An easy way to identify your succulent variety!

An easy way to identify your succulent variety!

So you have an addiction or just a mild love of succulents.  When you see a new succulent that you do not have; you purchase it straight away.  Disappointingly though it has no identification tag!  You know which species it is but not which variety. Sound familiar? So what is the quickest and easiest way to find out which variety of your beloved succulent you have?

There are of course some identification sites on the internet.  However, recently I found a quick and easy way to identify succulents that I had purchased.  Have you heard of Pinterest?

Pinterest is a social network that allows users to visually share images or videos by posting (known as ‘pinning’ on Pinterest) to their own or others’ boards.

Pinterest is a quick and easy way to identify your variety of succulent once you know its species.  All you need to do is type in the species in the ‘Search’ function.  ie : Echeveria, Crassula, Sedum, Graptoveria.

This will produce every photo on Pinterest that has Echeveria in the name.  Underneath each photo the variety name is displayed.  All you need to do is scroll through the photos until you see the Echeveria that looks like yours.  There is usually more than one photo of each particular variety as succulents can look different when they are grown in full sun/part shade have regular water/rainfall only etc etc.

Sub headings will appear under the search function which also may help with your search.You do not have to be a registered user to use Pinterest if you use the following link  http://pinterest.com/all . 

Some photos are links to websites where you can find out more about that particular photo.  Some photos are just that – photos of the succulent variety taken by a Pinterest user from their garden.  If you hover your mouse over a photo; white writing will appear at the bottom of the photo which will either give you a link to a website or say ‘photo uploaded by user’.

The photo quality is amazing.  The amount of photos that are available to view seem infinite.  One word of warning.  The accuracy of the names is not guaranteed.  However, if you scroll through the myriad of photos and you find numerous photos of the variety with the same name it should be safe to say that this name is correct. You can also check the origin of the photo to verify who is naming the variety.

Alternatively, if you have a favourite succulent and want to compare it to others of the same variety you can type in the variety ie  Graptoveria Fred Ives and there will be 100s of photos you can view of that variety.

Related posts: Where can I identify my Succulents?

 

Fire-wise succulents – surviving a bush fire with a succulent garden!

Fire-wise succulents – surviving a bush fire with a succulent garden!

If you are reading this blog you probably know that succulents are a water-wise plant but did you know that they are also ‘fire-wise’?? They have fire retardant properties, so they may get a little charred but will stay largely intact.

Due to their ability to store water in the their leaves and stems succulents do not really burn – they cook, bake or boil but they do not burst into flames or spread flames. While succulents cannot stop a fire, they can help protect your property from embers and slow the passage of flames.

Nothing can guarantee your home will be safe in a bush fire but you can make the area around it less flammable. If you grow succulents around your home you can create a fire shield around your house.

Succulents and cactus store water in their leaves, stems and roots making them a juicy, fire retardant barrier in the garden. If used on perimeters, as well as being integrated into your garden they become a “living safety shield” as an added protection against fire. Not only are they fire safe, drought tolerant and great to look at they can be planted to create a unique, lush, and picturesque landscape addition.

Which succulents are the most fire retardant?
Naturally the succulents with the best water storing leaves would be the best fire-wise succulents. They have a higher moisture content than hard, thin and needle-like leaves, making them less flammable. So with this in mind the succulents that would be the most fire-retardant are species such as:  Crassula, Aloe, Agave, Cotelydon and Sedums. Echeveria, Graptoveria, Pachyphytum and Graptopetalum plus any other succulents with water storing soft, thick, succulent or fleshy leaves are also flame resistant.

Agave Attenuata Fire Wise Succulent

Agave Attenuata

Succulent Garden not Pots

Cotelyldon

Aloe Succulent

Aloe

Do I need to use large succulents?
As long as the succulents have low flammability and are set well below the house windows and planted near the house any of the above succulents will provide a protective barrier.  Make sure you prune old or dead growth and remove any build up of dead leaves.  You can make a carpet of succulents (as per the photo) below to create a barrier.

Crassula Ovata Fire Wise Succulent

Crassula Ovata – Jade Plant

Aeonium Aboreum Fire Wise Succulent

Aeonium Aboreum

Aeonium Aboreum Fire Wise Succulent

Aeonium Aboreum

Article on succulents saving a house in a bush fire
I read an article on a house in Sante Fe, California that was one of only a few houses that survived a bush fire due to their succulent garden. See link below.

http://articles.latimes.com/2007/nov/08/home/hm-succulent8   

Which succulents can survive frost?

Which succulents can survive frost?

Succulents are known for their ability to survive without water and thrive in the heat of summer.  There are some succulents that will survive extreme heat ‘and’ cold temperatures.  There are some succulents that can survive snow and therefore there are some succulents that also can survive frost!

This is not surprising as many succulents originate from the mountainous areas of Europe.  So which succulents can survive frost?

In the Garden
For those of you who are growing succulents in the garden – there are a lot of succulents that survive frost. They will get frost damage and look unsightly for quite a few months but will eventually grow new leaves and the old frost damaged leaves will die back.  The succulents below were victims of a hailstorm (see post: Succulents DO NOT like hail!! ) Hail is like frost so far as freezing water is deposited on the leaves of the plant.

Hail damaged echeveria succulent

Echeveria

Echeveria Succulent hail damage

Echeveria

Succulent dying

Graptoveria

The same succulents below 8 months later looking healthy with no signs of the hail.  (This would be the same for frost.)

Echeveria Succulent, Colour Change Graptoveria

In pots
For those of you who are growing succulents in pots.  If you are worried about your succulents getting frost damage the best course of action is as follows:

  1. Do not water
  2. Move your pots under the eaves of your house

There are some general points to observe when it comes to frost and how to avoid damage to any succulent.

