Planting Out Aloes

I’ve been revamping much of my garden recently. If you have been following along the past three years you will remember the initial installation and the updates over the years. Because I didn’t really have the time to care for it I had pretty much left it to its own devices. This worked out pretty well and I ended up with a lovely garden of native and mediterranean climate annuals. This style of garden is great because it is basically free (after the initial purchase of plants the first year) and looks great while it is in bloom. The downside is that when it is not in bloom it looks pretty wretched and it is actually pretty high maintenance to care for it over the long term if you want it to look nice.

I wanted a bit of a change so I decided to create a Proteaceae and succulent garden. This type of garden is ideal for my warm, dry, coastal climate. It looks good year round, needs very little water once established (once a month should do the trick), and for the most part is low maintenance (though the succulents will need to be lifted and divided over time and the Proteaceae will probably need replacing now and then. They like to die).

We had almost a week of rainy weather and before the storms started I quickly planted out most of the Proteas. We had a break in the rain today and I planted out some of the larger Aloes.

I’ve been collecting Aloes and other large succulents the past few years but they grow surprisingly fast in containers and need pretty regular potting up. It was time to put them in the ground so they can look their best.

Aloe speciosa (tilt-head Aloe) arrived from Annie’s Annuals in March of 2013 in a tiny four inch pot. (top row, second from the left)

Aloe speciosa in a 4" pot in March 2013

It has grown pretty dramatically the past year and a half and as of this morning resided in a ten inch terra cotta pot. Incidentally, I don’t recommend terra cotta for big Aloes. Very difficult to get them out without damaging them!

Aloe speciosa now ready to be planted in the garden

I bought Aloe marlothii from San Marcos Growers about two years ago in a one gallon pot. Now it is ready to be a dramatic specimen plant in the center of the border.

Aloe marlothii

They both look pretty great planted out. They don’t really need the big watering wells. But since the shrubs, perennials, and grasses do I think it looks better if everything is uniform. It also helps me a bit in not planting things too close together since I have been designing this garden on the fly.

Aloe marlothii and Aloe speciosa planted out in the garden

Aloe wickensii I have had for at least four years. Originally purchased in a four inch pot back when I lived in West Hollywood or maybe even Santa Monica.

Aloe wickensii

The new gardens are starting to take shape but they are still a work in progress.

View of the garden from the front.

 

 

Thanksgiving Macros

I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving. I took a few macros of some new Pelargonium and succulent blooms.

Pelargonium cotyledonis

Pelargonium cotyledonis doesn’t really have exceptional blooms but I like the light brush of pink that I didn’t even notice until I downloaded the photos.

Pelargonium cotyledonis

It is grown more for its green leathery foliage and its thick caudex forming stems.

Pelargonium laxum

Pelargonium laxum went dormant for a few months in late summer and early fall but recently leafed out again and started blooming.

Pelargonium acetosum

Most of the species Pelargoniums I bought are pretty simple to care for but Pelargonium acetosum seems a bit trickier. I wasn’t really sure it was going to make it but it seems to have stabilized and even started blooming. Nice big light salmon flowers.

Crassula barklyi blooming

My weird little Crassula barklyi have even weirder flowers. They are sort of sinister the way they burst through the stems almost like parasites bursting out of skin. The plants look like cute little buttons so I wasn’t really expecting this.

Crassula barklyi blooming

They come in pink and white. Creepy.

Lithops optica ssp. rubra

I have mentioned before that of all the mesembs I grow I am awful at growing Lithops. I just can’t seem to keep them alive for very long. So I am somewhat surprised that I have kept these Lithops optica ssp. rubra that I grew from seed alive for several years. I am not doing anything special. I just sort of ignore it. In fact I ignore it so much that I didn’t even realize it had bloomed until the bloom had long since passed and was just a shriveled little lump. Shortly afterward the plant split which is pretty exciting. There is still a pretty good chance I’ll kill it but in the future I will try to pay closer attention so I don’t miss out on any future blooms.

potbound

Earlier this year I noticed that a Delosperma lehmannii and a Faucaria species that I have owned for a few years hadn’t been doing much of anything. They were alive but not really blooming or growing. The pots they were in were pretty small so I potted them up and was rewarded by new growth and lots of blooms this fall. Such an easy fix though I have so many plants in containers and not enough time or pots to pot them all up.

Faucaria

Faucaria sp.

Delosperma lehmannii

Delosperma lehmannii (aka Corpuscularia lehmannii)

Muiria hortensae

Muiria hortensae

I have been very lazy about blogging lately. I’m not thrilled with the changes to WordPress and Flickr so that is part of the reason. It isn’t difficult to post a single picture though so at the very least I can do that from time to time.

I haven’t had an update on my mesembs in a while so what do you think of this adorable little Muiria hortensae? Supposedly one of the more difficult ones but I had reasonably good luck growing them from seed and still have a few little plants left. Not bad considering they are grown outdoors year round and don’t have optimal conditions or care. This is the nicest of my remaining plants and I was happy to notice that it has split into two plants. Once I buy a house I hope to have space for a small greenhouse and then perhaps my collection of succulents and other little plants will be better protected from the elements.

Be sure to click on the image to enlarge it for a more detailed close up. Muiria is even more adorable up close.

Succulent Macros

I haven’t really posted any little succulent pics in a while because many of them are dormant during the spring and summer and don’t look like much. After our recent rain storm they are springing back to life so it is time for an update.

All of them are plants that I started from seed except for the Fenestraria. Most of them are in two or three inch pots so that should give you an idea of their size.

