Cactus Adaptations

Environments like deserts, dry areas, and semi-barren regions receive less rainfall than other parts of the country, making water scarcity a common problem in these areas. The plants which inhabit these environments have had to adapt to these conditions in order to survive. Desert plants-known as xerophytes-are most often succulents that have reduced, thick leaves. Apart from a few exceptions like Rhodcactus, all cacti are succulent plants. There are some specific cactus adaptations which enable cacti to survive in harsh environments.

The most important cactus adaptations are the ones that allow them to conserve water, such as having reduced leaves. Reduced leaves means reduced surface area, whether by making leaves shorter and thicker, or longer and thinner. This means less water is lost to the atmosphere through evaporation. We know that this is an evolutionary adaptation because of what we see under the microscope. Some other species of cactus have microscopic phloem, xylem and stomata, just like non-succulent plants. There are also ephemeral leaves in some of the cactus species, but these leaves don’t last for long during the early development stages of the stem. Opuntia Ficus-indica (prickly pear cactus) is an excellent example of cactus species which has ephemeral leaves as a result of evolution.

Spines for Cactus Adaptations

Some cactus adaptations include spines which let out less water during transpirations then leaves. Spines grow from specialized structures called areoles, and defend the cactus from water-seeking animals. A few members of the spine-cactus family have rudimentary leaves which fall off once the cactus has matured. There are two genera called Pereskiopsis and Pereskia which retain large and non succulent leaves and even non succulent stems.

Cactus Adaptations through Stems

There are cactus plants that have adaptations such as enlarged stems which carry out photosynthesis and store water. These species of cacti (known as succulents) are coated with a waxy substance coated that prevents water evaporation. It helps prevent water from spreading on the surface, instead forcing water down the stem and into the roots. Cacti have hard-walled, thick succulent stem which stores water when it rains and keeps water from evaporating. The stem is basically fleshy, green and photosynthetic, and the inside of the stem is either hollow or spongy tissue to hold water.

Source by John J. James

Fruits are the ripened ovaries of plants. A flower blooms, is fertilized and seeds produced inside the ovary. The tissue surrounding the ovary is called a pericarp and may be edible as is the case with apples or hard and dry as is the case with nuts. A simple fruit means one flower produces one ovary which results in one fruit. Succulent fruits have edible flesh surrounding the seeds or in the case of stone fruits the pit. Dry fruits do not. For example, an apple is a simple succulent fruit. Beans and peas are simple dry fruits. Raspberries have one flower leading to multiple ovaries. They are aggregate fruits. Multiple fruits are the result of flowers that have fused. Pineapples are an example of multiple fruits.


Drupes have an edible part, usually the fleshy interior and an inedible part, the hard covering of the seed. This is sometimes called a pit or stone. Cut open the peach and you’ll find the pit. Break the pit open by slipping a knife between the two halves and you’ll find the seed. Other examples of simple succulent drupe fruits are mangos, cherries, plums and olives. Most drupe fruits are sweet and used fresh, frozen or canned. However, olives are processed before preserving. Green olives are olives that haven’t ripened yet. Black olives are ripe olives.


Pomes have small seeds in the interior of the fruit. The seeds are surrounded by the pericarp. When you cut an apple in half you can see the membrane that surrounds the core with the seeds. Apples and pears are examples of simple succulent pome fruits. Apples are eaten fresh, processed, frozen and a major source of juice.


Oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruits are considered hesperidium fruits. A leather-like skin encloses the edible flesh and seeds. Citrus fruits are mostly little sacks of juice rather than a firm flesh like an apple.


It might surprise you to know that not only is a tomato a fruit, it’s classified as a berry. a berry is a pulpy fruit. All of it is edible. Tomatoes come in other colors besides red, including pink, yellow, orange, ivory, chocolate and green when ripe. Size ranges from tiny grape-sized fruits to giants weighing several pounds. Other berries include blueberries, grapes and elderberries, currants and gooseberries.

Fruits Classified as Vegetables

Many of what cooks classify as vegetables are actually fruits. Simple succulent vegetables include cucumbers, summer squash, winter squash and pumpkins. The hard casing, or skin, surrounding the flesh is the pericarp.

