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Rat Tail Blooms Red

April 18, 2010

Having grown up in Arizona, I enjoy various cactus. The saguaro, guardian of the desert, and the ocotillo are favorites.  This time of year their blooms make an otherwise boring drive worth while.

We try to maintain various types of cactus here with mixed results.  The climate on the Central Coast is far different from Phoenix, Mexico or the high desert of Sedona, so the failures are no surprise. Through trial and error we have found ones that survive.

One cactus that has done really well and produces large red flowers in relation to its size is the Rat Tail  (Aporocactus flagelliformis) which is a mouth full and the reason I hated Latin in school. A Rat Tail is actually a  succulent but if you pick it up with your bare hands you’ll think cactus and say something pretty awful.  Also, it comes from highland plateaus of Mexico (Oaxaca, Hidalgo).

The rat tail likes soil that drains well, prefers not to be over watered, and likes the south and west sun.  We have one that gets full sun and another that gets morning sun only.  They each thrive but the one pictured here gets the morning sun.  It doesn’t grow as fast but blooms first.

The pot is only 5 inches tall so you can see how large the flower is in relation to the plant.  Sue, my wife and plant assistant, loves red so she likes this time of the year.


From → Garden & Flowers

  1. Leslie Stone permalink

    Succulents, or “fat plants,” are water-retaining plants and grow in all kinds of climates. Virtually all cacti are succulents, not all succulents are cacti…

    • I’ll have to remember that with your Botanical Garden experience I need to take care to be as accurate as I can when writing about succulents and cactus. I’m still thinking that we could have fun with a collaborative blog with various “experts” posting about plants, books, art, travel, politics, or whatever.

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