Aeonium Succulents – What are some of the different types and are they all hardy?

Aeonium Succulents – What are some of the different types and are they all hardy?

The Aeonium Aboreum succulent was one of my very first succulents.  It is the epitome of what I believe a succulent should be!  Can be grown in full sun, survives on only rainfall in the garden(or a pot) and can be easily propagated.  I have seen Aeonium Aboreum (pronounced – Ay O nee um) growing on the side of the road.  However, there are numerous other Aeonium’s.  In total there are about  35 different species of Aeoniums.  Not surprisingly I have only seen about 5-10 different species in my State . Are all the Aeonium species as hardy and what other Aeonium’s are there?

All Aeoniums are winter growers and therefore look their best during the winter months. So don’t be worried if your Aeonium looks different during summer. This is when they are dormant and therefore do not require a lot of water.  To cope with summer temperatures they can change their appearance dramatically. If you are not aware of this you can think that there is something wrong with your plant.  Many, but not all, Aeoniums are monocarpic.  This means that when they flower the flowering stem will die.  If the Aeonium is the type that has many stems then only the stem that flowers will die. However, if the plant does not produce multiple stems then the whole plant will die – sadly.  Usually the plant will not flower for about 5 years though.

Pests include aphids and mealy bugs, I have also seen snails make a nice meal out of some of my Aeoniums.

Dormant Aeonium Aboreum

Aeonium Aboreum during dormant Summer season look like this

Aeonium Aboreum Succulent Problems

In Winter Aeonium Aboreum look like this- during this growing season

Aeonium Aboreum
Size: Large
Shape: Any (can be tall and lanky)
Hardy:  Extremley
Monocarpic: Yes
Aeonium Aboreum is the most common of all Aeonium species. The Aboreum can grow to the height of a one story house if left to grow as it pleases and not pruned back.    It is easily propagated.

Aeonium Aboreum Fire Wise Succulent Aeonium Aboreum Succulent Cacti Aeonium Aboreum Succulent Problems

Aeonium Undulatum ‘Stalked Aeonium’
Size: Large
Shape: Any (low growing)
Hardy:  Extremley
One of the larger species of Aeonium with thick stems that grow about 1 metre (3 feet) from the ground. Other rosettes do not branch off the stem like most Aeoniums. The plant is monocarpic so the flowering stem will die when it flowers which is normally after about 5 years.  It is easily propagated.

Aeonium Undulatum Aeonium Undulatam

Aeonium Goochiae ‘Ballerina’
Size: Small
Shape: Spherical
Hardy:  Yes
Monocarpic:  No
This Aenioum is a smaller species in that it is very low growing.  It reaches about 20cm (8inches) tall at maximum height.  It is slightly hairy and the leaves are a bit sticky.  Some have a red tip point on them.  It grows in a compact ball shape.

Aeonium Ballerina

Leaves are covered in small hairs and are sticky

Aeonium Ballerina

small clumping habitat

Aeonium Ballerina

Aeonium Goochiae Ballerina

Aeonium Pinwheel
Size: Small
Shape: Spherical
Hardy:  Yes
Monocarpic: No
Aeonium Pinwheel is as hardy as the Aboreum and has the added advantage of growing in an amazing spherical compact shape. It is easily propagated and when pruned back it will replace the part of the sphere that has been taken.

Aeonium Pinwheel Aeonium Pinwheel

Aeonium Decorum ‘Sunburst’
Size: Small
Shape: Spherical
Hardy:  Yes
Monocarpic: Possibly
This is a beautiful Aeonium and one that I am reluctant to neglect as I have rarely seen it for sale (at Bunnings or nurseries etc) in South Australia. It is now nearly 2 years old and has produced only two offsets.  However, this may be due to the fact that I have kept it in my greenhouse and it has not had a lot of water during its growing season.  The new leaves in the centre are a vibrant and deep  colour.  However, as the leaves get bigger and older they can lose a bit of their colour intensity. I have no had any problems with pests of any kind and it survives with semi regular watering.

Aeonium SunburstAeonium Sunburst – when first purchased it in 2016

Aeonium Sunburst

Aeonium Sunburt-new leaves are more vibrant and older ones

Aeonium Sunburst

2 years growth. The pups are growing in the shade of the main plant

Aeonium Aboreum ‘Schwartzkopf’
Size: Large
Shape: Any
Hardy:  Extremely
Monocarpic: Yes
This Aeonium can be absolutely stunning in the Winter and is one of my favourites.  It turns a very dark purple when it is grown in the sun, however, if grown in full shade it will be totally green and look like a normal Aeonium Aboreum. (as above)

Aeonium Schwartkopf Aeonium Schwartkopf

These are just a few of the different types, the ones that I have and can comment on.  Are they all hardy?, I would say the above are.  That is; hardy in a Mediterranean climate.  Aboreum is definitely in a league of its own when it comes to hardiness however the other species (except Sunburst) have survived on rainfall only in the garden with hardly any attention or care!

It is believed that the Aeoniums that are monocarpic usually only produce a flower when they are a mature plant – say at least 3-5 years old.  However, I found my Aeonium Undulatum (as seen above) had a few new stems start to grow a few months ago and these are already starting to flower!!  So I am perplexed as to why they are flowering straight away and will see what happens after they have flowered.  Watch this space!

Aeonium Undulatam

New Aeonium stems producing flowers on very small stems!?

What is a good succulent for the bathroom?

