A few months ago I was given a few cuttings from a friends xerosicyos and I planted them as I normally do with new succulent cuttings. After about a month, they had shriveled and I had given up hope that I would be able to turn them into successful plants. I had placed them in a pot full of other cuttings and was unable to pull them out without disrupting others, so I just cut them down and left the bottom part of the stem in the pot.
As I was putzing through my gardens a few weeks ago I noticed some new growth on the stems of these sad cuttings. In two weeks time I now have little pups on every stem I thought was a goner! The pups are look different than the full grown plant. They are covered with fine white hairs and their leaves seem pointier.
The xerosicyos is a flowering plant that is part of the Cucurbitaceae family of plants which is the same family which you find watermelon and pumpkins in. It is commonly referred to as the silver dollar vine and is native to Madagascar. According to my research there are three types of xerosicyos, xerosicyos danguyi, xerosicyos perrieri and a completely different looking xerosicyos pubescens. My cutting is either the danguyi or the perrieri.
Succulents really are amazing plants. Just when you have given up all hope of survival, they surprise you and burst back to life!
On another note, my crassula mesembryanthemoides bloomed and I almost missed it! This beauty put out a foot tall raceme of tiny pink and yellow flowers. Sadly as I was taking the flower photos I broke the stem, but at least I got the photo!
The largest genus of succulents in the Crassulaceae family is the ever-famous echeveria. This flowering succulent happens to be one of our favorites, who doesn’t love a bright pink, teal, purple or orange rosette as a showpiece in any planter or garden! Echeverias range in size from one inch to two feet across and most of them thrive in bright places and direct sunlight but many do fine in the shade. We have many echeverias that live in bright spots indoor as well as in shadier areas of our nursery and do just fine. Some are frost tolerant and most will do fine down to 45 degrees F. Echeverias can adapt and are suitable as indoor plants.
The echeveriasucculent plant is native to areas in Mexico and down to the Northwestern part of South America. They were first named after a botanical artist from the 18th century, Atanasio Echeverria y Godoy. Some people refer to the echeveria species as “hens and chicks”, however there are other genera of succulents, mainly sempervivum, that are also referred to as such.
There are hundreds of named species of echeveria but there are tens of thousands of man-made hybrids as well, with only a fraction of those hybrids being true cultivars. This makes 100% accurate identification challenging. Some of our favorite echeverias include the echeveria afterglow, echeveria agavoides and echeveria pulvinata.
Echeveria are polycarpic, meaning they can flower numerous times in their life unlike the monocarpicaeonium. Our oldest echeveria, an echeveria ‘blue waves’, blooms from July until October and every year it seems to give us more and more racemes of gorgeous pink flowers.
Even people who don’t typically like succulents don’t seem to mind the fabulous aeonium plant. I just walked through my gardens and counted 20 types of aeoniums. There are kiwis, Cyclops, zwartkops, haworthii, velour, arboreum, canariense, lindleyi, undulatum, gomerense and decorum to name a few.
Aeoniums come mainly from the Canary Islands and a few places in central Africa. They are fantastic for xeriscaping however they do require a little more water than most of their fleshy cousins. Aeoniums are not particularly happy in freezing temperatures but seem to manage moderate heat, although I have heard of the entire root system dying which eventually kills the plant if they get too hot. I have personally never had any heat death in my gardens, but I have seen it in hotter places. Most are able to handle temperatures as low as 25 to 30 degrees F. Aeoniums can be grown indoors or outdoors in pots as well as in the ground.
Part of the popular Crassulaceae family there are many succulents that are sometimes confused with aeoniums. Almost all are rosette shaped, as are many echeveria, graptopetalums and dudleyas. You can tell it is an aeonium by the way that their leaves attach to their basal stem. It is almost like there is a thin fiber that attaches them so when you remove the leaves the stem is not typically affected. They range in size from 1 inch in diameter to over a foot in diameter!
Aeoniums are monocarpic, meaning they flower once and die. This is a bittersweet ending and if the plant is not a branching type, which thankfully most are, this is the end of the road. Most of the time there are plenty of pups that have grown along side the flowering stem that will take over when the stem with flowers dies.
The photos above are the final flower from an aeonium cyclops. To the left is the final flower of an aeonium undulatum.
As I went back through my notes I keep about succulents I will someday discuss on this blog I realized that I could go on and on and on just talking about the aeoniums I have in my garden. In the future I hope to be able to have entire posts dedicated to each cultivar but to keep you interested I will just focus on the ones that fascinate me the most.
There are probably hundreds of variations/hybrids of aeoniums that haven’t been named yet, which only adds to confusion when you are trying to identify yours. The most popular is the aeonium arboreum. This is the classic green aeonium with mid-sized rosettes that have longer, thin flimsy leaves. They are known to be able to grow over 6 feet in height; however the tallest we have had in our gardens at full bloom was about four feet. This plant is in the parentage of many of the newer cultivars making it sometimes quite difficult to know who is what.
