How fast do succulents grow?

How fast do succulents grow?

The human race is a very impatient species. Even more so nowadays with Gen Z wanting everything yesterday.  I can understand that when it comes to succulents, I cannot wait till my baby succulents grow and thrive, in the back of my mind though I hear a voice saying ‘succulents are slow growers’……. but are they?

As always, with succulents – due to the vast quantity of species and varieties – the answer is yes and no.

What is the definition of a fast growing plant?
It  depends on your individual interpretation of what is slow or fast!  To me growing overnight is fast growing! The only plants that literally grow overnight, that I remember from science class, are water cress and mung beans. Some varieties within a species will grow faster than other varieties within the same species. To me a fast growing plant is one that you can see a difference in size within a few months.

Each species will have some varieties that are faster growers than other varieties in the same species.  In general though I believe that most species are either fast, moderate or slow growing.

Which conditions increase the growth rate?
There are a two conditions that will effect the growth rate of a succulent.

Growing Season A succulent will grow faster during its growing season than it will in its dormant season.  Some succulents do not grow at all in their dormant season and some will grow; but a lot slower. (see post: When do succulents have their growing and dormant seasons? )  So if you purchase/receive a succulent in its dormant season do not be worried if it sits there doing (almost) nothing.

Environment How fast a succulent grows will also depend on environmental conditions. Sunlight, temperature, soil and moisture can all affect the growth rate of a succulent. If the plant has its ideal amount of light, temperature and moisture and grown in the right soil medium it will grow at is optimum rate.

Which succulents are fast growing?
Firstly let me say what I consider to be fast growing. If I can see a succulent has increased in its overall size by about 25% within a 4-6 month period I would consider it to be fast growing.  I take a photo of a succulent the first day it arrives, including its name. If you are like me and check your succulents every day you would not notice their growth. Looking back at the original photo can show you how much they have grown in that period.

The following succulents are species that I grow in my garden and have witnessed their growth first hand.

Aeonium Aboreum
The Aeonium Aboreum below was planted in the middle of its growing season and had formed a thick mass after only 4 months. It would have been a totally different story if I had planted them in the summer when this species of succulent is dormant.  (see post: Indestructable…..Aeonium Aboreum ) Don’t forget succulents have a dormant season as well – so make sure you know when this is.

Aeonium Aboreum-July16

November 2016

November 2016

Echeveria
Most Echeveria are fast growing.  As long as you can see new leaves forming in the centre of the Echeveria then they are liking their environment and growing as fast as they can.  Most of my Echeveria varieties grow for about 9 months of the year due to our short winters.

sunburnt echeveria agavoides

December 2016

Echeveria Agavoides

April 2017 – 4 months later

Flowering Echeveria

June 2017

Echeveria Agavoides

Echeveria Elegans Succulent

June 2016

Echeveria Elegans

May 2017

June 2017

Echeveria Elegans

Graptoveria
Graptoveria are a very close relative to the Echeveria species as they are a hybrid of an Echeveria and Graptopetulum (see post: What is the difference between an Echeveria and Graptoveria succulent?)  Therefore they also are generally a fast growing species.

Graptoveria Fred Ives

September 2016

Graptoveria Fred Ives

May 2017

Graptoveria Fred Ives

Crassula
The Crassula species is also a fast growing plant.  Especially Crassula Ovata which is also a very hard variety.

Crassula Ovata Ribbon Plant Crassula Ovata grown in shade Crassula Ovata Jade Plant Succulent

Crassula Ovata

Research on the world wide web indicates that the following succulents are of the fast growing variety.

Coppertone sedum
Graptopetalum paraguayense
Haworthis obtusa
Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi – Lavender Sallops
Sedum rubrotinctum – Jelly Bean Plant
Sempervivum Guiseppe
Crassula perforata – String of Buttons
Agave desmettiana

Which succulents are slow growing?
There are a few slow growing succulents.

Euphorbia Millie – Crown of Thorns
Euphorbia Milli is quite a slow growing succulent.  The one below suddenly lost all its leaves and flowers so I moved it to a different position and it grew again – but very slowly.  It took 8 months just to grow its leaves back but still is not any taller.

