Debra taking video

My YouTube Channel has passed 6,000,000 views! If you've yet to visit it, I encourage you to do so. The content is free and dedicated to enhancing your appreciation and knowledge of succulents.

I've released over 150 videos since How to Stress Succulents and Why (3:46) came out in July, 2011. It's had 100K+ views, despite amateur mistakes like setting up the camera so the image is vertical.

That first video's content is fine, but I just now noticed neglected comments and questions. That's a no-no. YouTube is a form of social media, which means it's interactive. I suspect it's too late...or is it? What if I answered your question nine years later? LOL

A bit of backstory

The year prior, in 2010, my books' publisher had commissioned a video to accompany the release of Succulent Container Gardens. We set up at Oasis Water Efficient Gardens nursery. In it, I show how to select and combine succulents in a blue pot. How to Plant a Succulent Container Garden (6:13 min., 400K views) is on Timber Press' channel. During filming, it dawned on me: "Hey! I could do this!"

Most popular videos

Laura Eubanks video

From one of my Laura Eubanks videos

YouTube is all about showing step-by-step how to do something. Seven years ago, I noticed that San Diego succulent designer Laura Eubanks was amazingly good at demonstrating and explaining her methods. She was witty, engaging and fearless, with a distinctive and appealing style.

I suggested that Laura let me make a video of her creating one of her pocket gardens. Then I edited the footage down to the best bits. The resulting releases: How to Create a Succulent Pocket Garden with Laura Eubanks (12:37 min., 347K views) and Laura Eubanks' Succulent Garden Design Secrets (3:40 min., 323K views) are among my channel's most popular. Since then, Laura has gone on to become a garden celebrity---deservedly so---and to create her own hugely popular YouTube channel.

What makes my channel unique

Succulent plant-pot pairing video

For years, as a contributor to Sunset and other publications, I covered beautiful-yet-doable residential gardens. Now, as a succulent expert and author, my mission is the same---presented with researched, useful info that is timely and relevant, that I have personal experience with, and that is consistent with my brand.

No question it helps I'm in Southern California, the epicenter of all things succulent. We have some of the best designers, plant experts, specialty nurseries and private succulent gardens anywhere. In my own Zone 9b garden, I show you plant-pot pairings, gift and holiday projects, favorite no-fail succulents, and seasonal garden tasks.

How much time is involved?

It takes about a day to create two or three minutes of finished video. This includes preparation, research, deciding what to include, planning what-happens-when, set-up, coordinating with a helper (if any), actual filming time, shooting or compiling stills, voice-over, editing and splicing clips, adjusting audio, and (grrr) contending with Apple's new Catalina OS (which  my older iMovie program doesn't like).

From my Succulents in Clamshell video

I do all my own editing. This screenshot is from my Succulents in a Clamshell DIY video.

But what's really frustrating...

No question there's much to be proud of, but also plenty I wish I'd done differently. It's a learning process, and of all my endeavors, videography is the least polished. Once on YouTube, there's no fixing a video without deleting it, which means erasing comments and view count. (I can always modify the description, title, thumbnail, and outbound links.)

If I had time, I'd redo my early videos. I've since ditched the annoying music. I now film only at high resolution, add closed captions [CC] for the hearing-impaired, provide plant names and resources, and respond promptly to viewer questions. Yet while overall channel views continue to rise, views of new releases are trending downward. Nothing I do seems to make much difference.

Want to help?

Critique my channel. Let me know what you like and don't, especially among my post-2017 releases. What would you like to see more of? Less? Does length matter? And if you have a successful YouTube channel yourself, what would you suggest?

I can't complain

Every so often a comment---like this one---makes it all worthwhile.

YouTube succulent video accolade

A comment on my Agave Essentials video

Related info on this site 

Succulent garden

New Videos, Great Takeaways from Jeanne Meadow’s Garden

Above: Wavy-leaved ‘Cornelius’ is Jeanne’s favorite agave. “It doesn’t get too big, can handle full sun and cold, and always looks good,” she says. I’m pleased to announce the release on my YouTube channel of two fun new videos: Jeanne Meadow’s Succulent Garden, Tips and Tour, Part One and Part Two. Topics covered in Part One: 0:38 Agave geminiflora bloom…

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Fancy ruffled echeveria

How to Behead and Replant Echeverias

Fancy ruffled echeverias—those large, flowerlike succulents—eventually need to be beheaded and the rosettes replanted. This is a bother, but it comes with a benefit: New clones will form on old, headless stalks. But not always. Here’s how to ensure success.