What is a good succulent for the bathroom?

Succulents are still very much ‘on trend’.  Even if you are not a succulent enthusiast you are still likely to appreciate a succulent in a nice pot or container in someone’s home.  Especially if it is not a plastic one!   Horror of all horrors!!!!

The bathroom is the most common room in someone’s house to see a sexy succulent.  However, due to the humidity from showering and baths a lot of succulents will just not survive in a bathroom unless they are indeed plastic!!  This is why I was so happy to find a succulent that survives in a bathroom and has done so for about two years.

The name of the succulent is a Haworthia Coarctata.  As pictured below.  It can be grown outdoors or inside your home.  Grown indoors it does grow alot slower and does not multiply as often but it still looks great in a small glass jar or any tiny pot.Haworthia coarctata

What care is required for a bathroom succulent?
The answer to this question is hardly any.  I water my succulent approximately every 4-6 weeks and only give it about  1 tablespoon of water.  If this succulent is ‘over’ watered it will rot and die.  A good way to remember to water your succulent is to water on the 1st of every month.  Then you can keep track of when you last watered it.  Even when it looks dry do not water it.  Also, as the succulent is in the bathroom it will receive some moisture from when the bathroom gets all steamy.

Will it grow in a pot without a hole in the bottom?
Yes it will.  Mine does.  You have to be very careful when you water a succulent that is growing in a pot without a drainage hole.  However, it is possible.  Mine is growing in a glass candle jar from Ikea.  With a glass jar you can see the water through the glass and see how wet the soil is.  Also if you put too much water you can always gently tip the jar to the side and pour any excess water out.  Just put your finger on the top of the succulent so you do not tip out the succulent as well.

The Haworthis Coarctata will also grow outdoors in the ground in shade or full sun.  The ones below have been growing in my garden for about 2 years.  As you can see they have grown some babies/pups.  These can be carefully broken off, re-potted and brought inside.  Even if you break off a part that does not have a root it will grow its own roots and happily continue to grow.

Haworthia coarctata growing in the ground Haworthia coarctata

The green colour of the Haworthia growing in the sun is lighter in colour than if it is growing inside or in the shade where the colour will be a lot darker green.

This Haworthia has very shallow roots so it is great for growing in any tiny pot or container.  I recently found a great use for all my old Pandora boxes.  I pulled out the black cardboard and put a tiny bit of soil in the bottom of the box and popped in a Haworthia Coarctata. It looks funky.

Succulent in a pandora box

There are probably a few succulents that wil grow/survive in a steamy room without much light.  However, I would like to point out that this is the only succulent that I ‘personally’ have had survive in my bathroom.

Tips on buying an Ikea Kitchen!

Tips on buying an Ikea Kitchen!

If you are considering buying an Ikea kitchen and would like some tips on how to go about it – read on.  It is not as straight forward as you may think!  I would have loved to have heard someone’s thoughts and experiences before I went ahead.  I did search the internet for a blog but was only able to find information on American Ikea.  This is my experience with Ikea Adelaide – Australia.

Sometime last year we decided to replace our kitchen – it really did need it.  This was the first time in our lives that we had the opportunity to do this.  Where on earth do you start?

Get quotes!
Firstly, make sure you get a few quotes from local kitchen suppliers.  We obtained two ‘custom made’ kitchen quotes from local suppliers that were $40,000 and $26,000.  This was for the basic models and did NOT include any appliances, electrical or plumbing costs.  I believe you should get some quotes for a few reasons.
1. Quality – check out the finish on the doors and benchtops.
2. Warranty Criteria – How long and covers what aspects
3. Timelines – to make and install. (don’t forget you will also need to remove your current kitchen – is this included)

Ikea Displays
Ikea do not display all of their kitchen options at the store.  There are numerous colours and finishes on offer so obviously they are unable to display all their options.  You can view some ideas in store and some ideas in their annual Kitchen Brochure.  A point to be aware of is that if you see a handle or accessory that you like do not assume that it will be available when you go ahead with your kitchen as it could be discontinued by the time you have your kitchen installed.

So it is good to have some idea of what sort of kitchen you think you might like.  If you have no idea at all then I would suggest looking on Pinterest.  If you have not heard of Pinterest; it is a free website that you can join/register with and then type in words such as ‘ white kitchen – black benchtop’.  It will then show you as many photos of kitchens with your specifications as it can find.  You can then save these photos to your computer/pinterest board so that you can look at them at your leisure and decide which kitchen really tickles your fancy.

Ikea Process

Ikea Online Design
I tried making my own design on the Ikea online design tool but it was not the easiest piece of software to use.  I am unsure whether it was my computer not having the right graphics or speed to use the app but it kept shutting down and was very slow.  I understand that they provide a service (which you have to pay for) where an Ikea team member will help you design your kitchen on the app – in store.  This would indicate that: – like me – other people had trouble with the design tool so they brought in this option of booking an appointment with an Ikea staff member to help you use the software.

Kitchen Planner
For $99 you can have a Ktichen Planner come to your home.  I assumed that this meant he would help with design ideas, colours and the plan etc.  This is not the case. The Kitchen Planners are contractors who come out and will measure up and send you a computerised kitchen desgin and the estimated price for this design.  If you are looking for him to advise on colours, benchtop types- ie laminate or stone this is not part of this service.  They are not Interior Designers but really just there to measure and generate a 3d image of what the cabinetry will look like.

