Succulent News


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My Spring-Summer Whistle Stops

Succulent garden railway

Here's where and when I'll be giving presentations. If your city's on the list, please save the date!
Tues., Wed. and Thurs., April 1-3, Epcot Center International Flower Festival, 200 Epcot Center Dr, Lake Buena Vista, FL. Park admission required.
Sat. and Sun., May 17-18, 2014, Eco-Xpo, Los Rios Park, Paseo Adelanto, San Juan Capistrano, Orange County, CA
Sat., May 31 and Sunday June 1, Sunset Celebration Weekend Festival, 80 Willow Road, Menlo Park, CA
Friday-Sat., June 6-7, Succulent Celebration, Waterwise Botanicals nursery, 32183 Old Highway 395, Escondido, CA; (760) 728-2641. Free.
Sat., June 28, Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Blvd, St Louis, MO; (314) 577-5110. Pre-registration required.

At all events, I'll sign my books: Designing with Succulents, Succulent Container Gardens and the new Succulents Simplified.

If you enjoyed one of my presentations, I'd be grateful if you'd post a comment on the Great Garden Speakers website. Thanks!

Fire Up Your Garden with Ice Plant

Succulent ice plant

There are many cool (pardon the pun) ice plants. Spring is their main bloom season and the best time to buy them.

Spring Succulent Care Checklist

Now is when most types of succulents awaken from dormancy, stretch their roots and send forth new leaves.
[] To boost growth, feed potted succulents a balanced liquid fertilizer diluted 50% with water.
[] Take cuttings from stem succulents to create new little plants. Each cutting needs a few leaves so it can photosynthesize. Roots will form where leaves were attached, so bury the stem's "potato eyes."

succulent leaf nodes

Aeonium cutting, showing leaf nodes that resemble potato eyes. From this meristem tissue, roots will grow.

[] When reintroducing succulents that have been overwintered indoors to the garden, protect them from burning by gradually increasing their daily exposure to sunlight.
[] Watch for pests such as aphids and thrips on new growth and flower buds. At first sign of an infestation, spray the insects with isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol diluted 50% with water.
[] Repot plants that have outgrown their containers. Indicators include roots emerging from drain holes, a plant that looks overly large for its pot, and stems that are tangled and rangy.
[] Evaluate each succulent for these essentials: half a day's sun exposure (except for the few shade-lovers); good air circulation; fast-draining soil; and regular but not excessive water.

Eight Ways to Make More Succulents

Succulents are easy to propagate. Here's how they ensure the continuation of their kind.

succulent propagation

(1) Bulbils. These miniatures of a mature agave grow on its bloom spike and have bulb-like bases.

(2) Stem cuttings. Stems of most succulents when pendant, touching the ground or buried, will send forth roots. Certain succulents (like Graptopetalum paraguayense shown here), break easily, thereby helping the process along.

(3) Fallen leaves. One clue that a succulent can produce new little plants from its leaves is that they pop off the stems with infuriating ease---like those of Graptoveria 'Fred Ives' shown here.

(4) Offsets. New little above-ground plants remain attached to the mother ship as they grow and eventually produce (or become capable of producing) roots. Shown here are hens-and-chicks (sempervivums).

(5) Pups. Root tips turn upward, break the soil surface, begin photosynthesizing, and grow into clones of the main plant, often forming a cluster. This agave has produced quite a litter.

(6) Plantlets. Tiny plants may form in leaf axils, leaf tips or along leaf margins. It's a defining characteristic of bryophyllums, a subcategory of the genus Kalanchoe. Plantlets fall off when large enough to form roots.

(7) Rhizomes (shallow or above-ground roots produce new plants, not shown) and (8) Seeds (not shown).

Design Project #1: Succulent Color Wheel Container

colorful succulents

Based on the color wheel in my new book, Succulents Simplified, I grouped succulents of every hue (except dark ones) according to primary and secondary colors. I planted them in an 18-inch terra cotta pot saucer with drainage holes. View the YouTube video. Plants courtesy of Oasis Water Efficient Gardens, Escondido, CA.

Design Project #2: No-Water Succulent-Tillandsia Bouquet

Succulent bouquet

Ravenna Gardens in Seattle provided the plants for my succulent bouquet demonstration at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show. I was captivated by Ravenna's red tillandsias (a type of bromeliad commonly called "air plants") and decided to include a few. It turns out tillandsias are even easier to wire onto faux stems than succulents---a technique I show in two YouTube videos and in my new book, Succulents Simplified.

Also in the bouquet are rosy red Graptosedum 'California Sunset', eucalyptus greens (actually gray-greens, some of which have red stems), and silvery-pink Echeveria 'Lola' rosettes. A vase filled with green split peas emphasizes that this is a no-water arrangement. The peas serve as ballast and echo the texture and color of the eucalyptus buds. A bouquet like this will last months. The tillandsias need spritzing every few days, the greens will dry and look much the same, and the succulents will draw on moisture stored in their leaves.

Watering: How Often and How Much?

watering succulents

When overwatered, succulent roots may rot. However, succulents are low-water plants, not no-water plants. Nonspiny succulents in particular appreciate regular water. A rule of thumb: The fatter a succulent's leaves, body or stems, the more water it stores and the less it needs. When actively growing (now through fall), succulents need more water than when dormant. Let the soil go almost dry and then drench it so water flows out the bottom of the pot. Small pots dry out faster than large, some days are drier and hotter than others, others more humid and cooler...there are lots of variables. When in doubt, withhold water. To a succulent, this equates to "drought," and succulents by definition are plants that store moisture in leaves and stems to withstand periods of drought.

drought stressed succulent

A drought-stressed crassula. From my book, "Designing with Succulents".

Some succulents will tell you they're thirsty. They won't squeak or tap you on the shoulder, but their foliage may lose its sheen. Eventually the leaves become wrinkled as they drain their cells to sustain the plant.

Succulent Solidarity (Fist Raised)

Succulent bouquet

Above is the intro to a guest post I wrote for the popular blog, Garden Rant. To read more, including great quotes from designers and growers, click on the photo. And if you're so inclined, please post a comment.

My Latest YouTube Videos

succulent plants

My YouTube channel (click for notifications) offers 50+ design-oriented, ad-free videos. These are the latest:
Plant Stacked Crassulas in Stacked Pots (3:12)
A Succulent Arrangement for Bright Shade, Featuring Sansevierias (3:59)
Create a Succulent Color Wheel (3:40)
Six Sure-Fire Succulents for Containers (3:20)
Tips and Tools for Potting Succulents, with Gary Bartl (4:02)

Hey! Follow Me!

Succulents on Facebook

If you enjoyed this newsletter, you'll also like my Succulent Container Gardens and Succulents Simplified Facebook pages. I post photos of noteworthy succulents and design ideas almost daily.

My mission is... share the beauty of waterwise, easy-care succulents in gardens, containers and landscapes via blog posts, newsletters, public speaking and workshops, photos, videos, merchandise, and social media (Facebook and Pinterest). My books: Designing with Succulents, Succulent Container Gardens, and Succulents Simplified.

Please share this if you like. I welcome photos of your garden's progress, and any super design ideas you come up with or may run across. I also hope to see (and meet) you at one of my events! ~ Debra Lee Baldwin


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