Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

Century plant leaves falling over from San Antonio
April 10, 2013 - Have a large century plant about % feet tall. The leaves are falling over. Can you tell me what to do to avoid this.
view the full question and answer

Crown rot in Agave americana
June 13, 2007 - My Century Plant's leaves get soft toward the base and eventually fall over and I have to cut them off. What causes this?
view the full question and answer

Transplanting blue agave pups in Arizona
February 03, 2009 - I have a blue Agave with lots of pups, how do I transplant a few pups into planters. What kind of soil and how much water will they need?
view the full question and answer

Foundation plants for Albuquerque.
July 01, 2012 - Hello, I live in Albuquerque. I am looking for some native/xeric low water usage plants for foundation plants for my home. They will be foundation plants for a two story home that has a large ponde...
view the full question and answer

Smog-eating plants from Ft. Worth TX
September 30, 2012 - Looking for a list (40 >) of Native Texas Plants for Fort Worth Urban (Condo) that are Drought tolerant or (drip irr) and Fragrant and long blooming and eat up the city smog. Fort Worth is in a non-at...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.