Arboreum atropurpureum – this green aeonium arboreum has purple ends on its leaves. They can almost completely fade into green if they are in the shade and turn into a gorgeous maroon purple in full sun. We have them from all green to all purple in our yard.
Another favorite aeonium is the arboreum ‘Zwartkop’. This and some hybrids it has mothered and fathered are probably the most ornamental of all the succulents. Their leaves are a reddish black that looks almost all black in full sun. Here is where it starts to get crazy!
So you may have several large aeonium that look almost identical, yet they are different in a few ways. The aeonium Voodoo is a perfect example. This stunner has the same parentage as the Cyclops except the roles of the parents are reversed. The voodoo has a Zwartkop mother and an aeonium undulatum as the father, tends to be a solitary plant and has larger rosettes that are the dark red to purple with a slight green eye while the Cyclops, otherwise known as the giant red aeonium, will not get as large and has a much bigger, green center than its friend. I honestly have trouble telling the two apart.
Overwhelming, even for a plant lady! Have a fabulous weekend!
I learn something everyday when it comes to succulents. While clearing out the non-HOA approved succulents from my front yard I came across this hidden gem, a gorgeous Aristaloe, or torch aloe. Under a large crassula ovata bush he hid, and probably has been there for years. I love finding what was once a little piece of succulent that I tossed on the ground years before grown into something spectacular!
Researching this little guy I discovered that he is an Aristaloe. This is a new monotypic species, meaning that it is the sole species. When I first found him I was sure that he was some kind of haworthia, or Aloe haworthioides, but as usual I was corrected by Tony from Texas Aloe Growers. Thank you Tony!!!
This succulent is fantastic! Its green leaves are surprisingly soft to the touch with raised white dots. It grows in clumps and its pups can be easily removed for propagation. Coral colored blooms emerged from ling spiky stems that this aloe shoots off mid-summer. This aloe does wonderfully indoors and out and clearly he was happy living in the shade of the crassula.
The aristaloe can handle temperatures to 44 degrees F and is happiest in well-draining medium. From my research he does well growing on the tops of mountains! I have placed him in a crystal candy dish with sempervivums, plectranthus, sedum and a variety of other beauties that will soon outgrow this dish. We have 3 gorgeous 5″X5″ crystal candy dishes full of gorgeous succulent plants and cuttings available in our succulent store, only one has an aristaloe! Enjoy this dish for several months and then create several new planters as they outgrow their home.
Channel 13 in Denver has posted this live webcam of the amazing Amorphophallus titanum – Corpse Flower. This is a fascinating plant that I have yet to see. Named after it’s stench, this plant gives off the largest inflorescence of any plant in the world. I know this isn’t a succulent but it sure is fascinating!
Kalanchoe blossfeldiana is a popular succulent native to Madagascar, and sometimes referred to as the christmas kalanchoe or florist kalanchoe. It is glabrous, which in botany means has a feature that is smooth and glossy. This kalanchoe has compact clusters of leaves and forms heads of tubular flowers that have numerous, up to 50 on some, flower buds per stem. Our kalanchoe blossfeldiana bloom in the late fall and into early winter.
Kalanchoe blossfeldiana seems to be the happiest with at least four hours of sunlight per day and as most succulents, living in a well-draining medium. They prefer cooler temperatures and but do not like it when it the temperature is under 50 degrees F. This succulent does well indoors and outdoors, however we do not recommend planting in a place where it gets bright direct sun all day.
Most florists toss out this plant after it blooms, however proper pruning can make your kalanchoe bloom several times per year. Pruning encourages more branches with eventually leads to more flowers. To make your Kalanchoe blossfeldiana bloom it needs 13 to 14 hours of darkness per day. We have noticed that new buds began to form in roughly 30 to 40 days but we have also experienced kalanchoe that have retired from blooming completely. Several new plants we have propagated from these retired kalanchoes do flower after about a years time.
We use this kalanchoe often to make living succulent wreaths and in other projects. We have enjoyed red, yellow, white, purplish-pink, pink and orange flowers from our various blossfeldianas.
This miniature woody succulent is often called a Coral Cactus or Rice Cactus. I planted a little 2 inch Rhipsalis Cereuscula over a year ago in a hanging planter with limited sunlight and something has set it off as it is now shooting 12 to 18 inch stems with miniature versions of itself attached.
This succulent is part of the Cactaceae family and it will withstand temperatures to 15 degrees F, however it doesn’t really like it when it is under 50 degrees. These fun little plants are easy to propagate and look great in planters as well as hanging baskets. If you look closely, the top pieces look like little green pieces of rice. I have also seen them referred to as mistletoe cactus. I have yet to have any of my rhipsalis bloom, but from research the flowers look very cool.
