Succulents

Discussion in 'Survival and Sustainability' started by daisydotell, Sep 8, 2011.

  1. gypzy

    gypzy New Member

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    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLXGoBPOQ_s"]...while the music plays on[/ame]
    I'm jez sayin'​


    I can't help myself, I have to give this succulent speech. Please forgive me if I'm crossing a line here, don't mean to step on anyone's toes.

    Virtually all plants are grown in some sort of peat. Peat is a bog plant, succulents are xeric.

    Peat holds a lot of moisture but once it becomes dry, it's hydrophobic and must be soaked to become wet again. I'll explain why this is a catastrophe for sux in a sec. Why do growers they use it? Money of course. They use overhead sprinklers with water and nutrients in climate controlled greenhouses perfectly timed/designed for push-starting plants...and, when it dries, it is very light and therefore cheap to ship.


    If you want to give your plants the best possible start, please remove them from the soil they arrived in, especially if you are "potting up".

    Assume you have your own nice organic soil and a pot (a size or two larger than the one the new plant is in). If you pluck your peat based plant into the pot and fill in the sides with fresh soil, only one of two things can happen: either that peat around the stalk stays wet enough to rot i -or- it dries out, becomes hydrophobic, and every time you water, it runs around the root-ball and out of the pot, never watering the plant.

    Please take your plant out of the peat mix, gently spray away all traces of the grower's mix until you are down to bare roots and stalk. Cut off any mushy, grey, or smelly roots. Sprinkle all cuts with powdered cinnamon. Set it aside in a warm, shady spot and allow it to dry. Overnight is fine. This a great time to remove any bottom leaves that are resorbed or unsightly. Sprinkle all cuts.

    Sharp drainage is the key to successful succulent growing. There are a million combinations out there, everyone has their own. I like 40% haydite (fired shale) and 60% organic soil (but would recommend a 60% cactus and succulent mix, no peat). It doesn't have to be haydite. There are lots of good substitutes: turface (fired clay - used for ball fields), or perlite (expanded volcanic rock). Perlite is the cheapest (but also the least attractive). Your husbands can help you find an Oil-Dry (#8822 - I think). Whatever you choose to use, wash out the dust first so that it does not compact in your soil. Fired clay or shale will absorb small amounts of water and allow the excess to immediately drain. You should be able to take a handful of your mix and make a fist, when you open your hand, the soil should fall apart - that's sharp. You should be able to fill the pot with water and watch it drain immediately from the bottom. Your grit will hold enough water to water the plants.

    Now you are ready to plant and ignore. And this effort will save your investment.

    Rarely do sux die from under-watering where over-watering is certain death.

    One Sept I gave my son a 12" dish of Aloe Vera for his apt. I told him not to water it until I told him to. He moved out one year later and brought me the plant back...said he never watered it, ever.
    It was in mint condition! He was completely mesmerized at this reality.
    I plucked 2 resorbed leaves, drenched it, and it's ready for a division.
     
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  2. Trinnity

    Trinnity Banned

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    The ones I just bought look like they're in dirt. It has little chunks of wood chips in it too.
     
  3. gypzy

    gypzy New Member

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    Nice, very nice.

    I can't help much with id's on those beyond telling you that the fuzzy one is a S. arachnoideum sport. There are literally thousands of Xs - they are notoriously promiscuous; any two in proximity are likely to breed a third.

    Time to find a rock!
     
  4. gypzy

    gypzy New Member

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    Yes. I know exactly what you are talking about.

    And I'm absolutely gobsmacked, Peach, absolutely gobsmacked.

    You and I weren't 3 posts into this discussion when I had mentally picked out a plant that I knew I wanted to send you. Then you posted the grapto and I thought...holy smokes! a trade in the works!! yeehaw! And here you are, asking about the very plant I had in mind!

    Cosmic connections...bwahahahaha

    should I spill, or should I surprise...hmmm....I'm thinking...
     
  5. gypzy

    gypzy New Member

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    Peat based, I'm sure of it. Trust me on this one.
     
  6. Falena

    Falena Cherry Bomb Staff Member Past Donor

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    Hmmm artichokes...a little breadcrumbs, grating cheese, garli...oh wait. A sempervivum italicum.

