, collected hundreds of plants over a 15 year period.  The three returned to Spain, expecting to


become famous and publish their Flora Mexicana, only to be ignored by the King.  Sesse returned to his land holdings; Mocino went to work at the Museum of Natural History in Madrid, and Echeverria was hired as an artist’s assistant.


Mocino sent the original drawings to the famous botanist Alphonse De Candolle as Napoleon marched on Madrid.  The originals were lost in the confusion of the Napoleanic wars, but the drawings were saved by Alphonse De Candolle, who hired 120 draftsman to work for 10 days making several sets of precise tracings of Echeverria’s drawings.  De Candolle also named the genus in a lecture in 1827, first publishing it in 1828.


Coming from mountainous regions, Echeveria prefer well drained soil, and good ventilation.  They also prefer cooler temperatures, looking their best in late winter and early spring.  The plants swell with the winter rains, and as growth starts the colors become more intense. 


With time, most Echeverias offset between older leaves.  These offsets can be removed, the bottom-most leaves of the offset removed, and the stem and remaining leaves planted as soon as the cut stem is dry.  The terminal rosette should also be periodically removed and restarted in the same way, with all the dead leaves removed. 



L. Carruthers and R. Ginns, Echeverias

E. Walther, Echeveria

March 2003




Columnar Cacti 

By Tom Glavich 

Los Angeles Cactus and Succulent Society


Photo (Click here, 78kB) Cleistocactus smaragdiflorus
(This is a low-quality version of the image. We are trying to get a better picture.)

Columnar cacti are not a closely related set of genera, but a lumping together of all the cacti that are much longer than they are around.  Columnar cacti vary in size from a few inches, as in the aptly named, Pygmaeocereus to the giants like Pachycereus and Carnegiea (Saguaro).  They are robust growers, given adequate water, fertilizer, root room and support.  They expect more nitrogen in their soil  and more water than most globular cacti, when they are growing.  They do well in normal cactus mix, as long as they get additional fertilization.




Propagation is generally by cuttings or seed.  Seed is best for rare species and getting local variants.  Cuttings need to be dried well before planting.  A few weeks is the minimum for some of the larger columnar species, and a month or more is not unusual.  Cuttings do best if dried in an upright position. If placed on their sides the cut end will rot easier. 


A look through any of the references listed below will uncover many genera that are rarely seen in cultivation.  This is because the plants take many years to reach flowering size, are only really happy in the ground, or get too big for pots.  Some are not grown just because they are out of fashion.  Its always worthwhile to try something new. 


Popular North American Columnars:


Cephalocereus senilis is the popular ‘Old Man cactus’  It is surprisingly difficult to grow into a large specimen, subject to rot if it gets cold and damp.


Carnegiea gigantea or the Saguaro is one of the larger columnar genera, this time from Arizona, with a few in California


Popular South American Columnars:


Cleistocactus is one of the most beautiful genera of the columnar cacti.  Some of the best are C. smaragdiflorus, with red flowers, a yellow band near the tip, and a bright green tip.  C. strausii is a fuzzy white marvel, and often seen at sale tables at shows.


Oreocereus are beautiful hairy plants, with wicked spines hidden in dense hairs



Haustein, The Cactus Handbook

C. Innes & C. Glass Cacti

D C. Zappi, Pilosocereus

March 2003



Photos from Anza Borrego Desert State Park, California in April, 2003 Brazil  by Nels Christianson Sunset Succulent Society

(Please include entire caption line when using photos. Thanks!)

WARNING! The following photos are about 800kB each.

515 Opuntia basilaris Brazil    Photo by Nels Christianson Sunset Succulent Society

530 Ferocactus cylindraceus (Ferocactus acanthodes) Brazil    Photo by Nels Christianson Sunset Succulent Society

537 Ferocactus cylindraceus Brazil    Photo  by Nels Christianson Sunset Succulent Society

541 Opuntia bigelovii Brazil   Photo  by Nels Christianson Sunset Succulent Society

823 O. bigelovii and Fouquieria splendens (ocotillo) Brazil    Photo by Nels Christianson Sunset Succulent Society

822 Juvenile Ferocactus cylindraceus Brazil    Photo by Nels Christianson Sunset Succulent Society