Baby, it’s Cold out there -or- Overwintering the Succulent Friends

LR in window1

I really do love winter. My friends tell me I get all happy and lively when the temperature drops. I prefer to think that the heavy mantle of summer has been lifted, and the ‘real’ me emerges from beneath it like the moon emerging from a misty haze. Whatever metaphore, I’m afraid it’s true. I am just not cut out for enjoying a hot climate like the one I find myself living in currently.

That being said, I’m afraid my little plant friends will disagree. They can handle the cold pretty well, for a time, but will show signs of unhappiness if left too long in the cold. Frost is really not high on their list of showy coatings either. So if you have purchased any of our succulents planted in hypertufa, and you live in North Texas, do please consider bringing them in until the temps return to less than arctic. Here are some groupings I’ve made of the many small ones we had in stock at the end of show season in December. Don’t they look cute all grouped up in the living room, along the wall, and in the kitchen? The cats have fun lurking around in them (yes, on the counter…sigh) and playing like they are tiny lions in the jungle.

LR table overwintering1

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Mystery Plant *Not* from Outer Space! (we think)

Finally, some hard answers to all of our soft musings about this strange, mutant plant I brought home from Redenta’s and offered for sale recently. 

There it was… a weird little dark green spiky plant, sitting all alone on the bottom shelf, kind of off to one side.  When I bent to pick it up, suddently a bolt of lightening struck.  When I looked down, it wasn’t just dark green and spiky anymore – somehow  it was now covered in a thick layer of purple fur!  But I paid the guy, and took it home anyway.  Later I made a pretty cool concrete pot and transplanted it.  Wow, it really seemed to like that.  So far so good… I still have all my fingers.  However I did think it shifted slightly when I pricked my finger on that cactus…

Purple passion velvet plants (Gynura aurantiaca)

Purple velvet plant, also known as purple passion plant, is a native of Indonesia. It belongs in the family Asteraceae.  Mystery solved.   Or is it?  Come see for yourself at White Rock Market tomorrow!  “Auburn” will be there for your viewing enjoyment.  I might even let you take him home, for a small (red) fee.  bwa haahahhahahaa!

Caring for: Living Rocks and Organ Pipe Succulents

Here is more specific information for certain species of succulents:  I do tend to sell alot of these wonderful “Living Rocks” and a few “Organ Pipe” now and again, so please read this if you purchased one:

Lithops species (“Living Stones”) :Pleiospilos nelii (“Split Rock”) Conophytum Fenestraria rhopalophylla (“Baby Toes”) 

  • Dormant during summer months (approximately June thru August), water sparingly.
  • Water when soil is dry; usually every 2 – 3 weeks.
  • Plants entering dormacy will begin forming a papery outer skin.
  • During growing season, water when soil is near drying. Water more frequently than summer months, but allow soil to dry between waterings.
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Organ Pipe:

The following specimen plants may be placed in bright or filtered light: 
Lemaireocereus marginatus (“Organ-Pipe”)

Water: (Outdoors) During warmer months, water once a week if soil is dry or near drying. During extremely hot weather, some cacti may need to be watered 2 – 3 times per week, depending on the dryness of the soil. During winter months, watering plants every 2 weeks should be sufficient. Let soil dry out between waterings.


(Indoors) During winter months or when plant is dormant, water once a month. During warmer months (spring and summer), if soil is dry, it may be necessary to water more often (e.g., every two weeks), or to give the plant a good watering (up to 1 gallon of water) and let the soil dry out between waterings.


Caring for Succulents & Cactus

Information gleaned from the California Cactus Center:

I find that alot of times, when asked questions at the shows we do, sometimes we don’t have time to answer everyone’s questions, are distracted by other people, or sometimes folks simply forget to ask before they leave our tent with new succulents in hand.  I posted these entries to try to be a better seller and steward of the living environment with which I deal!

Light: Bright or filtered light.

Water: (Outdoors) During warmer months, water once a week, or when soil is near drying. Some succulents may have to be watered more often. Check soil for dryness by pushing your finger or a stick into the soil. If the soil feels cool or damp, there is still moisture in the soil. During winter months, water once a week or when soil is dry.

(Indoors) Water once every 2 – 3 weeks, or when soil is dry. Plants near a sunny window might need more frequent waterings. Cacti and succulents which are grown indoors would benefit from a day outside where they can enjoy ample air circulation. 

Caution: do not place indoor cacti in a hot, sunny area, as they will burn.

Keep in mind that cacti and succulents are able to withstand drought better than wet soil. Let the soil dry out between waterings, as drenching an already damp pot may result in rot.

Fertilize: Once a month with a balance cactus fertilizer (powdered form, diluted in water), or once a year with a slow-release, granular, cactus fertilizer.

What Is A Succulent?

 This is a question I am commonly asked.  I am the first to admit that I am ‘no’ expert on these wonderful plants, but I did learn something remarkable about them last year in a college Biology class at my local extension college.  Mainly, the enzymes, proteins, and processes of the cells that are key to photosynthesis in succulents are actually radically different from the ones in ‘regular’ plants.  Thus, this makes them even more magical and special to me.  To read more about this, please read more here, copied directly from the Cactus and Succulent Society of America webpage.  Enjoy.  Continue reading