Category Archives: Succulents

succulents

Echeveria shaviana ‘Madre del Sur’ PPAF

Echeveria, or Mexican Hens and Chicks, have taken over the home and garden scene like never before. And no wonder. Hardly any care is necessary, except for being sure to provide plenty of sunshine and soil with good drainage. The well behaved rosettes of foliage are colored in subtly blended shades of blue, gray, green, rose and tan, and add a simple, bold and distinct form to any container. Racemes of blooms on slender stems in sunset tones nod then fade as more are produced.

Some forms of Echeveria stay petite, others take on grander proportions. Echeveria shaviana ‘Madre de Sur’ (Spanish for Mother of the South) is in between, forming 8-10?”rosettes with distinctive wavy edged blue gray foliage (characteristic of the species), with blossoming stems that reach 10-12″. Lovely as a specimen or mixed with tiny creeping Sedum.

Succulent Wreath How-to

Our Succulent Wreath Workshops on Saturday June 16th were a great success. I promise we’ll do another one before the summer is over, but we need to get more growth on all of our stock plants because of the tremendous number of cuttings needed. In the meantime, for all those who asked, here’s a quick “how to” in case you have a supply of cuttings on hand from your own garden and containers.

First, gather lots of cuttings. Select a variety of sizes and shapes: rosettes from Sempervivum and Echeveria, filler plants such as cuttings from low growing hardy and tender Sedum. Remember that these plants will take root and begin to grow in the sphagnum wreath form, so you don’t want to select from plants that want to reach tall proportions. It seems all succulents mix and match well, but try to select light medium and dark tones so your wreath has dimension and contrast.

Begin by soaking a sphagnum moss wreath (we used a 9″ premade form) in water. Start by using the larger rosette forms if you have them, distributing them equally around the wreath. Use a pencil, bamboo skewer or other pointed utensil to poke a hole for the succulent stems. Remove any lower leaves off the stems if necessary to position your rosette in the hole. Use topiary pins to help secure your cutting in place, but try to make the pins discreet.

Continue adding material…filler plants like creeping Sedum album, sichotense and pachyphllum in between the larger rosettes. The creepers will take root faster and cover the moss quickly.

Be sure to tuck creepers on the inner and outer sides of the formso that they take root and hide the moss.

Continue to use up your cuttings. It’s really hard to screw up here. If you still see moss when you run out of cuttings, don’t worry, these babies will take root and spread. If the cuttings spread more than you like, snip them back (which you will have to do eventually).

Carefully move your wreath into a sunny warm spot where it can remain undisturbed until the cuttings root.  When the sphagnum form feels dry, you can soak the form in a basin or spray with water (in the morning or at the end of the day, so water spots don’t sunburn the leaves) . It will take approximately 4-6 weeks for the cuttings to root in. Do not over water. Wait until the cuttings are rooted before you fertilize. Do not over fertilize. We recommend using a Seaweed/Fish Emulsion. If you hang your wreath, you will want to rotate it occasionally so that the plantlets don’t all start reaching for the sky. You can also periodically lie the wreath flat in a sunny location to prevent “stretching” from occurring.  Enjoy!

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Sedum sieboldii

Sedum sieboldii on the left, next to Sedum cauticola

Hmm….October Daphne. Well, it’s a bit of a stretch to say this delightful sedum is reminiscent of a Daphne, but  if I use my imagination I might convince myself. Perhaps there is a bit of a resemblance to one of the low creeping forms. Regardless of whether the common name is misleading, little Sedum sieboldii adds a dose of autumn color to the late season garden, with clusters of rosy pink flowers at  the tips of arching stems, clothed with pink and apricot tinted blue green scalloped foliage.

