Monday, 18 July 2016

Sorting out more of the trouble areas

It's amazing that in mid July only now is there a break in the rain.  For once the weekend was dry and getting warmer, so out in the garden and time to take on a couple of the projects.

First up the trio of agave montanas.

A very wet tolerant agave they have thrived in the main rockery and are starting to grow into each other.  Not sure what the thought process was here, maybe just that there were three plants that needed to be planted.  In a couple of years, these will be a tangle of spikes. So the decision was made to remove the middle one and allow space for the others to grow.

It will take a bit of getting used to, and the euphorbia is now going to have to go, but it will fill out which is the idea. The central plant has gone in the front garden where it has lots of space.

One down and so far relatively unscathed.

Next up the problem of the rapidly growing agave ovatifolia and the aloe polyphylla.

The aloe has grown so much is is starting to push the rock over. The agave is being overgrown by the ice plant and is growing into the aloe.  It is also such a good blue, it needs to go somewhere more visible.

It came out surprisingly easily, one of the advantages of pure gravel.  There were a few discussions about the best new home; lots of trial positioning and thinking what else may have to be moved in the future.  In the end we opted for the bend in rockery, just below the smallest agave montana.

There is plenty of space for it to grow and the echeverias can be moved at any point should it be needed.  The aloe polyphilla now has lots of space and the rock has been moved back as well.

Now we just need the warm weather to continue so we can get out and enjoy it.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Someone is loving the rain.

You need to look closely, but finally the large cycad is starting to flush.  Lots of rain and extra feed seems to have done the trick.

Friday, 24 June 2016

A break form the rain

My friends always laugh when I say that June in the UK is our monsoon month.  They are not laughing this year, as it has been foul, with the last two days being full on thunder storms and flooding. Thankfully the flooding has not been bad as long as you are not trying to camp at a festival.

To get out of the ran it was time to take on one of the re-potting tasks.  The agave filifera variegata has gone a bit pupping mad.

It's never certain how easily pups are going to come off, so it was nice they came away without much problem.

Not a bad collection of pups, only a few without roots.  Those are only the pups, the mum is safely potted up elsewhere.

They'll stay potted up like this for a month or so while I decide what to do with them. It may be anything time for one of my hardiness tests. I probably have a few spare.

My succulent friends are doing well for spares this year.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Let's talk echeveria 'Compton Carousel'

One of those stop in your tracks plants, if you have seen one chances are it is on your wish list.

My second plant in May 2013, the first suddenly decided to die.
That is where the fun starts as it is not always easy to come by. In the UK it is fairly simple you can simply go to Southfield Catus (home of cactusland). I always tell people, look there first and find out the price, as if you buy it off ebay you'll pay 2 to 3 times as much. I understand in the USA it is a lot harder to find, although there will be somewhere with a constant supply at more reasonable price.

Right so you have searched and found your plant, you get it home and settle back to enjoy your prize only for it to suddenly up and die.  You are devastated; apart from the money, you're back to trying to track one down again. You treated it the same as your other plants, it is an echeveria after all so shouldn't be that fussy. So what went wrong?

This years flowers, the best to date.
I am always getting asked about how I treat them, so it's time for a post on what I have found works for me.

Firstly and this is important. What works for me may not work for you. The most common mistake with this plant is to think as an echeveria it is simple and will cope with the usual succulent stuff. I find them to be sensitive to light, heat and water.

Light. Mine are grown in the the greenhouse in the UK, this means they do not get direct sunlight.  I have not tried one outside but in full sun I would expect them to burn.  The leaves are not strong at all and do not need an excuse to curl up and die. The same goes for low light, they are prone to get leggy.

Heat. They do not seem to cope with extreme heat and even in the UK on hot days in the green house they can go from nice plant to mess.  It goes without saying that they do not cope with cold, I did leave one in the green house over this winter which went down to -3C. But that was totally dry from November - March.

Water. Where most people go wrong as they are really prone to rot and drying out.  This is especially true as they settle into a new home or when taking offsets.  I tend to give them half the amount of water other plants get, whenever I move them.  Initially you want the soil to be damp not wet and never get water in the crown. If it is hot, keep a eye on the water as they will need to be watered, as hot and too dry will cause you problems as well. Once settled and growing you can go back to a more normal water regime, but still avoid water in the crown.

Linked to all of this is the soil mix. It must be free draining as you do not want plants sitting in any water. It also needs to have some food; they are weak plants and need all the help they can get.  I use blood, fish and bone in the mix and feed them one a month from May - July.

It is vital to work out what is required for your location, it will vary, but watch your plants and they will tell you what is working. Once you work that out, they are easy:

My collection of plants May 2016, all from that one original plant
So you have the basics and your plant is alive. At this point it will start to behave like any other echeveria and will want to offset.  Again there are a few tricks.