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21 Comments

  1. Arsenia Serafica on October 14, 2020 at 2:49 pm

    Debra , I always keeps watching and waiting for a new upload of your video bc it’s so interesting and amazing!

  2. Shirley Van De Mark on October 14, 2020 at 3:05 pm

    I enjoy your videos and am envious of all the gardens and nurseries. My plants are all in pots because all I have is concrete, no soil. Have you done a video on arranging potted plants in groups? Maybe in different settings. I don’t remember seeing anything specific to this. Keep up the great work! Thanks.

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on October 14, 2020 at 3:18 pm

      That’s a great idea, Shirley. Thanks for suggesting it!

  3. Susan on October 14, 2020 at 3:26 pm

    First of all I love watching your channel and reading your blog, well done and keep the good work up. Not sure if you know, but YouTube no longer sends out emails re new videos, I have stopped watching other channels because of just not knowing what’s new, I now have to do the chasing. You blog does make this easier , so keep the new videos links in the blog email.

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on October 14, 2020 at 3:33 pm

      Hm. That would explain a lot. Will do. I’ll also look into how to get the word out to my channel’s subscribers. Thanks, Susan!

      • Nancy S. on October 14, 2020 at 4:35 pm

        Hmmm, I still receive notifications from Youtube. Just encourage viewers to subscribe and to click on the bell next to the ‘subscribe’ button to receive notifications of new videos. Beyond that, I would ask if you’re sure this is a downward trend and not just a hiccup? Or could it be from a general malaise from too much politics, Covid-19, economy tanking, record hot temps??? It could be something completely extraneous to your efforts!

        • Debra Lee Baldwin on October 14, 2020 at 4:45 pm

          Hi Nancy — Ah, the bell. I’m aware I should ask people to click on it, but I don’t like bell notifications myself. It seems so intrusive. Does a bell ring on your phone and you get a message about a new video…and you don’t mind? That’s quite a compliment. I can’t think of a single channel I follow that I like THAT much, LOL. General malaise may have something to do with it, but the downward trend did start right around the time YouTube stopped emailing subscribers and instituted the bell. Will give it some thought. Really appreciate your insights, thanks!

  4. Noelle on October 14, 2020 at 3:43 pm

    Yes, it is unreal how long it takes to make quality video. Have you noticed any seasonality viewing trends? I watch more gardening videos in the winter when I’m doing less actual gardening outdoors. Since we had a tornado here in my neighborhood in Greenville the end of April gardening has been more intense than ever— more like moving mounds of shredded trees to cover bare patches left behind from heavy machinery. Eventually I want to lay down some sedums and other cold hardy succulents. Wishing you a pleasant day!

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on October 14, 2020 at 4:33 pm

      Hi Noelle — Re seasonality, yes, but more on the practical side. I wonder if I should do more garden getaways to offer viewers a relief from winter and being indoors. We have a lot of destination gardens in my area. Geez, sorry about the tornado and aftermath. I hope all returns to normal soon—2020 seems to resist the concept.

  5. Jane on October 14, 2020 at 4:21 pm

    I have been in a garden club for the past 8 years. When I joined, succulent plants and landscaping were all the rage, it had been for years.
    For three or four years we decorated pumpkins with succulents, we made tiny Christmas wreaths with small clippings. Some of us used succulents as part of a Zoom Ikebana program for our monthly meeting in September.

    This month some of us planted/attached a huge variety of succulents into twelve inch wreaths. Previously, two of us filled nylon stockings with wet planting soil, shaped the stocking into a circle, and attached them to metal wreath frame using wire while adding sphagnum moss to camoflage the stockings. Those who attended the COVID social distancing and mask wearing event were thrilled with their project.

    I did get some surprising comments to the activity from those who did not choose to attend:
    “I am tired of succulents.”
    “I hate all those native cactus and succulents.”
    “We’ve done succulents a lot already.”
    “I don’t need anymore succulents in my yard.

    My front yard is a California native plant take on a cottage garden that I work very hard on. I also have succulents. The wreaths are lovely.
    Debra, I think I am seeing a “succulent fatigue” among some gardeners. But I would be new gardeners, young new. homeowners, people who are home a lot. more during the pandemic could be very interested. It’s usually a successful project with children and with adults.

    So hang in there. think of revisiting some of your earlier landscaping ideas.
    My final suggestion is to incorporate succulent plants into gardens with perennial plants and annuals. One of my friends has done an amazing job. When you look at her yard it doesn’t say “succulents,” it says “WOW.” Plants of different colors, textures, shapes, all complementing each other.