At this stage you have not signed up for a kitchen with Ikea you have just used their planning service to generate a computer design of your kitchen.  Included in the $99 the planner/designer will change aspects of the kitchen until you are happy with the design.  This is easy to do on the software.  As long as you do not go overboard and change the whole design! You will now have some idea how much your design will cost.

What the planner will do :
Measure and plan the kitchen to your specifications
– this Includes Ikea white goods and electrical appliances that you will replace
Itemises and costs the cabinetry/appliances and accessories
Generates a (black & white) computer design of the kitchen

Tip One
Our planner included/decided on aspects of the kitchen that we had not thought of or asked for.  Such as:  where the drawer inserts would go (see below), corner cupboard carousels etc  Even though this can be changed after the computer design has been created, if you want to save time make sure you have an idea of where you would like your utensil drawer and if you want carousels in your corner cupboards.  Ensure you tell the planner when he is measuring your kitchen.

Ikea insert drawers

Ikea Carousel

Kitchen Installer
Once you have decided to go ahead with an Ikea kitchen the next step is to call Ikea and arrange for the ‘Installer’ to come and complete the final measure and quote.  This is a cost of $220 and is called a ‘pre-inspection’.  The Kitchen Installer who measures for the installation will be from the contracting company that installs your kitchen.  You definitely need to be at home when he measures.  Our installer asked a lot of questions with regard to the functionality of the kitchen.  He also made suggestions to minor changes that would enhance the look of the kitchen.

Tip Two
Even though the installer may install kitchens for a living do not assume that he knows more about what you want in a kitchen than you do.  He will be able to give you advice on technicalities but should not try and change your mind with regard to the basic design of the kitchen, the colours and the spacing between the cupboards and benchtops.  One mistake that we made was agreeing with the Installer to raise the cupboards by a few centimetres ‘for aesthetics’.  However, only being 5’4″ now that they are installed all I can see  from my level is the undersides of the cupboard which is not the nicest of views.

Cupboard view I imagined

Ikea Cupboard

The cupboard view I have!!

Booking
The installer will give you a date for your installation.  Do not assume it will be next week.  My installer had a 6 week wait time!  Ikea do have more than one installer contracting to them. Different contractors have different expertise.  Some are cabinet makers – ie they are similar to a carpenter and can cut out wood to fit the kitchen properly  whereas other contractors may literally just put the cabinets together and put them in place.  You will require a plumber to plumb the sink and dishwasher.  Ikea will arrange their plumber and electrician for you or you can use your own plumber and electrician.  You will let them know this at the time of the booking.  We used our own plumber and electrician so unable to comment on whether the Ikea trades are well priced or expensive.

Tip Three
When you call Ikea to book an installer for your pre-site inspection you can request an installer which has the shortest wait time if you require your kitchen installed for a particular occasion.  However, keep in mind that there may be a reason why this particular installer has a short wait time.  If time is not an issue, I would suggest to ask for an installer who is also a cabinet maker.  The installation of the kitchen cabinetry will be the same price whoever  you choose but the cabinet maker will be able to make a ‘bulkhead’  (joinery between the top of the overhead cupboards and ceiling) and other cabinetry you may need.  This is an extra cost but cheaper than having another carpenter or cabinet maker tradie come and make the items.

Delivery
Once the order has been placed and deposit paid to Ikea the deliver of the cabinetry will be made to your front door by Ikea approximately two – three days before the installation will occur.

Plumbing and Electrical
Ikea will co-ordinate for a Plumber and Electrician for you if you do not know/have your own trades to carry out the work for you.  We had our own trades to do the work so I cannot comment on this.  You could get a quote from some local tradesman and then ask for an estimate from the Ikea trades to decide whether you would use the Ikea recommended tradesmen.

Splash-back & Bench top
Ikea can also arrange for your Splash Back and/or Bench top.  They have a range of Glass or Stone Splash-back and Stone/Laminate or Timber bench tops.   We chose Glass Splash-back and Stone Bench top.  These two options are not supplied by Ikea but a contracting company.

This is where (for us) that buying a kitchen from Ikea was less than professional. Although Ikea display the glass and stone in store this is, essentially, all they do other than ensure you sign to approve the colours and (obviously) receive a percentage of the sale.

Things I didn’t realise
Cabinetry
After the cabinetry is installed the ‘plinths’ are installed underneath.  I did not realise that they would be installed so far under the cabinets. Be aware of this if you are staining or polishing your floors that you take this into consideration.

Corner Cupboards
The carousels we had installed in the corner cabinetry are great for accessing items in the back corner.  However,  I think storage wise you, would be able to store about 20% more if you were decided on normal shelving, as, due to the functioning of the carousel a lot of space is wasted.

 

Pros

If the installer does not use all the parts or you change your mind with regard to small items like door openers or if you want handles on your overhead cupboards then you can return them to Ikea for a refund. (they need to be returned within a year of purchase)

If you do go ahead with an Ikea Kitchen the $99 is re-imbursed when you make the final payment for the cabinetry.

Cons

If you love the item – lets say a cupboard handle – if you were to purchase the handles when you first decide to go ahead with the Ikea kitchen you can always return them within a year of purchase.  If you are unsure of how many you need it would be advisable to buy more than you need as you can always return them.  Ikea has a 1 year returns policy.  Ensure you keep your receipt.

My Aeoniums are tall, lanky and straggily – what should I do?

