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Category Archives: Garden Blog

This sedum delivers a hot storm of color

Would you care to make a statement … in your garden? On your patio? You’d be hard-pressed to make a quiet one by slotting in Sedum adolphi Firestorm™. More like a searing proclamation — in prime condition (lots of light), the leaf margins scream out as if they’re sear marks. Orange-red ones. The middle is golden yellow to greenish yellow. Clusters of star-shaped white flowers burst forth seasonally.

This striking selection of golden sedum is an incredibly versatile rangy color accent in succulent landscapes, borders and along pathways, or for spilling forth out of planters.

In the linked video below, our succulent tamer Tom plays up this fiery character’s ability to light up a temperate landscape in a mass planting. Firestorm is hardy to 32 degrees Fahrenheit, but protecting it from frost may prevent possible scarring.

Because of its bright hues, this sedum excels as a loud accent in all manner of dish garden combos. We find ourselves going back to the well with this one time and time again.

You can find Sedum adolphi Firestorm at shopaltmanplants.com (retail) or the Cactus Shop (wholesale).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If an echeveria were a jeweled lizard

If you admire reptilian motifs but can do without slithering or hissing, then you ought to consider giving Echeveria purpusorum a spot in your garden or new planter. Or scale up and sprinkle several here and there. We imagine it would pass muster, with its enticing, irregular reddish-brown spots, particularly on the outside of the short, pointy leaves. More of a finely mottled pattern graces the inside. Leaf color will be some form of green, punctuated by red margins. Check out those dynamite flowers.

In the linked video below, our succulent wrangler Tom notes that this windowsill-ready echeveria lacks a common name. If you come up with one, we’d love to hear it!

You can find Echeveria purpusorum at shopaltmanplants.com (retail) or the Cactus Shop (wholesale).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A petite purple people charmer for your windowsill & patio

 Sometimes fabulous prizes come in small packages. This is particularly true with succulents. Take Anacampseros rufescens (sand rose), a diminutive cutie that’s ideal in a windowsill pot or as a dish garden accent. But that’s not all! In a garden, over time, it will spread to become a miniature ground cover of green-purple rosettes, with white hairs along the stems adding a nice contrast.

While the plant is suitable for a partially shady area, its olive green leaves will turn purple to reddish-brown in bright light. The fetching flowers will win your heart with their pink to pinkish-purple petals. Keep yours long enough and you might even notice a caudex (plump stem) form.

In the linked video below, our succulent whisperer Tom talks about this fleshy wonder from South Africa being a delightful fit for a bright sill or nook.

You can find Anacampseros rufescens at shopaltmanplants.com (retail) or the Cactus Shop (wholesale).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Befriend this mutant jade plant character

 We have an incredible summer blockbuster for you. Instead of some silly popcorn movie, though, we’re talking about a succulent full of freakish star power. It’s pretty much a given that the mention of Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’ is going to elicit a “my precious” response from someone. Some geek. (Like us.) Sorry, non-“Lord of the Rings”-fan gardeners. Unlike the Gollum character himself, though, it’s a rather cheery, desirable form. A super bonsai candidate. If you’ve seen this monstrose jade plant form while out and about, or have one yourself, you’ll probably agree.

The jade plant is a popular subject for bonsai training due to the inherent gnarly character of the thickened trunk and the ease with which it can be pruned and trained. In the case of ‘Gollum’, the red-tipped “fingers” are an added plus to create an interesting bonsai plant, around 1′ to 3′ tall and 1′ to 2′ wide.. … “Bright green leaves with ring-like red margins to rule them all!!!” … Sorry; it’s finally out of our system.

The leaves, unlike the flattened leaves of regular jade, form odd tubular, lime green “fingers”. The tip of the leaf is flared but depressed in the center and often a brilliant, translucent red. It’s excellent as patio plant or landscape plant. Just watch out for filthy hobbitses snooping around to steal your precious backyard fruit and vegetables. (No, we really can’t help ourselves, and we’re far from the biggest Tolkien fans.)

In the video below, our totally-not-filthy succulent whisperer Tom, an upstanding, productive member of society, channels his inner Gollum (no, really) to explain why you should consider making this variety part of your slice of Middle-earth, er, your space. Corral your Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’ at our online retail store, shopaltmanplants.com, or our wholesale store, the Cactus Shop. No need to feed it raw fish either.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Succulent ‘whatdunits’ — varieties with mysterious plant parents or origins

If you’ve been following along with us this month in our email dispatches (sign up here), you know that we’ve been preoccupied by botanical intrigue, particularly as it pertains to how certain succulents came to be. Below you will see some favorites  for which answers are at least foggy-ish regarding which plants, precisely, were crossed to create them. Or where they fit into a particular species. Maybe native habitat is unknown. Or maybe nature had a moment of quirkiness and engineered an intriguing “sport.” Why? Because reasons, perhaps. Maybe it’s better to just say “cool plants.”

