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Growing in the Desert Column

(List of Growing in the Desert columns)

"Thelocactus bicolor: Again and Again and Again"
by Mark Dimmitt

Pictures by Mark Dimmitt unless otherwise noted
This article may only be reprinted with the author's permission.

The majority of cactus species have distinct and rather short flowering seasons, usually less than a month per year. Thelocactus bicolor (glory of Texas, Texas pride, Figure 1) is a sterling exception. The three-inch wide brilliant pink-with-red-center flowers appear in response to watering, as often as every ten days or so throughout the hot season. In southern Arizona that’s April through October. Each flower lasts two or three days. That adds up to a lot of bloom time. The plants are quite attractive too, and there is considerable variation in body size and spine color and density (Figures 2, 3). Add to that the variation in flower shade (Figures 4, 5) and one could easily fill a bench with a collection of different forms. The solitary to sparsely-branched plants are small enough to fit several in a 12-inch pot, or 20 or more in a larger pot. If they’re watered well after a couple of dry weeks, they will flower synchronously (Figure 6), often with three to five flowers per stem (Figure 1, 4). Glory of Texas can be adapted to full sun in Tucson, in which case the stems will be compact with very dense spines. They are also fully winter hardy here.