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Succulents and Cactus Plants
dry, Southern California
summers, dry winds, baking heat,
little rainfall, heavy clay alkaline soil. No time to fuss
over prissy plants. Yes, that's my garden. So, I needed
plants that liked the climate -- and their solitude.
Succulents (and cacti) love heat and sun, need very
and always look
green and lovely. Small succulent plants are nice for container
indoors, on the
patio or as ground
cover. The big succulent plants like jade (crassula ovata) are
great flowering shrubs for landscape elements and also look
extravagant in big pots.
I like a plant that does
something; has an
interesting shape, or great
color. How about a plant that changes color? That's why I
love succulents. Here are a few of the plants I'm growing in the
arid southwestern US and tips on how to grow and care for succulent
like many other
succulent plants are
sometimes called Hens and Chicks. They form green rosettes on the
end of stalks, followed by lots of little 'chicks'. The
green rosettes have
red edging and a hint of cream in the middle. The leaves
generally measure 1 - 2 inches
across. The creamy centers seem more pronounced in winter.
These tough succulent plants slowly form one
clumps with aerial roots dangling down to the soil. When these pretty
succulents bloom, they form tall stalks with small yellow flowers.
Aeonium plants are easily propagated by cutting off a
stalk and replanting
the top sprig. The whole sprig can be put in the
ground as is, or you can break up the leaves and spread them around.
I have also seen
these plants are listed as Aeonium
haworthii or Pinwheel in The Complete Book of Cactus and
Succulents. Personally, I think it behaves and looks much
more like an echeveria, but I'm not an expert, just an admirer!
is also called
the Healing Plant, or Medicine Plant. Its fleshly
leaves grow up to 2 feet long and about an inch thick. The stalks
can measure up to 2 feet in length. They also have small prickly
ridges along the sides; don't forget to cut the edges off!
Perennial Aloe gets
bright orange flowers on long
stalks in the spring and summer. A few hours of sun each day is
plenty, it does best in light
or dappled shade. Dark brown or orange spots on the leaves is a
sunburn. They need water about once a month, or when the stalks
is famous for its healing
properties. Peel the skin and rub
the pulp on sunburns or other skin irritations. For more info Visit
theGardenPages Aloe Vera Page...
is Crassula capitella,
called Crassula erosula.
This succulent has also been called Red Flames or Campfire
has bright, lime green leaves with flaming orange red tips. It
gets tiny white flowers on upright stalks in early spring. When
grown in shade, they are bright apple green most of the year.
These crassula succulent plants can take full sun to light shade, love
are easy to root
and grow. They will change color depending on the amount of
sunlight they get.
The leaves on this succulent can either appear
as bright apple green or flaming red. They are drought tolerant
and only want light
watering. They can take frost for a few hours, but not a hard
Crassula capitella spread by runners and will eventually form a mat
about 6 – 8 inches tall, like ice plant. Plants form roots at
their joints even before they touch the ground. They’re great for
Visit my new Crassula
Ovata - Jade Plant
ovata or Jade plants are
shrubby succulent plants that make excellent choices for dry gardens
Jades have thick, deep green leaves sometimes tinged with red on the
edges. The leaf shape, like the name ovata implies, are oval from 1 - 2
inches long. Crassula ovata develop thick, fat trunks that have
an aged look and will eventually grow up to 8 feet tall.
In late winter jade plants get 3 inch clusters of light pink to pale
salmon flowers with five petals. These perennial plants are drought
tolerant and only need water once a month or so.
For jade plant
care and photos drop by my new Jade Plant page...
Portulacea - Spoon Jade
Jade is also called Gollum Fingers or ET fingers. These plants
full sun to light
shade. In container gardens they
will remain small and are often used for bonsai.
In the ground
these succulent plants
will slowly reach a height of 4 – 5”. They are just as easy to
care for as their jade cousins, Crassula ovata. They are happy
indoors or outdoors.
Crassulas are drought tolerant and only want light watering. Let
soil dry out between watering to avoid rot. Every year mine are
able to take a light frost for a few hours. I'd give them
overhead protection in winter.