Frithia pulchra

Frithia pulchra

Titanopsis primosii

Titanopsis primosii

Fenestraria rhopalophylla subsp. rhopalophylla

Fenestraria rhopalophylla subsp. aurantiaca

Stomatium alboroseum

Crassula barklyi

Crassula macowaniana

Cheiridopsis cigarettifera

Lithops optica ssp. rubra

Mitrophyllum dissitum

 Mitrophyllum dissitum

 Mitrophyllum grande

 Monilaria pisiformis (I am not convinced that any of my Monilaria are going to survive dormancy. There is a bit of green in some of them but they are not doing much)

Cheiridopsis glomerata

Gibbaeum comptonii

Oophytum oviforme

Muiria hortenseae

Muiria hortenseae

The last four – Cheiridopsis glomerata, Gibbaeum comptonii, Oophytum oviforme, and Muiria hortenseae were left in their original seedling containers way too long. For little mesembs (especially tricky ones like Muiria and Oophytum) it is a balancing act on potting the plants up into individual pots. Too soon and you may kill them. If you wait too long, however, they become overgrown and their roots are so entwined it is difficult to extricate them from each other without doing damage or even killing some. I had planned on potting them up in September, after returning from a trip back east, but while I was gone the drip irrigation on my nearby container plants had sprung a leak and water was shooting up like a geyser a few times a week.  It filled the tray they were in with water so they were soaking for a few days. Not ideal for any succulent!  I let them dry out for a bit and then proceeded with potting them up and happily most of them are looking pretty good. The Oophytum are still a bit dodgy but those are tricky plants to begin with. If they fail I’ll try again and be more careful next time.

Echeveria Propagation

For some reason succulents are really expensive compared to other plants. They are even pretty costly at wholesale prices. It seems kind of strange since they are usually really easy to grow via asexual propagation but they aren’t the fastest growers so while it is frustrating I guess it makes sense.

I’ve started up a collection of succulents for my future garden. I’m not sure exactly where or when it will happen but I know I want it to focus on Proteas and Succulents. So I’ve been buying small relatively inexpensive succulents and growing them on so they will be ready.

I bought these Echeveria ‘Violet Queen’ back in March as single rosettes in four inch pots. I immediately potted them up into gallon pots and they rewarded me by creating lots of little pups. E. ‘Violet Queen’ is a hybrid of E. elegans so fairly prolific. It can be a bit nerve wracking to separate them from the mother plant but in this case the pups separate quite easily.

The larger pups went into four inch pots and all the tiny ones into  little two inch pots. I remove the lowest leaves so there is a little bit of stem and bury that in the soil. I waited about a week before giving them any water. It might even be better to wait longer. I just sort of wing it. I don’t have any precise formula. I just do what feels right to me. I’ve found ‘Violet Queen’ to be a little trickier than straight E. elegans so we’ll see how successful I am.

You can also propagate Echeverias via individual leaf cuttings but since I got over fifty plants just from separating pups that would have been overkill. It is best to only propagate what you can reasonably care for or have a need for.

Another plant that with a lot of pups was Echeveria colorata ‘Mexican Giant’. The mother plant is the huge one in the two gallon pot in the top right corner of the above picture. The one below it in the gallon pot was the largest pup and the four immediately to the left in the flat in four-inch pots were pretty big too. You can see by their size that when they were all attached they were busting out of their original pot (I wish I had remembered to take a picture).

The eight other plants on the left side of the flat are new two-inch plants I bought for a reasonable price at a local retailer and potted up. Hopefully they will grow and start reproducing too.

I love propagation but I have been traveling too much this year to start any plants by seed. Succulents are pretty forgiving. I divided up all these plants before a week long trip to New York and when I got back they were fine.

More succulent pics soon! It is time for a mesemb update.

January 1st Mesembs

I had this plan to take photos of my Mesemb seedlings the first of every month so I would have a record of their growth. I was doing well with my project but fell short these past few months.  I’ll try to start it up again (but no promises!).

Cheiridopsis glomerata sown 3/11/2012 and badly in need of being pricked out and given their own pots.  The problem is I have nowhere to put all those little pots! I am going to remedy that soon though.

Gibbaeum comptonii sown exactly a year ago today!

Muiria hortenseae also sown a year ago today. To tell the truth I am a little nervous to pot these guys up. They are supposed to be tricky and they are doing so well. I’m afraid if I mess with them they will all drop dead.

Oophytum oviforme are also said to be tricky.  They are very tiny and slow-growing too so that makes me even more nervous to pot them up.

Lithops optica var. rubra 

Honestly it is a miracle I have kept any Lithops alive a year and a half.  I have killed more Lithops than any other mesemb.

Mitrophyllum grande (left) and Monilaria pisiformis

These are also a year old today and have been potted up and growing outside since spring.  They went dormant over the summer and I am shocked that they Monilaria survived.  They were all just a few millimeters tall when they went dormant and nothing was left but a few wisps of papery dried up husks. But they sprang to life with the fall rains and the one pictured and a few others are already about an inch high. This one even branched already.

The story for Dactylopsis digitata is not as happy.   Another tricky one to grow they are not thriving since coming out of dormancy. Their old dead leaves are still clinging to them and they have put on little growth. This is supposedly pretty common. I expect they will just wither away.

Mitrophyllum dissitum however are doing really well. Sown 1/16/11 so almost two years old. This past summer was their first dormancy and I was surprised how huge they had become once the rains started in fall and they started growing again. For a while I was nervous about them because like the Dactylopsis their old dried skins were also clinging to them.  But the wet and humidity of a few rainy days in November seemed to do the trick and the old skins washed away.

I think I need to start up some new mesembs and other succulents from seed.  They are far more forgiving than regular herbaceous and woody plants so I can go out of town and not worry about them too much.  People are always raving about Mesa Garden so maybe I will place an order with them when their 2013 seed list comes out.