Source by Dee Power

“Hello, Mr. Cactus.”

“Is it all right if I call you Mr. Cactus? I’ve never spoken to a cactus before, and I wouldn’t want to be im-po-lite. Did I say it properly? Granny taught me that word. She says it means ‘rude’. Why can’t I say ‘rude’ then? She says I’m a very rude little boy.”

“Granny is always angry with me. I want to be a good little boy, I really do, even if I’m not that little anymore, but I never make it. Granny says that I’m a bad little boy and that she has to punish me.”

“Hello again, Mr. Cactus. I can’t speak much now. It hurts.”

“Hello, Mr. Cactus. I’m better now, so I can speak again. I don’t know what to say, though.”

“I wish I was with Mom and Dad. Granny says they’re in a better place now. I wish I was in a better place. Granny says I’m a bad, bad little boy for wishing that. It’s disrespectful to God, she says. I should be very very grateful to God for sparing me and not sending me to Hell, because that’s where all the bad little boys go. This way, at least I have the chance to become good and not go to Hell, if I pray all the time and do as Granny says. I pray to God Granny wouldn’t hurt me so much, but she still does it. Do you think it’s a bad thing to pray for?”

“Granny says it’s my fault she hurts me. She says, if I was a good little boy, she would never hurt me. She’s a God-fearing woman and doesn’t hurt good little children, which means I’m really, really bad. Did I say God-fearing right? Granny says I never speak properly, but how can I when she keeps hitting me?”

“I… Are you still there, Mr. Cactus? I can’t see you well. I can’t see anything well. May I touch you?”

“You are a cactus, if I may say that. How come you didn’t prick my finger when I touched you? I wouldn’t mind, really. It would mean you were still there, and that’s all I wanted to know. I’m grateful you let me touch you and didn’t prick my finger, I really am, I just don’t understand. I wish I could understand you. You’re my only friend.”

“I’m so happy I can see you again, Mr. Cactus! May I hug you?”

“How come you didn’t prick my face when I hugged you? Are you a special cactus?”

“Granny says I have to sleep here, because I’m a bad little boy. I’m not so little! Although, if it means I may sleep in your room, I don’t mind.”

“Good morning, Mr. Cactus. Did you move?”

“Hello, Mr. Cactus. I… Granny says I have to go. I’m a bad little boy and I can’t stay with her anymore. Do you know where she’s sending me? She says they will finally teach me discipline and put the fear of God into me. I don’t know what it means. Do you? Will I see you there? Will I… Will I ever see you again?”

“Mr. Cactus, it’s Granny. I know it’s a stupid thing to say, you know it’s Granny, but… It’s Granny.”

“Mr. Cactus? You’re the best! You really are! I don’t have to go now, do I? I can stay with you forever!”

“Um, Mr. Cactus? How do I move Granny? I know I should, she smells really bad, but how do I do it?”

“Oh. It’s easier now. Thank you, Mr. Cactus.”

Source by Ivana Milakovic

Bonsai propagation is an investment of your time, patience, creativity, and money as well. Indoor bonsai is one of the two types of bonsai. It is like any other bonsai tree species that require water, sunlight, soil, fertilizer, and maintenance. But the only difference is that it is grown in an enclosed environment.

Growing an indoor bonsai tree is not that difficult to do. But you just have to observe the proper ways on how to cultivate an indoor bonsai well so that you can be successful in it. There are ways on how you can provide the needs of your indoor bonsai. Here are helpful tips that you can follow:

• Choose an appropriate tree species that can be grown indoors. There are a number of species suitable for indoors, specifically species under tropical and subtropical trees. Tropical trees include Jade plant (Crassula ovata), Fukien Tea (Carmona microphylla), False heather (Cuphea hyssopifolia), Bush cherry (Eugenia mytrifolia), Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina), Willow leafed fig (Ficus neriifolia), Black Olive (Bucida spinosa), Hawaiian umbrella tree (Schefflera arboricola), Dwarf jade (Portulacaria afra), Dragon plant (Dracaeria marginata), and Holiday cactus (Schlumbergera). Subtropical trees include Desert rose (Adenium obesum), Natal plum (Carissa macrocarpa-grandiflora), Powderpuff (Calliandra hamematocephala), and Star flower (Grewia).

