Brain Cactus Easy Propagation and Maintenance Guide

In our journey to discovering bizarre types of succulent plants, we recently came across the Mammillaria elongata ‘Cristata’ of the Brain Cactus. As its name says, it looks like the gray matter found inside your skull.

The Brain Cactus may not appeal to everyone because of the way it looks, which is somewhere in between creepy and weird levels. However, it makes a nice Halloween succulent plant decor. You can place it on top of a hollowed pumpkin, or a human skull-inspired pot for zombie-themed parties—just because this undead creature simply loves brains. Despite its appearance, growers of this plant are rewarded with little blooms during summers.

What gives the cactus a brain-like arrangement is a mutation in its cell that occurs during the plant’s development. Somewhere along the young stage of the cactus, a sort of damage happens that causes the cells at the injury site to multiply at a faster rate. As a result, the pads end up curling or twisting.


Brain Cactus can be grown in many ways. This can be made through its seeds, stem cuttings, and offsets. All the said methods are easy but propagation from seeds can take a lot of time that’s why we always prefer doing it using the other two alternatives.

We recommend buying a full-grown or near mature version of the Brain Cactus. This will be your source of cuttings or offsets.

For the cuttings, start by identifying the healthiest part of the succulent. It should be free from signs of withering, dryness, or pest infestation.

Next, sterilize a pair of scissors or pruning shears to make sure that they will not introduce foreign elements or harmful organisms into the wound of the plant. Using the tool, cut the stem of the succulent, and let it callus for at least a week.

After that, fill up a succulent plant pot with a horticultural mix. The compound is made of three parts potting soil with the same proportion of coarse sand or gravel, and two parts of perlite or pumice. When the cutting has already healed up, transfer it to the potting mixture.

The same process can be used when propagating using offsets. Just separate the offset from the mother plant by cutting the lateral stem connecting the two, and repeat the mentioned planting methods.


The Brain Cactus is native to the wilds of Central Mexico. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Plant Hardiness Zone Map, the plant can survive along the 10 and 11 regions. That means the succulent can take temperatures as low as 30 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Like most succulent plants, the Brain Cactus is sensitive to overwatering. Doing so can cause soggy leaves or rot. Therefore, only apply water when its soil starts getting dry to the touch.

The water should also be directed towards the base because the stem of the cactus tends to trap moisture in its folds, which may attract gnats, mold, and mildew that can kill it if left unattended.

Lastly, see to it that the container or pot you are using has holes at the bottom that will serve as drainage for excess water.

How to Grow Woolly Senecio Succulent Plants

The Senecio haworthii succulent plant is more popularly known as the Woolly Senecio. It is a succulent dwarf shrub that usually grows in South Africa. But do you know that you can propagate one in your home garden?


The Woolly Senecio can grow up to 12 inches tall and 24 inches wide. Its white stem and leaves are felted or hairy in texture—thus, its name. Each leaf also resembles a cocoon.

The Woolly Senecio blends well with other succulents and non-succulent houseplants. However, it is a more ideal partner to other shrub Senecio types like the Senecio barbertonicus, Senecio cephalphorus, Senecio crassissimus, and Senecio decaryi. You can pair it with pale-looking succulents too like the Senecio scaposus (Silver Coral) or Senecio scaposus var addoensis.

The Senecio scaposus can be easily mistaken as the Woolly Senecio because of its white fibrous texture. However, the Silver Coral has an outer layer that appears to peel away.

Another plant that can be confused with the Woolly Senecio is the Senecio scaposus var addoensis. Both have white hairy textures but the latter has flat leaves compared to the fingerlike-leaves of the other.

Ideal Environment

As mentioned earlier, the Woolly Senecio is native in South Africa, which means that it thrives in a hot climate. Despite its natural habitat, it is a very resilient plant that can withstand temperatures colder than 30 degrees Fahrenheit in certain conditions.

To make it survive in a below 30-degree climate, it should be placed in a succulent container and transferred indoor. The location should get adequate sunlight during the day. Since the USA is in the Northern Hemisphere of the globe, the plant should be on a surface near a southern-facing window to get as much sun as possible.


