Kosmik Kaktus ?


When ever I go to a home warehouse store I wander through the plant section. Sometimes I get lucky. These caught my eye. How could you miss those colors?

I tried to find information on the company but all I could find were blog and forum entries. If you look closely at the turquoise blue one front and center it appears the newer part of the leaves are growing out green. I’m guessing the plants are just painted? idk?

Kosmic Kaktus has been trademarked by Altman Plants in Calif

If you like these, why not? I’ve certainly done worse things to plants over the years. Might be a fun way to horrify your neighbors?

Water storing crystals and carnivorous plants

July 14, 2014
I only recently heard about water storing crystals and couldn’t find much information on them. I had hoped I could grow my carnivorous plants indoors with out a terrarium using the crystals.

I planted a new batch of carnivores in nothing but crystals, with in 24 hours the plants had mostly dried out. I am not sure if this is due to the lack of a terrarium, the crystals or both?

I took most of the crystals, put them at the bottom of a terrarium, put a thin layer of moss on top and replanted the plants. We’ll see how that works out.

Looking at the photos, you’ll see the healthy batch of carnivorous plants right after I placed them in the crystals, and the same plants dried out quite a bit just after I transplanted them into the aquarium.

July 15, 2014
Some one on a forum claimed the water crystals super heated some container plants she had, every one told her that wasn’t possible. The two terrariums with the water crystals became significantly hotter than the other ones today. I took pity on the plants, rescued them before they cooked. They are currently outside in a mix of crystals, peat moss and sphagnum moss. I wouldn’t use the crystals in a terrarium that receives a great deal of sunlight.

Sept 6, 2014
I have a bunch of flytrap and nepenthes seeds germinating, some on peat moss, some on water crystals. As soon as I see some progress I’ll post back here on how they do. * These failed to grow while the ones in moss or peat moss thrived under the same conditions.

* The house humidity ranges from a high of 45% late at night to a low of 41% in the late afternoon. The temperature is about 79’F this time of year. The plants are in a south west facing window and I’m in Houston so they are receiving a long, high intensity amount of sunlight each day.

* The crystals typically last 3-5 years but are broken down by heat and light, and carnivorous plants love both. So they may not be practical for carnivore plants.

Experiments with water storing crystals

I tripped across water storing crystals by accident and could find no information about planting plants straight in the crystals. So I potted two orchids in them today and we’ll see how they do?

You can purchase colored and different sized crystals to use in floral arrangements.

Probably one tablespoon per plant is more than enough. Next time I use them I’ll mix them into the soil or container dry, add the plant, then add the water. It was pretty messy soaking them then trying to get them in the containers and around the roots.

Several companies make them not all use the same formula. Some are polyacrylamide hydrogels (dissolve, last 3-4 months), some are cross-linked (not dissolvable, last 3-5 years) both seem to use potassium. The crystals are in the cross-linked group.

Exposure to heat and light breaks the crystals down, so if you have plants in sunny locations, bury the crystals in the soil.

The best results I’ve seen reported by gardeners is to put the crystals and some dry medium ( pebbles, styrofoam etc ), and soil at the bottom of the pot and soil above.

It turned out not to be a good idea for house plants.

The crystals didn’t work out for house plants. They had to be watered much more often rather than less. The water crystals took up the water but weren’t so good about giving the water back up. They were especially bad with the orchards potted in mulch. They formed clumps blocking the roots from getting air.

Galveston Master Gardeners release publications for Gulf Coast Gardeners

The Galveston Master Gardeners have released six publications to help you with your gardening.

Butterflies of Galveston County
Thumbnail Guide for New Gardeners
Bilingual Guide to Yard Care
Ambrosia from Your Backyard
Herbs for the Upper Gulf Coast
Our Edible Landscape

Download a pdf or purchase a copy

How to kill a plant

Sometimes we plant something that grows into a monster.

Sometimes the previous owner planted a monstrosity.

Sometimes an invasive plant moves in to our garden.

How do we kill it?

1. Dig it up and throw it away. If only it was always this easy.

2. Spray it with herbicide ( or a very strong vinegar ). Cut it back after the herbicide has time to work ( a week or two ), then spray anything that dares to regrow with more herbicide. Repeat until till dead.

3. Cut it down, heavily douse the ground near it with fertilizer, cover it with dark plastic and put mulch on top of the plastic.

Growing cactus and succulents in Houston

I recently attended a talk at Mercer on growing cactus and succulents in Houston. If you haven’t attended any talks at Mercer do consider it. They’d love to see you and I learn a great deal each time I attend.

Most cactus prefer drier environments than we have in Houston. While they all prefer it dry, not all of the cactus and succulents enjoy our heat. Winter rains are the biggest threat to cactus growing here. Wet and cold together will cause many cactus to rot.

Cactus and succulents differ only slightly. All cactus are succulents, not all succulents are cactus. Cactus store water in their stem, succulents store water in the leaves, stem or both.

Cactus have tufts of hair or small spines at the base of every spine, succulents do not. While you can strip a cactus bare of spines with out hurting the plant. It is similar to leaf removal. You can not do so with a succulent. Succulent thorns are connected to the stem tissue. Removing them will tear the stem that transports nutrients through the plant.

Cactus have spines which are leaves which have evolved to a more efficient shape for the climate. The spines offer protection from critters looking for water in the desert and also provide shade for the plant. The more spines on a cactus the more sun it likely needs.

Some succulents have roots that spread along the surface to collect water, some use tap roots to find deep water.

Cactus originated only in North and South America, succulents are found worldwide.

Sand and or soil mixed with larger rocks/mulch or other material that will let water drain works best as a planting medium. Be sure to slope and raise the bed to keep water from collecting near the plants.

Mealy bug occasionally bother succulents, treat with insecticidial soaps. Fire ants will some times build a mound right over your succulent, burying it. Treat them with your favorite fire ant treatment.

Succulent gardens look best and least annoy your neighbors and the homeowners associations when you use several plants of different heights, textures and colors together. Try to use one or a few large plants, then fill in with smaller plants. Also include some dry plants that aren’t succulents. Wild flower bunches blend well. The Succulent gardens pool at Flickr has a nice collection of photos for ideas.

I found that they thrive until we get a cold, wet winter when they will all turn to mush.