Plants & Varieties

Midwinter Succulent Show: Big Aloes In Bloom

Above: Aloe ferox at Desert Theater nursery, Escondido, CA. From my video, Spectacular Aloes in Flower. Large, sculptural aloes with brilliant, Popsicle-like flowers make striking garden plants. Midwinter is peak aloe bloom season and an excellent time to see them in nurseries and landscapes. Aloe ferox, or Cape Aloe, might be considered a tree because of its height at maturity–6 to 8 feet with bloom…

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How Cactus Snowflakes Seduced Me

Cactus snowflake

Remarkably, the spination of certain cacti suggests snowflakes, something I first noticed years ago at a succulent specialty nursery. I was there to photograph aloes in bloom, but I’d come too early in the season. I thought of leaving, and I’m so glad I didn’t! That afternoon forever changed the way I see certain succulent…

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Bizarre Succulents

Bizarre succulents

Bizarre Succulents for Your Collection, Bwa-ha-ha To me, a bizarre succulent is one that suggests something it’s not in an eerie way—i.e. a cancerous growth, reptile or body part. When I take a second look and ponder what the heck it is, I experience a deliciously unsettling ah-ha (or bwa-ha-ha) moment. Of course, what’s bizarre is in…

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The Secret to Happy Succulents

The secret to happy succulents is to duplicate their native growing conditions as much as possible. The more you know about where a succulent comes from, the easier you can do this…up to a point. Occasionally (not often) it’s nearly impossible. No matter what you do, saguaros don’t thrive beyond the Sonoran Desert, where they…

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Agaves Handle Summer Heat

Late summer is when tough succulents really shine. Large agaves handle summer heat, and are unfazed by harsh sun, high temps and lack of rain. Their statuesque, fountainlike forms lend a sculptural element to any landscape, and contrast beautifully with fine-textured ornamentals. They also make good firebreak plants and security fences. With the exception of a few…

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Supermarket Kalanchoes: Succulents You Grow for Their Flowers

Supermarket kalanchoes (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana) are succulents you grow mainly for their flowers. They have been hybridized and sold as flowering plants long before succulents in general became popular. Succulents are plants that look like flowers, and although all succulents produce them, they’re generally not the reason people buy them. Yet this one succulent has been commercially…

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Succulent Desk Buddies, DIY

“Desk buddies” are succulents that look good on your desk and require almost no care. They’re cute and classy, and visitors invariably ask about them. All you have to do is dribble water on them twice a month (which also keeps them dusted). Here for your enjoyment is a step-by-step DIY project for creating a…

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