Most of the photographed plants below can be had at shopaltmanplants.com (retail) or the Cactus Shop (wholesale).

They are the Echeveria minima hybrid in the golden chalice, Graptoveria ‘Moonglow’, Graptosedum ‘Ghosty’, Echeveria ‘FO-42’, Kalanchoe tomentosa ‘Teddy Bear’, Sedum ‘Burrito’, Echeveria ‘Perle von Nurnberg’, and Sedum ‘Golden Glow’ (in the pot with Sedum adolphii, Sedeveria ‘Lilac Mist’, and Aloe ‘Delta Dawn’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Echeveria ‘FO-42’, another succulent uncertainty

In our previous post, we delved into the “parental” uncertainty that’s part of the history of Echeveria ‘Perle von Nurnberg’, a very beautiful and quite popular hybrid. This time, we have another rosette-style succulent, Echeveria ‘FO-42’, for which there have been questions regarding what it is exactly and where it fits within the genus Echeveria.

‘FO-42’ refers to Mexican naturalist Felipe Otero (its discoverer) and the accession number — the number given to collected plant material in order of acquisition. You may also see it referred to as Echeveria setosa ‘FO-42’. At Altman Plants, we recognize its setosa-like qualities, but we generally wait for a plant to be formally described (and scientifically accepted) before we refer to it by that name.

As the plant description on our wholesale succulent shop says, “This particular form of Echeveria setosa has not yet been formally described, as it has not yet been established that this is a form of a species, and of which species, and that it is not a hybrid. At the time that this plant is formally described, it will be named. … Flowers are the distinctive “candy corn” flowers of the Echeveria setosa complex; bright yellow and reddish-orange bicolors.”

Yes, from the appearance of the flower, it does seem to be a form of E. setosa, which is a species that can be quite variable. And the hairiness! E. setosa var. ciliata has rounded leaves and fine velvet texture, whereas E. setosa var. setosa has pointed leaves with hairs that are longer and more bristle-like. Then there has always been conjecture over the many assumed forms, such as deminuta and rundelii.

The International Crassulaceae Network website notes,via British succulent expert Roy Mottram, that Otero gave the same accession number for E. setosa var. deminuta and E. setosa var. minor, suggesting that these “three varieties in fact might belong to only one very variable species.” Mottram reports that all of these variants can occur from the same batch of seedlings.

If they all have the same number, it is possible Otero discovered them all the same day and did not want to give them separate numbers until he knew how many forms or varieties he really had. If Mottram has had all three forms occur from the same seed batch, then it is possible that they are the same but very variable within the same form and vary possibly due to hybridization over the years within the colony, or that some of the material that he used to generate this seed was itself a hybrid of two forms of E. setosa ‘FO-42’. Under certain circumstances, a seedling that is genetically different from the parent can so closely resemble the parent visually that it can be mistaken for the parent, in which case all three forms might manifest, and possibly others as well (go, recessive genes!).

Whatever you call it, the blue foliage color, hairy texture and candy corn flowers make ‘FO-42’ a winner on a windowsill or patio, or in a rock garden. Look for it at shopaltmanplants.com (retail) or the Cactus Shop (wholesale).

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A ‘Perle’ of All Time Elegance

June finds us swooning over one of our succulent besties — Echeveria ‘Perle von Nurnberg’. For this post we’ll mark PVN’s heritage of sorts (well, its breeder’s) by adding the umlaut: Echeveria ‘Perle von Nürnberg’. An amazing abundance of shiny hybrids have followed since ‘Perle’ arrived in the 1930s, but there’s a reason why it was a must-include in our Succulents All Time Favorites Collection on Amazon.

OK, several. First, there’s intriguing mystery surrounding the plant’s Echeveria parentage. As one dives deeper into the succulent world, opportunities arise to venture down rabbit holes, many of them dealing with genetics. Plant parents. Also, in the case of ‘Perle’, not one but two German plant mavens get credit for the plant’s creation. We’re in the camp that understands it was horticulturist and breeder Alfred Gräser who created this fabulous hybrid.

The story goes that Gräser came up with ‘Perle’ in the 1930s by crossing Echeveria gibbiflora ‘Metallica’ (no, not that Metallica) with Echeveria potosina. Today, E. potosina is widely considered to be a synonym of E. elegans. No more than a variation. Next, there’s uncertainty about what was or is the true ‘Metallica’. And it very well may be that neither ‘Perle’ parent was a true species. Hybrids, both of them! The International Crassulaceae Network credits Gräser himself for that revelation.

