Midwest Cactus and Succulent Society club logo
...collectors and hobbyists helping each other succeed

Finding &


Member-Generated Shorts

Members, to post please see instructions in the side bar (right).

29 January, 2015
What I Collect & Why: Part 2

After classifying my collection, the vast majority of plants fell into the following categories: Sansevaria, Gymnocalycium, Hoya, Euphorbia and Caudiciforms. Each has its own story and purpose in the collection. The best part of defining the collection is that it has allowed me to focus on creating a more defined, better collection. I still succumb to purchasing the occasional cool-looking plant but it also easier to pass those by as well.

This category is composed primarily of S. trifasciata plus just a few other species. Currently it is the second largest category in my collection. I started using Sansevaria in classes I taught on plant propagation. I had to keep several types growing and the collection grew from there as I took note of the diversity of leaf form and markings on a plant where the leaves are the only thing you see. The collection is pretty much complete as many of the other plants out there are slight variations on those I already have.

Sansevaria are native to Africa, Madagascar and southern Asia. They are actually in the Asparagus family and spread via underground rhizomes.

These plants can take it dry...really dry. I have left them until their leaves began to curl and they still recovered though the old leaves always looked a bit rough after that. Back in the 60’s and 70’s they were the standard plant found in any beauty salon or barbershop. Our cats have chewed an occasional leaf but have otherwise left these plants largely untouched.

I use my standard cactus mix and plastic pots for large specimens. These plants are great a breaking clay pots as their vigorous rhizomes try to break free. They will bloom, producing a sweet-smelling flower spike just dripping with nectar. They overwinter as room decorations and are moved out to a partial shade location for summer.

Purpose in collection: indoor tolerant; rhizomatous; teaching material; diversity of form.

[to be continued]

T Malinich

29 December, 2015
What I Collect & Why: Part 1

My wife has pointed out, on more than one occasion (usually while weaving her way through a maze of overwintering cacti in the basement), that collecting can be considered a disease. That has, along with regularly attending auctions and seeing houses full of clutter, inspired me to create a rationale for my cacti & succulent collection.

Everything you have takes money and time to maintain, both of which are usually in short supply. Bringing home every plant that looks cool will quickly lead to a huge collection of rapidly growing, cool-looking plants that take up lots of time and space and look cool. When I took time to analyze my collection, I noticed that plants started to fall into easily recognized categories. Each category consists of plants that satisfy my curiosity and tell a story of their own.

When you can see a reason [mission and purpose] to your collection it is easy to refine your collection and share its story with others. The bulk of my collection falls into five categories. There are plants that fall outside this list, a Carnegia gigantea that my brother gave me for instance, but those are a small part of the collection.

As plants began to fall into categories (most based on genus) it was easy to see why they formed the bulk of the collection--they met criteria that piqued my interest in the hobby but didn’t have unmanageable requirements (time, money, space). Criteria for my collection center around size, scope, and care.

Size Matters
I do not have space for everything. I don't want to make space for everything. I have had some great, large Euphorbia tirucalii and Synadenium in the past, but they did so well I could no longer maintain them to enjoy them to their fullest. Also, I move the plants to the basement every winter making smaller plants more manageable. So, collected plants must not outgrow my space for a reasonable amount of time (a decade perhaps).

Scope Matters
This criteria has to deal with just how large the reach of the collection can be or how dilute it can be. For instance, “all Haworthia” is fairly large target with lots of plants and a growing number of hybrids. I tend toward more narrowly defined groups where I can clearly state its purpose in the collection.

Care Matters
The time available for maintenance and care of the plants is very important. A full-time and part-time job definitely get in the way of leisure time, so I can’t dedicate large chunks of time to the plants. They have to be able deal with sparse care. Also, I grow outside in summer and under lights for winter dormant care. Each plant has to be able to tolerate the dry, cool, dim basement.

Related to care is how the plants fare indoors with multiple cats and a dog. Cacti are fairly cat-proof but succulents are not. Having plants that are feline-neutral creates a more peaceful environment in the house between cat and plant owner. On a final note, any plants poisonous or injurious to the animals must be isolated.

[To be continued]

T Malinich

A note about the blog

Our website was hacked through the WordPress blog. Since the blog was a maintenance headache due to hundreds of spam comments every week, we decided to discontinue the traditional blog format. In its place is this current scroll of member-generated short articles.

Eventually, we will have an eMail address to use for questions or comments.


Instructions to Contributors

Members, to post please send your articles, up to 300 words and two photos, to the webmaster. Format it similar to the most recent post on this page. Split large works into smaller articles. Please allow up to 2 weeks to get posted due to the fact that the webmaster does have a job in the non-cactus world. Thank You.

Events &


| Home | Contact | About |Meetings | Tips | Collections | Purchasing |

clip art from clipartheaven