Oh boy, is it hot out there! Summer is fully upon us and we’re channelling our inner cactus to thrive in this hot, humid, summer weather. With pandemic restrictions easing (at least in our area) we’re able to go outside and soak up some wonderful sun – just like this month’s Clever Cactus, the Thelocactus Bicolor.
If the Clever Cactus of the Month looks familiar to you, you’re on to something! All that’s missing are a smart pair of glasses and you’ve got one of our cute little mascots. But, before we jump into the Thelocactus Bicolor profile, it’s time to take a look at what’s happened in the Clever Cactus office this past month.
- Added the Blue Quadruplets to the cacti family! They’re tall and blue and we’re excited to have them.
- Two new blogs; not quite the “one-per-week” we were aiming for, but at least they’re interesting!
- Writer Laura Dicker joined the Clever Cactus team. She wrote the Thelocactus profile below – and did a great job with it too!
Now, onto the fun and informative: The Clever Cactus of the Month!
Glory and beauty in a small package
- Name(s): Thelocactus bicolor, Glory of Texas, Straw Spine Cactus, Texas Pride
- Species: Thelocactus bicolor
- Genus: Thelocactus
- Home: Southern US, central Mexico
- Natural habitat: limestone or sandstone slopes and outcrops
- Height: can grow up to 50 cm (20 in) tall
- Flower: purple or pink funnel-shaped flowers
- Blooms: April to June
- Availability: hard to come by; you may be able to find these rare plants from online specialty shops
A rare Texan gem
The Thelocactus bicolor is a rare plant native to the Chihuahua desert, spreading from the Southern United States into Northern Mexico. They are perennial plants, blooming one flower during the spring and summer season, and though they tend to grow solitarily, they can also occasionally be found in clumps.
Thelocactus bicolor is considered the most beautiful blossom of all Texan cacti. That’s why its nickname is the Glory of Texas – the brilliant pink and purple blossoms stand out in the dessert landscape. It’s easy to see even when it isn’t in bloom!
The perfect plant pet
The Thelocactus bicolor makes the perfect plant pet. Happiest when soaking up the sun, this little fellow doesn’t need much more than that: you can even forget about watering it from time to time. Its need for minimal maintenance makes it a loyal companion plant for the forgetful waterers among us.
Thelocactus bicolor’s all-around aesthetic makes it a plant enthusiast’s best friend. Its annual blooms pleasantly surprise owners with a stunning red, purple, or pink flower during the spring and summer months. Handle with care! Though its flower may inspire you to pet it, the thick ribs of the Thelocactus are covered in multiple pointy spines you will not want to touch!
Thelocactus Bicolor Survival Guide
This cactus needs little more than love and sunshine, but we’ve got a few tips to make sure your relationship is a long and happy one. Watch your Thelocactus truly come to life during the spring and summer seasons as it soaks in the warmer weather and the bonus hours of natural light!
- Sunlight: Enjoys full sun!
- Water: Drought-resistant! Water during the spring/summer growing season and let excess water fully drain; in the winter, keep dry. Avoid overwatering, so that you don’t get root rot.
- Soil: Well-draining and porous.
- Temperature: Can survive as cold as -7°C.
- Fertilization: Once every three months during growth season.
Repotting your Thelocactus bicolor
The Glory of Texas is best repotted during the summer growth season. You’ll want to repot it once every summer or when your Thelocactus doubles in size – whichever comes first!
Before switching pots, make sure the soil is entirely dry. Gently shake off the excess earth left on the roots and repot into well-draining, porous soil. Doing so will also replenish any nutrients lost in the soil previously.
Ensuring your pot has drainage holes is the key to avoiding an untimely end by root rot. Water all the way through after the transplant is complete, ensuring that any excess water leaks out the bottom. Thelocacti don’t enjoy having “wet feet”, so throw out that excess water.
Watch out for irritating pests
These cacti are vulnerable to pests. Keep an eye out for spider mites, mealy bugs, aphids and whiteflies. Quick indications that something might be wrong include soft or mushy spots, the appearance of brown specs, and webbing (as in spider webs!).
- Spider mites: Tiny spiders that generally live on the underside of the flower’s leaves or create webbing and small brown spots on its ribs.
- Mealy bugs: White, wingless bugs that feed on the plant’s moisture production.
- Aphids: Small green bugs that secret a substance causing mold.
- Whiteflies: White, winged insects that, like spider mites, feed on the underside of the flower’s leaves or create clumps on your cactus that, at first glance, might just resemble mold.