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Killer Cacti
updated: Feb 07, 2013, 10:08 AM

By Edhat Subscriber

My wife and I recently bought a house and it comes complete with a killer cacti garden...literally! We have a toddler and felt that the thorny plants would have to go. So I posted them on craigslist for sale and then got a response that told me that one of the plants, a prehistoric mature Sago Palm, is actually poisonous and deadly!!! In any case, we are getting ready to move in, and no one has expressed any interest in purchasing these mature, deadly plants from our yard...go figure... : )

We really don't want to kill any of them but are rapidly running out of options. Am hoping some EH'ers might have some suggestions or advice.

Nothing says "Don't come near me!" better than a killer cactus garden-o-death.

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Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 SACJON agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-07 10:15 AM

Yikes! Cacti and toddlers don't mix - that's for sure!


 COMMENT 371806 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-07 10:22 AM

call Tony at Terra Sol nursery in Goleta. He is a mgr and seroious cactus collector. He should know someone who'd be interested. send him photos so he can see size and health of these 'specimens', as cactus of this size and maturity are known. I'll also forward this to some folks up here in SLO co.

Terra Sol Garden Ctr.
5320 Overpass Rd Santa Barbara, CA 93111
(805) 964-7811


 COMMENT 371810 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-07 10:26 AM

Sell them on C list, looks like you have some $$$ sitting there.

Congrats on the house!


 COMMENT 371812 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-07 10:28 AM

"killer cactus garden-o-death" LOL! Don't have any suggestions except to call a landscape company (I always use Quality Tree & Landscape). Good luck and congrats on the new home!


 COMMENT 371814 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-07 10:29 AM

You have some large, beautiful, expensive specimens. Please do not kill them. There are collectors out there that would love to take them off of your hands.They are slow growers and take many years to get to this size. Good Luck!!


 COMMENT 371815 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-07 10:33 AM

Just be careful when backing up!


 SIMPLESIMON agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-07 10:35 AM

After you get rid of them, please don't replace them with a lawn. Come to the Botanic Garden Nursery for ideas on toddler-friendly native plant replacements. Drought-resistant grasses too! Thanks.


 SBSWEETPEA agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-07 10:37 AM

PLEASE don't hack them out or dig them up. Call the Cactus and Succulent Society. I think the president is Martin Dent I am sure there will be lots of happy takers if you get the info. to them. You may have some unusual and or large specimens people will be interested in.
Also there is the Horticulture Society.


Good Luck!


 COMMENT 371848 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-07 11:29 AM

I have no clue if they'd be interested, but try calling Lotusland, too. Virginia Hayes is the curator & would be able to tell you if they could use them or have any other ideas for you on who might want them.


 COMMENT 371863P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-07 11:56 AM

Thanks for the advice, everybody! We are contacting all those referrals now. I knew I could count on edhat! :)

...did I mention that some of the needles are over 6 inches long and hard as nails? Sharper too!
I call the poisonous Sago Palm, "W.C. Fields" because it apparently hates kids and dogs ;)


 COMMENT 371865P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-07 11:59 AM

They are out front so a toddler is unlikely to be out there that close to the road on their own, but that said. Those are great looking specimens and make a really interesting yard. My solution would be a 3 ft. high - see through but not walk through - fence around that part of the yard.


 ROGER DODGER agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-07 12:26 PM

Too bad you have to get rid of them they are a great deterrent for theives..


 COMMENT 371880 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-07 12:28 PM

Yes what 865 said! These are amazing- any kind of transplanting is gonna mess them up. Let your kid(s) get an ouwie if need be. They will learn quickly not to mess around with them..........