    Ill be honest I never got into succulents. I dont have much knowledge about them at all. They really are beautiful and I dont know why I never gave them the interest they deserve. I think they reminded me of hot and dry type climates and I'm a Yankee. Seriously I like heavy pines and heavily wooded forests. Not sand and flat wide open spaces.
    But I do have one of these in my kitchen. At least I think this is what it is. It looks very close to it. Does that count? lol Its about 30 years old now and about 5' tall. It has more arms than those pictured and will get small leave type things sometimes. I tried to get a picture yesterday with my cell phone but it didn't do it any justice. It never flowered. Do you know how to get it to flower? I actually put a fake white flower on it so it looks like its flowering. LOL

    [​IMG]
     
  7. gypzy

    gypzy New Member

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    The perception is a common one, and not totally without merit. However, it is not the whole story.

    Fa, I don't know where you live -- except NE, obviously. But I'm certain that if you walked into your woods, you would find succulents. There is virtually no environment in which sux don't grow, save extreme cold (think Antarctic) and extreme wet (think swamp/bog). There is an entire world of sux that do not belong to the cactus family. (I can tell you how to tell if your plant is a true cactus or not). I myself have only two true cactus, a Bishop's Cap (desert) and a Schlumbergera (tree-dwelling jungle). Many sux are alpine plants. Growing on mountainsides means that rain runs straight off, roots are shallow - hence, a need to hold one's own water, a succulent. Wherever you find rocky landscapes (such as Italy, Greece Ireland) you will find succulents.

    No, that certainly does not count. I'll need a pic of your plant, silly girl.

    Trichocrereus pachanoi (in your pic) is a true cactus. I suspect what you have is a Acanthocereus tetragonus 'Fairy Castles', another true cactus.
    [​IMG]If this is your plant, this is your bloom: [​IMG]
    It is a night-blooming plant that will fill your house with incredible aroma...once a year.
    You will need to set it outside in summer and pray for high night temps.

    Your plant could also be Euphorbia trigona, not a cactus: [​IMG] with blooms: [​IMG]

    pic limit...brb with rest of post....
     
  8. Falena

    Falena Cherry Bomb Staff Member Past Donor

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    Good Lord... this is going to be a super interesting thread!

    Ok Im thinking up here on clifts and cave type areas there is moss, lichen. Things of that nature. Thats in the woods. In between rock in drier areas I would probably see chickory or wild asters things of that nature. I cant picture a succulant but I am going to check ones out that would be in the area and get back to you. This is cool. Im actually learning something!
    The cactus I have is the one that is not a cactus. lol See I thought those leaves were just that leaves not flowers. So the leave type things are considered flowers? Mine are green and then fade and fall off. Ill be honest this plant is so on my list of not favorites thats probably why it lived so long. lol I probably repoted it 3 times in 30 years and barely water it. I do spray it and let the water run down it when Im thinking about it. I actually thought about the desert and maybe condensation running down the plant and it liking that. Course I was wicked high at the time but I still do it. Plus it cleans it.

    Ill try again to get a picture but its gonna come out like (*)(*)(*)(*).
     
  9. gypzy

    gypzy New Member

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    And it if it has no glochids at all, I'm guessing
    Euphorbia leucodendron: [​IMG]
    It has small non-descript flowers only a pollinator could love: [​IMG]
    However, it does have fruit for the birds after blooming: [​IMG]

    Not a cactus, from S and E Africa aka African Milk Bush. It blooms, well, now, late summer/early fall. If this is your plant, it has a milky white latex sap that can cause blindness for 2-3 days. It can grow to 30 ft. It's good to mid 20s when dry. Snap off a branch and you will know immediately if you have a cactus or a euphorbia.

    I have one myself, it has survived the heatwave in partial shade.
     
  10. gypzy

    gypzy New Member

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    That is exactly why your plant has lived so long! It's benign negligence. Sux thrive on it.
    There are a few little hints that I can offer to help but nothing beats a sharp soil and benign negligence.

    A friend just got back from a trip to Mich. While he was at one of the lakes he found three native sux to bring back: two sedums and several native sempervivums. These are snow-covered plants for long Mich winters. I've never heard Mich referred to as dry, arid or sandy.

    Trust me, you got sux in your area too.
    Look for rocky spots, places where water runs off and never stands, they are there.
    Many, many succulents do not "look" like succulents but they are.
    They may have bulbous roots hidden beneath dirt just waiting for a cleaning and a bonsai pot, or thickened leaves or stems, all holding water.