• Plant it in a bonsai container with an appropriate soil for an indoor bonsai. There are various styles and shapes of bonsai containers or pots. You should choose a pot that would match to your bonsai style. The bonsai container should have holes beneath so that excess water can pass through it, and prevent the excess water from staying inside the pot. You can prepare your own bonsai soil or you can buy a commercially prepared soil from garden stores or nursery. Just be sure that you are using a good quality of soil.

• Water your bonsai whenever necessary. Check the soil if it becomes dry. Then, pour water on the soil thoroughly until water drips from the holes of the bonsai pot to ensure that it have reached the roots. But never allow the soil to become very dry and don?t under water it because it can cause dehydration to your bonsai and can further lead to death. You should not over water also your bonsai because too much water can rot the roots of your bonsai and eventually can cause death of your miniature tree.

• Expose bonsai tree to a low light. Indoor bonsai, specifically tropical species, can grow and develop with low light. You just have to place your bonsai tree near the window where it can be exposed to little sunshine. If none, you can use a fluorescent lamp. Place the indoor bonsai six inches below the lamp, Then, allow the bonsai be exposed to the fluorescent lamp for about 12 to 16 hours each day.

• Provide fertilizer for nourishment. It is very necessary that you feed your indoor bonsai regularly. You have to choose a water soluble fertilizer, and give it one or twice a month after watering the bonsai or if the soil is still wet. You should put fertilizer in your indoor bonsai on the growing season only. You can ask a bonsai specialist on what type of fertilizer is best for your indoor bonsai. You can purchase high quality fertilizers from garden centers or you can shop online.

Source by Preston Blackmore

The Japanese Black Pine tree is rightly regarded as the “king” of bonsai. More than any other, a Black Pine is the variety of tree that comes to mind when someone says the word “bonsai.” When properly cared for they can be strikingly beautiful — but they are also regarded as being difficult to care for. Most established bonsai growers do not regard the Japanese Black Pine as a tree for beginners.

However, a Japanese Black Pine can easily be cared for and developed as a bonsai if one component of its care if handled correctly: the soil. In terms of soil, Black Pines really need only two things: proper drainage; and a proper flow of nutrients. In providing these two items, the soil will feature two components: aggregate and organic matter.

Some growers will use and advocate the use of soil that consists entirely of an inorganic aggregate, but this technique leaves the tree fully dependent on being fertilized from the soil surface. Do this only if you have a certain supply of fertilizer and the time to administer it and monitor the results.

If you choose to place an organic component in the soil, this can consist of just about any commercially available potting soil, since most potting soils are made up entirely of organic matter. Do not use a soil that contains water retaining polymers. If the organic soil you choose has not been sifted, you may want to sift it through a screen to remove fine particles.

The other component, aggregate, can consist of many things. The Japanese use a fired clay called akadama. Certain types of automotive spill absorbent or cat litter can be substituted for this. Others, such as this author, prefer to use decomposed granite, that has been washed and sifted. Another good ingredient is agricultural pumice. Whatever you use, the particles should be about 3-6 mm in size, or 1/8 to 1/4 inch.

This author’s personal preference for soil is the following mix: 25% organic potting soil; 25% decomposed granite; 24% agricultural pumice; and 25% builder’s sand (washed and graded river sand, again keeping to the proper particle size).

The amount of organic matter you use should be tied to the amount of water retention you need in your soil, and the amount of supplemental fertilizer you will use. The 25% proportion works well for a Mediterranean climate, such as Southern California or Southern Europe, where the winters are mild and dry, and the summers can be very hot. In areas with no frost and greater rainfall, less organic matter can be used, or none at all, as long as the tree is properly fertilized. In a true desert environment (the American Southwest, for example) more organic matter will be needed for additional water retention.

Following these guidelines, together with other facets of proper bonsai care, will ensure a happy pine and a happy owner.

Source by Charles Mashburn

The Art of Bonsai

The art of bonsai has an ancient history and it is difficult to pinpoint just when it began. The origins of bonsai can be traced back through the history of the development of bonsai in Japan and earlier in China.