The Woolly Senecio can be propagated through its leaves or stem. If propagating from a leaf, start by pulling and twisting gently a leaf of the plant. Make sure that all parts of the leaf are acquired. Next, allow it to dry or callus over for a day or two. After that, plant it in loose and well-draining garden soil. See to it that the tray or pot has small holes to drain the excess water from the soil.

The same process should be applied when propagating from the stem. Instead of pulling, cut the stem cleanly using sterilized shears to avoid bacteria from accumulating at the exposed flesh of the plant.

To care for your plant, only water it when the soil has completely dried up. Wait for a few days to pass in between watering. Let it get at least six hours of sunlight as well.


The Woolly Senecio is called “Tontelbos” in the Afrikaans language. The name means “tinderbush” because the hairy coating of the succulent’s leaves is used by the natives of South Africa for starting fires. Therefore, be careful not to put it in places where it can quickly catch fire like in the kitchen. As always, keep it away from the reach of your pets and children.

Fun Ways To Build Your Succulent Garden

Building your succulent garden can be a bonding activity for the whole family. Once you collected all the materials, you can ask your partner and children (if you have) for some help.

How about everyone makes a pot of their own? The plant they choose and how they design the container will represent their personalities. You will have a garden that will be very, very personal to you.

1. Choose a container

Selecting a container is pretty easy. All you need to remember is to get a container with small draining holes at the bottom. However, you can turn this into a fun-filled activity by asking the rest of the family to choose the “best” one. Meaning, they can go crazy with their containers.

They can choose anything from a mason jar to terra cotta to a tin can. Then, they can decorate the containers with paints, glitters, and other decorative items. Make sure to allow the paint or glue to dry before putting the soil and the plants.

2. Fill it up

What kind of layering do you want your succulents to have? Here’s an idea: fill it up with pebbles, charcoal, moss, and soil. This is a good mix of the base for your plants.

You can be sure that the pebbles will allow the water to drain while the moss retains some of the nutrients from the water and any soil amendments you may add.

3. Start planting

Next, you need to choose the kind of succulent plant you want to take care of. Make it a point to ask your family members to maintain the plants that they choose. It will teach your kids to be more responsible while you’ll also get help for taking care of the garden.

Some nice succulents for beginners are cactus and Jade Plant. You can start with these before allowing your kids to grow more complicated succulents that need pruning or cutting or moving around under the sunlight and away from the intense cold.

4. Add decorations

What other decorations you can add to your plant? If the container’s big enough, you can actually make an arrangement of different varieties of succulents. You can create a mini garden with a gazebo by using miniature decorative items. These arrangements would look nice as table centerpieces, though, and not necessarily as part of the garden, wherein their beauty will just be overlooked.

If you are going to make a succulent arrangement, discuss with your family that this will be used as a decorative item in the house and not part of the actual garden.

5. Experiment

The possibilities are endless with succulents. Different varieties and sizes of plants can be thrown together in an arrangement. Do not be afraid to mix the ferns and any combination of plants. These succulent arrangements are magnificent and even calming to look at. They bring a natural touch to any place and converts any space into a more livable and welcome environment.

Build your succulent garden during the weekend so you don’t have to worry too much about the mess you’ll make. You can clean it up afterward and still have the next day to relax.

Arranging and planting succulents can be quite messy because of all the pruning, cutting, and painting that might happen, so better be ready for a weekend of fun and cleaning and organizing, too.

The High Demand for Dudleya Plants Attracts Poachers

The high demand for Dudleya plants, especially in the Asian region, is attracting poaches. There have been recorded cases of people smuggling them to China and Korea because they are considered trendy.

According to a report in NBC San Diego, two Southern California natives were caught trying to ship stolen Dudleya plants in eastern Asia in February of this year. The succulent plant poachers were subsequently sentenced, and two more cases are pending in court.

In another case that took place in Humboldt County, three men were caught for illegally possessing 2,000 Dudleyas. One Chinese and two Koreans were sentenced to about four years in state prison and a fine of thousands of dollars for the crime.

