National Capital Cactus
              & Succulent Society Logo
National Capital Cactus
              and Succulent Society

The next Event of the National Capital Cactus and Succulent Society of Washington, D.C. will be our Regular Monthly Meeting on
   Sunday March 19, 2017

Avonia quinaria in flower

Avonia quinaria ssp. quinaria

      There are so many little, succulent gems that it is always difficult to select one plant to highlight on the web page, but I don't think you can go wrong with Avonia quinaria ssp. quinaria,especially when it is in flower.  Avonia is another little succulent from South Africa.  However, unlike most of the other little South African succulents, this isn't a mesemb, it's a member of the Portulacaceae, the Portulaca family. 
     Avonia's are wonderful little plants with stems like white worms and flowers much too big for the plant from which they arise.  The carmine to pink flowers are always a special treat because it is not easy to grow these plants, especially outside of the confines of a greenhouse.  The plant shown above was grown on a windowsill by a very skilled grower in Germany.  It is a superb example of what can often be achieved under than less than optimum conditions.   

 Astrophytum asterias

  Astrophytum asterias in flower
For More Photo's Visit Our 
Plant  Gallery

    Astrophytum asterias (Star Cactus) is a wonderful small cactus native to northeaster Mexico and a small area of Texas along the Rio Grande river.  It stays small, usually less than 6 inches in diameter.  It has no spines.  And, it flowers most of the spring and summer.  When grown well, it's really a beautiful plant.
    Basic culture of the Star Cactus requires at least 5 hours sun daily, a well drained potting mix, regular watering from mid spring through the end of summer, and a cool, dry, winter rest. 

Lithops dorotheae

Autumn is the time of year when most lithops flower.  They are in essence, short-day plants, much like chrysanthemums.  Some species flower as early as late August and one species, Lithops optica and its much sought after form, L. optica f. rubra, don't flower until mid December.   Each flower last about 4 to 5 days and there is no detectible fragrance.  The most common reasons for a lithops plant not to flower is that they are not mature (too young) or they have not received enough sun during the preceding spring and summer. 

The program of the February 2017 meeting will be

"Potential Over-winter Strategies for Succulent Collections"
By Ric Tursan

Although winter is coming to an end, this is a good time to think about methods to safely get succulent plants through next winter.  Our society president Ric Tursan recently purchased a new house and is in the process of exploring locations and methods to keep his succulent collection throughout the year.  As his collection expands using available windowsills just doesn't provide enough space.  Although Ric is still considering a small greenhouse, he is also interested in the possibility of using heated and non heated cold frames.  Ric will share his thoughts, ideas and plans on outdoor locations for succulents in both the summer and winter

Over-wintering cold frames
At right are the two over-wintering, heated cold frames used by NCCSS member Bob Stewart to get many of his cacti and other succulents through the winter.  Each frame is covered with 6 mil plastic and has a small electric heater. 

f you would like to attend any of our meetings or have questions about our society, please contact Lee Miller or Bob Stewart for details.                                                                       

The National Capital Cactus and Succulent Society

The NCCSS is a group of individuals sharing an interest in the collecting and growing of cacti and other types of succulent plants.  We meet  once a month from September through June.  In August we hold an annual plant show and sale at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland. Our Regular Monthly Meetings are held at St. Anselm’s Abbey School at 14th & South Dakota Ave. N.E. Washington, DC.  Our meeting begin at 10:30 a.m. and end at Noon.   If you live in the Washington, D.C. area and are interested in succulent plants, why not visit one of our meetings and share your interest with others who also love these weird and fascinating plants. 

The National Cactus and Succulent Society is now on Facebook!

Yes, you can grow cacti in your Washington, D.C. area landscape.

The photo below was taken during the winter of 2009-10  in the backyard of a home in Charles County Maryland, just southeast of Washington, D.C.  The cacti shown in the photo have been growing outside for the past 12 years.  They are not brought inside or protected in any way during the winter.  The most serious winter damage occurs from stem breakage due to the weight of heavy wet snow or ice.  There are a large number of cacti and other succulent plants that can withstand winter conditions, and they can be used to develop a very interesting and enjoyable part of any landscape. 