As with other forms of art, bonsai would have been developed from activities which were based on practical needs.

The idea of planting a tree in a pot would not occur spontaneously in a fully formed manner. It would evolve over a period of time from the influence of other ideas associated with the cultivation of plants. In particular the growing of plants primarily for their beauty of colour or form, combined with lack of space in which to grow them would have been the genesis of bonsai.

The origins of cultivated gardens go back many hundreds of years, to the area known as the Fertile Crescent in what is present day Iraq. The first recorded occurrence of gardens grown for the pleasure they provided would appear to be the magnificent Hanging Gardens of Babylon. These gardens were reputed to have been built around 600BC by Nebuchadnezzar II, and are considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

The hanging gardens featured trees and other plants growing in containers. Large containers certainly, but the people of that time obviously had the knowledge and the skill to grow plants in a restricted space.

It would seem unlikely though, that they practiced bonsai gardening in a form that would in anyway resemble the art of bonsai as we know it today. The first reference to what we term bonsai occurred in China during the Tang Dynasty, (618 – 907). It shows however, that the ability to grow plants in containers was developed as an established practice over 2600 years ago, well before the Hanging gardens were built.

One theory concerning the development of bonsai clams that herbalists wishing to transport herbs, began growing them in containers for this purpose. This would not provide a very practical solution, given the means of transport in those times. To carry a number of small earthenware pots containing plants on a horse or donkey, or even in a cart, would be most difficult. The practice of first drying the leaves or roots required and carrying them in that form provides a far easier and more efficient method of transport, a method still used to the present day.

The first examples of trees and plants being grown in small containers have therefore come from China. The idea, introduced into Japan around 1195AD, and further developed and refined by the Japanese became the beautiful art of bonsai with which we are familiar today.

Source by Norm Pavelka

Japanese Gardens have been a treasured art form in Japan for centuries, and are very much influenced by the ancient and intricate garden designs of China.

The exacting tradition, linked to the related and equally disciplined arts of calligraphy and Japanese ink brush painting, is historically passed down from sensei, or master, to apprentice.

Even though Japanese Gardens have been influenced by the West since the late 19th century, there are some elements that are considered typical, and in some respects, necessary to the art form. Water, either real or symbolic is a must. Bridges or stepping stones frequently cross a pond or stream element to an island, or perhaps to a tea pavilion. Rocks or stone arrangements create waterfalls, dry or wet. Hedges, fences or traditionally styled walls create an enclosure around the miniature landscape.

There are three basic traditional styles of Japanese gardens. The Karesausui gardens are dry landscapes in which different shades and shapes of rocks and gravel, as well as exactingly placed mosses and shrubs are used to represent ponds, islands, rivers, seas, boats and mountains in abstract form. Raking stretches of gravel or sand creates the illusion of moving water. This type of garden is for meditation and is frequently found at Zen temples.

The Tsukiyami garden style recreates features from famous landscapes in China or Japan. The clever placing of shrubs to block views of surrounding houses or structures is effective in creating the illusion of a much larger garden area. Footpaths may wander past ponds, streams, stones and hills and may lead the visitor across intricately carved bridges. Bonsai trees, scaled down versions of their full sized cousins, are an important part of these miniature landscapes.

Chianwa gardens were created for holding tea ceremonies, another exacting and quite lovely Japanese tradition. A simple tea house is the usual focal point, and the gardens themselves are equally simplistic in their elegance. Traditionally stepping stones across a quiet pond lead to the tea house and an assortment of stone lanterns and basins dot the garden landscape. The stone basins, known as Tuskubai, are where guests are invited to purify themselves before taking part in the tea ceremony.

In addition to these three basic styles, Kanshoh style gardens are popular in private residences and are meant to be viewed from inside. Pond gardens, built along quiet shorelines, are designed to be viewed from a boat. Strolling gardens take visitors along winding pathways, offering a sequence of views as one navigates the gentle curves.