Combating the Poachers of Succulent Plants

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife urges people to report such instances to them through their hotline at (888) 334-2258. The agency said that they will treat each call as confidential.

On the other hand, succulent growers are taking steps to prevent the poaching of Dudleyas. They are planting valuable succulents on a massive scale to combat the illegal harvesting of these valuable plants.

Dudleya plants are very attractive because they often grow small charming rosettes on their branches. However, since there are around 40 to 50 varieties of this plant, some may not have branches. These are native to the western states of US, Mexico and other areas in the Southern American continent.

As a consumer, you can also help prevent the poaching of succulent plants in your own way. Buy only from a legit and reliable source like Cal Farms. You can grow these plants in your backyard or indoor garden too.

How to Grow Dudleya Plants

Dudleyas are easy to grow. Like most succulents, they do not require much attention like frequent watering.

These succulents can be propagated from seeds, cuttings or division. You can plant them in small containers or pots filled with garden soil or sand. The containers or pots should have small holes in their bases to allow excess water to drain.

Dudleya plants thrive in dry conditions, so it’s recommended that there should be long intervals in between watering. We suggest watering them only during the fall and stop watering them during the summer season.

Make sure that the water is directed to the roots of the plant as this type of succulent cannot tolerate getting its leaves wet. It’s for that reason that you might notice a white wax covering its leaves. This serves as a coating that prevents the stagnation of water droplets from its leaves. As much as possible, avoid touching the leaves to keep its coating undisturbed.

Dudleya plants love the sun. Therefore, make sure that you position them in places that get the most sunlight. An adequate amount of lighting from the sun gives them a healthy green glow, but too little of it can result to its leaves getting soft and stretching.

These succulents cannot tolerate frost. They will surely wither in that condition. However, they can survive as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

How to Make Easter Sunday-Themed Succulents Planters

The celebration of Easter Sunday is coming up. If you are looking to immerse yourself in the event, you might want to consider decorating your home with succulents planters inspired by this Christian tradition.


These succulents planters make use of plastic eggs, which are symbolic to the occasion. In the Christian tradition, Easter Sunday is a festival commemorating the resurrection of Jesus Christ after his death from crucifixion as described in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. In many cultures one of the things that eggs represent is new life. Therefore, these are decorated and turned into Easter eggs in connection to Christ’s resurrection. Eggs are also associated with kingship, which stand for the position of Jesus in heaven.


Based on the video made by Country Living, there are only eight kinds of supplies needed to your Easter-themed, mini-succulents pots. Prepare the plastic Easter eggs, glue gun, gold-inked marker, hexagonal tiles, potting soil, gravel, plastic spoon and our beloved succulent plants.

You can use any type of succulent plant for this purpose. The video makes use of small assorted succulents, so we highly suggest rosette types, jade plant or aloe vera.

Step 1: Plastic Easter Eggs

Start by twisting the plastic Easter egg so that it separates in half. You might want to lightly pinch the middle portion of the plastic egg so that both halves will easily come off. For this project, you will only need the lower half of the plastic egg or the part with a flat base because it is more stable when rested on a surface.

Step 2: Decorate

Decorate the rim of the plastic egg with the gold marker. Let the marker run over the area thoroughly to achieve a consistent and glossy gold coloration.

Step 3: The Base

Use the glue gun to punch a small circular hole in the base of the plastic egg. Next, take one hexagon tile to be used as a stand for the plastic egg. Use the glue gun again to stick the base of the plastic egg onto the tile.

Step 4: Soil, Gavel and Succulents

Scoop an adequate amount of garden soil to be placed into the plastic egg. The amount of soil should only cover half of the makeshift mini pot. Spread it thoroughly in the little container.

Take the mini succulent and plant it in the garden soil. Get a pinchful amount of the gavel and place it around the plant. Make sure that the gavel does not overflow from the plastic egg.

Step 5: Decorate Your Home with the Easter-Themed Succulent Planters

When you are done doing the previous steps with the rest of the plastic eggs, you are now ready to decorate your home with them. You can put the little planters on tabletops or shelves around your place.