 COMMENT 371889P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-07 12:41 PM

865: Yes you may be right, but I have no intention of telling my wife and mother of our child that "it is unlikely that she might die from falling into a plant in our new front yard...."
You are also right that it is very interesting landscape, and believe me, I am a best friend of "interesting", but not what I had in mind buying a simple tract home in Goleta :)

880: Dude? Did you read how long the needles are on some of these? I dont think "an owie" quite grasps the gravity of a run in with any of these. At best a trip to the hospital and some reconstructive surgery :)


 COMMENT 371891 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-07 12:48 PM

this also appeared in the SLO edhat edition, so I forwarded to the pres. of the Central Coast C&S Society. Gene Schroeder is interested and hopefully will respond here.


 COMMENT 371893 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-07 12:50 PM

If your new house is in the city you may need permission to remove the plants.


 COMMENT 371897P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-07 12:56 PM

To bad you have to get rid of them, looks like a previous owner put a lot of love and care into having a drought resistant front yard.


 COMMENT 371898 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-07 12:57 PM

rather than asking someone to purchase them, you will probably have more luck offering to donate them or give them away. Besides the places mentioned above, There is the UCSB Greenhouse and Garden Project:


Someone their might want to come take some/all or them.

Shame to be getting rid of low maintenance and beautiful landscaping.


 EDDIEKD agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-07 01:00 PM

Also, Lotusland might have input--maybe you could donate them! If any are rare, the garden at Lotusland can either plant them, or sell them for you for the benefit of preservation.


 COMMENT 371906 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-07 01:05 PM

just around the corner from me. Ive watched these grow since 1989!


 COMMENT 371910P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-07 01:17 PM

I'm not a landscape architect or anything, but what if you just dug out the prickly plants around the perimeter (and the poisonous ones!) and planted some ornamental grasses that would prevent your toddler from wandering through them? It is really beautiful, but I understand your concerns.


 KIANA agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-07 02:12 PM

If you are not happy with those you can do a number of things.
Do you want to sell these awesome plants?
You can Call some local landscaping companies, they may
be willing to buy them from you. Beautiful specimans for sure!
Worth some bucks, honestly.
The cycad is awesome and needs to be trimmed up and fertilized, also nice plant. I have 3-4 in my yard.


 KIANA agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-07 02:16 PM

I believe that actually pertains to TREES within the city.
And mainly large, usually oaks. These are cacti.


 COMMENT 371940P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-07 02:28 PM

Thanks again, everybody! All good advice. We have already heard from two interested parties about them, but no takers yet. But am happy they may go to a good home :) They are cool, I agree.

Kiana: W.C. Fields (the cycad) is fertilized, I think, and is full of seeds at the top. It is an awesome plant, we were going to keep it until I found out how poisonous it is. I just can't risk it.
I know they are valuable, and would love to sell or trade them for different plants if possible.

906: Howdy, neighbor! :) Believe me, I don't want to kill them or anything, but they have to go. My wife grew up here too, same street, you probably know us. We love the neighborhood and the house, just can't do the cactus thing. :)


 KIANA agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-07 02:29 PM

And yes, several are in the Euphorbia Family

Check out this link go to www.cactuslimon.com

you can identify some of yours

I think one was a Euphorbia Kibwensia


 KIANA agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-07 02:42 PM

Your right that is why I was mentioning to call some of the larger landacaping companies who may be interested in buying your plants, so you can make room for others

Never heard that sago palms (Cycads) are poisonous but just found this

Sago Palm Trees are Poisonous to Dogs.. and there is a list of toxic plants that are harmful to dogs in the web link



 KIANA agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-07 02:46 PM

actually I am trying to see if a client of mine would be interested.


 COMMENT 371949 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-07 02:48 PM

I don't have kids, but I'd be worried about my dog (if I had one).
They are so beautiful though. I like the three foot wall suggestion.


 COMMENT 371977P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-07 03:37 PM

Thanks, KIANA! That would be great!