Botanical nomenclature now wants to classify this form of Stonecrop as Hylotelephium, but for the sake of common knowledge let’s continue here using the genus Sedum. Sedum sieboldii begins the spring season as a tidy rosette of almost turquoise fleshy scalloped leaves that develop a lovely wine red edge. The form and foliage work well all season and then informally transform in early fall, when the stems begin to extend, flower and develop October color. It is super hardy (we’re talking zone 3 here). It is most often used as a rockery subject, tucked into crevices where it remains quite happy, but we’ve left it outdoors in frost tolerant pots and it returns in the spring unfazed. Obviously Sedum sieboldii  likes well drained soil, but we’ve found it to be quite forgiving of average soil conditions.

Sedum reflexum ‘Angelina’

Sedum reflexum 'Angelina'You can’t help but admire little ‘Angelina’. The retreating snow has exposed this brave low evergreen Sedum, and she shows no sign of being distressed. Fall/winter temperatures have brought out a copper/amber hue to the usually lime green needled foliage, and this is a shade that adds a welcome warm color to the chilly landscape. As daytime temperatures rise in April and May, the amber shade transforms to a cool yellow green, which is a more appropriate color for early spring. Starry yellow flowers form at the tips of trailing stems in early summer, but cute as they are, the blossoms are not what this little plant is all about.

Besides being ornamental year round, Sedum ‘Angelina is extremely hardy (to zone 3) and adaptable to full sun or part shade. She is happiest growing in well drained soil, and will form a lovely carpet to contrast with deeper toned plants, such as darker leaved Sedum ‘Xenox ‘or Heuchera ‘Obisidion’. She also acts as a nice foil for early bulbs such as Crocus and Dwarf Iris. Foliage height stays at about 4″. The only maintenance chore to speak of is a routine shearing back after she blooms in mid summer. You’ll be cutting off the not so attractive spent flowers and encouraging a new round of fresh foliage.

One more thing. Sedum ‘Angelina’ makes a lovely foliage accent plant for year round containers. Plant her with other drought tolerant foliage plants for a lasting and easy care combination.

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Container Combinations III: New Ideas

Remember when Coleus was disdained by “serious gardeners” just 20 years ago? Until recently Succulents also seemed to get a bum rap. Perhaps it was because of the silly little dish gardens offered in discount stores, featuring a ubiquitous strawflower glued onto a poor little cactus. We decided quite some time ago to treat succulents with dignity. Their foliage offers an array of subtle and strong desert colors and textures which inspire us with ideas for endless combinations. And, they couldn’t be easier to take care of– perfect container plans for the summer weekend home, since so little water is required.

Begin your ensemble by selecting a handsome container. Break the rules…why not use a fancy bowl or urn that you would use for traditional annuals? Shallow pots are always fine and suitable, but deeper pots can certainly be used if you fill them with a very sandy, fast draining soil. Do not use a moisture retentive peaty potting mix, for it will easily become water logged if we have extended wet weather. You can use a light dose of fertilizer in your soil mix, but don’t over do it.

Select a variety of foliage shapes and plant forms, such as the rosettes of Echeveria, the trailing stems of Delosperma and the fine texture of tiny Sedum. We always find that packing the container with plants gives immediate gratification, and the plants will not suffer as they require little nutrition. Early autumn will bring changes to your composition, as the fall foliage colors intensify and many succulents begin to flower. Before a freeze, bring your succulents indoors. They winter over easily on a sunny window sill.

x Graptosedum ‘California Sunset’

graxcs1There are many interesting intergeneric (crosses between 2 genera) hybrids of succulents. x Graptosedum ‘California Sunset’ is a cross between Graptopetalum and Sedum. It bears tawny rose colored fleshy petals that surround and terminate in rosettes on somewhat sprawling stems. We especially like it combined with the steel blue of Senecio serpens (Chalksticks). Cool temperatures deepen the foliage color to striking copper red tones. Starry white flowers are borne mostly in the winter months.

Grow x Graptosedum ‘California Sunset’ in full sun. Pinch it back to have a tighter growth habit. Plants will grow to perhaps 6-12″ high before the stems begin to spill will weight.

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