Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Succulent season


Though succulents are usually thought of as tough, water-hardy plants which are built to survive hot, dry summers, the other side of their nature is that they don't really like summer all that much. Like most garden plants (and people), they much prefer autumn and spring. Right now they're growing and flowering, and looking lovely.

Faucarias, with their python-like jaws of spiny teeth, look quite savage at other times of year, but now, in autumn, they're home to dainty, yellow daisies.

Sempervivums are simply growing well now. I repotted these last spring and am hoping that by next spring they'll have filled the bowl with maroon-tipped, pale green rosettes.

It's the same story with the graptoverias. Repotted last spring, growing well now, hopefully looking a grey-blue picture of abundance by next spring.

Sometimes, when I look at my haworthia, I think of these as being like some kind of crowded futuristic city designed by Spanish architect Antonio Gaudi. They're showing more complex colours now and are growing so fast they'll start climbing up and over each other. I'd like to see that!

Gasteria bicolor has never looked particularly bicoloured to me, at least until this year. Hopefully this is how it's meant to look. It's producing babies now, so I presume all is well, but as my knowledge of succulents is pretty limited, I often look at some of them and wonder 'is that normal, are you OK?'.

And so low are my expectations for this lithops, the living stone plant, that all I want for it is survival. When I repotted it into its nice little blue pot, I discovered that it was planted straight into gravel. OK. And then after a very wet month one of the two original lithops people shrivelled and died (that's when my low expectations really kicked in). Since then, this rather cute little survivor-person hasn't grown, hasn't died, hasn't done anything, and I'm delighted!

Several other succulents in my little potted conclave known as Succulent City are sending up flower spikes now, and there's never a dull flower in Succulent City. While these plants do store water to survive summer, the fact is they just go into survival mode over the hot months, then shout 'hooray' when autumn comes and then go into growing and flowering and baby-making mode during the cooler, wetter months. Around here, autumn is the real succulent season.



15 comments:

Chandramouli S said...

Wonderful collection of succulents, Jamie! Interesting shapes and sizes!

Evelyn said...

Very nice - I enjoyed all yr photos.

patientgardener said...

what a great collection, I havent heard of some of those. I find myself liking succulents more and more and seem to be returning home on a regular basis with another acquisition.

dining tables said...

You have a wonderful collection! Very nice! Thanks for sharing.

Nakia Stewart said...

Aw man, they are so pretty. Do you grow them yourself? If so, please blog back(while checking my blogs too) and tell me how did you start out? I want to plant a flower garden but I don't know where to begin. Thanks!

Jamie said...

Hi Nakia
Thanks for visiting. One good place to begin with gardening is reading blogs, so you're off to a very good start. If you're in North Carolina, you ought to check out Kenneth Moore's blog. He's in Washington DC, so he isn't so far away and his tips might be really suitable for your part of the world. He's at http://www.indoorgarden-er.com

Lanie said...

I'm quite taken with the lithops. I would however have the urge to get a black marker and draw some little character-filled eyes on it.

Sue O said...

You Aussies do have delightful succulents. My husband hates 'em. I grow them anyway. I just stole a few little pieces from a particularly huge spread on my walk this morning. They will probably die, to teach me for my wicked ways.

dining tables said...

The flowers are so wonderful! I like this collection of yours.

Chookie said...

I've never been a big fan of succulents, but I do have a few. One I must get (when I next visit someone who owns one) is a houseleek, or Sempervivum. They are supposed to prevent your house from being struck by lightning!

Window On The Prairie said...

Enjoyed seeing the hens and chicks. Mine didn't overwinter here on our farm in Kansas, USA.

Nicole said...

You have some really cute succulents, I definitively plan to get some when the nursery shipment arrives in 2 weeks.

Lancashire rose said...

Love all your succulents. I, also, have lots of succulents but didn't think that hens and chicks would do well where we have hot summers. Your post has decided me to try with them, keeping them in the shade during the summer.

Sunshine and Shadows said...

I love your collection of plants they are very visually interesting.

loft32 said...

I love your succulent varieties, some I haven't seen before! I recently started making succulent gardens and giving them as gifts. Seem to be a hit so far!I'm thinking of selling them, check them out and see what you think!
www.loft32.blogspot.com