    This [​IMG] can become this [​IMG].

    And that right thurr can make my pitter pat in a big way!​

    edit: oops, that's Dioscorea elephantipes
     
  11. Trinnity

    Trinnity Banned

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    Okay, well I'm gonna pot them today. All I have is natural compost, clay, rocks, and some cheap potting soil that has some small wood chips in it. What should I do? The store is too far away....
     
  12. Trinnity

    Trinnity Banned

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    Those aren't the ones I bought. They're photos of the closest likeness I could find. They look like the one at the top. Plain green....and in clusters. smallish, but not teeny tiny.
     
  13. gypzy

    gypzy New Member

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    If the clay is not fired - do not use it. There is a reason they use it for kitty litter, it clumps. If you are absolutely certain that it is fired - yippee!
    Rocks should be no bigger than a pencil eraser, and NOT consistent in size. Compost is unnecessary, even wasted.

    From what you've listed I would use 60% cheap potting soil and either 40% rocks or better, 20% rocks and 20% fired clay. (wash any dust from the rocks and clay first). Mix well for uniform consistency. Clean your roots, and go for it.

    Can't wait to see 'em planted up -- you must share. (I'm living vicariously these days!)

    btw - does that cheap soil have peat in it? You can still use it but it makes cleaning off the old growers peat even more essential; you want a uniform soil for uniform water distribution.
    Also, if it is peat based, you may wish to add more grit.

    BTW - DO NOT WATER IN SUCCULENTS WHEN REPOTTING. ALWAYS WAIT AT LEAST A WEEK (OR MONTH :wink: )
    Place them in partial sun (preferably morning) until they are acclimated.
     
  14. gypzy

    gypzy New Member

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    Solid green could be natural to your plants, it could also be lack of sunshine or shortening days. Either way, it's a nice plant.
    I'm sorry I can't help you with an exact id, but the links on the "rock" page should help if you want to id it.
     
  15. Trinnity

    Trinnity Banned

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    Don't know about the potting soil. I'll check. Wish me luck.

    I'll try to photo them and upload, later. Thank you so much for the help.
     
  16. gypzy

    gypzy New Member

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    Are ya kidding? I'm having a ball! :sun:

    Many years and thousands of dollars fried this summer, might as well get some use of all the knowledge gleaned from it.

    You don't need luck. Use the fist-test on your soil. You'll do good.
     
  17. Falena

    Falena Cherry Bomb Staff Member Past Donor

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    It has prickers but not furry white ones. Almost like thorns. It looks nothing like the second set of pictures. What is that? The same variety or offshoots?
    I'm confused. lol
    Could we start at the basics here for the succulent/cactus challenged? What is the distinguishing feature that separates a cactus from a succulent?

    Are you telling me that milky stuff that comes out of whatever I have could blind a person for two days? Why and what is the substance. A nerve inhibitor?

    What is in that picture to the left that looks like a pile of wood? I have never seen anything like that in the woods here. I started looking up native succulents to the area.

    Houseleeks I cant say I have ever seen in the woods but will now look for them and let you know.

    Stonecrops which I do believe I have seen at the top of a mountain that was shale when the area had seen no real rain for a while. Most times it is a weeded field.

    Definitely no prickly pears as it says they do not grow in this area. Thats as far as I got with a list. I'm gonna keep looking. I'm going soon on a trip to a deeply wooded area further north than I am now and am taking a list and pictures to reference. I'm gonna run the list by you to see what you think and then tell you if I spot any. If my cell phone take a good picture of it Ill post it for you. I probably should take the good 35mm camera. lol Maybe I will. I was going to start a mushroom photo collection a long time ago and never did. Mushrooms are everywhere in the woods here.
     
  18. gypzy

    gypzy New Member

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    Hey Trinnity, one note about potting up semps. They spread. From the base, with their chicks. Make sure you use an open pot; doesn't need to be deep, but wide. Otherwise, you'll need to pick your chicks and move into other pots so they don't crowd the hen out. If the pot looks empty with the single plant there, just use some larger rocks for accents, remove them as the chicks fill the pot.

    Once the soil is right, you can't do it wrong. Have fun!
     
  19. gypzy

    gypzy New Member

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    I loaded four possibles: 2 cactus, 2 succulents, in two different posts.
    First let's determine if it is a true cactus or not.