  • Do not water
  • Keep the soil as dry as possible (they are more likely to survive freezing temperatures if the soil is dry)
  • Ensure adequate ventilation
  • Make sure your soil has good drainage

Aloe
It always surprises me how hardy the Aloe species of succulent is. Aloe is a very frost hardy succulent. However,  there are some Aloe species that survive frost but if they are flowing when they are hit with frost their flowers will not survive.  Cut the flowers off as soon as you have noticed they have been effected.

Aloe succulent Aloe Succulent

Sempervivum
Sempervivums are hardy succulents once grown on roofs to protect against storms. They are native to the mountains of central and southern Europe and therefore are used to cold temperatures, snow and frosts. These are one succulent species that should survive frost without incurring any damage.  They can withstand extremely cold temperatures. Most will be fine even in temperatures that plummet down to -30. This is for Sempervivum growing in the ground or rock crevices – ie in the garden.  If you are growing your sempervivum in pots you should still move pots under the eaves of the house. The temperature of soil in a pot can drop very quickly AND be a lot colder than soil in the ground.

Sempervivum in Snow

Sempervivum covered by snow

Sempervivum

Sempervivum

Other succulents that are frost hardy are Sedums, Lewisia and Delosperma

What to do if a frost is forecast
When a frost is forecast, do not water succulents. They are more likely to survive freezing temperatures if the soil is dry. If you  have time to plan ahead, keep the plants on the dry side well before the weather cools. If it is a succulent that stores water in their leaves they are plump with water, their cells are more likely to burst when the temperature drops.

Point to note:  succulents that do survive frost and cold temperature tend to struggle with very hot summers.

What can I do if my succulent has been damaged by frost?
If your succulents are damaged by frost, the affected leaves will probably turn white or a very light colour within a day or so. The damaged leaves then turn black and mushy as they rot.  If only part of a plant is damaged, then the rest of the plant should survive.  Usually it is only the top leaves that will be layered with frost and therefore the under leaves should not be affected.

When my succulents were affected I left the leaves on the plant rather than prune them so if another frost/hail incident happened the leaves that had already been damaged protected the leaves below. They do look unsightly but this is better than more leaves being affected and rotting the plant.

Once the risk of frost or hail has passed and warmer weather has arrived you can prune the affected leaves.

 

This post is dedicated to my dear friend Mathew.

Can succulents really survive in glass jars or terrariums?

Can succulents really survive in glass jars or terrariums?

Last year I wrote a post about growing succulents in glass jars. (See Post : Succulent Jars ) The majority of succulents should be grown outside (for most of the year) and receive some sunshine for part of the day. However, there are some succulents that will survive inside.  They do look great but you need to consider the following if do not want the succulent to die.

Water
This is the number 1 killer of succulents in terrariums or glass jars.  They are either over watered or under watered. My first succulent terrarium plants died within a couple months – I rarely watered it and it did not receive enough light.  I have learnt a lot since then. Here are a few tips:

  1. Do ‘not’ keep the soil damp/moist.  The soil needs to be wet but then needs to dry out before watering again.
  2. Do ‘not’ spray succulents with a water bottle.  The roots of the succulent need to receive water.  Spraying does not give the succulent enough water.
  3. Do ‘not’ let water pool in the bottom of the jar/bowl.  The roots of the plant will rot and the succulent will die if they sit in water. If you have put too much water in you can turn the jar/terrarium on the side and slowly tip out the excess.

Some succulents will let you know if they are not receiving enough water.  Their roots will grow above the soil.  So if you see a succulent with roots above the soil (as below) it means you need to ensure the roots below the soil are getting enough moisture.

Echeveria Elegans Succulent Jars

Tiny white roots above the soil indicate the succulent is not receiving enough water.

Lighting
Choose a well lit room that receives sun/bright light for most of the day.  A sunny window sill is ideal.  Ensure that as the sun gets lower in the sky in the winter that the window sill/room still gets the same amount of light.  If the succulent does not get enough light it will start to stretch (etiolate) and will look elongated and lanky.  If you have a heat wave and your succulents are receiving sun through a window then this could burn your succulent as the glass will intensify the sun and increase the amount of heat the succulent is receiving.

Humidity
If you have your succulent in the bathroom be aware that some succulents do not like the humidity created by the shower and it will die.  This happened to me with the succulent below.

succulent died from humidity

Which succulents are the easiest to grow in glass jars/terrariums?
So which succulents are the easiest/hardiest to grow in jars….. and look good!  My favourite is Echeveria Elegans. I have had a lot of success with these on a sunny window sill.  Aloe succulents are also great indoors, they are shade lovers so being inside in a bright room is ideal for them.  The one below has also coped with the humidity in my bathroom – so far. Jade is also a great succulent to grow in a jar.  The ones below have even flowered.  The only small problem would be that they would do so well that you will probably have to prune them fairly often.

Jade plant in succulent jar

Crassula Ovata Jade plant

Echeveria Elegans

Echeveria Elegans

Jade plant grown in jar

Crassula Ovata (Jade)

Aloe Succulent in jarAloe

Aloe Vera

Aloe Succulent

Aloe

I water my jars once a week in the summer and once a fortnight in the winter.  I use a tablespoon measure and put one tablespoon on the small jars and two tablespoons on the larger ones..  The good thing about glass is that you can see the water wetting the soil and therefore see when it has dried out also you can see the roots in the soil.

So, yes you can grow succulents in jars but you need to be vigilant with regards to the water.  Also be aware that the succulents will grow and could possibly outgrow the jar.