My Aeoniums are tall, lanky and straggily – what should I do?

Aeonium Aboreum are a great succulent.  They are easy to grow, propagate extremely easily, can survive on just rainfall and ‘can’ look fantastic.

I say ‘can’ because they can also grow tall and lanky and ‘not’ look so fantastic.

Leggy Aeonium Aboreum

So what can you do if your Aeonium Aboreum gets long and lanky and starts to look less than impressive?  As this succulent is so versatile there is a very simple solution to the problem.

Basically, you can just prune the stems. You can either: Prune the stems back and then pull out the rest of the plant and replant the stem in the ground.
See below.

Aeonium Aboreum schwartkof Aeonium pruned

Or alternatively: you can prune the stems back to a lower level.  It’s like giving them a hair cut.  You can make them as tall or low as you like.  The stem will sprout new buds within a few weeks. This will make them bushier and less lanky as each stem will produce more than one new bud. See below.

Aeonium - offsets after pruning Aeonium Aboreum Fire Wise Succulent

The best time to do this is late Autumn or Winter which is when the Aeonium succulent has its growing season.  If you did prune and replant them during Spring or Summer they would not die but it would take a little longer for the plants to start growing again.

If you decide on the second option and feel bad about throwing away the Aeonium stems.  An alternative to putting them in the green waste is to pot them up.  Take all the stems and plant them next to each other in a large pot.  Instantly making an impressive pot for your patio area and making use of the stems.

 Aeonium Aboreum pot

How long does it take for Aeoniums to get leggy?
It took my Aeoniums about one year to grow into long lanky, fairly unattractive succulents.  If I  had pruned them back around the 6 month mark (middle photo) they would have been bushier and less lanky.

Initial Planting

6 months growth

Leggy Aeonium Aboreum

Approximately 1 year later

If you think this is a lot of work on a fairly regular basis you are probably right.  I have found that this particular Aeonium is more likely to grow tall and spindly.  There are other Aeoniums that are less likely to grow as fast and tall.  I have a second Aeonium Aboreum  (see below) species that has much larger rosettes, grows lower to the ground and flowers less.  Therefore, is a lot less work and as it flowers less often is less likely for the stems to die back.  Aeonium’s are monocarpic.  This means that after the parent plant flowers it dies.  (see post: Which succulents die after flowering?)

Aeonium Aboreum

Other Aeoniums do not seem to grow as fast and get as lanky as the Aboruem.  Such as the Aeonium Swortkof, Variagated and Pinwheel.  See below.

Aeoniun Swartkof Aeonium Pinwheel Aeonium Variagated

Some might say that my Aeoniums have grown tall and lanky due to a lack of full sun.  Yes this can be a factor I do have some growing in full sun and they are still quite lanky.  I believe it is just the species of Aeonium.

 

 

Which succulents produce the most offsets/babies/pups?

Which succulents produce the most offsets/babies/pups?

If you love succulents you will always want more.  If you love succulents you will know that it is not hard to propagate and grow more of the succulents you have.  90% of succulents will produce offsets/babies/pups at some point in their lifespan.  Some succulents will start replicating themselves at a very young age whereas others will not until the parent plant is about to die.
Graptoveria offsets

Graptoveria multiplying in my garden

One of the many amazing things you can say about succulents is that they are the plants that keep on giving. Yes of course there are other plant species that produce new shoots and offsets but as a type of plant; succulents produce offsets in abundance.  Once they are growing in their ‘happy place’ or perfect location there is no stopping them.

What methods can i use to propagate succulents?
There are a few different ways that succulents multiply.  Many will naturally produce offsets which grow below and next to the parent plant. Some can be propagated by gently pulling off a leaf – which will grow into a new plant and others will produce new plants simply by pruning back the plant.  Of course you can always propagate from seed but you can do that with any plant and even though it is very satisfying to do so it takes a very long time.
Aeonium - offsets after pruning

Not long after pruning Aeoniums start producing new offsets

Which succulents produce offsets as apposed to propagating from leaves?
The succulents that are the most prolific at producing offsets are some of the most popular.  Echeveria, Aloes, Pachyphytum, Pachyveria, Graptopetalum, Graptoveria and Sempervivum genus’, just to name a few, start producing offsets very early in their lifespan.  It is not unusual to buy your first plant from a nursery or store that has more than one offset already growing.  However, please note that succulents that produce offsets can still be propagated from leaves!!S

Echeveria Elegans

Echeveria Elegans

Echevreia Offsets

Echeveria Hercules

Echeveria Ripple Offsets

Echeveria Princess Anne

What do I do when my succulent starts producing babies?
You can do absolutely nothing when your succulent starts growing a new plant from a fallen leaf or producing an offset.  Nature will run its course and a new plant will grow from the leaf and/or plant.  You can carry on in the knowledge that sometime in the future (maybe about 3-4 months)  you will have a twin of the succulent you purchased.

Sempervivum propagation

The tiny balls are Sempervivum offset starting to grow

Sempervivum grown in part shade

About 5 months later!

