Spiral Aloe Essentials

Spiral aloe (Aloe polyphylla) (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Seeing a spiral aloe (Aloe polyphylla) is an unforgettable experience, and to see one is to want one. Under ideal conditions, these rare succulents can attain two feet in diameter. They’re challenging to grow, but not impossible. Like lithops (living stones), if you understand their persnickety requirements, they’ll do fine. Spiral Aloe Essentials Climate: Spiral…

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Crested and Monstrose Succulents with Normals

Euphorbia lactea crest (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

I’m proud to present to you the only YouTube video and Gallery showing both normal and crested succulents side-by-side—nearly 90 different kinds! Succulents are unusual in the plant kingdom in that numerous varieties will grow convoluted, twisted, or puckered forms called crests. These look gathered like a waistband or a drawstring purse, and follow curved…

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How I Understand and Remember Succulent Names

Mammillaria plumosa

Ever wish you could understand and remember succulent names? It’s especially challenging when they’ve changed, multiple common ones exist, and Latin binomials (genus + species) are long and unpronounceable. Here I share my own experiences in order to help, offer hope, make you feel better, and entertain you. It kills me when I get a…

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Agave attenuata (Foxtail Agave) Care & Cultivation

Agave attenuata bloom spike (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

How do I love foxtail agaves (A. attenuata)? Let me count the ways: They’ve performed well in my garden for over 20 years. In pots too. Rosettes eventually attain a manageable 5′ in diameter. Soft, flexible leaves lack barbs or points. Yes, a harmless agave! They’re trunk-forming unlike other agaves, so they serve as beautiful…

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Silly Succulents and Garden Store Horrors

Garden store horrors (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Succulents that make me want to scream are proliferating at my local garden center…which I’m now calling The Big Box of Horrors. I suspect these appeal to kids and newbies who are unaware that fake-and-flashy succulents are doomed to fail, and also to anyone who assumes if a plant’s for sale, it must be OK.…

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Echeveria Bonanza at Oasis

Echeveria 'Love's Fire' (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

The selection of large (dinner-plate-sized) echeverias at Oasis Water Efficient Gardens right now is astonishing. Great timing, too. Autumn is nearly upon us, and an important end-summer task is refreshing our echeveria gardens. My own occupies several large pots. Annually in late August, I remove dry lower leaves, deadhead, and enhance the assortment—hence my trip…

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Discover Stacked Crassulas

Crassula 'Red Pagoda' (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

My love affair with stacked crassulas began three decades ago. On a garden tour I saw a succulent with leaves stacked like pancakes along pendant stems. I took photos and finally tracked down the plant (Crassula perforata) several years later. Today stacked crassulas are much easier to come by, and desirable varieties number in the…

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Should You Water Aeoniums in Summer?

Aeoniums in my garden (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Conventional seasonal care advice for aeoniums is to “withhold summer water,” info I’ve routinely passed along. But it’s always bothered me. My own experience and observations indicated otherwise.

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How and Why Jades Prune Themselves

Jade (Crassula ovata) in bloom (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Because it thins itself, jade plant (Crassula ovata) and its cultivars are extremely low-maintenance. These shrub succulents are wonderfully low-water, aesthetically pleasing garden shrubs.

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Hanging, Trailing and Vining Succulents

Cereopegia woodii, variegated (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Make the most of your patio or garden’s vertical space with succulents that have hanging, trailing or vining growth habits. Included here are those I’ve cultivated successfully and recommend.

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All About Aloes

Aloe flowers (c) Debra Lee Baldwin

Ah, aloes! No other succulents add so much color, interest and drama to low-water, mild-climate gardens. Aloes are easy to grow and bloom mainly in winter when nothing else does. The number of Aloe varieties is ever-increasing, with lovely new cultivars continually being introduced. 

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