Roger & Cactus Blossoms

Our neighbor, Ron, gave us a couple of these ball cactus that had sprouted off of a cactus he has had for year. Ron said it had really pretty flowers, but it had only bloomed a few times in the decade plus that he has had it and it probably wouldn’t bloom for a while.

Apparently, this particular cactus has other ideas. Or maybe it just didn’t like Ron (just kidding, Ron!). It bloomed once last year, impressive tall pink bloom.

This year, it set two buds prior to WWDC and, of course, bloomed during WWDC when I was in San Francisco. Bummer. I figured i had missed the blooms for the year.

Not so!

Cactus Bud

In the spring, the cactus covers itself in about a dozen little hairy potential blossoms. Most of these will fall off and, typically, all of the remaining ones will fall off after the cactus blooms once in the season.

Not so this year!

Cactus Buds

The week after WWDC, two of the remaining hairy buds turned into bloom stalks and, sure enough, the cactus bloomed again!

The bloom stalks shoot up to that height over the course of just a few days, literally growing an inch or two per day.

Then they pause for a moment with a bit of pink showing at the end before bursting into the flowers seen at left that only last for 2, maybe 3, days.

Awesome flowers, too. Beautiful pastel pink, with a deep deep throat. These blooms evolved to be pollinated by very large moths (hummingbird sized moths) or bats, apparently.


Our neighbor has an epiphyllum — a night blooming dessert plant (not a cactus) that is pollinated similarly.

When it bloomed a year or two ago, I took a handful of photos.

While taking some long exposure photos, I was buzzed by something that sounded an awful lot like a hummingbird. Of course, it wasn’t.

Epiphyllum w/Moth

It was actually one of the moths coming in to consume whatever the plant had to offer. It doesn’t appear to eat the pollen, but douses itself in pollen as it climbs all the way into these deep blooms.

I even managed to capture some photos! I can affirm that it is, in fact, very difficult to take a picture of a rather large, very fast moving, insect in the pitch of night.

Just like the cactus.

I keep hoping that such a pollinator shows up for the cactus blooms, but so far it hasn’t happened. The blooms have faded since the above photo was taken and I suspect this will be it until next year.

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9 Responses to “Cactus!”

  1. annbb/TSannie says:

    Darn! I was going to use that tomorrow! Just kidding, just kidding!
    That last flower is really beautiful. What does the cactus flower (pink one)
    look like head on?

  2. Amie says:

    I think my favourite part of the picture of Roger with the second cactus bloom is the shadows. They’re fanatastic on both his face and shirt. It really add something cool to the composition.

    Speaking of cacti and flowers, our daughter had wanted one for a while so my husband bought her one that seemed to be blooming. We might not have known that the bloody flowers were glued on had we not gotten three spectacularly little spikey flowers on stalks like yours. Not nearly as tall or showy as yours. But definitely nothing like the dried flowers hot glued to the top. Why bother doing something like that to an actual flowering cactus?


  3. bbum says:

    Hah! I hate it when I see glued on flowers.

    The reality, though, is that most of the people that would buy such a plant have neither the skill or patience to keep it alive; either overwatering it into cactii soup or never watering it until it dries entirely.

    Is it one of the grafted ones? I.e. showy cactus on a stalk of green?

    In any case — awesome!

  4. Amie says:

    It wasn’t particularly showy. Just a little random cactus from Home Depot or some such. And Abbey did indeed drown the poor thing (as well as a few other plants) when she decided to water every plant in the house without asking on a day when everything had already been watered (or didn’t need it)

    But the flowers were indeed nice. Only lasted about a day or two each, and probably 6 blossoms total on a cactus the size of a D battery over a period of 2 weeks.

  5. Tam @ Smith Travel Blog says:

    great pictures… did you know that because of the long tube it’s only moths that can reach the nectar and pollinate them? if not now you do!

  6. Spirit says:

    I have the same cactus which has multiplied into many . My mother cactus is about 20 years old now and over 2′ tall. They have multiple blooming spans .The most blooms i have seen at one time on my large cactus is 51 . The trick i use to get the cactus to bloom is stale beer . I feed stale beer the first 2 weeks of July to the cactus , this atracks flys and insects But !! produces many buds , these cactus drink lots of water so i water them regularly ,just make sure you dont over do it !!

  7. Spirit says:

    How do i submit a picture here ?

  8. bbum says:

    That is awesome!

    You can’t directly embed pictures here, but you can embed links. I’d suggest uploading your photo to and then posting a link here.

  9. Jet. says:

    Hello! Your post lightened up my sad morning. I jumped out of bed hoping to see if my babies blloomed already. They did but they were clinging on their mama by a thread. Strong winds from last nights rain broke them from their nodes 🙁 we have the exact same cactus and I was googling to find out what they are called and found u… Needless to say I am devasted to tears. I waited for what felt like all summer for the blooms. They were my first blooms too so I didn’t know what I was going to see so the build up was just up there :(. Oh well…

    I did enjoy reading your blog as well as the helpful comments :). Thanks a bunch!

    God bless 🙂

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