An introduction, and a beginner's succulent garden

happyhartshorneSeptember 1, 2010

IÂve been lurking here for weeks and have only just started posting. I wanted to introduce myself a little bit and share my experiences and some pictures of my succulent garden. I donÂt pretend that my garden is anything special or inspirational, but it was really helpful for me to see pictures of other peopleÂs plants and arrangements when thinking about what I wanted to grow.

First a little history: When I moved into my current apartment, I was so excited to have a terrace. I had tried growing a variety of plants out here, but the only ones that thrived were succulents. Everything else died of windburn and dehydration, even with twice-a-day watering.

Most of these plants are "rescues" from the local Big Orange. A few are from one of the local independent garden centers (which shall remain nameless because it insists on selling succulents potted in pure peat!).

IÂm not great at growing any of this stuff yet. (Notice the aloe that is still recovering from a potting misadventure.) Still have a lot to learn. For starters, IÂve repotted 3/4 of these plants 3 times during the course of the summer. First when they came home they went into MG cactus soil. Oh boy, big mistake, right?

Then, for some reason, with beginnerÂs "I read one post so now I know what to do. . . ." I repotted them all again into a mix with a lot coarse sand mixed in. Also bad bad bad.

Finally, out of desperation, I read EVERY ONE of the posts on AlÂs Gritty Mix. I had discounted it at first because it seemed like too much work. And yes, it really was a PITA to find all of the ingredients. Everything is much happier in the gritty mix, though. Some of them didn't make it and are now with the Master Gardener in the Sky.

The two empty planters are awaiting some cuttings of opuntia pads. (Please donÂt tell me itÂs too late to root opuntia; IÂm just going to have to find out on my own. . . . ;-) )

So thatÂs my lengthy introduction. Please tell me what IÂm doing thatÂs grievously wrong. And feel free to make fun of my stark white top dressing. (I bought a 50# bag of gravel that was the wrong size for the gritty mix. BeginnerÂs error. I used some of it for the gritty mix anyway, as an especially well-draining combination, and the rest IÂm using as top dressing. I figure in the winter it will help reflect light from the miserable window and keep the area around the plants a little bit brighter.)

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Just ask more questions, if any oine belittles you tell them "The same to you" and "What goes around will come around" Most of our forum members truly want to be of help, that is what is forum is for, not to get big heads. When I have a question I go to my master gardner for help. I ask the Phd who I work with, they have never stirred me wrong, Now remember I have never grown plants in your area but still are still some diciplines that we should all follow.

1. change soil into your own as soon as you get it.
2. succulents don't need water more than once a week in the hot months, less in the winter, water only then when they are are dry.
3. don't over pot and when they need repotting the sides of the pot will feel hard and you will know when

4. they probably need 1 size larger unless it is indicated this plant is very large growing.

Learn the basic first then get more plants, it takes time. and mistakes to learn.

Don't be intimated by anyone, they don't know any more than you do.
Most plant die because they were watered too much, and soil not good for them.

And I will always be here for you, Norma

    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 9:12PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Welcome Happyhartshorne!! Glad to have you on the forum. You certainly have a very NICE collection of Jades and Succulents. I have learned many wonderful things in this forum and continue to learn everyday. I also love Al's gritty mix and more importantly my plants love it more than I do. Yes, it was a PITA(lol) to find all the ingredients but once you do its worth it in the long run.

Good luck with your new plants in your new apartment ...Enjoy and thanks for the great pictures!

    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 9:18PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Howdy, and welcome!

Pug and I both use Al's mixes and our plants are very happy!
Although Pug grows in hot, humid Florida - and I grow in hot, dry California -
the mix tailors well to our local growing conditions.

Any chance you could take more pictures to share?


    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 9:52PM
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Thank you, Norma, for the advice! I have learned so much from you already from your past posts and I know that your wisdom is held in the highest regard here on GW.

Hi Puglvr - I'm still learning to grow them and I think I'm in the process of slowly losing my jovibarba and one of the aloes. :-( They were victims of a previous potting into very sandy soil, I'm afraid. It's been a constant learning process but I'm so glad that there's such a great group here on GW!

Josh - I don't have a camera right now, and there are some pictures of jades that I'd love to share with you :-P In the meantime, here are some pictures that I took two or three weeks ago -- can you tell I love succulents that form rosettes?! :-)

This echeveria has formed into a really pretty emerald-colored clump with one large "mother" rosette.

I thought this one was a goner from the peat mix at HD. It dropped nearly all of its leaves back in June, but has rebounded nicely and is forming new baby rosettes on the stems and even flowered!

This jovibarba is flowering as its last gasp of life... I think I watered it too much when it was sitting in sand and I think it's rotting because the rosettes are kind of shriveling up and dying.

... and from the planter of semps... Hopefully they'll make it through the winter outside!

    Bookmark   September 1, 2010 at 10:31PM
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You lost it because it is the wrong time of year to water the plant, it is a member of the Crassulaceae family. They are Winter growers, there are a few that do it different and it is important to keep them nor flowering by giving them very little sun which make them want to flower. PUT THEM IN THE SHADE WITH 2 LAYERS OF 50% SHADE CLOTH. Take off offset when very small, and start them right away, this is a monocarptic plant, dying after if produces fruit. There are hundreds of hybrids now, and i can't keep up with them anymore.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 12:10AM
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THANK YOU, Norma! You're so right that the jovibarbas can't take much water in the summer. I thought that since they were closely related to sempervivums, that they could take an occasional drenching during hot weather. Apparently not.

On your advice, I've moved them from a part that receives full sun into an area that gets bright shade and only direct sun for about an hour or so a day. I knew that they monocarpic, and that the flowers were the sign of the end, but didn't know I could forestall that with less sun. :-)

I've also divided the remaining clump that I have, and I'm letting the wounds callous over for a few days before replanting.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 9:09AM
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Wow Helen, beautiful and what a great spot for them..

Happy they are doing well for you..Maybe I will see you at the cactus show..:-)


    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 10:49AM
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Thanks, Mike.

And... a few more (slightly fuzzy) pictures to share: Babies popping up everywhere!

In one corner of the terrace, I have my "rooting corner," with an array of little pots containing plantlets and beheaded plants. They were in the darkest corner of the terrace, sitting on a really thin layer of perlite previously but last weekend I put the whole batch into little pots with really medium (gritty mix, naturally).

And they've really taken off! I think the increased amount of light along with warm roots (from sitting on top of the motor of the air conditioner) must have helped because they practically doubled in size within a week.

Here's my question: Are these babies too crowded (I'm guessing "yes")? How big should they be when each deserves a real pot? Some of these are on their 3rd or 4th set of leaves. How fragile are these things? Can I mail them?

And... take a look at the little babies growing out of a beheaded pachyveria (I think). They're about half an inch across now. They've gotten a LOT bigger since last week.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 12:57PM
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