From the hundred year old Hagiwara Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park to the Japanese Gardens at the Irish National Stud in Kildare in Ireland, these peaceful, creative nods to the art of tranquility now circle the globe. Bamboo plants, Japanese black pines and colorful maples share space with native plant species in the most unlikely of climates. Even in the town of Ronneby, Sweden, almost at the top of the world, it is possible to find an authentically created Japanese Garden. Enjoy!

Source by Monica Wachman

If you are the owner of a Satsuki Bonsai Azalea tree then you will find that training it is most interesting. Their shapes will vary based on your taste and the type and shape of plant that is used. Some of the popular types are known as cascade upright, single trunked upright, two trunked, several trunks clasping stone style and the several balance potted together.

Training should be done gradually taking into consideration personal taste as well as the nature of the bonsai azalea. The best time in which to practice training is after the plant has just completed flowering, which is mid-September to October. If training is done in the early season, the branches will become fixed and you can be released the plant from the copper wire coils in Autumn.

Bonsai Azalea Training – Types of Wire Used

There are six or seven different types of copper wire that are used. You can choose from No.1 to No 23 depending on the thickness of the trunk and branches. The wire should be well burnt in a rice straw or wheat straw fire before it is used.

Bonsai Azalea Training – Commencing

It is best to start training when the bonsai azaleas are still young. The plant should be three to four years old before cutting. The diameter of the trunks should be about an inch. At this stage the azaleas trunk is not difficult to curve based on your wishes. Use the number 10 copper wire to coil around the trunk. For the branches use a number.12 to a number.20 based on thickness. Never wrap the copper wire too tight as this will damage or even kill the plant.

As a precautionary measure the branches and trunk may be covered using hemp fiber before wrapping with copper wire. If you are going to bend the plant at an acute angle great care must be taken to prevent breaking.

Bonsai Azalea Training – Trimming

The Satsuki Azalea tree must be trimmed prior to flowering as the new growth will break the harmony of the form or it may become too dense. The new growth may create shoots that are too strong. When such growth is removed, new growth will emerge from the point of cutting. If these are not produced too late flower buds will form.

When the young Bonsai Azaleas are grown in a green house they are much easier to train plus they are easier to shape and will bend sharply. The older azaleas are more brittle.

Bonsai Azalea Training – Goals

The Satsuki azalea bonsai are usually divided into two classes. The first group will appreciate the style and shapes that the plant produces and the second mainly their blossoms. The second group can again be divided into two. One group will focus on the size of the blossoms and the other on the markings and colors of the flowers.

To appreciate the forms and styles of the Azalea Bonsai the plant needs to be of the correct age and needs to be trained to the desired shapes.

Source by Wilfred Danifield

Bonsai is a Japanese art form consisting of developing miniature trees which are grown in containers.

Bonsai dates back a thousand years and has methods and aesthetics which are unique and which stem from the specific needs of the art form.

A mature Bonsai tree may be several hundreds years old and been passed down from gardener to gardener.

Many years ago, I was interested in the art of Bonsai. I remember diligently searching for information and discovering the small leaflets put out by the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.

While I eventually located those hard to find, but exceedingly useful leaflets, regrettably, my attempts at cultivating Bonsai were not successful, in part because I had no place to winter them in a protected environment.

At that point, I was committed to living in apartments for the next several years, while I went through grad school and started my career, so I gave up on my Bonsai dreams and focused on house plants instead.

At the time I was most interested in Bonsai, finding the books was challenging enough, but finding the proper tools was pretty much impossible!

Now, thanks to the internet, there is even a variety of choices when looking for Bonsai Gardening Tools!

Bonsai gardening is unlike any other kind of gardening and has specific tool, container, and potting soil needs.

Surprise your favorite Bonsai Enthusiast with any of these gift suggestions.

Bonsai Gardening Tool Sets

If you are shopping for someone who is just starting the Bonsai adventure, consider buying a basic tools set. When I was exploring Bonsai, I found that it was like painting in that it is important to have and to use the RIGHT TOOL FOR THE JOB!

In painting, whether you are doing fine art painting or house painting, you need to have the right brush for each specific application.

Substitutions are not a viable option, and, unfortunately, in the case of Bonsai, regular gardening tools just aren’t the same…

Fortunately, there are a large number of quality Bonsai tool sets available for everyone from beginners to more advanced enthusiasts.

