En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - January 04, 2014

From: Gold canyon, AZ
Region: Southwest
Topic: Cacti and Succulents
Title: Debugging and Preserving Dried Cholla Cactus
Answered by: Mike Tomme

QUESTION:

Hi. Recently found an intact skeleton of a cholla cactus. I want to Bring it in our house. Are there any dangers associated with this, like bugs inside the "branches?" how would you suggest I preserve it? Thank you.

ANSWER:

I'd never thought about this before. I suppose there could be some little "critters" hiding in the holes of Cylindropuntia imbricata (Tree cholla) (assuming that is the species you have) and that those critters could come crawling or slithering out when you bring it in the house. But, people have been bringing them in their houses for use as walking sticks or decorations for a long time, so that can't be too big a problem.

If it were me, I wouldn't worry about any insects, but since you asked the question, you obviously are. So, I'm going to toss out a few ideas. I don't know how big your specimen is so some of these may not be practical.

Put it in a freezer for a week or so,

Put it in the attic - a week or so of Arizona heat should kill anything living in there,

Cover it with a big garbage bag, throw in a handful of moth balls and let it sit for a week or so - leave it outside when you do this so the bugs can leave.

Again, I don't think it will cause much of a problem if you just bring it in like it is.

As for preservation, it will last a long time without you doing anything to it, but you could always treat it with a sealant (basically an oil) or a spray on coating like polyurethane. Either of these has the potential to change the color or apperarance. I'd suggest consulting with a paint store or home center for all your options.

 

More Cacti and Succulents Questions

Eradicating cactus in Palo Pinto County, TX
March 30, 2010 - I live on a ranch in Palo Pinto County and would like to know how can I get rid of wild cactus.
view the full question and answer

Preserving the agave bloom for decoration from Sedona AZ
April 28, 2012 - I have an agave century plant which is starting to bloom. Is there some way I can preserve the flower as a decoration piece?
view the full question and answer

Potential longevity of Century Plant bloom stalk from Marana AZ
January 23, 2013 - What is the potential longevity of a Century Plant stalk/bloom? I would like to use it in my yard for ornamentation. Will it last for weeks, months or years or decompose relatively quickly?
view the full question and answer

How can I eradicate 20 acres of cactus?
April 28, 2010 - Cactus eradication. I have about 20 acres that are covered to the point that it is not safe to walk on the property. What can I do? Are there classes out there for eradication?
view the full question and answer

Do flowers on century plants grow century plants from Huachuca City AZ
September 06, 2013 - The flowers on century plants: can they "grow" century plants?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center