Tag Archives: cacti

Canadian Tire madness

I’m not big on shopping, but last year I had two mad spending sprees: decorative boxes at Michaels (they rope you in by offering a 40% off coupon every time you buy something) and plants for under $5 at Canadian Tire.

I picked up most of the plants from the Eaton Centre location, just south of Tiny Flower, during my lunch hour strolls.


I really like the contrasting white and green of the dumb cane leaves. I bought quite a few plants (possibly 4 but I can’t remember). One survived, only to be attacked by thrips at the same time that I was dealing with them on the ponytail palm.

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Potted and ready to head home


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You can see the clear little bugs crawling near the damaged parts of the leaf. The black dots are probably frass (poo).

Thankfully, the dumb cane had a better outcome.

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Spraying repeatedly with soapy water killed the thrips and made the plants leaves darker.

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Hopefully this brush with such a damaging pest has made the plant stronger and more resistant to future attacks.


I liked the shape of this mammillaria pilcayensis or bristle brush cactus.

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This one was labelled ferocactus wislizeni. I found it at the Yonge and Church street location with two closed up blooms. I thought that if I managed to get it home without the blooms dropping off, it would have more of a chance of opening than under the dim lights of the store.

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The spikes on this plant are deadly!

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What a bloom! Beautiful!


I was attracted to the thick leaves and red tinge of this kalanchoe longiflora coccinea.

Thankfully, I don’t think this kind makes millions of babies

Biggest regrets

Wish I’d looked closer at this chalkstick plant before I bought it.

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Clearly the stem is black. What was I thinking?! It died. I tried propagating the leaves without success

And I really wish I hadn’t passed on this ponytail palm (I didn’t know the cost, but I assume it was more than $5), especially in light of what happened to my other one. Will keep my eyes open for more this coming spring.

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A more manageable size than the one at work


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Rooted thanksgiving cactus makes new baby!!!

I know I’m probably speaking too soon, but I feel as though I’ve finally mastered the thanksgiving cactus.

Since learning that soaking once a month, at least during the summer months, will keep the leaves nice a plump, I’ve been feeling pretty confident about my ability to care for them. I took two leaves with roots from my plant and planted them, and one is starting to make a new leaf!

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I’m so excited to see this new leaf growing!

It shares a small pot with a desert rose seedling. I’ve been spraying the cactus with water every week day and watering the desert rose once a week, so the cactus does get water too. I was worried about the leaf rotting if I watered it, even though it had roots. I remember reading that it’s OK to start watering when a new leaf starts to form so I guess there’s no need to worry anymore.


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If at first you don’t succeed…

I don’t know what it is about this plant! So far, I have not had success with keeping a thanksgiving cactus (schlumbergera) alive, although people say it’s really easy to care for and to propagate.

The one I picked up from a colleague who was leaving died this year. I only water my office plants every two weeks. It was rotting at the bottom which made me think wet roots, but that didn’t fit with how often I was watering and the fact that it was in a clay pot, which dries out the soil faster than other pots.

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I really thought that after I nearly killed it by forgetting it in a dark cupboard that it wouldn’t make it, but it started to come back to life until it recently rotted at the base.

I bought a new plant a few weeks ago. Fresh soil, clean clay pot, watering when the soil is dry… and I’ve lost a bunch of leaves already.

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The bottom segment of the plant was rotted. Perhaps there wasn’t good air circulation down there and it stayed wet.

This article has some really good information on care, how to produce blooms, and common issues which will definitely come in handy.

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I’ve tried sticking the leaves into the soil as shown here or laying them on top of the soil — techniques that people have said work — and spritzing the soil so it stays moist, but none of them have managed to take root. They’ve all shriveled up and died.

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Decided to try again. This time I put plastic over the top of this pot to create a humid environment. Hopefully this will promote root development. 

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Office oasis

Last year I started cultivating a garden oasis in my workspace, in order to make the environment more welcoming and relaxing. Thankfully the woman who shares my office space likes plants so she lets me bring plants into her work area (the window is behind her desk).

It started with me picking up some ficus elastica (rubber plant) cuttings from the office kitchen. I walked in one morning, and asked excitedly, “what is this?!” as I stared at some cuttings in a vase. The HR person said it was a cutting from a plant in the president’s office. I exclaimed that it was beautiful and she said, “you can have it if you want.” I didn’t need to be told twice, I took it back to my office right away (score!). I ended up giving a cutting to a friend as a housewarming present (she loved it!) and the other to my aunt.

I hope it does well.

I hope it does well. Love this rubber plant!

Later in the year I picked up some other plants from outgoing colleagues. And picked up a money tree plant in a nearby convenience store (I’ve been coveting another colleague’s money tree for almost two years!).

5 aloe plants and one money tree

5 aloe plants and one money tree (pachira aquatica).

Tricolor rhoeo and thanksgiving cactus

Tricolor rhoeo and thanksgiving cactus. A colleague noticed that the tricolor rhoeo’s leaves are only purple on the back of the leaves (neat!).

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Thanksgiving cactus leaves (here) are sharper than a Christmas cactus.

Wish I’d read myth #3 before I’d put my cactus away from the window. I had read that you need to give it more darkness in order for it to produce blooms. So I took it away from the window. Obviously I misunderstood the instructions and in the end I did some serious damage. After several weeks of being deprived of the light it needed to thrive, the poor plant is looking pretty sickly.

