The initial reason we traveled to St. Louis, Missouri, the trip that I told you about in my last Bright Lights blog was so I could attend the Mid-States Cactus and Succulent Society Conference. Well, here’s how that that part of the trip went.


After we spent the first day and a half seeing St. Louis, Thursday evening we were back at the hotel to register for the conference. First thing we cactus fanatics hit at one of these events is the sale room and the tables filled with plants that we really don’t need but simply can’t live without. So naturally after registering, off I went to see what I would be seduced into buying. In the end I managed to limit myself to only five plants.


The next morning Mike Hellmann, president of the Henry Shaw Cactus and Succulent Society, the hosts of the conference,  along with past-president Neal Bohlman welcomed everyone and got things rolling.


This was an enjoyable conference with many speakers taking us on trips to exotic locations to see unusual and beautiful cacti and succulents, like Woody Minnich and his trips to Socotra and Mexico:




Neal’s trip to Somalia:



Dan Mahr’s journey to South Africa’s Namaqualand:





Tracy Vymola and her love of Thailand’s adeniums:



And a closer to home look at Judy Pigue’s cactus gardens in Kansas City, Missouri.



We also took the tour of the Missouri Botanical Gardens and even saw cactus there.


At the banquet and rare plant auction we enjoyed a lovely meal and I managed to be sitting in the winning marked chair to win the centerpiece, a nice golden barrel, echinocactus grusonii, which brought the number of cactus I would be taking home to six!


One program given by Joe Merkelbach alerted everyone to the cacti listed on the endangered and threatened lists, many native to Texas.




I always enjoy these presentations as a chance to visit places vicariously through these experts who know so much more about cactus and succulents than I do. The audience always enjoys seeing exotic places that most people will probably never have the chance to visit themselves, in part because gaining entry into some of these countries is both difficult and dangerous.

But the other reason these conferences are valuable is the wealth of knowledge of all things succulent these speakers bring with them and their willingness to share that information with the rest of us. So instead of mixing trips and pretty pictures with instructive slides and information, I will share specific topics and facts from other presentations with you in separate posts.

I appreciate the cactus and succulent fanatics who plan and organize these meetings as a labor of love so that the rest of us can marvel at these beautiful and amazing plants, the trip presentations, and the educational sessions. We enjoy and learn from all the activities. And I do always come home with new information and tips that help me better understand my plants and therefore take better care of them.

So in the upcoming posts you will read about adaptations of succulent plants, growing plants from seed, training your adeniums like they do in Thailand, and secrets for growing quality cacti and succulents, which also discusses CAM plants.


This may all sound sterile and boring, but if you are a cactus lover, I assure you, it won’t be!  After learning this new information, you’ll be looking at your plants with a whole different perspective and appreciation.