Euphorbia

November 2016

Euphorbia Millie Succuelnt

July 2017

Giant Barrell Cactus
There are some succulents that literally grow so slowly you wonder if they are growing at all.  The Giant Cactus Barrell (below) is one of these.  However, they can live for approximately 100 years.

20 year old cacti

Lithops
Lithops are very slow growing but like the Giant Barrell Cactus they live a long time.

Lithops the living rocks Lithops are awesome #leafandclay #succulents cc: @ishiiplantnursery www.leafandclay.co

How long does it take to grow succulents from a leaf?
Once again depending on conditions a leaf can sprout roots within a week and start to sprout within a 3 week period.  To grow to a new plant – depending on the species and variety you can have a new succulent baby within a 3 -4 month period. This is a huge generalisation but has been my experience with a lot of leaf propagation I have tried.

How to Root a Succulent Leaf - Collect a succulent leaf cutting in the spring or summer when the plant is actively growing. Choose a healthy plant with no signs of damage or disease...

In summary, I would say, most of the popular and more common succulents that are available in Australia are moderate to fast growing.  Taking into consideration the general growing conditions of succulents;  the weather in most parts of Australia are ideal and even with their dormant season thrown into the mix you will still see a huge difference after one year of growth. Below is a photo of my front succulent garden bed with just a 9 month growing period.

Succulent Garden - Australia

October 2016

Australian Succulent Garden

July 2017

 

 

 

Which succulents survive in full sun?

Which succulents survive in full sun?

Every garden in Australia (and the Southern Hemishphere) would have a full sun area.  Full sun can mean temperatures getting up to over 50ºC (122ºF)  for more than a few hours.  There are succulents that can survive these sorts of conditions; which is why I love succulents.  As I’ve mentioned in other posts not all succulents will survive full sun, they require some shade or their leaves tend to get sun burnt.

A number of succulents produce a waxy or powdery sun-protecting coating, often in delicate shades of pink, blue or pale lavender.  This coating will rub off at the slightest touch revealing the green photosynthesising surface underneath.

The following succulents ‘have’ survived full sun in my garden.  They have survived heatwaves of 3 days or more, which means  40ºC+ (104ºF) heat.

Echeveria
I know this is a common favourite among succulent lovers and I can see why. They are one of the prettier types of succulents with their gorgeous rosettes, they are quite hardy, do not need much water and YES they love full sun. They are also very photogenic as you can see below.  There are lots of different types and forms of this amazing succulent.  When they are growing in ideal conditions they will produce ‘pups’ – little babies that grow to the side of the parent plant.  They are low growing but eventually they will spread and form a beautiful carpet across your garden.  All of the Echeveria below have grown in full sun during this Summer through several heat waves.  Some echeveria have a wax or powdery layer on the leaves, this is a natural protection against the sun so try not to touch it or wipe it off.

Echeveria Succulent Echeveria Succulent Echeveria Succulent
Echeveria survives full sun Echeveria succulent in full sun echeveria succulent in full sun

Crassula
There are some very hardy Crassula succulents.  The most common one is the Crassula Ovata – Jade plant. Hardy to me – meaning they love full sun. They also cope with some shade.  In full sun they have orange tipped leaves, in shade they are mostly green.  There are some interesting varieties.  I love the Crassula Aborescens – or Ripple Jade that looks like a lettuce (to me).  See below photo on the left.

Crassula OVata Crassula Ovata Crassula Ovata Jade Plant
Crassula Aborescens Ribbon Plant Crassula Ovata Crassula Ovata Jade Plant Succulent

Agave
I have had varying results with the Agave Attenuata in my garden.   Yes they definitely love full sun.  However, they sometimes take a few years to really grow well in a full sun position. Once established however, they do very well.  I have also had success growing Agave Attenuata in full shade.

Agave Attenuata Succulent Agave Attenuata Succulent Agave Attenuata Succulent and Cacti
Agave Attenuata Succulent Succulents Cacti in Australia Cacti Succulent Agave Attenuata

Aloe
Another succulent that is hardy, loves full sun and is also spectacular is the Aloe succulent. They come in many shapes and sizes with the most common being the Aloe Vera.  There are some large Aloe succulents and some smaller varieties.

