What sort of flowers do Succulents have?

What sort of flowers do Succulents have?

Apart from being amazing in all other facets of the plant world, Succulents have amazing flowers. Some are quite prolific, some not, some flower every year, some flower when mature, some when they are only young.  The Agave Attenuata (Foxtail). (See below) produces tall flowering stems. Agave’s can take from about 5 to 40 years to flower, depending on the species. It is pretty amazing to see. Along the flowering stem are tiny agave pups which are easily removed and can be planted.

Image result for foxtail agave flower

Native Birds
Even though the Succulents that I grow are not native to Australia I spied an Australian native (Miner) bird happily flying from succulent flower to succulent flower feeding on the nectar in my front Succulent garden last week.  Even though Miner birds are normally quite annoying because they attack all the other birds in the area it was nice to see him enjoying my succulents as well.

The flowers serve a purpose, of course, and that is to attract insects so they can pollinate.

Kalanchoe Blossfeldana
The Kalanchoe (below) is a popular flowering Succulent, it flowers in Spring/Sumer and has beautiful flowers.  I often see them for sale in the department stores for Mothers Day along with Chrysanthemums as a potted flower. They are native to Madagascar.  Grown in clumps they look spectacular.  So if you are looking for some Succulent colour this plant would be a good one to choose.

Kalanchoe Succulent Flowers kalanchoe succulent

Euphorbia
The Euphorbia (below) has flowerered all year round in my garden. They are extremely hardy but very thorny so not ideal if you have dogs that like nosing through the garden. Also, take note that the Euphorbia succulent family is ‘poisonous‘ – the sap of the leaves can irritate your skin. I have heard of some nasty situations.  It would be advisable to wear gloves when touching, planting or pruning them. So, even though they might be pretty you need to take into consideration children and pets. The bush grows to about 1 metre and looks nice in the garden all year round.

euphorbia succulent flowers

Lewisia Cotyledon
The Lewisia Cotyledon succulent (below) has beautiful striped flowers and is a very prolific flowerer. Thrives in full sun or part shade.  When the flowers die cut them off to encourage a new growth.

LEWISIA COTLYDON SUCCULENT

All the Succulents in my garden have flowered at some stage.  When they wither and die I cut them off.  Even tiny new succulents send out a flower.  Some Succulents look great in your garden when they flower but others only have a single flower here and there.  So if you are thinking that your Succulent flowers will compare with a display of Roses or Petunias you would have to be quite particular with your choice of Succulent.

 echeveria elegans succulent  Succulent Garden not Pots  Ausralian Succulent Garden

I never buy a succulent for its flowers, they are just a bonus that comes with the plant.  A sign that the plant is doing well and likes where it is and wants to propagate more of its own kind.

Note: I do not profess to be an expert on succulents and do not have a horticultural qualification. My blog is simply my opinion and details my experience with succulents in my garden. All photos are taken by me. If there are photos of succulents not taken by me this is mentioned.

Please feel free to comment on anything and/or ask questions. You can do so by registering in the site admin section of this page.

Can Succulents survive heatwaves?

Can Succulents survive heatwaves?

I live in Adelaide, Australia, we have hot Summers every year. Some weeks are over 40°C/104°F+. Not forgetting that these temperatures are for the shade not in the sun. It can be at least 5°C more in the sun!

Succulents and Cacti Blog

I know that some Succulent species originate from the desert where the sun is very hot but most of the Succulents that I/we buy are cultivated in nurseries and nurtured in the best possible conditions. When I visited the nursery a few months ago  (Post: A great succulent nursery in McLaren Vale.) The plants were grown under a clear plastic shelter in the Winter and then a light coloured shade cloth from Spring onwards.  They, therefore, have not been exposed to the harsh Australian sun from day one.

Succulent Nursery - Hillisde Herbs

Protected by plastic in the winter and shade cloth for the rest of the year.

Obviously they sell a lot of different Succulent species, and, as a business, cannot pander to each Succulent’s needs with regard to shade/sun preferences.  This does pose the average Succulent buyer a dilemma when they buy Succulents from anywhere.  Should they plant them in direct full sun.  Ok maybe I am the only one who seems to have this dilemma!….

As I have mentioned I initially became interested in Succulents to grow in my garden as a plant that could survive a Summer when we leave our house to travel.  Since then I have realised there are probably some succulents that would not stand the Australian Summer heat/sun.

Last Summer was a hot one and I grew most of my plants on the side of my water tank. (Post: My Succulent Nursery.) During the heatwaves I put up an old beach umbrella to protect the plants from the sun at its hottest in mid afternoon.  I did this because I had noticed that ‘normal’ plants can get a bit of leaf burn. (Also, being Australian and a red head with pale skin I am a bit scared of the sun and probably project my fears onto my plants.)

I would say that the answer to the question, is YES, they can survive heatwaves BUT, like any plant, they could suffer leaf burn and look bad – as with the hail damage my plants suffered.  (Post: Succulents DO NOT like hail!!) However, they will survive as Succulents are extremely hardy.