The ICN site has some more illuminating deets about the plant’s history, such as that right from the beginning of its introduction, “three slightly different forms … were propagated and distributed: a form with steel-blue leaves, a form with reddish leaves, and a form with silvery-gray leaves. This explains why the flowers do not resemble E. gibbiflora flowers.”

This is all fascinating stuff and reason for us to become even bigger succulent nerds, but it ultimately comes down to simple plant love — waking up in the morning or coming home from work and scurrying out to the patio or garden to see the swoon-worthy colors and symmetry. Did the buds open? Any new pups? On that note, we admire PVN’s out-of-this-world purple-pink highlights that pop from the powdery pale grayish-brown backdrop.

In the video below, our succulent whisperer Tom talks about pairing this impeccably elegant rosette star with other echeverias of contrasting shades.

Echeveria ‘Perle von Nürnberg’ is available on our retail succulent store (shopaltmanplants.com) or wholesale store (cactusshop.com). PVN is also part of some of our collections on Amazon.

 

 

 

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One small grafted step for cacti: Moon cactus

“Lollipop lollipop / Oh lolli lolli lolli / Lollipop lollipop / Oh lolli lolli lolli / Lollipop lollipop / Oh lolli lolli lolli / Lollipop ‘pop'”

The Chordettes weren’t singing about cacti in the 1958 hit “Lollipop,” but wouldn’t it be funny if they were?

For May, we want to give you a taste of lollipop-look-alike cacti with otherworldly “flavor.” They are brightly colored confections called moon cacti: little spheres of vividness from the genus Gymnocalycium. The challenge with these sweeties is one of chlorophyll, or the lack of it.

Because of this, each one can only survive as a scion — the upper “moon” is grafted onto green Hylocereus rootstock. AKA dragon fruit. The base cactus provides the chemical “fire” necessary for the upper plant to have a chance at life. And to star in our spaces as a filtered-light-friendly, colorful treat.

Below, our cactus whisperer Tom talks about moon cacti’s graft-powered charm. Look for moon cactus at our retail shop or wholesale shop (here and here).

 

 

 

 

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It’s a succulent sunrise: Anacampseros telephiastrum variegata

Kind of like a sunrise, or glittering jewels, this adorable little succulent lights up any nook or dish garden with a ravishing mix of pink, green, and creamy ivory or yellow. We’re pretty sure it’s not the sunrise the Eagles first sang about in 1973. Anyway, Anacampseros telephiastrum variegata, aka Anacampseros telephiastrum ‘Variegata’, aka Anacampseros ‘Sunrise’, makes a fine container specimen, clustering over time to form a dense mat and maybe, just maybe, trail over the edge. This slow-grower may also form, again with time, a caudex at its base. The pink flowers arrive in summer, waiting until afternoon to come out and closing back up around sunset. Contrasting against the foliage are filament-like white hairs.

The plant requires porous soil that drains quickly and it should be protected from frost. Unless you are in a temperate coastal or coastal-adjacent location, it’s probably best to keep this one in a dish garden or well-protected nook or cranny. Speaking of dish gardens, we have some choice pairing recs for any planter glittering with sunrise’s brilliant lanceolate leaves. There are several green or greenish echeverias that should pair well, varieties such as Echeveria ‘Lime n’ Chile’, E. ‘Cris’, E. ‘Haagaena’, E. ‘Irish Mint’…you get the idea. Sunrise with Senecio radicans (string of bananas) or Senecio rowleyanus (string of pearls) looks absolutely bonkers, in the best possible way.

Getting back on the Echeveria train, but not the green car, we also recommend E. ‘Chroma’ (those rose-pink hues would get along swimmingly) and E. ‘Black Prince’ (darker the better). Or pair it with something sporting a darker shade/hint of pink or red, like Gymnocalycium mihanovichii var. friedrichii. A black or dark burgundy aeonium amid a sea of sunrise would seem guaranteed to be a fabulous sight.

In the video below, our very own succulent whisperer Tom Jesch talks about this Anacampseros beauty’s variegated charms.

Look for Anacampseros telephiastrum variegata at our retail shop or wholesale shop.

 

 

 

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Unleash your succulent spirit indoors

As spring weather approaches in some areas, a cool and dreary winter trudges on in others. It is hard to put on our creative gardening cap when the front yard remains dormant and lifeless.

Have no fear! Spruce up your home and decorate indoors with succulents.

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