06 January 2008

Cactus Rescue

One great thing that plant enthusiasts--particularly native plant enthusiasts--engage in is plant rescue. Word gets out that a property is going to be bulldozed and the Plant Freaks (and I mean that in a good way) descend for a day or more to dig up, save and replant species that would otherwise have been destroyed by the development process. It's not ideal, but at least the plants can find a second life elsewhere.

So it happened that I was in the right place at the right time to try to rescue (we will only know over time if it worked) two humongous old prickly pear cacti from a concrete planter in front of a building on UT campus that's going to be demolished. (Mind you, they were of the spineless variety. We would've left them be if they were spiny.) These weren't wild, and prickly pears aren't endangered (yet), but I just couldn't let these old beings go to waste.

Several of the big live oak trees had already been relocated. Thankfully, great pains are taken these days to move huge mature trees to new locations, and generally this works. One only has to walk over to the new Mueller development to see all of the new mature trees they've planted around the parks and entrances from elsewhere. Amazing really. But I digress.

But chances were high that these cacti would be bowled over or ripped up during demolition. Not many people will stage sit ins for a stand of prickly pears growing in a planter. So, we decided to grab them as best we could, divvy them up into pieces (whew, they were bigger and way heavier than we imagined that would be). We planted two large pieces in our front yard and are in the process of giving away the rest to friends. Propagating the cactus is relatively easy (you lay a pad down on its side and eventually roots will grow from a callous that forms on the underside of the pad). It remains to be seen how a mature cactus transplant will take - we massively severed its deep roots, particularly a deep tap root that prickly pears seem to get. Who knew? Regardless, I feel that if we even one of the pads grows into a new plant, we did some good.

The new cactus (smaller by many, many lost pads) finds a new home

Texas meets Japan? We picked this old lantern up at Wimberly Market Days. A new rescued cactus sits behind it.


Pam/Digging said...

That photo of the huge cactus in the trunk of the classic car is GREAT. You could use it to head up a page about nurseries or something.

Diana said...

OH -- that photo is a HOOT !!!! And i love the way you endearingly call us and our kind, "plant freaks." It's so true -- good luck with the transplant.

Wicked Gardener said...

Sorry for all the posts, but that picture kills me. I'd blow it up and put it in my living room. I'm really enjoying your blog.

Mina said...

I wonder if you could give us update on the health of the cactus!