Step 6: Maintenance

We recommend placing the plants in an area that gets enough sunlight during the day. This will help keep the plants’ healthy glow over time, and don’t forget to sprinkle them with droplets of water once every two or three days.

4 Common Varieties of Indoor Succulent Plants

Succulent plants are everywhere—from corsages to earrings to wedding bouquets to home decor. They are taking over gardens as more people choose succulents over other types of flowers and plants because the former is easy to maintain and requires little to no attention. Most succulents grew in Africa and Central America where there is little humidity. They thrive in these conditions because their fleshy leaves can store water and as such, they have no need for constant watering, re-plotting, and even sunlight (though they are not adverse to it).

Even though these drought-resistant plans are simple to maintain, they still have a preference when it comes to location. In this article, we’ll talk about indoor succulent plants and the top common varieties that you can choose.

Indoor succulent plants grow best in room temperature where it is dry and there is little humidity. While they also need direct sunlight, the can adapt to lower levels of light provided indoors. They make for an ideal home décor because they come in different shapes, sizes, colors, and textures. They are exciting décor both for the living room and even a child’s bedroom.

1. Burro’s Tail (sedum morganianum)

Known also as the donkey tail plant, this is the easiest plant to propagate and have inside the house. The name comes from the plant’s ability to grow four inches tall with a shape that resembles a tail. This succulent grows well when put in a well-draining container, where its long stems can hang off the edges of the pot.

2. Crown of Thorns (euphorbia milii)

This is a great indoor plant because it adjusts well to the temperature indoors which is mostly dry and has little moisture in the air. To best care for the Crown of Thorns, place it near a window where it can get three to four hours of sunlight every day. Make sure to only water the plant when the soil has completely dried out. In Thailand, there is a legend that the number of flowers that bloom on this plant will predict the future of the plant-keeper.

3. Flaming Katy (kalanchoe blossfeldiana)

This is a common houseplant and is native to Madagascar. It is best suited indoors because it is sensitive to the cold, and likes temperatures ranging between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. If you want to take care of the Flaming Katy, make sure to put it in a clay pot with draining holes at the bottom. They will produce more buds and flowers if they can get eight to 10 hours of sun every day. During late autumn and early winter, it can produce petals that are dark red, gold, and white in color.

4. Jade Plant (crassula ovata)

Jade Plant is one of the most popular indoor succulent plants. It is similar to a bonsai plant wherein the trunk grows thick with branches that jut out like a miniature tree. This plant has thick, shiny, dark green leaves that grow into an oval shape. Some varieties of Jade Plant have a red color at the tip of the leaf. Many believe that the Jade Plant brings luck which is why they can be found in most homes.

3 Key Benefits of Container Gardens For Succulents

Pots, old fishbowls, metal tubs, half barrels, and an old crate overflowing with succulents, flowers, and plants add appeal to any garden, but they have practical purposes, too. Aside from making your gardens look incredibly gorgeous, container gardens are also flexible and versatile when it comes to the maintenance. Container gardening is ideal for people with small patches of lands to turn into a garden. They can also be employed by people who have no space to start even a tiny garden, which makes this strategy workable for those living in apartment buildings and condominiums.

In addition to growing flowers, those who can only plant on a little space in their balcony or their driveway can grow a wide variety of vegetable crops in containers. The most important spices and herbs—basil, thyme, chives, rosemary, spring onion, and even chili—in our pantry can grow in pots and containers. In fact, you can put these potted herbs on your windowsill by the kitchen and just nip their buds when you need them for cooking. How much fresher can that be, right?

1. Adds Versatility to Gardens

We are so used to seeing gardens with roses or tulips up front and a bunch of other plants and flowers below the front windows. But these plants don’t stand out primarily because we have come to expect to see the same plants and flowers house after house. Putting succulent plants in a container and putting two containers of the same style on either side of the front walk could serve as a welcoming decoration to your guests. Container gardening on the deck or the patio also adds a burst of color to an otherwise dreary garden space. Succulent plants lend instant color and texture, and it provides a focal point in the garden that ties the architecture of the house to the garden. In other words, it balances the overall look of the whole property.