Hardy cholla in flower MarylandWinter hardy chollas (Cylindropuntia imbricata) covered with snow (above) and in flower (right) in a winter hardy planting in southern Maryland. 
Membership & Dues:

To join the National Capital Cactus and Succulent Society contact Lee Miller or Bob Stewart    If you would like a sample of our most recent newsletter, The Eastern Spine, contact newsletter editor Bob Stewart. Annual membership dues are $10.00     

Would You Like To Know More About Aeoniums?Aeonium

Society member Donna Kuroda presented a program on Aeoniums at our October 2011 meeting and she has agreed to allow you access to that program through a PDF presentation.  Just click here on the word AEONIUM  to call up the program.  This is a large file and make take a minute or two to load, depending on the speed of your computer.

Monthly Newsletter:

The Eastern Spine is the official newsletter of the National Capital Cactus and Succulent Society.  It is  published monthly, September through June and is included with your society membership. Join our club and get your own copy delivered to your mailbox.
Click Newsletter to view the April 2013 newsletter in PDF format.  When you are finished reading the newsletter, hit the BACK button on your browser to return to this page.  If you would like a complementary copy of our upcoming May 2013 newsletter just drop me a note.

Purpose of the National Capital Cactus and Succulent Society:
  • the study, culture, and propagation of cactus and other succulent plants;
  • to exchange information among interested persons and organizations, and to further the education about and understanding of succulent plants and their habitats;
  • to encourage conservation of plants and preservation of natural habitats;
  • to affiliate or associate with other organizations of similar purpose;

Benefits of the National Capital Cactus and Succulent Society:
  • Share ideas and techniques with other cactus and succulent growers.
  • Interesting and informative programs.
  • Good fellowship and refreshments.
  • Use of an extensive club library.
  • A monthly newsletter, The Eastern Spine.
  • Sales table with members plants and related items.
  • Monthly raffle of donated plants and related items.
  • Annual Show & Sale at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland


Our program committee arranges for us to have a unique event each and every month. These consist of lectures, slide shows, informal discussions and presentations; they are always interesting and informative.

Plant of the Month:Lapidarpia

Each month a succulent genus, or special selection of succulent plants are featured as our plant of the month.  Our plant of the month for March  2015 is Lapidaria margaretae.  It is native to the Warmbad area of southern Namibia and in adjacent parts of the Northern Cape Province of South Africa.  It is found in fields of quartz, where it is difficult to find because of its stone-like appearance.   The exception is when it is covered with its bright yellow flowers, then it is very noticeable in order to attract the insects that pollinate the flowers.  Flowering takes place during the fall into early winter.  It requires a very well drained, coarse potting soil and careful water during the winter through the end of summer.  Too much water at the wrong time and you'll be looking for a new plant.  The Lapidaria margaretae plant show at right was purchased by one of our members from a mail order nursery in the spring of 2013.  It resides on a sunny windowsill in winter and goes outside after the danger of frost has passed in the late spring.     

Information on Growing Succulent Plants:

One of the important aspects of growing healthy succulent plants is using the proper potting soil mix.  You can read the NCCSS Potting Soils for Succulent Plants handout by clicking right HERE.

Plant Sales:                                                                                                             

If you have any surplus plants, seeds, pots, books or any other plant related items you want to sell, you can bring them to the meeting. Set your own price. 25% goes to the club to buy new books and cover other club related expenses.


First meeting was held July 21, 1974 at the Samson House at Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD. The club newsletter, The Eastern Spine, became official for the November 1974 meeting. The club began its affiliation with the Cactus & Succulent Society of America with the adoption of the By-Laws at the September 15, 1974 meeting.

Extra-Curricular Activities:

  • Annual Cactus & Succulent Show & Sale.
  • Summer field trips.
  • Summer picnic.
  • Holiday Buffet at St. Anselm's Abbey School in December.
NCCSS Officers for 2016/2017

President: Ric Tursan
Vice-President: Bob Petza
Recording Secretary: Ric Tursan
Membership Secretary: Lee Miller
Treasurer: Lee Miller
Directors at large: Ben Burkhardt
Bob Stewart      
Newsletter Editor
Bob Stewart
Donna Kuroda

Links to Gardens and Other Societies in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area: Cactus and Succulent Society of America  (CSSA)CSSA Logo

The National Capital Cactus & Succulent Society is an affiliate society of the Cactus and Succulent Society of America.  For more information about the CSSA see their web site at:


The NCCSS  web site is maintained by Bob Stewart

The NCCSS Web Site is part of the Cactus Mall Web System
Use the Link Below to Visit the Cactus Mall Site

The Cactus
          and Succulent Plant Mall