There are 35 recognized rhipsalis and their heritage comes from South America, mainly Brazil. It is the largest genus of epiphyte cacti. This succulent is found as an epiphyte in tropical rainforests. It’s stem takes on three main shapes, terete, angular or flattened and their stems are succulent.
We have the Rhipsalis Cereuscula growing well in pots as well as in the ground. Our plants in the ground do not grow as lengthy as those in the hanging pots. This plant seems to thrive when it is humid and it is out of direct light.
We have mini Rhipsalis Cereuscula available in our store.
Part of the stonecrops family this beautiful echeveria hybrid can reach up to 2 feet in width! It was once sold as an echeveria Perle Von Nurnberg. Parentage is said to be the graptopetalum paraguayense X echeveria gibbiflora. Our Graptoveria Fred Ives have done well in the ground and in pots outdoors and indoors they have done well and stayed a bit smaller.
Typical hardiness to 25 degrees this durable hybrid succulent turns a beautiful translucent pink, salmon, coral and purple tint when it is in fun sun.
Some of the Fred Ives we have growing in the shade are a light blueish green with a hint of rose. This graptoveria is native to North America and is fantastic for xeriscaping. It gives your gardens fantastic contrast! I have seen landscape designs where hundreds of these beauties are used and it is breathtaking. They are a clumping shrub and can grow in height over 2 feet if they have the space to grow.
The flowers of this favorite are a pale yellow and arrive in early spring on long racemes that can shoot over 2 feet in the air. I just cut the last stem of dead flowers from my vertical wall. We had a long spring-early summer of showy flowers.
This graptoveria is easy to propagate. We have grown countless plants from leaves, some of which have reached over 10 inches in diameter! We also cut, prepare and replant these rosettes and have had no problem with cuttings that are 3 inches in diameter to those that are ten inches across!
One of the more fascinating things that we have happening right now is the cresting Fred Ives I have that is starting to outgrow it’s pot. I purchased this plant about 5 years ago because it had one piece that looked like it was starting to crest. At the time I had no idea what that meant, I just knew it looked really cool. One of the rosettes was normal shaped while the other had multiple heads! I have replanted this guy probably 20 times over the course of it’s life in my yard and he always seems happy. Oddly, he sometimes has offshoots that have no mutation. I like to cut those guys off and replant them elsewhere.
In my recent front yard revamp I found this leaf hidden under a large plant. This is the first leaf I have had that has grown a crested plant! I am more than ecstatic and am trying to get more of the leaves to do this! Cresting is a mutation, read more about it in our recent post here.
I will be taking time-lapse photos of this leaf and will create a page for you to watch with me in the near future.
Serious Plant Lady
The planter to the right is one of my prized planters. This pot is HUGE! I recently had to do some HOA required plant removal from my front yard and being that there is no rule against potted plants, I borrowed this four foot tall planter from a neighbor and filled it with my favorites from the ground. It is taller than me and you can see that I have several ten plus inch graptoveria’s accenting the arrangement. I hope I never have to move this pot – it may not be possible.
This soft succulent is an evergreen that can reach 4 to 5 feet in height and a whopping 6 to 8 feet in width. All of ours have done well in sun, shade, indoors, outdoors, in the ground and in planters. Agave attenuata do not have teeth or pokey spines like their relatives, they have soft, pale, yellowish-green sometimes gray, flimsy large leaves and their stems tend to grow with a curve. This ornamental agave is native to Mexico.
Sometimes referred to as a fox tail, lion tail or swan’s neck, you will see these huge beauties growing everywhere in Southern California. When they flower, a raceme shoots out 8 to 10 feet in the air and is full of greenish-yellow flowers.
Hardiness to 25 degrees and although my research says that they do not like to be in full sun, we have never had a problem with any of ours that sit in direct light all day. When propagating new pups from the stem of this agave, we have noticed that they like to drink a bit more water than their cousins but all in all they are fairly tolerant of being neglected, living in sand or rock and dry, arid conditions. We have grown agave attenuata indoors in North Dakota and it has stayed relatively small in its pot, but is very happy.
As I was doing my research on the paddle plant, which I have always called Kalanchoe thyrsiflora, I realized that I actually have two types of paddle plants growing in my gardens. With so many other people making the same mistake and publishing it online, it can be confusing. I found a great article from San Marcos Growers explaining the difference. So, is it Kalanchoe Luciae or Kalanchoe Thyrsiflora?
I had noticed that several of my paddle plants seemed to be shorter and stalkier, but more importantly, the red on the tops of the paddles is the deep almost burgundy color. The flowers of the luciae are not as fragrant as those of the thyrsiflora. They are also white with yellow tint while the petals of the thyrsiflora are a bright yellow.
The thyrsiflora is covered with a white chalk-like substance that comes off on our hands if you touch it.