Succulent Newsletter

If you'd like to subscribe to this seasonal newsletter, email me your first and last name and city or region, with "Subscribe" in the subject line. Return to

Free plant from the Succulent Source

This online, mail-order nursery offers a wonderful selection of succulents and cuttings, and---best of all---will give you a free plant if you mention me (Debra Lee Baldwin) when you order!

Preview: Succulent Watercolor Calendar 2015

succulent watercolors

Perhaps because I've taken so many photos of succulents, I find them easy to depict with watercolors. Painting them makes me more attuned to the color variations in individual leaves---even those that at first appear merely green---thereby revealing the plants in a fresh new way. My Succulent Watercolor Calendar 2015 will be available from Succulent Chic, my Zazzle store, by Black Friday, which is also a good day to order it. (Zazzle predictably sells calendars and other merchandise at discounted prices on the day after Thanksgiving.) When available, I'll also include a discount code on my website, and perhaps offer the images as note cards and posters.

Latest Videos

Next to painting watercolors, I enjoy making videos more than anything else. I currently have 50+ on YouTube. Here are the most recent.

Succulent videos

The Question I Get Asked Most Often Is...

"Are you working on another book?"

Not at present, but I AM working on a big project with Craftsy, the nation's premier source of quality online instructional classes. For updates, check my website, follow my blog, or head on over to

My Mini Magazine Articles

Succulent blog

I don't know what amazes me more...that the word "blog" wasn't part of our collective vocabulary as recently as 20 years ago, or that I've been blogging for seven years. I share Gardening Gone Wild, a site that averages 1,200 visits daily, with ace garden photographer Saxon Holt who lives near San Francisco; and CBS Radio News garden commentator and author Fran Sorin who lives in Tel Aviv. We each post twice monthly. Frannie oversees everything. At first, I figured I didn't dare post much about succulents. Now they're mainly what I write about. So far, my most clicked-on posts are "Uh-Oh, My Agave's Blooming" and "The Easy Way to Paint Watercolors." Intros and links to popular posts also are on my website's blog page.

Fall Succulent Design Workshops and Moore (typo intended)

Here's what some of my succulent colleagues are up to. Click the links for more info.

Laura Balaoro, a San Jose, CA designer and Master Gardener, founded the Succulent Fanatics Facebook group, which now has nearly 10K members.
Sat., Sept. 20, 4 to 6 p.m., "Succulent Cocktails Social, Tour and Garden Chat" at Laura's home. Workshop: succulent martini glass arrangement.
Fri., Oct. 3, 9 to 11 a.m., "Gardening with Succulents" presentation by Laura at her home.
Fri., Oct. 1 at 9 a.m., and Sat., Oct. 18 at 9 a.m., "Succulent Topped Pumpkin" workshops at Laura's Garden.

Succulent painting

Cathy Carey is an award-winning artist who describes her paintings as "songs of color." Much of her recent work incorporates succulents. The Poway Center for the Performing Arts Gallery (near San Diego) has a retrospective of Cathy's work Sept. 3 - 27, with an artist's reception Sept. 13 at 2 p.m. Cathy also is represented by La Playa Gallery in La Jolla, CA. And she makes stunning steampunk jewelry!

Diana Clark of The Perfect Plant design studio is having an open house and sale in Point Loma, a community of San Diego, in early November. I made a YouTube video about Diana's designs and am writing an article about her for the San Diego Union-Tribune (scheduled for Sat., Oct. 25).

Succulent pot

"Works of art look best when elevated. And I consider potted succulents and cacti to be living works of art." -- Diana Clark

Cindy Davison of The Succulent Perch is a floral designer who posts gorgeous photos on Facebook of her designs and others, earning her a whopping 200,000 followers! Cindy is now taking sign-ups for the workshops she'll conduct this fall at Oasis Water Efficient Gardens nursery in Escondido, CA:
Sat., Oct. 18, 10 a.m. to noon, "Autumn Inspired Succulent Container Arrangement with a Succulent Topped Pumpkin"
Sat., Nov. 22, 10 a.m. to noon, "Thanksgiving Centerpiece Using Freshly Cut Flowers and Succulents"

Succulent pumpkin

Laura Eubanks has been named a finalist in the Martha Stewart American Made Awards for originating the idea of succulent-topped pumpkins and turning it into a business. Grand prize, $10,000. (Vote for Laura by clicking on the link. Go, Laura!). Country Gardens magazine, Fall, 2014 issue has six-page spread I wrote that features Laura and her pumpkins...which are one of the projects in my book, Succulents Simplified...for which Laura and I also made a YouTube video. (Gee, do you think we have the topic covered?) Laura will do succulent-topped pumpkin workshops Sat., Oct. 11th at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at Roger's Gardens Nursery in Corona del Mar, CA (register online at Roger's Gardens); and Sat., Oct. 18 at Waterwise Botanicals nursery in Escondido, CA (sign up at Laura's website,

Jon Hawley of Chicweed, a garden boutique in Solana Beach, CA, is teaching a Dry Shade Garden Workshop on Sun., Sept. 14 from 10 to noon. Jon designed the Low-Light Dish Garden project in my book, Succulents Simplified.

Succulent book

Jeff Moore
of Solana Succulents nursery in Solana Beach, CA announces the release of his much-anticipated book, "Under the Spell of Succulents", $30. Jeff was one of my go-to experts when I was researching my first book, Designing with Succulents.
His photos and advice are outstanding. Jeff's book is a must-have for anyone who loves succulents, especially those who garden in coastal and Southern CA.

