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Frequently Asked Questions

Questions are separated out into categories:

Donkey Tail, Sedum burrito

Jade Plant, Crassula argentea

Grafted Cactus, Moon Cactus

String of Hearts, Ceropegia woodi

Donkey Tail - Sedum burrito

Our donkey tail plant seems to be shriveling up and dying.

I don't know where you live so I’ll give you some general tips. If you live somewhere that is fairly warm outside and it doesn't freeze, get the plant outside in bright light or filtered sunshine. If you have a good bright window that doesn't get direct sun, this is good location. You may be over-watering as well. When you water, water thoroughly and don't do it again until the pot is fairly dry, say down about an inch into the soil - poke your finger in. Don't worry about fertilizer at this point, it could only complicate matters. I think just more light and closer attention to the watering may do the trick.

Can I grow my Donkey Tail under a grow light?

Growing inside under a grow light can work, but it needs to be on at least 14 hours a day, and should be no higher away from the plant than 12 - 14 inches.

My donkey tail doesn’t seem to be growing!

Patience is part of it; they are fairly slow growers. This time of year they are also fairly dormant, and don't really start growing until spring and summer. I would suggest, if it is possible, to grow it as an outdoor plant for most of the year, and bring it in before your first cold weather hits in the fall. If it is outside in filtered light or bright indirect light from spring to early fall it will do a lot more growing than if it were in the house. You can also give it a dose of half strength house plant fertilizer starting in spring when things warm up, and do this once a month until early fall. I think you will notice a difference.

My donkey tail’s color seems to be fading, and the beads are falling off!

There always seem to be more problems with any plant that is kept as a houseplant. I don't know where you live, but if you are in a place that doesn't get frost then it will do better outside on a covered patio. If not, it sounds to me like it may be dropping some of the beads because it is too dry in the house. When you water, make sure that the whole soil mass gets thoroughly soaked; let it drain out and don't water again until the soil is dry down about an inch (just use the old poke your finger in the pot method). It should get as much bright light as possible and it doesn't like direct sun. Even when perfectly cared for, it will still drop some beads from time to time.

What is the best way to propagate donkey tail?

It is fairly easy. Strip off some of the lower "beans" to expose an inch or so of the stem. Leave this to dry someplace cool like in the garage, basement or any room of the house actually, for about 7-10 days. Pot it up in a good loose draining soil mix (commercial cactus and succulent potting mixes are available in most garden centers) and give it a good drink. Don't water again until the soil is almost dry. Save the "beans" too. If you leave those to sit around on like a paper plate, in a few weeks they will start to sprout roots; then pot them up!

Jade Plant - Crassula argentea

Where should I put my Jade plant?

Your jade plants should be grown in full sun to be the best, but partial or light shade is o.k. A screened patio is all right as long as it is bright enough.

How much/often should I water my Jade plant?

The most important thing to know right off is how to water jade. Over-watering is the #1 killer. When you water it, water it well so the entire pot is well saturated; don't water again until the pot is completely dry, and never let the plant stand in water. . With a jade plant, if you are ever in doubt it is better to not water than water.

How often do Jade Plants bloom?

They typically bloom once a year around late fall to winter, though sometimes they will have another bloom in the summer as well.

Are Jade Plants slow-growing?

Yes they are somewhat slow, especially as a houseplant. If you wanted to push it faster, put it outside in full sun after your last frost in the spring, and leave it out as long as you can before the first frost in the fall. This will give it a whole lot more light and air than it would get in the house, and it will grow faster. I think that in the house you can expect it to grow a couple of inches a year.

How large will my Jade plant be?

Most jades at the largest size usually get to a maximum of 4' - 5' tall, not really tree size; big bush is a better description.

How do I distinguish between the many different types of jades?

Telling them apart isn't too difficult. Regular jade has larger leaves, more the size of a quarter. 'Crosby's Miniature Jade' has fairly small (dime to nickel size) leaves and they grow tighter together on the stems than a regular jade. There are also the tube jades that have cylinder like tubular leaves; these are real obvious to spot.

My Jade plant looks like it is in need of pruning. How far back I can cut it back, as it is growing wider rather than tall?