Do succulents that produce offsets also propagate from leaves?
It is important to note that just because a succulent produces offsets it does not mean that you cannot propagate from leaves as well.  Satisfation wise, an offset gives you a new plant alot faster than growing it from leaf propagation.  Leaf propagation can take up to 12 weeks just to form a tiny plant on the end of the leaf.
Sempervivum Offsets
When can you transplant an offset?
You can transplant an offset as soon as it has developed its own tiny roots.  I would even say you could transplant it before the roots have formed.  However, success rates will be higher if you wait for the roots to form.  Depending on whether you are in a hurry or not, the longer you leave the offset to develop where it is the stronger the new plant will be.  Another consideration is if your offsets are numerous they may all be squashed into the pot and this can hamper growth.  If this is the case it would be more beneficial to remove a few of the offsets to make room for more to grow.  (see examples below).
Sempervivum pups Sempervivum offsets crowding a pot Sempervivum arachnoideum
 Succulents can look amazing mass planted in your garden.  See post : Landscaping with succulents So do not be afraid to use one of the offsets to plant in your garden and start an area dedicatd to a mass planting of succulents.  Most succulents that grow numerous offsets are fairly small but can still look amazing in a mass planting.
Echeveria Elegans Aeonium Aboreum Fire Wise Succulent Sempervivum
My succulent is sun burnt – what should I do?

My succulent is sun burnt – what should I do?

Surprisingly, it does not take much for a succulent to get sun burnt!  There are a few reasons why and how your succulent could/would get sun burnt and there are a few things you can do if it does.

It was not that hot and my succulent still got sun burnt!
If you move a succulent into a sunny position from its usual shadier spot there is a very high chance that the leaves will get sun burnt.  Of course there are variables to consider.  Summer sun is a lot stronger than winter sun, so should you move your succulent to a sunnier position in the winter chances are they will enjoy the sun and be fine but should you move your succulent to a sunnier position in late spring or summer the end result could be sun burn.  It really depends on the intensity of the sun.

Aeonium Pinwheel succulent with sun burnt leaves

Aeonium Pinwheel – sun burnt leaves.

My brand new succulent got sun burnt as soon as I put it in the sun!
Keep in mind that succulents grown in nurseries are grown under shade cloth.  This is how all succulents are propagated and grown.  Even a baby succulent offshoot/pup grows in the shade of the parent plant until it is old/strong enough to survive the strong rays of the sun.  So if you purchase a new succulent and put the plant in the sun there is 90% chance that the leaves will get sun burnt.  Every succulent that I buy I put straight into the sun knowing this will happen, but I know that in the end the succulent will be stronger and used to growing in the sun (assuming it a succulent species that likes sun).  It can actually take a few months for the succulent to acclimatise and during this time can look a bit worse for wear but I believe it is worth it.

sun burnt succulent leaves sun burnt echeveria imbricata Sedum succulent with sunburn

Above are a few of my succulents that were sun burnt this summer.

If you do not want your succulent to get sun burnt but ultimately would like your succulent to grow in a full sun position you need to start the plant off in a semi-shaded position and gradually allow the plant to receive more sun (time) as it matures.

My succulent suddenly has sun burnt leaves and I did not move it into the sun?!?!
If you are growing your succulent in a half shade/half sun position and one day (during summer) you find the leaves have sun burn this would probably because it was a very hot day (ie 40c/104F) and the intensity of the sun was stronger than the succulent was used to,  The heat of the sun on these hot summer days will easily burn your succulent’s leaves.

Echevveria with sun burnt leaves

What can I do about my sun burnt succulent?

Leave the burnt leaves on the plant.
There are a few things that you can do about your sun burnt leaves. Sun burnt leaves do not look at all attractive and the first thing you will want to do is to get rid of them.  However, if you are experiencing a heatwave or know there is more hot weather on the way and you are unable to move your succulent to a shadier position (as it may be planted in the ground!) then it is best to leave the sun burnt leaves on the plant.  They will protect/shade the lower leaves on the plant below that did not get sun burnt.

Cut the burnt leaves off the plant.
Yes you can carefully snip out the sun burnt leaves to make the succulent look nice again, this will not be detrimental to the plant.  Usually the leaves that get sun burnt are the outer leaves so they should be fairly easy to access.

If you leave your sun burnt leaves on the plant they will eventually complete their natural cycle and go brown, dry up and drop off the plant in due course.

Will my sun burnt succulent die?
No it will not!  Usually only a few leaves will burn.  The new leaves forming in the centre of the succulent actually look amazingly healthy in comparison.  Conversely, you would expect the new (inner) leaves to be burnt and the older leaves (to the outer edge of the plant) to survive.  This is not the case, the succulent is preparing its new growth for the hotter more intense sun.  The older leaves have not been prepared for these conditions and have not been grown to cope with the sun’s intensity – this is why they burn.

What can I do to prevent sun burn?
You can protect your succulents from sun burn by moving them into the shade when it is a hot day out of the intense heat from the sun.  So either move your pots into the shade for the duration of the heatwave or if they are planted in the garden cover them with some shade cloth.  This will deflect some of the intensity of the sun.

 

Why have the stems on my succulents shrivelled?

Why have the stems on my succulents shrivelled?

The stems of a few of my succulents started looking dry and then they started to look shrivelled and brown.  I was quite concerned.  How would the succulent live if it could not get water from its roots?  I did notice that there were some aerial roots above the shrivelled stem which would be the succulents way of trying to survive the lack of water it was receiving from its original roots in the soil.

shrivelled stem on succulent

Why did the stems shrivel?
This is ‘not‘ root rot or in this case ‘ stem rot’.  Root rot on a succulent is black! and there is no sign of dried out stems when a succulent has root rot.  This is due to the succulent having too much heat and not enough water for it to cope. Normally it would be the amount of heat – ie high temperatures.  Succulents like sun with lots of air flow but some do not cope with high temperatures. ie 38-40C/100-104F. It may cope with a few days of high temperatures with the right amount of water but ongoing high temperatures with no water and the succulent’s survival tactics will kick in. 