Over the past few years the Succulents that have definitely survived an Australian heatwave are my Agave,Jade plant, Aeonium and the Aloe. These plants have survived without leaf damage and minimal water. (See below: From Left to Right -Aloe, Crassula Ovata, Aeonium Aboreum and Agave Attentuata.

Succulents Cacti in Australia Crassula Ovata Jade Plant Succulent Aeonium Aboreum Schwortkot Agave Attenuata Succulent and Cacti

I think if you water Succulents twice a week in a heat wave, they may get leaf burn but they will survive. When watering, water at the base of the plants not on the leaves.  They would probably survive without the water but possibly struggle depending on which Succulent it is.  If you are not away travelling the world, you have the time and you are worried about your Succulents, a piece of shade cloth draped over the plant would help immensely. Or if they are in pots move them into the shade until the heatwave is over.

Update
On Christmas Day 2016 it was 39C/102F.  I was very tempted to cover my Succulents in my front garden but resisted the urge as a true test to check if they could survive the sun. Not forgetting it was 39C in the shade and a lot hotter in the sun. They all did very well, some examples below.  There are a few brown leaves on the ecehveria glauca in the middle photo but nothing to be concerned about.  I also would like to point out I did not water them, but there were light showers on Boxing Day.

Echeeria Succulent after heatwave Echeveria Succulent in full sun Aloe Succulent after heatwave

Note: I do not profess to be an expert on succulents and do not have a horticultural qualification. My blog is simply my opinion and details my experience with succulents in my garden. All photos are taken by me. If there are photos of succulents not taken by me this is mentioned.

Please feel free to comment on anything and/or ask questions. You can do so by registering in the site admin section of this page.

Succulent Christmas Trees – How to Make One

Succulent Christmas Trees – How to Make One


Last year when I was out Christmas shopping I found a pop up stall in the local shopping centre with Succulent Christmas Trees for sale. They looked amazing and very creative and of course expensive, which I totally understood. I had a look on the internet and found some other amazing examples.

Succulent Xmas Tree suc-tree-ech Succulent xmas tree

I am not hugely creative but I thought I would try and make my own – how hard could it be!  Well actually it was harder than I thought and it took a few drives to work thinking about which materials to use and then a few weekends to put it all together.  A bit of sighing here and there but finally I made something that was sort of like a Christmas Tree.

Materials
I did not want to spend a lot of money as I may as well have bought the one in the shopping centre.  The most expensive part of the venture was the sphagnum moss which cost $15 from Bunnings the local hardware store.  I found some plastic gutter guard in the shed to keep the sphagnum moss in a spherical shape. This costs $2 per roll from Bunnings.  I used sphagnum moss because I wanted the plants to grow. The ones I saw on the internet used florist foam. You could make a tree with succulents just for the Christmas period and come January put the succulents cuttings back outside in the garden to grow again.  Yet another reason Succulents are soooo amazing.

Succulent Xmas Tree  Gutter Guard

Succulents
The tree in the pop up shop has used a lot of different echeveria’s, (similar to the photos above) but I wanted my tree to last for many Christmas’ to come and knew, if this was the case, the tree (thus the Succulents) would need to survive indoors.  To me Echeveria’s are sun loving plants and wouldn’t last very long.  So I had to think of a hardy plant that would grow indoors,in sphagnum moss.  I was a bit of a Succulent novice at this time but I had seen some succulent bushes in the car park behind our local hairdresser’s and thought that they would look good on my tree.  They were growing in the shade! (they are Aeonium Aboreum Haworthii)

So I asked if I could prune a few stems for my project and after giving me a puzzling look they said yes.  I got the feeling they had no idea which plants I was talking about!

Making the Christmas Tree

  • make the gutter guard into a cone shape and join it together with  twisty ties from freezer bags
  • stuff the cone with sphagnum moss – not too dense
  • put it on a tray, you can use a 4 an ice cream lid if you do not have a tray
    (eat the ice cream first!)
  • push the stems of the Succulents into the sphagnum moss at regular intervals
    use a chopstick/paint brush end to make a hole in the moss first if you are having trouble pushing the stems in
  • arrange some form of Christmas decoration around the tree – make sure you hide the twisty ties

Roll Gutter Guard into cone shape and hold together with twistie ties

Succulent Christmas Tree sphagnum moss

Wet the Sphagnum Moss before you use it in the tree-its easier

Stuff the sphagnum moss in the gutter guard

Succulent Xmas Tree

Set the tree on a plate that has a lip to hold in the base of the tree.

succulent xmas tree

Place the succulent cuttings through the gutter guard into the sphagnum moss.

Succulent Xmas Tree

Use a piece of tinsel to fill in the gaps and hide the twistie ties.

