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Category Archives: Garden Blog

Heir to the succulent throne: Echeveria ‘Black Prince’

Echeveria ‘Black Prince’ a noble choice for the garden, patio, or a bright nook indoors

The small, dark, and handsome echeveria known as ‘Black Prince’ has to make any list of Halloween-appropriate succulents. It’s unusual for an echeveria in that its rosettes often appear to be nearly black. Combine that with its glowing green center and striking red flowers, and this dark hens-and-chicks succulent just might startle an unsuspecting trick-or-treater. (Of course, it helps to have some well-placed, oversized spiders and bloodshot monster eyes nearby.)

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Bizarre yet endearing: Brave the world of mutant succulents

Crested and monstrose succulents — mutant forms only a succulent freak could love? We think not, whether it’s Halloween season or, say, Arbor Day…although these living oddities would be naturals in any décor scheme aimed at enticing or spooking trick-or-treaters and their parental units.

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Agaves rule!

 Here are fifteen images that prove our point

We’re fans of virtually all succulents, and are loathe to pick favorites, but there are agaves, those New World swordsmen, that tempt us to pick sides. We’re also fortunate here at Altman in that we at least get to lay eyes, if not always hands, on some non-garden-variety specimens…species that we enthusiasts cannot reliably find at our favorite nurseries or garden centers any and every weekend. That said …

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Mimicry plants: succulent masters of disguise

The mimicry plants known as mesembs are the thespians of the succulent world, mind-blowingly adaptable actors often accustomed to harsh, sun-blasted habitats that receive only a few inches of rain a year. They grow in coarse sand with just their translucent tops showing, enabling sunlight to reach the interior of each plant. The rest is underground, which minimizes exposure to extreme elements.

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Cutting loose: Winter growers wake up, become active in fall

Autumn has arrived at last. It feels good to be a succulent geek right about now, especially if you have a bunch of plants exiting summer dormancy. Nothing like looking forward to seeing your aeoniums, your senecios, your sempervivums, get a little wild in wintertime. Of course, for those in colder areas, that festival of life will have to be held indoors, in a space blessed with light.

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Peeling back the story of Senecio radicans: string of bananas

We’d dare say that just about all succulents qualify for some degree of radness, but with this plant we really mean it: Senecio radicans. Hey, as far as botanical names go, that’s a pretty ra—er—cool one.

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Chroma crazy: Variegated plants like catnip for succulent fanatics

We succulent geeks are absolute suckers for color, color combos, and colorful oddities.

Leaves with streaks, splotches, mottled patterns of various hues. Whether it’s naturally occurring, encouraged through cultivation, or brought about by seasonal or environmental influences, variegated foliage is like catnip for collectors and gardeners alike.

Consider the eye candy below a tease to a deeper exploration to come at a later date.

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Introducing fresh (made up) references for cultivar names…

…as well as reviewing (and riffing on) some genuine inspirations

One of the neatest parts about becoming a parent is getting to name another human being. You can pretty much seal your child’s fate with a shrewdly befitting (or not especially beneficial) name. We might be overselling that power a bit, true, but plant breeders bear a similar responsibility when naming the cultivated varieties they create.

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This old man, he plays it cool

Old man of the Andes cactus is just one of several hairy species

The cactus family is chock-full of old men and old ladies. Enough so that they deserve their own membership wing in the AARP. Ha, we kid, but the “old …” cacti all share an eye-catching attribute: a coat of protective white hairs. That hairiness, while not of identical density, can make it tough for nonexperts to distinguish individual species from one another. Today, though, we’re singling out one senior cactus in particular: Oreocereus celsianus, aka old man of the Andes. The prefix, Oreo, means “mountain,” from the Greek word oros.

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Celebrating the flowery side of cacti

Forgive us if we ever get a bit flowery in our musings about cacti. These plants are often noted for their spiny (not thorny) toughness, but — beyond cactus geeks — probably don’t receive their proper due for all the textures, shapes, and hues they possess. Their satiny, out-of-this-world flowers are some of the most fetching ones on the planet. Alluring reds, pinks, oranges, yellows, whites. Even purple. Some run small while many are certifiably ginormous. (The flowers of Hylocereus undatus — dragon fruit — can exceed 12 inches in length.) Many bloom after dark when other plants have closed up their displays for the night.

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