Will my succulent survive?
As in the case below, the stems have all shrivelled and the separated stems have put out new aerial roots in attempt to survive the heat.  A sure sign it is willing to survive!

Graptoveria growing in ground

A healthy succulent when first planted!

Graptoveria dying

Suffering from over heating and lack of water!

What can I do to save my succulent?
Firstly, do not panic!  The reason we all love succulents is because they are amazing survivors. Cut the stems above the shrivelled part and replant into a new pot or a different spot in the garden. Move the pot/plant  to a position with a bit more shade.  Even if the stems do not have any tiny white aerial roots the plant will still grow some new roots in the soil and live on.  Wait about 1 week before you water the new cuttings.

Some succulents do require a little more water than others.  However, moving the succulent to a shadier position will most likely cure the problem.  If you move the plant to a shadier position AND increase the water then you may then over water which will then cause root rot. So try the shadier position without adjusting the water first.  If the stems shrivel again (in due course) then you should water more regularly.  Some succulents do require more regular watering than others.

So why have the stems of your succulents shrivelled? Basically; to let you know that they are not happy and to do something about it!

 

 

How do I treat pests on succulents & cacti?

How do I treat pests on succulents & cacti?

An inevitable part of every gardener’s life is dealing with pests. Those of us enamoured with succulents are more fortunate than most – we have fewer bugs trying to munch our plants. Still, audacious insects attempt it occasionally, so you should be prepared to defend yourself and your plants.

Quarantine

The first (and most important) step to treating any pest is to quarantine affected plants. Infestations will usually take several days to a week to treat, and you need to ensure that the pest isn’t able to spread to unaffected plants.

A successful quarantine relies on you catching the pest early. I probably don’t need to tell you to do regular inspections because you’re already looking at your plants every day. If you’re not, for some strange reason, make an effort to look carefully at every plant in your collection at least once a week. Check under leaves and in nooks and crannies. Pests like dark, damp places.

If you find something suspect, quarantine immediately. Take the plant into another room, if possible, or at least 2 meters away from the others. Then, begin treatment.

Mealybugs

mealy bugs

Photo from Garden.org

Perhaps the most common succulent pest and, fortunately, one of the easiest to treat. They are easy to identify too: specks of white cottony material about 1-2 mm in length. They tend to group in crevices; often where the leaf meets the stem.

You can treat these by washing them off with a particularly powerful stream of water. Some succulents drop leaves at the slightest touch, however, so this approach won’t work for them.

Instead, try spraying a 70% isopropyl alcohol solution on the affected areas. It won’t harm your plant. A neem oil solution is also very effective in treating mealybugs.

There is a much more detailed explanation of mealybugs, their prevention and their treatment, over at Sublime Succulents if you want to check it out!

Scale

scale

Photo courtesy of Flickr

While most pests are soft-bodied insects like mealybugs or aphids, scale is a hard-bodied bug. What this means for you is that treatment is more difficult.

They usually appear as brown to black colored bumps that are oval in shape. Scale hugs the plant very tightly, and won’t be removed by simple brushing or water. You can try the alcohol solution detailed above, but chances are it will take several treatments to get some results.

While I generally try to avoid using insecticides because of the collateral damage it can cause to beneficial insects, a scale infestation means you have to get serious. Try an insecticidal soap or neem oil solution. Don’t apply them during the day, or the oils that linger on your plant could cause it to burn.

Fungus Gnats

Picture by Reddit user /u/bornslippy_nuxx

Also called sciarid flies, these pests look (and act) a lot like fruit flies. Also like fruit flies, they’re not very harmful to your plants – they’re just annoying.

These gnats pop up when your soil stays wet for too long. They lay eggs in the dirt, then the larva munches on dead and decaying matter. Those baby fungus gnat require moisture to survive, so they’ll go away if you adjust watering frequency accordingly.

 

I’ve got rid of them several times by simply inflicting a drought – I delay watering until I don’t see the flies anymore. The adults only live for 10 days or so, and the eggs and larvae wither if they’re not moist. A more immediate solution is to mix some hydrogen peroxide into your water the next time – that’ll get them too.

To prevent them from appearing at all, make sure you only water when the soil is totally dry – then wait another day or two. Top-dressing like a layer of gravel on top of your soil can also help dissuade the flies from making your plant their home.

Remember, Prevention is the Best Treatment

Most of these pests can be avoided by simply having good garden hygiene. Don’t let your plants or their soil stay wet for too long. Make sure there is plenty of airflow of dry air. Prune occasionally, and remove dead plant matter from pots.

A pest invasion isn’t a reason for panic. By catching it early you can mitigate the damage done. Many infestations will require treatment to be repeated every few days until the pest goes away.

Even if a plant is severely affected – it’s ok! These are succulents we’re talking about. Just propagate it.

About the Author

Patrick Grubbs runs the website Sublime Succulents – a site dedicated to saving succy lives through education. When he’s not writing tutorials about pest control, he’s figuring out how to fit more plants on his windowsills.

Which locations do succulents thrive?

Which locations do succulents thrive?

