Aloe vera. In one moment, this treasured, toothed succulent can claim a piece of your skin. In the next, after suffering something far greater, even if it’s “just a flesh wound” (in Monty Python terms), the aloe can be used to soothe your little owie. How many other plants can do that? (We’ll wait here for an answer before continuing. Or not.)
It’s so enjoyable to hang outside with our fleshy friends that we sometimes forget indoor “succulenting” is totally a thing too. And has been for ages. (For a brief, glorious moment, we thought we had coined that juicy gerund, but no.)
Golden barrel cactus adds rugged depth to the garden
Thank Mother Nature that not all living things are as delicate as us humans. In summer, we pine for anything that cools us off — beaches, pools, lakes, and all matters of covered, artificially cooled rooms. Not golden barrel.
We’re thrilled to share the creative chops of the four winners of the first Altman Plants team photo contest. We challenged our colleagues to submit images that captured nature being awesome in whatever way they could find, whether in and around their homes or while out and about, and they came through big time. In the case of this fab four, that could be of a hummingbird zipping around for nourishment or of a quiet moment with a rose bush in the rain. Of a living wall of succulent colors and textures or of a backyard space transformation.
Accompanying the four photos below are the stories behind them, in the words of our coworkers. View all of the winners’ submissions here.
There is so much to adore about succulents — we can’t even begin to count all the ways — but this week we want to highlight a crew of ornamentals that just can’t help but be showoffs: “stacked” crassulas. And we love them for that, their penchant for fancifulness: forms resembling spirals, pendants, pagodas, or just un-plain, goofy vertical.
Stretching generally has a positive connotation when it comes to us human beings, especially in the realm of physical fitness. Or when we get to splay out on the sand or poolside for some deserved chillaxation. With succulents, though, not so much. A stretched plant is a light-deprived plant. All that stretching robs the plant of its attractive, natural, compact form. Light deprivation also prevents plants from exhibiting their full chroma potential. Instead, leaves become pale and possibly yellowed, as if suffering from chlorosis.
It’s summer (news flash!) and sometimes we just want to hide. From the sun. That fiery sphere serves a noble purpose, of course, but occasional time apart is healthy. Our succulent pals, though, we always want close by…even when in shady-friendly spots.
Even if not necessarily lovers of deep shade, aeoniums can relate, as they are also susceptible to sunburns, as well as leaf curling, when overly exposed. They have a distinctive, daisy-like appearance. The leaves can vary in color from black to rose to green to yellow. The rosettes grow on the ends of stems that, depending on the variety, may be a quarter inch or more in diameter. We should all take a cue from these diversely hued succulents that like nothing more during summer than to chill. They perk up in winter to spring, when the weather is cooler and on the damper side.
Tree options for succulent gardens are many. We look at five:
Summer has arrived, which has us thinking of shade and the coming moments when we will be fleeing for cover from an oppressive sun.
At the same time, feeling compelled to seek refuge indoors is not particularly desirable. Do you have any cool or cool-ish zones in your succulent garden? Or, if not some majestic, light-blocking tree canopy, areas where more wispy specimens soften the sun’s impact for your fleshy leaved light lovers?
Non-succulent companion plant options are numerous. Here are five:
One of the biggest garden design challenges is focusing your enthusiasm. Even if succulents and cacti are your #botanicaljam4lyfe, choices must be made. There are thousands of species on the planet, yet you only enjoy space for 75 plants. That means you’re probably going to plant 25 species at most, unless you have a hopeless case of the “onesies” and are determined to get your mitts on one of everything.
Plus you might want to make room for a few non-succulents. We here at Altman have soft spots for all kinds of plants and know just how beautiful a mixed landscape, abounding in rich colors and textures, can be.