The leaves are paper thin and have started dropping off

The leaves are paper thin and have started dropping off


Diseased-looking leaves

I really liked this plant. Not at first (at first I thought it was ugly, no wonder it was left behind), but then it started to grow on me. I’m hoping now that it’s back by the window that it might start to perk up again.

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2015 was the year I really got into succulents.

In early May I bought a jade plant from a store on Kingston Road near Victoria Park. I think my sister and I were visiting Threads Lifestyle, which like the the Keen store next door, closed in 2015. We decided to walk home and ended up ducking into a few flower shops on the way. In one shop I was captivated by the lithops or living stones, but I decided against purchasing the $10 plant (it needs lots of light and I don’t really get that at my place). I picked up this lovely jade instead.

I think this plant costed me $6 and there were at least 3 in there

I think the pot cost $6 and there were at least 3 individual plants in there

I repotted the plants into their own container and gave one to my dad. Sadly over the next few months the leaves started dropping off of my plants until I was left with this:

Sad state of affairs

Sad state of affairs – whether it was over-watering or not enough light (or both), they all died. Early July.

Luckily the one I gave to my dad was still doing well when I checked on it last summer (he gets a lot more light than I do). I briefly toyed with asking if he still wanted it but then stopped myself. Aside from it being very poor form (even though I don’t think he cared one way or another if he had it), how would I keep it alive when all the others I had died?

Even though I failed at this attempt, or perhaps because of it, I became obsessed with the need to purchase more succulents. I searched the net for nearby stores and came across a review for Grow Something on Yelp. The reviews, though few, were glowing. The website only made me more excited. It was in East York according to the map, close to a friend who was on mat leave with her first child so I asked if she wanted to check it out with me.

The store turned out to be in the backyard of the owner’s childhood home. The selection was great, the prices affordable, and the owner and her family were friendly and helpful. We each ended up buying a tray of 6 with the intention of sharing once they made ‘babies’.

Only the middle plants at the top and bottom and the plant to the bottom right are still alive

Took these to work. Only the middle plants and the plant to the bottom right are still alive

Over-watering probably got this one. Top left in the tray above.

Over-watering probably got this one. Top left in the tray above.

Looks like mould, Could it be mealy bugs?

Looks like mould. Could it be mealy bugs? Original plant is bottom left in the tray above.


If you rest a leaf on top of the soil, eventually a new plant will begin to grow. Original plant top right corner of tray above.

I’m not sure why some plants didn’t survive. Perhaps I over watered initially (I think I was doing it once a week) or maybe it also has something to do with the environment in my office. They are right in front of a north west facing window (there is a building next door which blocks out some light) but behind them is a vent that I can’t really control. Perhaps my potting soil to perlite ratio is also off (it’s about 50-50). Who knows.

Failure again did not deter me.  I took another chance when my friend decided she wanted to go back for more plants (she was hooked!). I got 6 more, including an airplant!

Tillandsia, or air plant

Tillandsia, or air plant. Care tips.

I put them all on the west facing windowsill in my bedroom. They were doing really well until I moved them into my living room, which gets much less light, when it started to get cold. One day I noticed my favorite cactus had mealy bugs!

Mealy bugs on my favorite succulent! Early

Mealy bugs on my favorite succulent! Late November.

I used the direct dab with alcohol swab method of dealing with this pest.  I couldn’t find definitive guidance on how often to do this so I just did it once a week on all the plants that looked like they had mealy bugs. I also wasn’t sure of how long to leave an insecticidal soap on a plant so I didn’t choose that option, although it was mentioned as a really reliable option on many Facebook gardening groups that I follow. I think the recommendation to test whatever you plan to use on a small part of your plant before you use it on the entire plant is a really good idea, but this is hard to do on really small plants like this.

This plant doesn't look so good. I wonder if it had to do with the alcohol applications or poor light exposure.

This plant doesn’t look as good as when I bought it (the brown parts). I wonder if it had to do with the alcohol applications or poor light exposure. Mealy bugs are apparently attracted to fresh young growing leaves which this one had plenty of during the unseasonably warm fall weather.

This plant was more full when I bought it. It lost the lower half of its leaves.

This plant was more full when I bought it. The bottom row of leaves shriveled up and died. Low light or alcohol applications or both? Some of the leaves near the top have a bit of damage.

This one doesn't look so bad. I'm pretty sure the minute white spots are perlite dust and not bugs.

This one doesn’t look so bad. I’m pretty sure the minute white spots are perlite dust and not bugs. I have some leaves resting on the soil to make more plants. Perhaps I should move them to their own pot.

It's easiest to get the mealy bugs off of the jade. This jade is doing really well on the windowsill and seems to not have been greatly affected by it's time in the low light of my livingroom

It’s easiest to get the mealy bugs off of the jade. Not many places to hide. This jade is doing really well on the windowsill and seems to not have been greatly affected by it’s time in the low light of my living room.

I’m glad I persevered with the succulents. They’ve given me a lot of joy. I’m looking forward to getting more plants when the store reopens in the spring. I may take a chance on the lithops this time, knowing that my bedroom windowsill gets a good deal of light and I’ve had some experience with caring for succulents and dealing with pests.

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