Intergeneric hybrids: all crossed up and completely beautiful

Succulent fanatics enjoy more choices than ever before, with new plants popping up seemingly every day. Amazingly, there are nearly 20,000 varieties of succulents on this planet. Many of our fleshy friends available in nurseries and garden centers were introduced into the marketplace during the last few decades.We at Altman Plants have been thrilled to contribute new varieties on a regular basis, from Echeveria ‘Neon Breakers’ to Aloe ‘Delta Dawn’.

xGraptoveria ‘Fred Ives’

For this post, though, we’ve loaded our succulent-addled minds with thoughts about intergeneric hybrids. That’s what the Beastie Boys were trading rhymes about in this hit song, right? Ooohhh, “Intergalatic,” not “Intergeneric.” Anyhoo, in the case of succulents, crossing species from two genera in the same family creates what are called intergeneric hybrids. (This kinda blows our minds into outer space, but with orchids there could be five or more genera involved with one plant! But let’s return back to the succulent world.)

xPachyveria ‘Glauca’

The official, complete, smarty-pants way to refer to these multiple-genus-sourced creations is with the multiplication sign. See, for example, ×Pachyveria ‘Glauca’, a Pachyphytum × Echeveria hybrid, or ×Graptosedum ‘Vera Higgins’, a Graptopetalum × Sedum hybrid.

The “×” tells you the succulent belongs to a nothogenus, a genus denoting a hybrid creating from two genera. It’s true that, in our shorthand-friendly society, growers, nurseries, and collectors often do not mark such hybrids with the symbol, at least not in everyday, non-academic-y contexts. Perhaps these particular nothogenera are well past their “novel” stage with all but gardening newbies, but we’ll stick with them here.

xGraptosedum ‘Blue Giant’ and xSedeveria ‘Blue Elf’ joined by Echeveria ‘Pulv-Oliver’

So why do it? Why fuss and labor to create hybrids, whether from species of one genus or two? Well, we all seem to have an insatiable appetite for expanding and refining the architecture of succulents further and further. Through much exacting study, hybridizers can pull out and enhance certain traits and tendencies. It’s possible that the most promising new forms, the ones that eventually make it to market, will exhibit distinct advantages over their parents that make them better performers in your garden. Or simply provide fresh looks or exciting pairing partners for classic favorites. In the case of a ×Graptoveria ‘Fred Ives’ or ‘Opalina’, lovely new twists on the attractive geometry we admire in some of our most prized graptopetalums and echeverias.

Below are some of the intergeneric hybrids we grow at Altman Plants.

×Sedeveria ‘Blue Elf’

Exhibits a charming teal tone, with rosy red tips that will slowly darken to a deep burgundy with bright light, cool temperatures, and a bit of water deprivation. Will readily multiply in the right conditions while remaining compact. Retail / Wholesale

×Graptoveria ‘Opalina’

×Graptoveria ‘Opalina’ is a Graptopetalum amethystinum x Echeveria colorata hybrid. A fan of well-draining soil, this cultivar produces clusters of rosettes up to 6 inches wide. Bright light encourages beautiful blushes of pink. Yellow/orange flowers arrive in spring. Retail / Wholesale

×Graptosedum ‘California Sunset’

Graptosedum ‘California Sunset’ forms rosettes with lanceolate bluish green leaves that blush pinkish orange in strong light. Possibly a hybrid of Sedum adolphii. Star-shaped white flowers come during spring and summer. An excellent color accent for rock gardens or as a groundcover. Retail / Wholesale

×Pachyveria ‘Claire’

×Pachyveria ‘Claire’ forms rosettes of tapered bluish leaves that blush rose at the tips and along the margin. Possibly an Echeveria pulidonis hybrid. Racemes of bell-shaped yellow flowers are flared at the tips. It’s great on windowsills or in rock gardens. Retail / Wholesale

×Mangave ‘Bloodspot’

This sharp-looking, spotted, compact hybrid is believed to be the result of crossing an Agave macroacantha hybrid (stiff, slate blue leaves) with Manfreda maculosa, or Texas tuberose (soft, grayish green leaves speckled with burgundy). Retail

×Gasteraloe ‘Green Ice’

A cross of Aloe variegata and Gasteria ‘Little Warty’, this super cool hybrid forms upright rosettes that look downright huggable compared to straight aloes. There are no toothy serrations on the leaf margins. The leaves are thick, smooth and green-gray with elongated green stripes and dots of gray. Retail / Wholesale

These plants are also regularly stocked at retail partners such as Walmart, The Home Depot, and Lowe’s. Happy hunting…and planting!

xGasteraloe ‘Green Ice’ next to the hairy cacti