Feel free to cut. Jades are very hardy and pruning is not a problem. If you want it to grow taller, remove as many branches from the main trunk as you like; cut them off flush with the trunk. If you don't cut them all the way flush to the trunk, the stubs or short branch that you leave will sprout again in probably multiple branches. Nothing wrong with this, but it will make the plant grow fuller and denser. You can basically trim it to whatever shape you want. Don't forget - don't throw out the cuttings! Use them to propagate new plants.

How do I propagate Jade plants?

Cuttings taken from a mature plant propagate easily. Save them and let their cut ends dry off for about 2-3 weeks (keep the cuttings somewhere out of the sun like the garage, in a room in the house etc.). After the ends have callused over well, pot them up, water them well, and don't water them again until the soil is just about completely dry. You'll have all the jade plants you want in no time.

Grafted Cactus, Moon Cactus

Could you give me any information on a "Moon Cactus"?

These are actually what are called a grafted cactus. That is, attaching one type of cactus to another to grow as one. This is actually done with a lot of different kinds of cactus for various reasons, but the one referred to as the "Moon Cactus" (just a catchy marketing name) is done as a novelty to keep the top, brightly colored one alive. It couldn't survive by itself because it doesn't have any chlorophyll - the stuff that makes plants green and makes food for them. The top cactus is a desert cactus - Gymnocalycium mihanovichii. The bottom one is a jungle cactus, usually some type of Hylocereus. The wild color variations first appeared as a couple of random seedlings in Japan in the early 1940's, and many years of hybridizing and selection have created the wide variety of unusual colors we have today. The bottom one has the chlorophyll and the roots to provide all the needs of the top plant. 98% of all of these colored novelty grafts are produced in Korea; they have the whole technique down to a fine science, and they produce millions of them.

If you have or get one, put it in a location where it gets bright indirect light, or even in a window that gets a few hours of direct sun - preferably morning or late afternoon sun that isn't too harsh. Hotter sun closer to midday could burn the plant. Water the plant thoroughly, and don't water again until the pot is fairly dry about down to a depth of 1" in the soil. It will benefit from an occasional fertilizing with an all-purpose liquid houseplant food diluted to half strength. This can be done once a month in place of one of the waterings during its growing period - usually during late spring to late summer.

What kind of fertilizer should I use?

All you need is any general-purpose houseplant food like Schultz's, Miracle-Gro or the like. Mix the fertilizer to half strength of what the label recommends and only apply once every month or two.

Would you please explain grafting moon cactus pups on other cacti?

This is a fairly involved undertaking; not actually difficult but very precise. The cactus that is usually used for the bottom part is a Hylocereus or a similar type jungle cactus. The top of one of these is cut off, and another type of cactus is also cut and placed on top. This is the tricky part: you need to know a bit about each plant's vascular system - the part that gets the food and water around in the plants. It's not unlike trying to re-attach a severed limb. You have to be sure that the veins and nerves all line up to heal together. Typically the two cactus should be somewhat of the same diameter to help in the process. There are a number of cactus and succulent books available that will tell you precisely how to do it and they usually have detailed illustrations that make it a little easier to understand. You might also try going to this website: It has a tremendous number of resources and links for all things cacti.

String of Hearts - Ceropegia woodii

How should I care for my String of Hearts plant?

String of Hearts is a fairly easy plant to care for. Bright indirect light or filtered sunlight, regular watering - never let it dry out completely, feed with an all purpose houseplant food mixed at 1/2 strength about once a month. It can handle temperatures down to about 40 degrees; below that it doesn't do too well, and freezing will kill it. It will do really well outside with filtered sunlight. Just be sure that if you live in a place where it does get cold, put it outside when your temperatures have finally warmed up and stabilized, and be sure to bring it back in as a house plant before your weather starts getting too cold again.

String of hearts can be treated just like any other houseplant. Give it plenty of bright indirect light and regular watering; never let it dry out completely but don't keep it soggy either. It will benefit from a once a month fertilizing of a balanced houseplant food mixed to half strength. During the better part of the year, late spring to late summer, it will do great outside with filtered sunlight. Just be sure it is back in before any real cold weather or frost hits.

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