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

Eliminating agave roots in Tonto Basin AZ
April 22, 2009 - Greetings Mr. Smarty Plants, from Tonto Basin, AZ! We have numerous mature (huge!) Agave Americana plants here, and have, until recently, enjoyed them. However, we are now ready for a drastic landscap...
view the full question and answer

Removal of pups from Century Plant after blooming in Prairieville LA
October 03, 2009 - Will the main part of the century plant always die after it grows a stalk? I have babies coming off the base and need to know if I should separate them to keep them alive.
view the full question and answer

Worms found in Agave used in tequila
February 06, 2008 - Hi, I am a writer and have been trying to find some referenced information regarding the moth larvae/'worms' associated with Agave and some mezcal beverages - specifically, Hypopta agavis, Aegiale ...
view the full question and answer

Succulents, wildflowers and grasses for Austin
June 09, 2010 - I live on a bluff over Lake Travis and am replanting two beds in front of my driveway with Mexican Feathergrass and Agave. What other grasses or wildflowers could I mix in with the Mexican Feathergra...
view the full question and answer

Removing faded flowers from plants in Georgetown, DE
July 28, 2012 - I bought a chamase rose quartz that was in bloom. now the buds are dead, should i remove them or just leave them on the plant. they wont just fall off. and the tips of the plant has new growth.
view the full question and answer

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