We are proud to announce the collaboration of Fat Plants and the Succulent Whisperer. We will be posting informative tips and information on how to care and handle your succulents. Their vast knowledge and expertise will assist in guiding you through some of the most commonly asked questions, hurdles, and best practices for caring for your plants.
Keep an eye out for future posts and please visit their site.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ledebouria socialis, otherwise known as the purple or silver squill. Gorgeous tiny white flowers emerge from the bulbs all spring and early summer. This variegated succulent grows from a bulb. It is part of the Hyacinthaceae family and native to South Africa. Its tiny flowers appear in the springtime and last through mid summer, at least in San Diego. They appear to be white but are a light purple when examined up close. They are supposed to be grown in full sun but our Ledebouria socialis that are in the shade are thriving just as much as those in the sun.
This succulent needs a bit more water than the average fat plant, but not much. It is hardy to 25 degrees and adapts easily as a houseplant. These gorgeous succulents are available for sale in our succulent store. Get yours while supplies last!
This compact aloe is an evergreen that gives off 2 feet tall racemes of orangish-red flowers in the summertime. It can grow to be 6 inches to 2 feet in height and width. Aloe x Nobilis can survive in the sun and shade and down to a temperature of 20 to 25 degrees F.
Sometimes referred to as the golden tooth aloe the leaves of this succulent are fleshy and green with a reddish tint on the edges. They have yellowish-white teeth running along their edges. Be careful handling this aloe, it may cause a skin irritation or rash.
This plant has grown well for us indoors and outdoors, shade and sun and in the ground as well as it does in a pot, although the aloe x nobilis we have growing in pots in the shade have stayed relatively small. This is a fantastic plant to use in xeriscaping and will do well indoors. It is an evergreen, drought-resistant and its flowers attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.
We have been successful propagating this aloe by cuttings and by removing pups off the stems. You can see two little pups on the aloe in the photo. We have this plant available in our succulent store.
I was amazed to find out that there are more than 350 referenced types of plectranthus! I found a great article on Dave’s Garden about these stinky, fuzzy little fellows. They make a fantastic ground cover or filler in a planter, are super easy to propagate and care for and smell fantastic. My first plectranthus, tomentosa, was purchased before I became a real plant lady. I bought it with a bunch of colorful coleus plants and it had been hiding underneath them in a shadier part of my garden.
I have Plectranthus amboinicus, also referred to as Cuban Mint, Plectranthrus coerulescens, Plectranthus tomentosa, or Vick’s Plant and Plectranthus neochilus variegated, also called the lobster flower (read about at San Marcos Growers) growing in my gardens and planters. They are all very easy to propagate, so I tend to take a few cuttings and stick them in here and there. I have one large bush that is approximately 2 feet tall and as I keep taking cuttings, it keeps growing taller! There are plectranthus that can reach up to ten feet tall!
Until just recently I thought I only had 2 types of plectranthus however I thought that a few of my cuban mint plants were a little “off”. I did not realize that the funny ones were a different breed. They are not amboinicus, they are tomentosa! They are both equally stinky, but the Vick’s plant seems more fragrant. Here are some other differences that I noted:
Seems to grow much taller and faster than it’s cousin.
My larger and older plant has developed a very woody stem.
Light colored green leaves that are covered with tiny white, fuzzy hairs. Leaves seem thicker and softer to the touch
The scent smells like vapor rub, hence the name, when your squeeze the leaves.
Blue-violet and white flowers in the spring and fall compared to the purple leaves of a tomentosa
Leaves turn yellow and soggy when the plant has too much to drink.
Grows well indoors and out. Most of ours are in partially sunny areas but we have a large one that is in full sun and doing very well.
Plectranthrus coerulescens looks very similar to tomentosa except it seems to have thinner leaves and less hair. It smells more like a skunk than the tomentosa but not as fruity as amboinicus. I only have one of these and I created it from a cutting I took from the plant lady next door.
Feeling confused yet? What I learned today is that the lamiaceae family is huge, over 6,500 species! It is not the worst plant misidentification I have made and many people will make it, even the nursery where I purchased my original “coleus”.
The agave americana mediopicta alba or The Century Plant is one of my favorite jumbo succulents. When I say jumbo, I mean bigger than an average person! There are several hybrids of the agave americana. We have two types growing in our gardens. We will discuss our other agaves in an upcoming post.
This agave has a bluish-green leaves with a creamy-white stripe down the middle. This plant can grow to be 4 to 6 feet wide and up to 3 to 4 feet tall It has yellow-green flowers that protrude on a long raceme. Even though it is called a Century Plant, it is really a “Decade Plant”, it will not bloom before it is at least ten years old. It is a monocarpic plant, meaning it will die after it flowers. Its offshoots pop up along side from underground and start new plants that will replace the one that flowers and perishes.
We have taken out all of our century plants that we had growing in the ground and put them in large planters. Considering the amount of growth and coverage they have made in our yards (a few up to 3 years!) we hope that they will not eventually bust open their planters.
Winter hardiness to 15 degrees F. Our agaves have done well in the shade and sun and we have a success story of one growing indoors over a winter in the midwest and surviving just fine. This agave, as most, are poisonous if ingested. Their pokers will hurt in you even slightly touch them and their juice is quite caustic.