Archive for Home & Garden

Hardy Queen of the Night Cactus

Queen of the Night CactusThe Queen of the Night (Peniocereus greggii) cactus that grows on the slope of the hill on the west boundary of our property has had some predatory setbacks, namely something eating the green part of the stems. Regardless, it has rebounded quite nicely by growing three new stems, two longer and one shorter, over the course of the summer months.

It’s probably too late in the season to expect any flowers from this cactus, but the stems appear to be healthy. Hopefully, the predator wont be back again and maybe this cactus will flower next summer.

I found some interesting things about this cactus and it’s use for medicinal purposes in the University of Arizona arboretum pages:

Ethnobotany: Peniocereus greggii has some medicinal value and has also been used in religious ceremonies and ornamentals. Some of its medicinal benefits come from its tuberous roots which have been used to help treat diabetes and other maladies. The roots have also been used by the Tohono O’ Odham, when they boiled and drank the roots to help with respiratory problems, headaches, and digestion. The flowers have also been used in aromatherapy and ornamentally, due to it strong fragrance that some say smells like vanilla.

In the image above, the longest of the three new stems is about eight inches long. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Cactus Flowers

Fishhook Cactus Flowers

Bishop’s Cap Flowers

During the spring and summer her in the desert, flowers opening on the various cacti keep us happy and my camera busy. I took these photos today of a little fishhook cactus with three flowers and my Bishop’s Cap with a bunch of open flowers. I didn’t bother to count them.

We continue to have our summer monsoons this week and the humidity really high. We can only stay outside for a limited time before retreating to the comfort of the cooler and drier air in our house.

Click on either image to enlarge.

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Cherry Red Flowers

Cherry Red Flowers

Not as impressive as the 21 open flowers from May, but still quite stunning. The three flowers on our “Cherry RedTrichocereus Grandiflorus cactus opened up this morning as expected and they became even more vividly colorful in the midday sun.

The cactus still shows a few more buds that we hope will be opening later this summer. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Night Blooming Cactus Flowers

First, the Argentine Giant (Echinopsis candicans) offered two beautiful flowers this evening:

Argentine Giant

Not to be outdone, the Queen of the Night Cactus (Peniocereus greggii) east of the driveway opened up this beautiful and fragrant flower:

Queen of the Night

Tomorrow, I will post the Cherry Red (Trichocereus Grandiflorus) flowers that are ready to open in the morning. Click on either image to enlarge.

Update: The Argentine Giant Flowers and the Queen of the Night Flower were still open this morning.

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Varmint Control

Havahart Small Animal Trap

For the last couple of days, one of our small Antelope Ground Squirrels has been getting into mischief in the courtyard. Damsel has several planters out there and the little varmint tries to dig up the roots for a snack, I guess.

Today, we caught it in the act of burrowing down into one of the pots. After running the squirrel off, I went into the garage where the trap in the image above is kept in between varmint attacks. I got the trap set up and baited it with a peanut butter smeared tortilla chip. When the little critter shows up again, I assume the peanut butter smell will attract it into the cage and ==SNAP== the doors will close with the squirrel inside.

The plan is, that if something other than a squirrel or rat takes the bait, we will release it (cactus wrens, etc.). If it is a rat, I will drown it. If it is a squirrel, I will release it a couple of miles down the road where it can return to a similar habitat.

We’re pretty sure that we have a problem with just one individual squirrel and not a bunch of them. I will update this post when there is something to report.

UPDATE: 06/03/2018 1:32 PM - Gotcha!

Gotcha

Click on the image to enlarge.

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New Queen of the Night Bud

New Queen of the Night BudOur Queen of the Night (Peniocereus greggii) cactus cutting (image from February of 2015) sprouted a new branch last year which has grown to a length of nearly ten inches. The new branch on the cutting recently sprouted a tiny bud. The bud, seen in the image to the right, is about an inch from the top of the new branch.

We can’t yet tell if it is another new branch or if it will grow into a flower bud this summer. We’re hoping for the latter, although new growth is also good.

We also discovered a new Queen cactus sprouting up on the hill next to (and may be a part of) the large cactus under the palo verde tree up there. We have it in mind that we would like to transplant the new growth from up on the hill to a pot in the courtyard where the first cutting now lives.

More good news is that the QOTN above the rock and cactus garden and the west wash has new growth. Four new branches are starting to pop out when we thought that this cactus had been killed by javelina or something else eating it. At any rate, we’re hoping to have some flowers this summer if all goes well with our crop of Queens. Click on the image to enlarge.

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Saguaro Flower Boom

Happy Cactus

Compared to last year, the number of flowers on the saguaro cacti around the area is many times more this spring. I didn’t get an exact count on our big cactus last year, (and won’t this year either) so the observation is subjective. Most of the older, mature saguaros have flowers on all the arms and new buds are still coming.

It could be the very mild winter we just had or maybe something entirely different that is the cause of the flower proliferation. It’s anybody’s guess. Regardless of the reason, we are very happy to see the cacti being very happy. ;)

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