I’ve got a little corner of the garden that I’d like to look like an
underwater grotto - except without the water. Here in Los Angeles
we don’t get a lot
of rain, so I’m planting it with succulents.
These add a dramatic touch and look like some sort of sea plant or
coral to me. -And the ceramic fish likes hiding in them.
care info visit
theGardenPages Spoon Jade page...
- Rosary Plant
succulent plant grows close
to the ground and is great for
hanging baskets. Rosary Plants grow into mounds 6 to 10 inches
leaves are just barely 1/4” long and arranged neatly along the stem to
give it a square look. The base of the plant's stems take on a
feel and woody look with age.
Crassula rupestris can take part shade to full sun. Extra sun
seems to give a red tinge to the edges of their leaves. These
trailing plants get pale pink
flower clusters in late summer and winter.
These, like my other
crassulas, take monthly
watering in my
hot, dry southern California garden. If you are growing your
Plants in direct
sun, they may appreciate a bit more water, especially during the summer.
Crassula rupestris are unique and interesting little plants.
for a windowsill garden or the patio table where you can admire
They are great to mix and match with other succulents or cacti.
They fill in the bare spots and hang over the edge of pots for an
new Rosary Plant page for more photos...
Crassula tetragona. It
grows up to 4 feet tall in the ground, but stays much shorter in a
pot. -It is used in bonsai
to look like pine trees. They will branch at the tips. In
summer they get white to yellow sprays of flowers that make me think of
Queen Anne's Lace.
Bonsai Pine Tree
These crassula can take full sun to light shade, love heat and are easy
and grow. They are drought tolerant and only want water once a
month or so. Let the soil dry out between watering. They
can take frost for a few hours, but not a hard freeze.
Mine are growing in full sun and shade, in heavy alkaline, clay
soil. Their color ranges from pine green to a deep bluish
green. They get watered once a month if I remember. They’re
pretty, carefree and always look green when everything else has
the Crassula tetragona page...
Correcta - Window Plant
just love these succulent little gems and
this plant seems to have
developed a cult following among succulent gardeners.
Haworthia succulent plants have fat, short leafs with
stripes or dots on the outside and jelly like leaf centers.
to glow from the inside when the sun hits
them just right. The tips of their leaves are translucent, like
looking into the
green jelly inside. I took this photo in winter when they were
all fat and happy from extra rainfall.
Care of Haworthia plants is slightly different from most succulents in
that they appreciate more shade and even more water than their drought
tolerant cousins. Haworthias like shade from the hottest sun or
they will get
burned. They seem to do well with dappled sunlight to deep
Over watering causes rot. Haworthia plants are
able to withstand a light frost. If you are lucky
they will reward you with a single white flower on top of a 12” stalk
in the winter. The flower has just two trumpet shaped
petals. Exquisite. These are fairly carefree – except for
the snails - be sure to protect them.
Visit the Haworthia
Download the haworthia
wallpaper on our Garden Wallpaper
a succulent plant, but cactus care is
so similar to succulent gardening, I thought I'd include one on this
spring this cactus variety gets stunning bright
yellow flowers which turn into red prickly pears. They are edible
Cactus pears have the texture of watermelon and
a mild pear taste. They are high in fiber too. The seeds
are black and about the size of a pea. You can also eat the pads;
raw in salads or
salsa or cooked. Prickly pears grow up to 12 feet tall
and as wide. Most opuntia varieties are cold hardy to 30 degrees
Cactus were commonly planted around the California missions and other
early structures. They were used as a source of food, fibers and
My cactus came from a cutting my neighbor threw over
the fence for me because the pears were so good. I let it root
where it fell on the ground - without planting. This is year five
for the rooted plant and I need to cut it back before it takes over the
yard. Find out how to harvest prickly pears on the Cactus Page...
sometimes called Baby Jade or Elephant Food. It
has small round leaves and thin branches like a
miniature jade plant.
The bright green leaves make a nice
contrast to the dark brown stems.
Some portulacaria varieties are
variegated, meaning they have white or red stripes on the leaves.
In container gardens
they can used for bonsai to look like trees.
the ground Elephant Food will quickly grow
to 4 – 5 feet tall and make nice
informal screens or hedges. Visit the Portulacaria