Yep, I googled "sago palm" and SNOPES yes yes its truedat, they are seriously poisonous. Its just that dogs tend to eat them, and I am guessing little kids might too. Adult people not so much. Apparently they grew the poison to fend off really larg animals (dinosaurs?) so you can guess how bad it must be. ;)


 AUNTIE S. agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-07 04:31 PM

I love the helpful hints about just putting the prickly ones around the outside and plantintg ornamental grasses - or toddlers won't go that close to the street. Seriously people - have you ever had a toddler??


 COMMENT 372013 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-07 05:04 PM

I wish any landscaping companies looking for mature sized cacti would post.
I have a pair of San Pedros about 2 stories tall that need to be removed. They are too close to the street for comfort.

But would look wonderful by a new Spanish Style home. Nice yellow flowers.


 COMMENT 372039 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-07 06:45 PM

I think you are wise to be concerned about your toddler. Our son had an encounter with a cactus that actually was like a porcupine and the needles embedded and we ended up in the emergency room. He never went near any of them again.

Beautiful garden though, hope all of them find a loving home:-)

Bet the previous owners never had a problem with dogs leaving a present in that yard for them to clean up.


 COMMENT 372057P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-07 08:10 PM

The previous owners may not have had any "presents" but we have asked our new neighbors and there have been several cases over the years of dogs injured and cats impaled. My wife's parents live nearby and have had to save impaled cats there themselves.
These are not cactus from the Bugs Bunny/Roadrunner cartoons, these are serious desert plants evolved to live in the worst conditions imaginable and fend off 40ft dinosaurs with skin 2 inches thick.
I believe these plants are programmed to survive in extreme environments.They have beautifully adapted to endure attacks by weather, sun and hostile predators. Their battle armor is too dangerous for relatively thin skinned people.
We are a no kill family. We save and release spiders, lizards, birds, mice, rats and voles that accidentally enter our house. It's been difficult discussing these plants that appear healthy and happy. We have to think of our daughter first. Where she is concerned we won't risk an easily avoidable injury. The Sago doesn't just make dogs and kids sick. In about 70 percent of cases, it kills. Liver failure is very common. So.....just sayin :)


 COMMENT 372087P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-08 04:04 AM

Yep. De gustibus non est disputandum. You bought this place and one of the most wonderful and amazing things about it is the collection of plants.

I wish I'd never seen this post. Really disappointing that the person who bought this house doesn't appreciate the age and beauty of these living things.

At least you're smart enough to recycle these beauties and allow them to live life where they're wanted. Thank you for that.


 COMMENT 372089 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-08 05:00 AM

087P, Its just some landscaping. The house was bought for the neighborhood and many other factors.
It has nothing to do with appreciation of age, beauty, smarts...etc. Get a grip. If you found a nest of scorpions or black mamba snakes in your front yard, I am sure you would just build a fence around them and teach your toddler that they are beautiful living things and hope she doesnt get "an owie" from them.


 COMMENT 372112 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-08 07:22 AM

The OP could have just removed these and put them in the trash. He wants to save these plants and simply asked for referrals to do so - why the harsh judgement?


 COMMENT 372114 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-08 07:24 AM

Ooohhh! They are all so beautiful!
I have spent the last 4 years planting a cactus garden all around my house because nothing else grows up here.
Unfortunately i do not have the big bucks to buy your beautiful plants, or i would but them all! I have tons of beautiful euphorbias that were the branches of 2 30 footers that were removed from a garden.
Whatever you cannot sell and want to get rid of, i will happily come and get, and help your situation!


 COMMENT 372136 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-08 07:54 AM

I have kids, dogs and a killer cactus garden, and everyone co-exists just fine. My mature sago hasn't killed anyone, either! Try moving in for a while and you will be surprised at how kids learn to avoid hazards.


 COMMENT 372159P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-08 08:31 AM

136, thanks for the advice!

"Hey, honey, an anonymous Internet person says he has kids, dogs, and the same cactus garden as us and that we should just move in and risk it! .......honey?.....sweetheart?.....helllloooo?"