The answer to the question – which locations do succulents thrive in – is :  any and all locations!  There are so many succulents that there will always be a species that will thrive in a location in your garden.

If you are a succulent novice or a well seasoned succulent gardener there will always be a new succulent that you acquire that you will be uncertain about which location to put it in.  Does it cope with full sun, is it a shade lover?

If the succulent you buy comes with an ID tag (that’s if you are very lucky) its possible it ‘might’ give you a ‘vague’ idea of the sort of growing conditions the succulent would thrive in.  General suggestions like ‘full sun’ or partial shade’, ‘fertilise in spring’.  They are generalised by the nursery for all plants that they grow.  For further explanation on some of these see: (How much sun do succulents need? Morning or Afternoon? Full or Part? )

This ID tag contradicts itself – may tolerate dryness but the soil must not dry out! – not helpful!

But how will you know if your succulent is just surviving or if it is thriving?

Signs that your succulent is just surviving.
There are signs that will tell you that your succulent is not doing well.  Such as, stretching (etoliation) from not enough sun/light, wilting leaves from over watering, puckered leaves from under watering and burnt leaves from too much sun. It is surviving but not as well as it could.  These signs do not mean that it is dying but it could be doing a lot better in a different location.

Stretching succulents: If your succulent is not receiving enough sun/light and is stretching then it needs to be moved straight away into a position that gives it more light.  Stretching (also known as etoliation) is not reversible, the only remedy is to prune the plant back so that it can start again in its new sunnier position where it wont stretch and will grow compact and healthy.

This is an example of an etioliated/stretched succulent. Tall and lanky rather than short and compact.

Burnt leaves: If your succulent has burnt leaves it may be because it has been previously grown in a part sun/part shade situation at the nursery.  The good news is that having burnt leaves will not kill a succulent, once the burnt leaves become the oldest leaves they will shrivel and die.  The new leaves that grow from the centre will be strong and healthy and will have acclimatised to full sun and will not get sun burnt. Succulents will acclimatise to new locations in 2-3 months

Note:  The only exception to this rule is if there is an abnormally hot day/week (around 40C/104F) the chances are that even a succulent growing in full sun can still get sun burnt leaves.

Sedum succulent with sunburnThese leave are suburnt.

Wilting/Pale leaves: Over watering can cause the leaves to look pale or yellow and they will wilt.  If you notice this on a few leaves then do not water the succulent until you see signs of recovery.  This could be weeks or even a month!  It may already be too late and the plant will die but you may catch it in time.   See post: How often should I water succulents? Do succulents need water?

overwatered succulent

Puckered Leaves: It does not happen very often but sometimes you can underwater your succulent and it will have puckered leaves.  Give the plant a drenching of water and leave it to dry out.  Do not make the mistake of then giving it too much water.

Underwatered succulent leaves

Puckered leaves can be a sign of an under watered succulent

Signs that your succulent is thriving
It can take some time to know if your succulent is thriving.  It is not something you can know within a week of receiving the plant. The signs that it is thriving are:
– not showing any of the above mentioned conditions
– new growth – especially in the succulent’s growing season
– flowers – a succulent will only flower in the right growing conditions
– pups/babies -succulents will only produce offspring if it has the right growing conditions to do so
– getting to its maximum species size

Succulents can thrive and look different!
A succulent will always adapt to its growing conditions.  See example below. Both of these succulents are the same genus/species and are producing babies/pups ie thriving.  Sempervivums (House Leeks) are grown on roof tops in Europe so would receive full sun at some times of the year and no sun at others and would therefore look different during different seasons.

Sempervivum grown in part shade Sempervivum grown in full sun

These Sempervivum are exactly the same species.  The Sempervivum on the left are growing in partial shade.  The Sempervivum on the right have 8 hours of full sun.  

Whether your succulent is grown in the ground or in a pot.  If it is not doing well do not be scared to dig it up and move it or put the pot somewhere else.  The majority of succulents are very hardy and if it is not doing well in one position there is no harm in moving it to another location. 

I have found that planting a succulent in the garden, that is not doing so well in a pot, makes the world of difference.  As long as the soil conditions and drainage are correct the roots of the plant will fair better in the ground, as the conditions are not so variable, compared with a pot which can heat up and dry out quicker and constrict the roots.

succulent garden australia

The difference between a succulent ‘surviving’ and a succulent ‘thriving’ is location, location, location!

Related Posts
Which succulents grow in full shade?
Do Succulents really prefer Sun?

 

How often should I water succulents?  Do succulents need water?

How often should I water succulents? Do succulents need water?

A common idea that people have about succulents is that they do not ‘require/need’ water.  This is a myth. All plants need water including succulents.  Yes they can survive long periods of ‘drought’, ie no water, but they ‘do‘ need water to live. How often and how much is the question. As succulents store water in their leaves, stems, or roots they can survive when there is a drought, therefore it is better for a succulent to be too dry than over watered. Do not use a spray bottle, the roots of the succulent need water.

Generally, you should water more often in the summer when the plant is actively growing than in the winter when the plant goes into semi-dormancy. Watering also depends on quite a few variables with regard to the succulents growing conditions: 

Is the plant grown in a pot or the ground
Pot size
Drainage
Inside the house or outside
Type of soil
Temperatures
Light Conditions – ie how much and how strong is the sun
Succulent genus/species
Maturity of the plant
Time of Year – Spring/Summer/Autumn Winter

Lets assume that the soil is free draining, the pot has drainage holes and the succulent has the right amount of sun/shade exposure.

