There is something so calming and therapeutic about gardening. Especially when your garden is full of strange succulents in bloom. I may be a tad bit obsessed with the echeveria ‘elegans‘ that are blooming throughout my yard but their fluorescent pink and yellow flowers can bring a smile to my face even when I have a busy 2.5 year old pulling at my leg.
Betsy Dru Tecco’s article “A Therapeutic Garden” from Better Homes and Gardens is a fantastic reference article on using gardening as therapy. Being in touch with nature can be stimulating for the mind, body and soul. Gardening is an excellent activity to do with your children as well. Even at age 2.5, my son is aware of succulents and other plants when we are out around San Diego. He has his own little garden, 75% of it contains his rock collection and a few toy cars, but he is always mindful of his plants. He is learning that he needs to “be gentle” and the responsibility of taking care of something.
This fuzzy annual has been growing happily in our gardens from shady areas to full sunny areas. We also have several as houseplants who are just as happy. This wonderful little beauty is heat and drought-tolerant, very fragrant and has been impressively hard to kill. This Plectranthus coleoides Cerveza n Lime is probably the most fragrant plant we have in our yard.
We use this plant in most of our succulent arrangements, in our garden beds and in planters. Plectranthus seem to grow quickly and with the right cutting techniques, you can turn a single stem into a thriving little bush in a few months.
Here are some photos we took over the weekend of our fuzzy little friend.
All this chatter about succulents! Living in Southern California has its advantages when it comes to being a succulent lover. With more and more people becoming water-wise and re-landscaping with drought-resistant plants, it is almost like living in a botanical garden.
So, what is a succulent? Otherwise referred to as a fat plant, a succulent is a plant that has larger (thicker) or more “swollen” than normal leaves, stems or root systems that it uses as basically a water-storing organ so it can survive in arid conditions. Succulent comes from the Latin word Sucus, which means juice or sap. Most fat plants thrive in areas with higher temperatures and little rainfall.
Succulents are ornamental plants and known for their unusual appearance, shapes, and bright colors. You are probably familiar with a handful of the 60 or so plant families that encase succulents. The most popular is the Crassulaceae family.
Common names for fat plants include Sedum,Sempervivum or Echeveria. These are all part of the Crassulaceae family. Other popular fat plants are Aloe, Agave and Haworthii. Most people group succulents with cacti but did you know that almost all cacti are succulents but not all succulents are cacti? We will get into further conversation on this topic in the future.
There are thousands of succulent species, enough to confuse even the avid gardener. This site will focus on what we have growing in our gardens, our opinions, observations and research we have done over the years. We learn something new everyday and we appreciate your input, any corrections and stories.
Succulents are the most interesting plants. I am a broken record, as I seem to mutter those words daily. It is almost as though they have their own personaltities and every day I discover something new about one or more of the thousands in my gardens. After receiving a new lens from my father for my birthday, taking a class at YouTube University to learn how to use it, I decided to have a little photo time with my plants this morning.
Two of my favorite times of the week are just after the sun comes up on Saturday and Sunday mornings. It is especially fantastic the morning after a good rainfall. Although it didn’t rain last night, I did feed and soak most of my yard with leftover rainwater I collected last month last night.
All of my plants are perky and almost smiling. Ready for a beautiful day of California sunshine. Hopefully as time progresses I will improve with my camera skills and be able to capture the sense I get in my yard so I can share it with you with photography and not just my words.
We are learning that the best way to accurately identify a succulent is by looking at its flower. One of our favorite flowering succulents right now is the flowers given off by the popular succulent, the echeveria.
The echeveria is a rosette style succulent with firm, fleshy, linear, spoon-shaped, colorful leaves. This plant can be an evergreen perennial or can be a sub-shrub which contains several bunches of rosettes.
The racemes of an echeveria have several umbrella shaped flowers in many beautiful colors which bloom in mid-summer, however the leaves of this fat plant are what makes it so popular. The are truly chubby succulents.
Echeveria are part of the Crassulaceae plant family and are commonly referred to as stonecrops. It was named after the Spanish botanist Atanasio Echeverria Codoy. This succulent is native to Mexico but can also be traced to Texas and South America. Most of the echeveria’s grow in higher elevations with low humidity where temperatures never get too hot. Some species only live on cliff faces where all excess water drains off of them.
There are over 180 different echeveria species and they are very hard to correctly identify. Some are referred to as “Hens and Chicks” which can be confusing because sempervivums are also referred to as “Hens and Chicks”, which is another rosette shaped genus. This is one of the reasons we find so much misidentification with this plant.
Most echeverias are green, gray or bluish colored leaves. Some of them will change color based on their environment, such as temperature or sunlight. As bright and gorgeous as these succulents are, they are not tropical plants.
Echeverias are winter hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture planting zones 9 through 12. They are very easy to care for and propagate. Echeverias are a water-wise plant. Some of our echeverias have gone months without water. This succulent grows best in nutrient-rich soil in full sun. Make sure your echeverias are planted in well-drained containers or areas of ground.
We have several success stories of echeveria surviving happily indoors in a sun room in North Dakota for years. Several cuttings were placed in a pot roughly 2 years ago. They have definitely not grown as they do in California, but they have become strong plants. Just recently they started to shoot off their first flowers!
We LOVE early summer in Southern California. Most of our succulents and cacti do most of their growing and flowering in the summer months. We are please to have devised an awesome shipping method to make sure that your plants and succulent kits arrive in perfect condition.
We are in the process of building a succulent store for our site. Take a look at what we have so far! SHOP FAT PLANTS