Last year i put 3 steel rods in the middle so that I could place a decoration on top.  This year I used a larger form of the same Succulent at the top.  This year I used Crassula Ovata – also known as Jade or money tree plant.

Succulent Christmas Tree

This was my first attempt last Christmas. I found some gum nuts while walking the dog and stuck those in too.

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I pulled this stem out of last year’s tree. It has small roots growing.

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After being encouraged by the root growth. I have acquired more stems and filled in gaps.

After Care
After Christmas I kept the tree in a window that gets bright light/some sun during the day and remembered to spray the sphagnum moss every month,pull off any dead leaves and rotate the tray.  I still think it would have survived without remembering to do this every month.

It is not the most professional looking tree but I think it will get better looking as the years go by.  Also, I have the main structure and can pull out these succulents and put new types in if/when required.

It does require some patience.  They make great presents for other Succulent lovers and do not cost a fortune.  I only used about a 5th of the sphagnum moss and hardly any of the gutter guard or ties.

Note: I do not profess to be an expert on succulents and do not have a horticultural qualification. My blog is simply my opinion and details my experience with succulents in my garden. All photos are taken by me. If there are photos of succulents not taken by me this is mentioned.

Please feel free to comment on anything and/or ask questions. You can do so by registering in the site admin section of this page.

 

Indestructable…..Aeonium Aboreum

Indestructable…..Aeonium Aboreum

Another of my favourite Succulents for planting in the garden is the Aeonium.  It is another ‘true’ Succulent, in that it can survive on annual rainfall.  It also self-propagates.  If a stem gets knocked or gets too heavy and snaps off.  The snapped stem sprouts new roots and starts a new plant.

The name Aeonium comes from the Ancient Greek ‘aionos’ meaning Immortal. The plant originates from the Canary Islands and prefers a Mediterranean climate.  Hence why it does so well in the Adelaide Mediterranean climate.

Watering
I am100% sure that there is no need to water these Succulents whatsoever, they will definitely survive with annual rainfall quite easily.  I took out Agapanthas in June because they were taking over my path and put in some Aeonium. They received a huge deluge of water during the past Winter and this did not seem to deter them from growing well either.

Planting
I found some Aeonium on some Council land about a 10 minute walk from my house.  It also grows on the side of the road not far from where I live.   So I took a few sprigs from these plants and took them home and stuck the stem in the soil about 10 centimetres deep.  Six months later I have a wall of Aeonium.  When it gets too large or unshapely I snap a bit off and put in a bit further along the area I am trying to fill in.

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June 2016 I planted the cuttings in the ground

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Only 6 months later I have a small hedge

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They have grown in morning sun/afternoon shade

Problems
Young leaves on the plant are a tasty morsel for snails.  They tend to leave the bigger mature leaves alone. This is the only problem that I have found with this plant.  It can look unsightly,  I usually leave the eaten leaves there in the hope that when the snails come back they will continue where they left off instead of munching a new leaf but I think I am just fantasising as I doubt that happens.

Aeonium Aboreum Succulent problem

Snail damage is quite common

aeonium aboreum succulent problems

Snails mainly target the small new plants

Sun/Shade and Flowering
The Aeonium grows very well in sun or shade.  The growing season is in the Winter.  Mature plants will flower.  If there is only one stem the plant will die after flowering but if it has multiple stems it will survive.  I am not a fan of the flower myself and cut it off in the hope it helps the plant stem to survive.

Image result for aeonium flowers

There are a quite few varieties of the Aeonium.  I love the dark purple (almost black) variety called Aeoniom Aboreum Swortkop meaning ‘black head’ I think.

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Aeonium Aboreum luteovariegatum

Aeonium Aboreum Succulent Cactus

Aeonium Aboreum Atropurpureum

Aeonium Aboreum Succulent Cacti

Aeonium Aboreum Swortkop

I have also planted some Aeonium in my front garden which also seem to be doing well, despite the snails snacking on them at their leisure. They have full afternoon sun.

Aeonium Aboreum Succulent

Aeonium growing in my front garden

Aeonium Aborem Succulent Cacti

Swartkop growing well in my front garden.

They are also one of my favourite succulents to photograph.  They never seem to stop producing a new rosette of leaves in the middle of the leaf and have great symmetry and colours.

Aeonium Aboreum Succulent img_0591 Aeonium Aboreum Succulent Cacti

Update 3.1.17
I have discovered some tiny brown lines on most of the rosettes of my Aeoniums.  (see below) I do not think this is a problem just something that happens in the Summer. Another Aeonium lover friend of mine has reported the same.

Aeonium Aboreum Succulent Problems

Update 28.2.17

Aeoniums tend to hibernate in the Summer unlike other succulents.  They are not the prettiest of succulents in this Season. Very twiggy looking.  This does not mean they are dying just conserving energy for their growing season in the Winter.

Aeonium Aboreum

The rosette is more compact in the Summer

Aeonium Aboreum Succulent

They are certainly not as stunning in the Summer