    Thoughtful and positive,
    Jane

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on October 14, 2020 at 4:27 pm

      Hi Jane — This is so interesting and enlightening. Makes a lot of sense. I like your suggestion about blended gardens (my own falls into that category), and will keep the idea in mind. Thank you!

  6. Yvonne Lee on October 14, 2020 at 4:49 pm

    I love your videos, Debra!! I live in hot Sacramento where summers are brutal and winters are frosty. I keep all of my succulents in pots so I can move them around, depending on the weather. I have too many pots of succulents around and under my patio. My “real” garden consists of shrubs and flowers. I’d like to see a video on incorporating potted succulents into traditional landscapes and how to avoid a cluttered look. Thanks for your hard work!❤️

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on October 14, 2020 at 5:02 pm

      That’s a great idea. I’ll do it! Thanks, Yvonne!

  7. Monica on October 14, 2020 at 5:10 pm

    I live in Zone 9B, but I’m up in the SF Bay area, east side and south of Ruth Bancroft Gardens. I’m just getting into succulents. I’m interested in grouping succulents with my well established drought tolerant plants, native and non native. I totally understand that each yard is different and there can be numerous microclimates within each yard. I have read all of your books and watched most of your videos, totally educational and helpful. I enjoy watching Laura Eubanks, but that doesn’t help me because she mainly works in a different zone and her plantings are all succulents. Maybe a weekly focus on your yard, Zone 9B, and focus on succulents grouped with natives. Thanks!

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on October 14, 2020 at 7:37 pm

      Hi Monica — Sometimes I think how fun it would be to mentor new gardeners and share how I scratched out my own. I’ll give some thought to what you suggest, but it mainly makes me wish you lived next door!

  8. Carole Nicholson on October 14, 2020 at 5:31 pm

    I find your books and videos very interesting and entertaining. I have been a big fan of yours since you spoke at the Boca Grande Garden Club so many years ago. You are the only one of all the great speakers we had over the years that I follow. (Loved the succulents in the pumpkin.)

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on October 14, 2020 at 7:32 pm

      Hi Carole — Thank you! My goodness, Boca Grande. That was one of the high points of my career. I have wonderful memories of your garden club and community. So nice to hear from you!

  9. Edie on October 15, 2020 at 5:50 am

    I love your books and videos. Thank you for sharing your knowledge for free!

    I attend plant shares/swaps and am in many local FB plant groups in OC. As a previous commenter said, I see succulent fatigue. 80% of plants at the shares were succulents and went quickly. Now everyone has them and they’re more interested in tropical, unusual, house plants, veggies, bulbs, flowering plants. Varieties of pothos, syngoniums, monsteras, variegated anything. Maybe a video on how great succulents are as house plants might draw a lot of viewers.

    I’m still kind of new to Reddit, but it has a succulent group. Maybe an AMA (ask me anything) session there will help. Clear it with the moderators first.

    Good luck!

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on October 15, 2020 at 9:05 pm

      Hi Edie —

      “Succulent Fatigue” makes sense, and it’s consistent with what others who responded observed. I’m getting the sense that—as all trends and movements do—this one has peaked, and we’re on the downward side. Well, about time! I do wish, though, that YouTube and the Internet in general weren’t flooded with inferior information about these plants. It’s ironic that I don’t have ads on my site, and mostly I break even on expenses (I do for the creative fun of it and because it helps people, plus I still have lots to share)—but sites that are nothing but ads get more traffic. I’m merely bemused by this, not upset or anything. OK, maybe a little irritated.

      I wish I’d gotten a toehold on Reddit before the herd thundered through. That and other avenues of PR got left unattended because I’m spread so thin. And, being past retirement age, I do only what I enjoy, and tend not to venture too far afield. I realize what I’d hoped (and perhaps felt entitled to) is that it would continue, without my changing, competing, or trying to shout over newer, younger, swifter and trendier plant “experts.”

      Sounds like I’m experiencing a little “succulent fatigue” myself!

  10. Nancy Mumpton on October 15, 2020 at 5:06 pm

    I think what has happened with lower viewers on videos is an after effect of COVID-19! Now we have so many meetings for groups we are involved in on YouTube and Zoom etc. that it erodes time available for viewing! That was not the case before March of 2020!
    BTW I love your videos and watch them all, even though I too have so many viewing options now!

    • Debra Lee Baldwin on October 15, 2020 at 8:14 pm

      Hi Nancy — The downward slide in new-video views started two years ago, but you do make a good point. “So many viewing options now” is indeed the case. Thanks for hanging in there with me!

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