Other Bonsai Tools

Other tools that a Bonsai lover will need, and which are pretty much unique to the art of Bonsai are:

  1. Turntables – needed to spin the Bonsai plant while it is being worked on
  2. Branch Benders – Used in the development of the attractive and graceful growth patterns of a Bonsai tree’s branches
  3. Sieve Sets and Scoops – used to prepare the special soil needed for Bonsai cultivation

Bonsai Containers

Among other much needed Bonsai supplies are Bonsai containers. Bonsai pots are dramatically different from pots used for other types of plants. The right container is almost as important an element as the tree it holds. The containers fulfill both the technical requirements needed by Bonsai growing and they also advance the aesthetic elements of the art form. I remember how difficult it was to find ANY Bonsai pots, let alone containers that I liked!

And no, you can never have too many Bonsai containers! I would rate these as a Can’t Go Wrong purchase!

Bonsai Potting Soil

A final potential Bonsai gift is specialty potting soil. As you may already suspect Bonsai have different soil needs than other plants. (Are you beginning to see a pattern here? LOL)

While many enthusiasts have their own special recipes, often, this may not be practical. For the Bonsai lovers who can’t mix their own potting mix, there are a number of pre-mixed Bonsai potting soil options available these days.

As you can see, Bonsai gardeners can be pretty easy to shop for… if you know where to find the supplies.

Source by Tink Boord-Dill

Homeowners looking for quick privacy hedges or landscape accents often opt for fast growing shrubs. Nurturing plants to maturity can be enjoyable in itself, but sometimes impatience may get the best of us and we would like something fast and equally as appealing. Here we list a few fast growing shrubs and their unique characteristics.


This densely branched shrub exhibits a very bristly quality – the stems shoot from the branches in what is sometimes called a ‘herringbone pattern’, which also happens to be a very popular pattern in hardscaping, most notably brick work. Cotoneaster’s jagged and bristly appearance becomes contrasted when it bears its shiny red berries which are a real eye-catcher.

Red Twig Dogwood

Dogwood has always been noted for its exceptional beauty when in bloom, but this particular type is still stunning even when the leaves, flowers, and berries are long gone in the winter months. It it during these cold months when you can get an unobstructed view of its fantastic reddish bark. After a snowfall, the stark contrast with the vibrant bark of the red twig makes for an otherworldly image.


Lilacs have always stood out as a true olfactory delight, a deciduous flowing shrub with as much beauty as it has character. The spring time bloom produces very pleasing lavender-blue flowers in dense clusters, with a most delightful fragrance.


Beautyberry is a very fast-growing shrub, so much so that many will recommend keeping the plant pruned to around a foot off the ground in the spring time. By the end of the summer, this little gem exhibits a dazzling display of violet and purple berries.


A truly wonderful shrub delivering both impressive size and a stunning green color. For homeowners who desire privacy, these are wonderful to use as hedges, they grow fairly quickly and provide a fair amount of coverage, although not all kinds of Arborvitae are suitable for use as privacy hedges. The type most commonly used for privacy is “Emerald Green” Arborvitae, growing to over 12 feet tall and several feet wide at maturity.


Canadian Hemlock, classified as both evergreens and conifers, is a fairly slow growing specimen with loads of longevity. At full maturity these trees can reach up to 80 ft. or more in height, however there are compact cultivars (essentially shrubs) which are perfect for use as hedge plants. The full size trees can also serve as a massive privacy screen. These are very low maintenance, leave very little mess and are very tolerant of shade.

Burning Bush

This feisty breed of shrub is very common and somewhat of a pest for some people as it can spread like wildfire if unchecked, and generally this plant is considered invasive. In the Autumn months this particular shrub really shines, the fall foliage is a brilliant mix of reds, oranges and pinks. For average homeowners desiring a pleasing autumn accent, Burning Bush fits the bill just fine, however many avid landscapers and gardeners despise this plant because of its tendency to dominate areas in which it grows and forcing native plant life out. Sumac is highly recommended as a possible alternative to Burning Bush.

Source by Kostas Menegakis