Tough Stuff that Should Grow  in Nevada


How does one become interested in cacti?  

As a young boy I had vivid memories of my mother going to the store and buying cactus in the spring. 

She grew them in pots on baking pans. 

I particularly remember the Old Man Cactus. 

Old Man Cactus  Cactus Advice

My mother had a book that absolutely fascinated me at that age and I wanted to see and better yet  raise the cactus in that book.

As with all things in the past, stuff like that tends to dim over time and your perceptions of what was and what is become somewhat muddled.

Then one day while in the service of the USN, I happened into a bookstore up in Canada and guess what I found....

Cactus Book  Book Back

I couldn't believe it.  It is not that great a book in retrospect, but it left a lasting impression on a young boy.

It is rather weird too that some time later I would become intimately acquainted with Kansas City, MO - the author's birth place.

I decided that one day if I ever had the chance I would

1.  Visit Arizona

2.  Raise my own cactus patch.

Cactus Patch

This is the cactus patch. There are nine or ten different species and most of them come
from northern Nevada.  A good time to buy cactus is at the end of the growing season.

They are not very popular with most people so pots are deeply discounted.  This bed
is about seven years old and all these cacti were grown from pots containing one or
two pads.

Cacti do need water and the one at the forefront has not getting enough.  It is either that or

Cactus Bug

the plant is infested with Cactus Bugs.  They like the opuntia species and feed at the joints.
They inject a toxin into the cacti that will eventually kill it.  Malathion works well to kill them.

At first I thought these were Squash Bugs,

Squash Bug

which we also have a problem with.

Oldest Cactus

The cactus in the foreground is found east of Minden, Nv and it seems to prefer living about halfway up hills.
 It produces yellow blossoms and can get hit hard by cactus bugs.

The cactus in the background is found east of Reno.  This speciman is over thirteen
years old and is the oldest plant in the back yard. It measures @ eight feet in diameter
and stands about two feet tall.  

I finally have a Latin Name for it.

It is, (drum roll)

Opuntia phaeacantha (purple-fruited prickly pear)

The fruit can be used for jams and jellies.  Jays and Mocking birds in particular are
fond of the fruit.

Cactus Flower

Generally the cactus blooms once over a week or so.  The strange weather year has caused sporadic blooming.

Cactus Fruit

September 1, 2006.  As the fruit ripens it turns purple.  Generally after the first frost is the time to pick them.
They need to be soft to the touch.

Tall Cactus

This guy is about five feet in diameter and about four feet tall.  It was started from one pad.  
I recently found out (06-07) from Doris, another cactus fancier that this is a tree cholla:
Cactaceae Cylindropuntia imbricata.  The first cactus I actually have a Latin name for.

I am continually amazed that it hasn't suffered wind damage (getting blown over).  
It hangs in there through thick and thin.

Cactus Flower Tall Cactus

The flowers on this cactus are quite small considering the size.  

California Cactus New Pad
I picked up this pad on a fishing expedition south of Bishop, CA last year.

The lack of thorns made it appealing.  It produced three blooms this year but no pads.  

I had to move it once and it had some substantial roots.  
Perhaps we'll see some growth next year.

September 4, 2006.  Well I'll be.  It actually produced a new pad.  I was not expecting that.
July, 2007.  It is still alive and kicking after that really bad winter.  No damage to it at all.

Baby Cacti - 2006 Cacti - 2007
I  noticed these this spring of 2006 in the rugosa rose bed.  I am not sure where they came from.
They don't look like any of the other cacti.
Time will tell - probably got scattered by the
Spring 2007 - These guys have done a bit of growing.

From Pleasant Valley, CA

This cactus is from a pad I picked up near the Pleasant Valley reservoir a little north
of Bishop, CA.  I have a tentative identification as Opuntia Basilarius .
It is hard to get a good picture of the color, which resembles turquoise.

It put out a lot of blooms this year.  Here is one of the nicer ones.

Opuntia South of Bishop

This cactus came from a pad I picked up near Haiwee Reservoir, about 60 miles south
of Bishop, California four years ago.  Dimensions are about 18" tall and 12" wide.

The second year it produced two pads.  The third year it exploded.  This year it bloomed..  

It should get pretty good sized.  We'll see.

July of 2007 and this cacti is going doing very well.  Don't get too close to this one.  Very nasty thorns.


I picked up this cactus from Greenhouse Garden Nursery last fall.  I had my doubts as to whether or not
it would survive the winter.  It did and is growing quite well.  It is about double its original size.

This pad came from Winnemucca, NV along a highway - July, 2007.  I think I may have this one.

This cacti came from a nursery in Ely, NV July, 2007.  It is supposed to be local to the area.  
No idea how this one will do.  Naturally, it came with no tag.  I think it is Mammilaria spp.  

Patch in Bloom