The following describes our experience with the Encephalartos horridus at Indian Rock. At last check our price of $120./inch is the lowest in southern California. You may be able to find a few 5 gallons elsewhere for that price, but they will likely not be well grown; if you want fully developed, strong specimens be sure to visit us and compare.
The cost of a horridus, a blue cycad, reflects the long time for growth. A blue cycad grows more slowly than a green cycad. A blue cycad does poorly in coastal areas or in canopy where the light level is low: the color of the leaves will change from bright blue/silver to a dull gray, and may become susceptible to mold. It is important to have the full arc of sunshine for horridus in order to have health and beauty.
How much time are we talking about? Here are rough numbers for typical growth in full sun.
- from seedling to a 5 gallon size with 2" caudex, about 5 years
- from 5 gallon size (above) to 15 gallon size with 4" to 7" caudex, about another 5 years
- from 15 gallon size (above) to 20 gallon size with 7" to 9" 'beach ball' caudex or a multiple of smaller offsets, 4" to 6", another 5 years! That is a long time!
When the E. horridus is grown in well-draining soil, out in the open, it grows 3 to 5 times faster than if grown in a container. Why is that, if the container is in full sun? Well, the mixed soil used for containers is affectionately termed "foo-foo" soil, because it is the best approximation that soil folks do to provide moisture wicking, oxygenation to the roots and needed nutrients. Many of these mixed soil formulas contain no earth soil, just peat, sand, bark, perlite and pumice. But outdoor earth soil is EXACTLY what this cycad needs. In addition, the stable/uniform temperature of mother earth for the roots is nature perfect.
The horridus is a cycad that produces abundant offsets during the 10 year to later period. You may have heard collectors ask, "Is it seed grown?" What they are implying is that the caudex for an offset horridus may not be perfectly round, but a seed-grown one will be naturally round. Our experience is that offsets around 6" become well rounded. Sometimes this phrase is used to negotiate. Keep in mind that at any later time it is possible to split a collection of offsets into smaller sized cycads, and the overall cost will not change.
Here are horridus that are the first ones ready for sale and are in 5 gallon or 7 gallon containers. Eight (8) are seed grown, around 5 years old. Eleven (11) are offsets split away from a larger parent being 10 to 15 years old and generally larger than the seed grown cycads; those 6" or larger have round caudexes. Because of the smaller size of these horridus, they are the least expensive.
Encephalartos horridus, 5 gallon and 7 gallon
Here are horridus that are 1) seed grown to about 10 years or 2) are offsets split away from a parent or is the parent of a dig operation. Eight (8) are seed grown. Five (5) are offsets split away from a collection of offsets. All caudexes are round. There is absolutely no discernible difference in health or appearance of either. This size horridus is the best value; the parent plant of this horridus will double in size or there will be a proportionate number of offsets in 4 years.
Encephalartos horridus, 15 gallon
Finally, here are horridus that became large or developed a number of large offsets. They were dug and placed into 20 gallon containers or 24"/30" wooden boxes. This size horridus is the most desireable but most expensive It is best directed to the discerning collector wanting a very special cycad in his/her garden. Cycads of this level are found in commercial or public gardens. Please see the last photo, 36" of fused offsets; the significant feature of this size is the extremely dense head of leaves.
Encephalartos horridus, 20 gal, 6", 5.5" + 1 pup
Encephalartos horridus, 20 gal, 7", 5", 4"
Encephalartos horridus, 20 gal, 7", 6", 5.5", 5", 4" + 2 pups
Encephalartos horridus, 20 gal, 8", 6.5", 5", 4", 3.5"
Encephalartos horridus, 20 gal, 9.5", 6", 3.5"
Encephalartos horridus, 30 gallon, 36 diameter inches of fused caudexes, 48 inches tall above the soil line,
Note: This horridus is extremely healthy, vibrant and very blue. How is this possible? Because it was,
- Planted as a 5 gallon plant 18 years ago in decomposed granite, no clay, excellent drainage
- Exposed to the full arc of very warm Escondido sun, no shade
- Watered with very measured drip irrigation
- Given regular, balanced water-soluble fertilization
=>This cycad was sold.