Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Sedum multiceps

Winter growth

 This is an attractive, small, branching sedum.  Leaves grow at the ends of the branches, giving it a "tree-like" appearance.  Some say it looks like a miniature yucca, especially with the dead leaves accumulating under the new growth.  This is a winter grower, but can be watered occasionally in summer.   One of my favorite sedums!

Same plant in summer

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Haworthia viscosa dwarf form

I picked up this Haworthia at a society plant show/sale last year.  Before I paid for it, several people approached me asking if they could buy it off me!!  Such a cool plant!

Shortly after I brought it home, the color of this Haworthia changed from deep green to reddish brown.  It also has shown very little, if any, growth.  I thought I killed it!  The roots were sparse but didn't look diseased or rotted, so I left it alone.  Over the past few months (summer), it has bloomed consistently.  A good sign!

This is how the plant looked a year ago.  Beautiful dark green.

Growing point. You can also see remnants of old flower stalks.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Aloe 'Cynthia Giddy'

Blooming, September (late summer)

Same plant, two years earlier, same time of year.  Colors are strikingly different. Possibly due to smaller pot and leaner soil. Hard to see, but inflorescence is forming in this photo
Inflorescence (plant in top photo)

A new approach

I spend a lot of time looking at photos of plants in their natural habitats.  There is so much to learn; soil composition, landscape, position, plants with similar cultural requirements, responses to seasonal changes, etc..  Although I admire the presentation of a specimen in an artistic pot or pulled up to reveal more of it's caudex, etc., I have grown to appreciate plants presented in a situation that mimics nature.  I have lots to learn, but this is my first attempt.

Here's an older presentation.

I tried to mimic plants growing in rock crevices.  These quartz stones work out pretty well.  Only time will tell if these lithops survive!

Friday, September 14, 2012

It's Santa Ana time!

September is when summer REALLY arrives in San Diego County.  Weather patterns change; winds shift from the east and air masses traveling over the inland deserts, arrive at the coast.  These are referred to as "Santa Ana" winds.  Temps are soaring today! This is the thermometer on my shady porch.  Okay, I know all my desert friends will have no sympathy for me, but it's OUR time to pay the piper!!

This is also the time when some succulents, including cactus, can get severely burned. Temps can rise very quickly.  A couple of years ago, I recorded a rise of 25 degrees F within an hour!  It peaked at 115F.   The sun is also lower in the sky now, so it peeks under eaves that normally provide shade to sun sensitive plants.  Anyone who has lost a favorite plant to severe burn, (guilty), will start moving potted plants and covering ground dwellers when the weather reports call for another Santa Ana!

A couple of hours later
A few casualties in my garden....

This one is delosperma spalmanthoides.  It was in mostly shade, but a short dose of sun caused this burn.  I have no doubt it will recouperate.

Aeonium 'voodoo'.  This is growing in dappled shade in the morning, full shade the remainder of the day.  Sun was hot enough to burn the tender center leaves within an hour.

This aeonium grows in half day sun and closes up a little more in summer.  As a result, the exposure was reduced and the burn was limited to the outer leaves.

Dracaena marginata.  One branch grew too far out from underneath the eaves of our house and suffered pretty severe burn.  The growing point is protected, so it should recover well.

Argyroderma testiculare.  Normally, this plant likes a short dose of morning sun, but not at 100+ degrees!  Gave it a drink and moved it to full shade for a while.

Sedum hispanicum.  Doesn't like heat; doesn't like full sun.  Should recover once Autumn is in full swing.  Notice the larger sedums did fine?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Adromischus buds

Adromischus marianae v herrei "Little Spheroid"

Adromischus herrei

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Summer Dormancy

September is the time of year when Coastal Southern California
joins the rest of the nation in uncomfortably hot temps.  Monsoonal air flows from the south/southeast (sans precipitation), and Santa Ana winds from the eastern deserts, bring uncomfortably hot temps.  It's also the time of year my appreciation for succulents in the garden, is renewed.  While many other plants wither and grow tired, growth is at it's peak for many of my heat loving succulents.  Conversely, summer dormant succulents are showing their unique ability to slow down and preserve energy,  some feigning death. Here are a few sleeping beauties in my garden....