Indoor Succulents
How much?
Give a good soaking—water should run out drainage holes at the bottom of the pot
Be sure to empty the water that runs into the saucer
How often?
Let the soil dry out completely before you next water.  It does not mean it needs water as soon as the soil it dries out, just to let the soil dry before you do water again.
Larger pots can hold more moisture, small shallow pots will dry out a lot quicker and may require
to be watered more frequently

Outdoor in Pots
Outdoor pots generally require more regular watering than indoor pots due to warmer conditions.
How much?
Give a good soaking—water should run out drainage holes at the bottom of the pot
Be sure to empty the water that runs into the saucer
How often?
Let the soil dry out completely before you next water. It does not mean it needs water as soon as the soil it dries out, just to let the soil dry before you do water again.
Larger pots can hold more moisture, small shallow pots will dry out a lot quicker and may require
to be watered more frequently

Succulent in large pot

Large pots hold more moisture so do not dry out so quickly

succulent in small pot

Small pots will dry out a lot quicker than a large pot as it holds less moisture.

Summer
Pots will dry out a lot quicker in spring/summer compared to autumn/winter.  So the need for watering will be required more often in the warmer months.
Winter
Winter rains can keep the pots moist continuously, but as they are in pots consider moving them to a sunny position under the eaves of the house to control the amount of water they receive.  This can also protect them from frost.  Don’t forget to water them while they are under the eaves though!

Succulents in the Ground
Succulents growing in the ground have different watering requirements to those that are grown in pots.  The soil temperature stays cooler and doesn’t dry out as quickly. The succulents will also establish a stronger root system.

succulent garden australia succulent growing in wall succulents in wall

The succulents above are growing in my garden.  I very rarely water them myself, they survive on annual rainfall.

How Much?
Consideration regarding natural rainfall is required when deciding how much to water succulents in the ground. As with succulents in pots give the succulents a good soaking, ensuring the water does not pool around the base/roots of the plant.
How Often?
Winter
In the Winter you should not have to water succulents growing in the ground at all. As long as you ensure they are grown in good draining soil – ie not clay soils.  Most succulents can cope with a lot of rain.  Planting succulents on banks, in walls or building a mound of soil and planting the succulent on the top of the mound will ensure their roots do not sit in water and they will then cope with rain.
Summer
In Spring or Summer if they receive rain once every 7-10 days you still should not need to water them at all.  If there is no rain once per fortnight should suffice, or even once per month. 

There is no simple answer to how often to water succulents.  Sometimes it is more about when to recognise that they need to be watered or when they have had too much water.

Signs of an Over-watered Succulent
An over watered succulent has leaves that are soft and squishy, they will drop off easily from the plant  and can be pale green or sometimes yellow or orange in colour.
Remedy: Do not water for ‘at least’ two weeks to give the plant time to dry out properly.  If the leaves drop off take them out of the pot/away from the plant.  Sometimes it may be too late and they will not recover but if you catch the signs of over watering early the succulent should survive.

overwatered succulent

This succulent shows classic signs of over watering. The lower leaves are lying flat.  They are also soft, spongy and pale compared to the new leaves growing from the centre.  These leaves will fall off very easily.

over watered succulent survivor

This is the same succulent 6 months later.  Soon after I took the previous photo I  re-potted the plant into soil that was specifically designed for succulents and stopped watering.  I did not water it for about 10-12 weeks.  This was hard to do, however, I kept a close eye on it and the longer I didn’t water the healthier it looked.

Signs of an Under-watered Succulent
An under watered succulent’s upper leaves become dry and crispy, the entire plant becomes shrivelled  and many leaves shrivel at the tips.  The leaves look puckered and dry.
Remedy: Firstly, check the soil, you could be watering the succulent but the soil is not holding any moisture for the roots.  Re-pot the succulent if this is the case.  If the soil is ok just give the plant a good soaking of water and keep in mind this succulent may need watering a little more regularly compared to other species of succulents.

Underwatered succulent leaves

Classic under watering. The leaves are puckered/shrivelled.

Watering mature plants versus new succulents
Established plants will have a stronger root system and tolerate dry conditions better than new plants.  Especially succulents that are growing in the ground.  So a mature plant is more likely to survive longer without water/require less regular watering than a younger one.

 

echeveria strawberry heart

A mature plant growing in the ground will have established roots and require less watering than a younger plant.

How should I water the succulent leaves I’m propagating?
Until the leaves develop the tiny roots the leaves shouldn’t require any water.  It would not be detrimental to water them but why waste your time doing so!  Once the roots develop a once per week watering should be sufficient, watering the leaf and the soil.  The roots – which are still  above ground  – will absorb any moisture in the air and soil below.

Should I water after re-potting a succulent?
Succulents are the opposite of normal plants and do not require ‘watering in’ or water when re-potted or planted in the ground.  They actually prefer not to watered straight away.

Should I use a moisture metre?
Moisture metres are a great idea to test the moisture in the middle of a pot.  When the top soil may be dry the soil below may still be wet and therefore the pot does not require more water.  You can buy moisture metres from your local hardware store.  

I agree, this is a lot to consider and may sound complicated but just consider the following basic steps for any of your succulents. 

  • check the soil conditions to see if it dry or moist
  • look for signs of over or under watering
  • if you are unsure whether to water – do not water!