 COMMENT 372173 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-08 09:02 AM

You should consider tearing out the driveway and replacing it with gravel or dirt. If your toddler falls on the paving stones she might hurt her head.


 COMMENT 372182 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-08 09:25 AM

Yes, Sago Palms (not a true palm but a Cycad) are poisonous, but only if you ingest them. And, because they are so sharp, a toddler would not be inclined to pick and eat the leaves - there are other more deadly garden plants to worry about with small children.


 COMMENT 372197 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-08 09:52 AM

Oh please people! I have two kids and TOTALLY agree with OP, why even risk it even the CHANCE of anyone getting hurt? Sorry, but kids (and even pets) trump dangerous plants. And it looks like OP has some really great options besides trashing them. Good for him for reaching out to actually try and save the plants AND create a safe front yard. Win-win.


 COMMENT 372203P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-08 09:59 AM

Wow! You can really see how many childless old grumps there are on here!

To the OP - good for you! Looks like a nice house you got and getting rid of any perceived threat to your family's safety is your duty as a father/husband.

Don't listen to all the grouchy trolls on here....protect your kid!


 COMMENT 372240 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-08 10:57 AM

013- I am extremely interested in your San Pedro's, I love them and whenever I get peices of them I try to grow as many from the peices budding out as possible- they're great fire resistant house shields! A couple ones of that size would round out my landscaping perfectly.


 COMMENT 372272P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-08 11:35 AM

OP here, again :) No worries, I am not bothered by trolls or grumps. I find their comments amusing. Always have. At least its not one of those silly political things.
In any case, I am trying to figure out the best way to get my contact info to interested parties here without having to worrie about the grumpy trolls


 COMMENT 372282 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-08 11:51 AM

013 here, how would I reach you 240? And can you safely remove a 2 story cacti?


 COMMENT 372286P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-08 11:58 AM

I'm a great admirer of cactus and succulents, but when I had a baby I removed a couple of very sharp agave from our yard. We kept the cereus that is well away from traveled areas. I understand your concerns OP, and I'm glad that since you find it necessary to remove your cactus garden, you are taking the trouble to make sure the plants go to good homes. You have some beautiful specimens, and this is an area with many active cactus gardeners.

If you want easy and child-friendly replacements that will fit in your prepared succulent garden, the popular Agave attenuata, aka "soft agave" in our household, is a bright and very easy replacement with graceful leaves that come to nice soft bendy points. Also there are several tree aloes that have nice sculptural lines and dramatic mid-winter flowers. These all thrive in our climate with little care. You may even find cutting from neighbors or friends. I put my cuttings (free) on Craigslist from time to time and they are always gone in a few hours.


 COMMENT 372306P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-08 12:35 PM

OK, OP here!
If you are interested in my cacti and want to contact me directly, you can email me at pacoaksboy@gmail.com


 COMMENT 372427 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-08 05:31 PM

Call Jeff Chemnick, he is interested in your plants.
Phone # 965-0895.


 COMMENT 372433 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-08 05:51 PM

013/282- 240 here- we will have a few friends to help us safely remove and transport the cacti on a flatbed truck, one who is an expert in landscape management and plant propagation. Contact me at Top Hat Vagabond at hotmail dot com and we can coordinate a time and details to transport your beautiful cactus. Thank you!


 COMMENT 372459P agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-08 08:07 PM

Hi, OP here, thanks again everyone for all the great leads. We have contacted almost all the nurseries as well as some private collectors and have made arrangements for some viewings and trade for our cacti. Not sure if it will come to fruition yet but sounds very promising. Very glad we posted here!
If you are interested, please email me at:
pacoaksboy@gmail.com or text us at (805) 252-4422
Or give me your number in the post and we will call.


 COMMENT 372618 agree helpful negative off topic

2013-02-09 01:54 PM

@371810, apparently you did not read the OP's text, they tried Craigslist and had no luck.


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