Of course, gotta show 
a few Cono's....

...looking like two horned aliens

Aeonium (I think)

Tylecodon paniculatus
Nice green, papery bark

Othonna retrofracta

Aeonium crest.
Looking a bit like rosebuds.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A special Antimima ventricosa

This isn't just an ordinary Antimima ventricosa. I grew this beauty from seed!!
A couple of years ago I ventured into sowing succulent/mesemb seeds.
As a complete novice, I haphazardly chose this species.  It was with 
continual astonishment that I watched it grow to maturity.
I've grown many other succulents from seed since, 
but cannot help but be very proud of this one! 

This is a recent photo of the plant at 1.5 years old. 
Following is a photo timeline.

10 day old seedlings (3/2011)

One month (4/2011)

Two months (5/2011)

Six months (8/2011)
Not much growth over summer!

Eight months (11/2011)
Obviously a winter grower

One year old

Stapelianthus pilosus

My Stapelianthus pilosus bloomed!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Aeonium arboreum rubrolineatum

Aeonium arboreum rubrolineatum

I've always loved this species of Aeonium.  It is robust, sturdy, and freely branching like other arboreum cultivars but what makes this one unique is the beautiful coloring. In late spring, the leaves turn ash brown with maroon striping and margins, exaggerated on the undersides of each leaf.  The maroon markings are unique on each plant. During the cool/growing season, colors turn back to a rich green and the maroon markings disappear.

A smaller plant showing more prominent markings.
This one was a show stopper!

Colors fading as the plant prepares for summer dormancy.

Summer dormancy

Developing inflorescence

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Stapelia variegata crest
I have always been drawn to the downtrodden, strange, and deformed.  The straggly puppy in the corner missing an ear would easily be my first choice.  When things go awry in the plant world, it's as if a new species has formed. What makes them bizarre, also makes them beautiful.  One manifestation of this is the crested succulent.  An arm or a branch decides to rebel and in doing so, becomes more attractive...and gets cut off and repotted!  
Aeonium arboreum crest

I don't completely understand why this happens.  Seems the more fleshy species are more prone, but I really don't need to know the scientific reasons.  

Here are a few of plants that have spontaneously crested in my garden.
Echeveria 'Topsy Turvy' crest

Echeveria 'Pappy's Rose' crest
Echium candicans crest
Not a succulent but I had to include this one.  

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Seed Determination, Part 3

This is the third update to the Seed Determination post....

A ten day trip out of town left me a little anxious about the fate of my seedlings.  I had to figure out how to prepare them for survival on their own.  Most seeds had already germinated, so I hesitated keeping them in baggies, yet the late summer high temperatures were due to arrive, so I also feared they would dry out without my twice daily misting routine. What to do?

I decided to place all of the pots in a large plastic tray with about an inch of small gravel covering the bottom.  I poured a small amount of water over the gravel, then placed the entire setup in a large, white plastic bag, sealed it, and kept my fingers crossed!!  

The first thing I looked at upon my return was my seeds.  Carefully opening the bag, I prepared myself for what I expected to be pots of sand with no signs of life.  On the contrary!! There were lots of tiny green blobs looking up at me and smiling.  They did amazingly well.  I was so relieved.  

Despite the successes with this batch, the germination rate is pretty low.  I would guess it at about 20%.  Surprisingly, Lithops were the lowest and Faucaria the highest.  I also had great luck with a couple of the cactus species, with an especially good showing of Echinocereus.

Below are the latest photos.  I will post another update soon!

Echinopsis 'Epic'
Faucaria kingiae 'Grahamstown'

Argyroderma delaetii x patens

Odontophorus protoparcoides

Echinocereus reichenbachii and
Echinocereus coccineus

Cephalophyllum spissom caespitosum

Overview of seedlings