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?


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 - April 07, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Cacti and Succulents
Title: Problems with claret cup cactus in Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I have a claret cup cactus in a terra-cotta pot that bloomed beautifully a few years ago but hasn't since. This year, it set about a dozen buds and looked poised to bloom like crazy, but two weeks later the buds had turned dark, almost black, and started to shrivel up. Is this a disease problem I should be addressing, or just one of those things?


Echinocereus triglochidiatus (Claret cup) is native to North America and grows in Texas, so we're okay with that. What we are wondering is if it has been in that same pot all these years and is it outside or inside? If you will follow the above plant link, you will learn it has low water use, needs full sun (6 or more hours of sun a day), prefers (but not exclusively) volcanic soils and can grow in clumps as much as 3 to 4 feet across. So, we're thinking if you started with a cute little cactus in a pot and it has lived in that same pot for years, indoors, and been watered with the other indoor plants, it has several strikes against it. Here is an article from Desert USA that can give you more information.

For specifics on what to do, this article  CactiGuide.com Cacti Pests and Diseases is very informative. Our opinion is that it needs to be divided or introduced into a much bigger pot, watered less, fertilized not at all, planted in a cactus or pumice soil. Very likely it is developing a rot condition and may or may not survive.


More Cacti and Succulents Questions

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

Yuccas and prickly pears for Warren MI
February 11, 2009 - What type of yuccas and prickly pears will survive in the Detroit, Michigan area? Also, can I grow Santa Rita prickly pear in a pot?
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

Container plants for Arlington TX
February 10, 2012 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I just moved to Arlington, TX. I am trying to create a container garden on my apartment balcony. What flowers, herbs, vegetables, and fruit combinations can I put together that wil...
view the full question and answer

Information about prickly pear cactus for school project
October 19, 2012 - Hello my name is Case Danzeiser. I go to a middle school called Clint Small Middle School in Austin, Texas. We are doing a species study on a native Texas plants and animals. I choose to study the pri...
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.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center