    Everything on a cactus grows on an aureole. The glochids (small fuzzy "spines"), the spines, flowers and new starts all grow from the aureole.

    Aureoles on an opuntia (aka prickly pear):[​IMG]

    The skin of the plant is smooth. Note the connection of one pad to the next, that's an aureole, the point where the spines (with glochids at their base) are aureoles, the points where the flower has emerged (leaving the fruit behind) are aureoles. All growth on cactus is from the aureole. It is a very specialized plant.

    Here you can see the emergence of the spines, the smaller glochids and the flower from a single aureole:[​IMG]

    The maxim that "all poodles are dogs, but not all dogs are poodles" is at work here. Spines do not indicate a cactus, nor does lack of spines indicate it is not a cactus.

    Many Euphorbia, among other succulents, also have spines. I'm fairly certain that you have a Euphorbia, but without the pic...
    Does it have white latex sap when you break it? Then yes, it is a Euphorb and yes, it is toxic: Do Not Wipe Your Face Until After You Wash Your Hands With Soap.

    And do not be worried, you've had it 30 yrs w/o incident, most folks do.
    That is discorea elephantipes, asleep, the pic on the right it's cleaned up, potted and in growth. Sweet, huh!

    Houseleeks (sempervivum) is going to be found mostly on mountainsides, caught in cracks between rocks.


    Deep woods may not yield a lot of succulents, simply due to restricted light.

    If memory serves, Hudson Valley Conservation has a book of xeric/succulents native to their area that might help. And I knew an avid collector in Delaware who could help, but he has passed on.
    He had both in-ground sux in his yard and potted plants that he moved into his garage for winter. RIP, Al.

    What zone are you in, Fa? What is your avg yearly rainfall? Is it mainly spring or winter?
     
  20. gypzy

    gypzy New Member

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    I would be shocked if you had no stonecrops (sedums) in your area. The genus is huge; there are creepers, groundcovers and uprights.

    Sedum telephinium "Autumn Joy" [​IMG] an upright
    "Dragon's Blood" [​IMG]<-groundcovers->[​IMG] lineare var.
     
  21. gypzy

    gypzy New Member

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    Daisy, this 4 pic limit is killing me! Can I get an exemption for this thread? LMAO :-D


    here is a resource for cold hardy plants: Simply Succulent
     
  22. Falena

    Falena Cherry Bomb Staff Member Past Donor

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    Oh we definitely have sedums here. Ive planted many over the years. Very nice in their own respect. Ive planted hens and chicks over the years. Very nice in their own respect. Actually, I had some hens and chicks here when I had the pond.
    I was speaking more about something I would see growing wild in the woods. Not plantings. Seriously, I have walked in the woods for many, many years and take notice of many things but why I have not noticed wild native succulents is anyones guess. Now I will. I just have to put together a list and photos.

    I hate zone maps! lol True temp wise we are zone 5. We average about 40+ inches of rain and Id say its probably pretty even between winter and spring.

    Yes the green 5' thing in my kitchen..I still dont know what the hell it is...has white sticky milk if it gets stuck with its thorns. Thats why I dont move it. Its gets damaged so easily because the arms are so close to each other. I always called it a cactus and a few other things. Now, its call a what? lol
     
  23. gypzy

    gypzy New Member

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    It is definitely a Euphorbia; probably trigona. You mentioned horns, right?
    Like this? [​IMG] E. Trigona [​IMG]
     
  24. Falena

    Falena Cherry Bomb Staff Member Past Donor

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    That is definitely it!

    Its about 30 years old. Broke in half when it was maybe about 10 years old. I gave that part away to a friend and this one took off. It branched out like crazy. So its not a cactus. Are you telling me I have a 30 year old succulent in my kitchen and dont know it? Why am I not surprised? lmao!
     
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  25. daisydotell

    daisydotell Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    There is one little succulent that is so unusal when it blooms and that is the starfish cactus. Absolutely stunning. The one I had was a burgundy brown spots on a cream back ground. My brown thumb came out and it didn't survive..sigh.
    Another plant that I had when we lived in the sub tropics was Kalanchoe beharensis, Velvet leaf, felt bush, Napoleon's hat. I didn't have it in a pot I planted it in the ground and it grew to a healthy size..It was beautiful. It was still there when we sold our house and moved northward. One day I plan on getting another it is a striking plant.
     
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