Firstly they throw out quite a few white pups.  As amazing as they are, treat them like flowers. Admire while there are around and know they will die.  I have managed to get one through two seasons, most last only one.  Except that and you will enjoy them and save yourself a lot of heartbreak.

There are a few tricks you can use to get offsets. Feed you plants as mentioned before, a strong plant will offset nicely. If things are not happening quick enough, forcing the plant in lower light.  The elongated stem will produce lots of pup.

If you leave the leaves on you will find you get offsets like the one on the left in the photo above.  If you take the leaves off you will get good offsets on the trunk as can be seen as well. Remember this plant is weak, so some transplanted offsets will not root. Do not treat them like you do for other offsets.  A lot less water to start with, then intensive care monitoring the watering building it up little by little over a month.

To be honest I tend to do the reverse of my normal and propagate by top cutting, that way you get lots of plants in the original pot and as can be seen form the photos. The stems on the main plant form roots and stand more chance to re-root, this seems far more successful than trying to remove pups.

Top cutting a plant once it has roots visible, will give a nice new plant. Remember take the watering slow to start with and keep it in the shade.  The plants that remain in the original pot will grow quickly to fill the space and give you a pot full of plants by the end of that season. These will eventually get leggy, offset, and send out their own roots and the process can start again.

Flower stalk with variegated laves as well.
As you can see once you have your routine down, plants will not be a problem. Quite the reverse and you will have the alternate problem: keep or sell.  So far I have not sold a single plant, a lot have been given away to friends. for me this is a plant grown for the pleasure, not money. My OH on the other hand likes to work out what she could buy with the proceeds from a single pot (there are 15 plants in the photo above).

I would like to say I never loose plants, but of course I do. Especially when trying to root offsets. Accept it and keep note of what works and what doesn't.  People who have followed for a while, know I like my experiments and recording my results.  For this plant I physically write down when I water and feed offsets and the outcome.

Finally settle back and enjoy them and the looks of envy you get from any other succulent lovers who see your plants still alive. Just don't tell anyone your secrets!

I hope this helps, please feel free to leave comments, either without or without your name. Let me know if I have missed anything and what works for you.

Friday, 27 May 2016

A bit of colour

Just to keep posts going, the main rockery is starting to look more colourful.

Maybe lucky I didn't paint that wall purple, would have clashed!

Sunday, 22 May 2016

This should make a few people happy

Everyone has at last one plant that in the garden that always gets attention.  You know the one that every visitor comments and lusts after.  I keep meaning to suggest everyone do a post on their attention hogging plants. Maybe I'll get around to it this year.

One of the plants that always gets comments is aloe purple flush.

The colour is amazing, apart from the purple, the leaves have a red edge which glows in the sun.

Friends routinely ask if I have any spares, sadly it didn't seem to be a big off-setter. To add to the problems I have never seen this plant anywhere else or been able to find anything about it.  I am guessing the name is wrong.

Last year I took the plunge and split the one offset, you can see the post here. At the same time I added some blood, fish and bone to the potting mix. The growth rate wasn't much different but they went offset mad.

So today as part of the yearly potting up, the purple flush was next.  The mother still looks great.

But what to do with this lot?

I have been getting stricter on pups and binning them instead of keeping everything.  I noticed that they were either put to the side to plant later and ignored, or potted up and left somewhere to struggle on.  I really don't need multiples of every plant.  However I could just hear the cries from friends so here there are all potted up.

Most had good roots already, which is a relief.  The two in the shared pot don't have roots yet, but I am sure there will be people who will know how to cope with that. the one in the round small round pot is a bit of fun,

I don't think it is going to last the summer in there.

This will be the first of many plants that get split over the next couple of weeks, many of them seem to be on peoples wish list.  Something tells me I am going to be very popular this summer.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Update on the Sedeveria letizia

I have posted about this little plants a few times before, mainly here.  At this time of year is has not only turned a good red colour but is starting to flower. For the last couple of years there has been one planted in the main rockery as a bit of a test.

It is looking really good.  A few rotted leaves, but all the heads are good.  The flowers are a little behind the main potted pant which has been in the greenhouse. Given our cold spring that is no surprise.  The colour is though, I thought this was purely down to lack of water, but obviously it is general stress.

As for the main plant.

I gave it a little too much water and the red has faded as it's now happy. Time will tell if it survives being cut up for another year.  It does however need to be re-potted. I had hoped to find a really nice hand made pot by now, but will re-pot it into one of the normal pots for the time being.

The purple background is a bit of a test. Remember in a previous post, mention of painting the patio wall. This is one of the colours being considered. Bright, but really sets the plants off. Sadly the OH is not so keen. She is however out during the day this Saturday.