Why is so much going on in Southern CA? Thanks to a climate similar to the plants' native habitat, we have more succulent nurseries, growers, hybridizers and designers than anywhere else in the world. Even within the realm of succulent specialty nurseries there are specialty nurseries! If you live in the area or are planning to visit, the "About Succulents" page of my website now includes a list of San Diego Succulent Destinations.

Fall Succulent Must-Do's

Indoor succulents

If you live in the desert, move your container-grown succulents outdoors when daytime temperatures drop below 90 degrees. Give the plants bright shade and occasional water. Keep in mind that many need nighttime temperatures below 45 degrees (but above freezing) in order to bloom in spring.
If you live in southern or coastal CA from the Bay Area south, your succulents likely will be fine year-round, in the ground or in containers (provided they're protected from occasional frosts). If your area gets drenching rainstorms combined with cold temperatures when the plants are winter-dormant, they may rot. Protect your container-grown succulents by moving them beneath an overhang. Grow in-ground succulents atop berms so water flows away from the roots. Amend the soil with crushed volcanic rock, such as pumice or scoria, to enhance aeration and to absorb excess moisture.
Before a rainstorm, spread a granular pre-emergent herbicide wherever you don't want weeds; it contains an enzyme that prevents seeds from sprouting. Pre-emergent is available at most nurseries. I wouldn't be without it, but I also am keen to be green, so I use it mainly around my large, spiky agaves and cacti. Also before a rainstorm, boost the growth of in-ground succulents by fertilizing with Ironite. Don't let granules land in rosettes or on hardscape, because it can leave rust stains.
If you live where temperatures drop below freezing (32 degrees F), most succulents (except for sedums and sempervivums, which are frost-tolerant) will need to be covered. Translucent frost cloth, which protects the plants but allows them to photosynthesize, is sold at most garden centers, or you can simply use bed sheets. Overwinter container-grown succulents indoors or move them against a structure that radiates enough warmth to raise the the temperature above freezing---such as your home's south-facing wall. In colder climates, options include moving the plants into a sunroom, greenhouse, or basement with lights on a timer to simulate daylight. As the plants' growth slows and they begin to enter a three-month dormancy, they'll need less water. Give enough to keep roots from desiccating, but not so much that they rot. When in doubt, err on the side of dryness.
Watch for mealy bugs and treat the plants at the first sign of an infestation. I spray with isopropyl alcolhol. Succulent grower Petra Crist (Rare Succulents Nursery) uses Windex. There are commercial insecticides as well. Isolate any infested plants, and destroy any that are severely infested. Mealy bugs, which resemble bits of white lint, tend to live in leaf axils (where leaves join the stem). The best preventative is good air circulation. Indoor plants are especially susceptible, so keep a fan running. If you find pests on one plant, be sure to check the rest.

A Lavender 'Topsy Turvy'~ Echeveria 'Cubic Frost'

Echeveria 'Cubic Frost'

Isn't Altman Plants' latest release gorgeous? Oasis Nursery in Escondido, CA, is among the first to offer it.

Three Emails That Pleased Me

"Vivo en Las Islas Canarias, España, pero geográficamente muy cerca de África. Tenemos muchas plantas suculentas y un clima muy parecido a California. Me encantaría fomentar en mis Islas que valoren más las suculentas pues aquí no se utilizan mucho pero despues de ver todos sus vídeos estoy dispuesta a ser como usted pero aquí." Translation: "I live in the Canary Islands, Spain, but geographically very close to Africa. We have many succulent plants and a climate very similar to California. I would love to promote more succulents in my Islands because they are not used much here. After watching your videos I want to do what you're doing, but here." -- Inés González

"I just bought my first ever succulent yesterday and then went out today to buy more. I love them already. I do not have a green thumb and heard these were not as hard to keep alive (but I will probably kill them). I have been looking up a ton of great info and am reaching out to anyone I can about succulents. I live in northern Virginia. I would love to hear about how you started! Thanks so much"! --Bre Chang

Hi, Bre -- I love a convert! The biggest mistake beginners make is to overwater, causing the roots to rot. However, smooth leaved succulents (not cactus) do appreciate regular water. Rule of thumb: The fatter and fleshier a plant's leaves, the more water it stores and the less it needs. Also, when actively growing (spring) they like more water than when dormant (winter). As to how much and how often, it depends. Let the soil go almost dry and then drench it so water runs out the bottom of the pot. Probably once a week where you live, but small pots dry out quicker than large...there are lots of variables. When in doubt, don't water. Succulents will often get wrinkled leaves if drawing on their stored resources, and/or leaves will lose their sheen. Lots of biographical info about me online and in my books, especially the last one! Thanks for your interest.--- Debra Lee Baldwin

Kalanchoe luciae

"It’s amazing how big the Kalanchoe luciae got and their color change in comparison to the pedilanthus," says Sabine Hildebrand, who made the arrangement on the left at one of my workshops nine months before the second photo. Wow, no kidding!

Visit My Garden

Debra Lee Baldwin's garden

I'm readying my half-acre garden in north San Diego County to receive visitors. When you come, I'll give you a tour tailored to your needs and interests, show you my favorite plants, and explain everything from soil preparation and watering to ideal location and sun exposure---for in-ground as well as container-grown succulents. I'm also planning to host group events and workshops. For updates, subscribe to this seasonal newsletter and follow me on Facebook.

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.

Succulent books

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

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


If you're not receiving this seasonal newsletter and would like to, please email me your first and last name and city or region, with "Subscribe" in the subject line.