Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Succulents Make the Perfect Houseplants

Yesterday, I received a copy of Debra Lee Baldwin's new book, Succulent Container Gardens. I'd been waiting anxiously to see it, because though I've grown various succulent-type plants longer than I've actually been a gardener, I never was too excited about any of them. This past year though, they've caught my fancy and I appreciate their unique artsy forms and easy care.

L-R: Ric-Rac Cactus (Cryptocereus anthonyanus), Haworthia pumila, Senecio 'Kilimanjaro,' Aloe maculata

They're actually perfect for just about anyone, especially those who forget to water. Succulents have that little issue covered, due to their ability to store water in their leaves or stems. Of course, you can't ignore them completely, but they're more forgiving than a lot of other things grown in pots in the house.

That's not to say I haven't killed a few. For example, I started out in August with a beautiful Echeveria that Mom gave me and while it did fine outside, this winter it has declined in the house.  It's not dead yet, but it's lost so many of its leaves that it isn't attractive anymore.  Can't win 'em all.

One succulent that many people grow, including me, is the Jade plant (Crassula ovata). Three years ago, I purchased a large one at the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory and it sits in our family room in a south window, where it gets the most sun it can in winter.

Last year at the Ft. Wayne Home and Garden Show, the conservatory had a booth with many of their wonderful plants for sale and I added another Jade, this time a variegated one.  It sits by the other one and is doing well, too.

When I was in Chicago last August, our visit to The Planter's Palette found me leaving with a small Senecio called 'Killimanjaro' (among other things).  Just this week, I repotted it because there were more roots in the pot than soil and I found myself having to water more often than I cared to. It's now in a container just a little larger than the original.

My Haworthia started out as a miniature, but is about twice that size now and has produced some offspring.

When Jenna and I visited my aunt and uncle in Florida last February, Aunt Kay let me dig up some babies at the base of her Aloe plants.  I now have them in two different containers and they're growing nicely, with babies of their own coming up!  I really love the speckling on this particular variety.

Debra's new book has given me some ideas for planting and display, so there may be more succulents in my future. I dream of one day having a giant Agave, Pam Penick style! (I'm sure Pam is very glad her garden is more than a thousand miles away from me - she knows how much I love her agaves!)

Watch for my review of Debra's book, Succulent Container Gardens, soon to be published on my garden book blog, Gardening by the Book.


Unknown said...

Awesome post dear friend! I smiled at the 'before I was a gardener' comment because to my mind if you have plants you're a gardener whether indoors or out. I remember my first succulents were a jade, a haworthia and some semps in an onion soup dish! I even took some to college with me. Can't wait to receive Debras book which I hope does very well. Will look forwrd to your review too!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I just love succulents. I would have so many more if I had a large south facing window. That rick rack cactus is unusual.

CanadianGardenJoy said...

Kylee girl ! This is a great post to get me going with more of these (harder to kill ) plants ! LOL
I have wondered about a Jade plant and I am now going to have a look in the stores for some of these .. I love what ones I have had outside .. understated but still gorgeous to me .. I can't imagine not having them in the garden and now I am diving in to have a little garden of succulents on top of my kitchen hutch .. now that the noisey BEAST is gone ? LOL

Shady Gardener said...

The ric-rack cactus IS unusual. You and Mr. McGregor's Daughter are somewhat on the same wavelength, each posting on indoor plants today. If I remember correctly, you've had over 100 indoor plants! :-)

Pam/Digging said...

Kylee, you know I'd love to share my agave collection with you and wish you DID live closer. How well I understand zone envy. I have it too--for those southern CA gardens that can grow tender agaves that freeze here. The grass--or agave--is always greener...

Meems said...

Succulents DO seem to be all the trend these days. I've never been a big fan although I couldn't live without my aloes... but mostly for their healing powers. I've always kept mine hidden from view. Hmmm... might need to re-think that. I've been wondering about working an agave into my new planting bed... still thinking on that one, too.

Your indoor collection is quite nice. You are the queen of overwintering! I may become of succulents sooner than later... I remember having a jade plant in my apartment when I was single.

*hugs* to you, dear girl... see you in Buffalo!

TranquilityKnots said...

What a lovely garden you have! Love your variegated jade! I bought one two years ago, divided into several pots and shared them with my friends. Then mine started struggling. I think it's because I sunburnt it last year by taking it out to full sun without hardening off. Hope I can bring it back to health again. Take good care of yours.

Debra Lee Baldwin said...

Hi, Kylee -- So glad you like Succulent Container Gardens! What fun to see your collection. They all look happy and well-fed. Btw, Mr. Haworthia will blush bright red if he spends the summer outdoors.

