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What size container to use?
August 1, 2008

Notice the tree.
That is a California redwood planted due north of the San Pedro. This allows full morning sunlight with afternoon shade. That is the ideal situation so the plant does not get a lot of sunburn, or develop a yellow appearance.

This San Pedro
is about 14 feet tall—and about 50 years old. Hundreds of cuttings have been harvested over the years. In fact, the owner would cut down ones about to fall on the driveway and toss them on his brush pile.

I've never seen a San Pedro grow taller than 12 to 14 feet because the columns sway in wind storms, then snap off. They simply don't have enough strength in their core. The bases will become very woody, but the upper tips have less wood in that area.

In fact, I have seen this plant lose limbs from the weight of flowers. Believe it! When too many flower stalks cover a tall upper tip their weight can make it lean over, then break off.

The point is that these plants are by nature huge landscaping plants. To keep one in a house means only that you have to let it become root bound, water it less, etc.

Outdoors, planted in the earth, the roots will spread out. It will find its own supply of water to become as large as it is genetically capable of being.

But many plants can be kept indoors as house plants. Just please don't email me to ask what size container to use; my answer is always the same—the largest one you can get.

 

My hand in the photo gives you an idea of the actual size of this San Pedro growing under ideal conditions. The afternoon shade of that redwood allows the columns to be rich green without blemishes. Compare this with the ones I harvested from Cactus Kate's after she died.

See what 100% sunlight (no afternoon shade) does to the appearance? Sun burn...

 

Q: So what size flower pot would you use for this San Pedro stump?

A: That one grew happily in the earth until the evil developer bulldozed our place to build row houses.

Then I had to dig it up to move. But the container did not have any drainage holes—I had assumed it did. When she started to rot it was too late.

I really though that 50 gallon plastic flower pot from Home Depot had drainage holes in the bottom. But in the haste of moving the fact that it did not was not noticed.

So I saved the san pedro stump because the wood is kind of cool. Live and learn.
END

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