2. Flexible Depending on Weather Conditions

Depending on weather conditions, you may need to transfer your succulent plants from outdoors to indoors, or vice versa. This is extremely hard to do, of course, if the plants have taken root in the actual garden soil. You would need to prepare well ahead of time and dig the plants’ roots to transfer them to specific containers. Do you really want to go through all that trouble every time the weather pushes you to put the plants inside? If they are in containers, you could easily put them carefully in a basket and transfer them to a safer place.

3. Provides Accents to the Garden

A single large container with an over-the-top succulent plant could serve as an accent to your garden. This could be the first thing that your guests will notice when they arrive at your property. Simply buy a container that’s big enough to embrace all the plants and flowers you want to combine. The possibilities are endless, of course, as you can combine succulents with ordinary houseplants. A guideline to follow is the “thriller, spiller, and filler” formula. The thriller is the focal point of the arrangement while the spiller will crawl over the edge of the containers. Finally, the filler will fill in the “gaps” in the arrangement.

What Are Aerial Roots In Succulents And What Can We Do About Them?

If you have had your succulents for a while, you may eventually notice aerial roots or air roots forming along the stem and obscuring the beauty of the plants. While this isn’t a major problem and would not cause the plant to die, this is a sign that your succulents are not as healthy as they should be. It’s time to take notice of them, water them and put them under the sunlight.

When you see aerial roots along the stem of a succulent plant, it only means it needs extra attention from you. After all, you’re the only one this plant depends on, so you have to know as many information as you can about what aerial roots are and how they can be addressed.

Aerial roots are just roots that grow on the stem of the succulent rather than the soil. They are usually pink or white in color. They form on succulents that are either not getting enough water or not getting enough sun. When the plant is in a humid environment, this could cause the aerial roots to grow from their stems, too. Remember that succulents absorb water through their roots from their surrounding environment.

When growing succulents, make sure to use a soil with large particles because this is essential for the health of the plants. If the succulent plants are not getting enough water, they will start to search for more and would eventually branch out through the stems. This is when aerial roots start to form. The message is: “Hey, I’m thirsty and I need more water to grow and thrive.”

Lack of sunlight would also cause a succulent to form aerial roots. You will notice that a plant is lacking sunlight when it looks stretched out. Just like in water, the plant itself is telling you that it needs more sun. One of the first signs of an unhealthy succulent plant is the dried up leaves at the bottom. If you notice that the leaves are starting to dry, then you could probably expect the aerial roots to form in a day or two.

Not all succulents grow aerial roots even when they are dehydrated. Aerial roots tend to grow from succulents with a stem such as Echeverias or tender Sedums. You won’t see aerial roots on Haworthias or Aloes. And of course, remember that if you are watering correctly, aerial roots won’t start to appear.

In terms of plants, you are likely to see aerial roots on succulents that grow quickly and are in their active growing seasons. The Graptoveria Fred Ives and Graptopetalum paraguayense grow quickly and stretch out when they don’t get enough sunlight.

Don’t worry because your problems with aerial roots can be solved easily. You don’t have to cut them off, though you can remove them if they are getting too unpleasant. Simply plucking them out carefully would do the trick. More than that, what you need to do is water the plants correctly and make sure they are getting plenty of light. That should do the trick of preventing these aerial roots from growing.

7 Tools For Propagating Succulents Correctly

If you have been planting different varieties of succulents whether as a personal hobby or for business, you may be wondering when it’s time to propagate them and grow new plants from your existing ones. The process of propagating succulents is actually a fairly simple one.

As long as you have the proper knowledge (which you can learn on the internet) and these seven tools, you will be propagating succulents well.

Sharp Shears

Anyone who wants to propagate succulent plants should have two kinds of sharp shears in his or her toolbox. You will need pruning shears and trimming snips in order to get into tight places such as the lowest stem of the plant.