Jacki said...

I grow my succulents under fluorescent lights all winter - they do very well, as long as I move them around occasionally. The tubes are brighter in the center, so the outer plants get a little drawn. Can't wait for spring, when they can go outside in the greenhouse again!

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

Kylee, I don't think I have ever seen a variegated jade plant, what a treat! I have three small jades and love them. Also have lots of aloe (gave one to the kids for their college apartment-- they killed it!!) Another outstanding plant you have is that Haworthia, wow!! You certainly have a winner with that one. I don't think I have seen one that big.

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Kylee. I have a confessions to make ........ I don't much like succulents! (there, I've said it , it's out in the open!!!)HOWEVER - I did enjoy reading about yours :)

Melanie J Watts said...

I had a jade plant for about 13 years. it was completely pot bound and sitting in front of a southern window. One day I was surprised to see it had flowers, just on the side of the plant that was next to the window.

Unknown said...

Lovely collection of succulents, Kylee! That echeveria... when mine get sparse-looking, I cut it off an inch or so above the soil and try to root the leaves that are left. If you're patient, it will grow another rosette from the stub. (I discovered this by accident when Coco broke off a stem to one that lived on my front steps last year. :)

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Hello dear gardener,

I was just perusing your wonderful blog and your review of my book Toad Cottages came in.

Thank you for your kind and much appreciated words. Coming from YOU that is a great compliment.

All best to you,

Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

Anonymous said...

I LOVE that 'ric-rac cactus' - so neat! I don't really have any indoor succulents because I always think of them as needing a ton of light, which I just don't have to offer for indoor plants. Does that cactus need a lot? I wonder where I'd find one. Succulents have been growing on me (well - not literally).

Kylee Baumle said...

jodi ~ Oh, believe me Jodi, I was NOT a gardener before five years ago! I didn't take care of the houseplants - Romie did! I've taken over now, now that I've figured out how not to kill them. LOL.

Lisa ~ I don't have a large south facing window, but enough to keep the succulents alive! I do love the ric-rac cactus, but sure wish it would bloom! Their blooms are AWESOME!

Joy ~ Just do it! You won't be sorry! What is gardening, if not an adventure? :-)

Shady Gardener ~ Yes, you remember correctly! Check my next post to see where I stand now. Will it be more or fewer?

Pam ~ Awww, you're so sweet! I'm rather pleased that I've only killed two out of the three agaves hardy to our area that I started out with. The Agave paryii is even growing a bit. Right now, it's braving the snowstorm that's howling outside!

Meems ~ Oh, my aloes are one of my favorites, because they're so perfect. They almost don't look real.
I can't WAIT to see you again in Buffalo! I'm so glad you and your sister are coming! :-)))

TranquilityKnots ~ Thank you! I'll bet your variegated jade will be fine, since you had such great success with it previously. Mine seemed to struggle a bit when I first brought it home, but I think I was watering it too much. It's doing great now!

Debra ~ I didn't know that about the Haworthia! I hadn't given it a thought to put it outside, but I'll do that. Thanks for telling me! And best of luck with your book, although you really don't need it as it's already a bestseller! I'm so happy to see that!

Jacki ~ I wonder if mine would like a stint under the lights? I'll remember that tip in case mine seem to need a boost. We can have quite a number of gloomy dark days in winter here. And lucky you, having a greenhouse! I'd love to have one.

Janet ~ The Haworthia isn't really that big. It probably measures about eight inches in height. I'm sure they get much larger. But maybe mine will get bigger when I put it outside this summer.

Kylee Baumle said...

Nutty Gnome ~ Ha ha! I never used to like them either, but then I never ate broccoli until a few years ago either. Never say never, my friend! ;-)

Melanie ~ I've heard they can flower and when they do, it's something special. I hope mine will do that someday!

Kim ~ I'm wondering if I can just repot it and bury the thing deeper? It looks like it wants to sprout new growth along the stalk.

Sharon ~ So nice to hear from you! I'm glad you liked my review. I sure loved your book. Now I need some grandkids! LOL. In time...
All the best to you in your garden and with your newest book. It's simply delightful.

Readers ~ You can read my reviews of Debra Lee Baldwin's newest book here: Succulent Container Gardens and Sharon Lovejoy's new book here: Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars.

Kylee Baumle said...

Jennah ~ I found the ric-rac cactus at Logee's. It says partial sun, so give it a try! Mine hasn't bloomed since I got it, and though they say it blooms effortlessly, I've read otherwise on other sites. It's a gorgeous bloom, so I hope it will bloom at least once before I kill it! LOL!

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