Aloe succulent Aloe Succulent

Kalanchoe
The Kalanchoe species is another succulent that can survive in full sun. They flower prolifically in the Winter and come in lots of different colours.  This is another succulent that you can snap a piece off and stick it in the ground and it will sprout roots and grow.

Kalanchoe Succulent Kalanchoe Succulent Flowers

Aeonium Aboreum
Aeonium Aboreum cope very well in full sun.  However, take note that this succulent has its growing period in the winter and is dormant in the summer.  So it will look very different in the summer but will survive full sun heat wave.

Aeonium Aboreum Fire Wise Succulent Dormant Aeonium Aboreum Aeonium Aboreum Succulent

Succulents in pots will not tolerate full sun as well as succulents in the ground!
These are a few of the succulents that I grow in my garden that love full sun conditions. Keep in mind that sun tolerance in a pot is much less than in the ground. The soil in your pot heats up on hot days and it can be fatal for plants. Even when air temperatures are mild, pots standing in full sun become hot. The temperature of potting mix inside a pot can be 10 degrees or more above the air temperature. The roots in pots cannot cope in extreme temperatures and die.  Keep this in mind when you buy a new succulent in a black plastic pot from the nursery.

The succulents that love full sun also do not require a lot of water.  That is a win win situation.  They can make do with annual rainfall or a good watering if you get the time.

.Related Posts:

Agave Attenuata – The Big Boys of Succulents
Can Succulents survive heatwaves?
Do Succulents really prefer Sun?

 

Agave Attenuata – The Big Boys of Succulents

Agave Attenuata – The Big Boys of Succulents

The Agave (Attenuata) is one of the most popular Succulents in my local neighbourhood and its understandable as to why. They are also known as Agave Foxtail.

Sun Lovers
The Agave thrives in the sun and shade.  In my opinion they are a true succulent, in that they can survive just on rainfall.  I have a rockery that has full sun most of the day and the Agave’s I have planted have survived under harsh conditions.  Admittedly, some of them have taken off and grown fast and strong whereas others have struggled in the same conditions and taken alot longer to thrive than the others.

Agave Attnuata Succulent and Cacti

This Agave is about 3 years old.

Cacti Succulent Agave Attenuata

These agave’s wtihstand 40C+ heat

Shade Lovers
I have Agave’s growing in pots on a shady window sill that never sees the sun and although they are small they are still fine specimens of the species.

Agave Attenuata Succulent and Cacti

These Agave’s have grown in total shade.

Propagating
When an Agave is mature it sends out a flower which has lots of Agave pups along the stem which can be transplanted and will grow.  They also grow little ‘pups’ as off shoots which can be pulled off or cut and replanted.  A neighbour of mine threw out about 8 mature, very large, Agave plants on the pavement for anyone to have.  It took two people to get one in the back of our car.  It is now growing happily in my front garden, it had only a few tiny roots sticking out the bottom.

Agave Attenuata Succulent

Found it on the pavement and stuck in the ground.

Watering
Agave’s do not like a lot of water.  If you are planting one in the garden, do not dig a hole but rather build a mound and plant it in the top so that the water does not pool around the bottom of the plant.  They do not like having wet roots at all.  I planted one in my rockery last year, it was doing quite well until we had a very wet Winter and the results were a bit devastating to say the least.

Agave attenuata phto

This Agave Attenuata is growing in minimal soil in my rockery.

Agave Attenuata succulent cacti

After a very wet Winter. It never recovered.

Problems
I have noticed that Agave’s get yellow spots on their outer leaves in the Winter.  I have checked out Google but cannot find any information about this.  It does not seem to affect the plant, growth wise, just doesn’t look as nice as the leaves being smooth and green.  The spots disappear in the Summer, this is the only minor problem I have noticed.

Agave Attenuata Succulent

Yellow spots after the Winter

Other Varieties
There are quite a few other varieties, some are available here in Australia.  They are generally the larger of the Succulents plants and can look stunning in gardens and rockeries.

Agave Americana Succulent

Agave Americana

agave succulent cacti

Agave Isthmensis

Updated 31.1.17
I have just returned from a trip to Queensland where I took the photo below of some variegated agave which had just sent out a flower spike. This is called bolting.

Variegated Agave Succulent

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.

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