Using the proper shears is important when cutting succulents because you may damage the sensitive plant tissues with a blunt pair of scissors. You should invest in a high-quality shear because this could damage your plants with even your trained hands.


A knife is needed if you are propagating tough agaves, cacti, or other plants with a dense core. You have to try different kinds of knives before deciding on which suits your needs. Just remember to have a sheath for this tool because accidents do happen in the garden.

When choosing a knife, pick one that isn’t heavy and that has a firm but easy grip. There are really expensive options out there, but we’re sure you can find the one that fits your budget and your needs.

Rubbing Alcohol

Clean tools are essential to propagating succulents. Use an alcohol to clean the tools before and after using them. A clean blade will ensure that no infection or disease will be passed between the plants.

Simply apply rubbing alcohol to a piece of cloth or paper towel and wipe the blades clean with it. Use the alcohol to clean your hands before and after removing your gloves too.


Spiny agaves and cacti might cut or prick your skin. Some succulents also have poisonous saps that should not come in contact with your skin. Protect your hands and yourself by wearing leather gloves or gloves with a rubber layer.

Tool Sharpener

There’s nothing more annoying than working with blunted shears. Keeping your tools sharp is as important as keeping them clean and dirt-free. A dull blade can damage the leaves and the tissues of the plants. If you have to cut a succulent plant, you have to do it in one swift motion.


You need a light, well-aerated, and well-draining soil to make sure that the succulent plants will thrive. The roots must easily penetrate the soil, and this can only be accomplished when the soil has large particles that can move around once the roots begin spreading.

Cell Trays or Flats

Cell trays are incredibly important when propagating succulents because you can start the plants small there and transfer them to bigger succulent pots or containers once they have thrived. Flats are useful for leaf and seed propagation and they make everything look organized.

Getting To Know Winter-Loving Aloes

It is during the cold winter months when we seek colors in our garden. We want that pop of color to remind us that spring and summer will come soon and everything will be bright and cheery again. If you love succulents, aloes are a great choice. While all the other plants are taking a rest and going dormant, the aloes will bloom with their spires of flowers in fiery colors.

Though not all aloes flower during the winter, many of them do. These range from tall plants with trunks such as the Aloe barberae (Aloe bainesii) or Aloe ferox, to stemless rosettes such as Aloe vanbalenii or Aloe microstigma and finally, to dwarf plants such as Aloe humilis.

These winter-blooming aloes come from South Africa, which lies in the southern hemisphere and has its winter season at the opposite time of the year. This means that while the States is suffering from the harsh winter cold from December to March, South African flowers are blooming. Regardless of which hemisphere the plants are in, they flower in response to the changing day length so the plant flowering in January in our gardens would be flowering in July back in South Africa.

Why do so many species bloom in the winter? We believe that part of the reason lies with their primary pollinators, the nectar-loving sunbirds. During the summer season, there is a lot of competition for the birds’ attention and they would not prefer aloes over the other flower-bearing plants. By flowering in the winter, when the competition is gone, the aloes are assured that they would get noticed by the sunbirds. This is crucial because the sunbirds need fuel to make it through the winter. On top of that, the aloes will get pollinated.

In the US, we don’t have sunbirds but we do have hummingbirds and the nectar-producing flowers also appeal to them. If your garden is full of aloes, rest assured that you will attract as many hummingbirds as your garden can accommodate during winter.

All aloes are native to Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and islands in the Indian Ocean (principally Madagascar), and it is not a coincidence that many of the species in cultivation are specifically South African. Because South Africa is farthest from the equator, the seasons are more pronounced like in North America—this means shorter days and cold spells in the winter months.

An aloe that grew in the tropics could turn to mush when the temperature drops to a freezing point. On the other hand, many of the South African varieties will survive during the coldest of months. There are limits to this to how much cold they can take, of course. Very few aloes (even those from South Africa) can tolerate the temperature if it dropped below 25 degrees Fahrenheit but many can take as low as 29 degrees.

If you leave near a coast, you have a better chance of growing more varieties of the aloe because the winter temperature is less extreme than when you go farther inland.

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